Last week we attended the first edition of Sound of Sand festival, in Gumuk Pasir, not far from Parangritis beach. A great occasion to recharge our batteries with good energy and to share some inspiration!
We really didn't know what to expect, since it was the first edition of the event and also the program of the festival changed along the way, with the dj area canceled short before the event. But this didn't affect the success of the festival, with over 200 people coming not only from the surroundings of Yogyakarta, but as far as Jakarta, Bali and Bandung, not to mention Singapore and Japan.
Since the first moment we heard of this idea, we were sure we wanted to go and to support and help growing Sound of Sand. The organizers are actually our neighbors living just hundreds meters away from us, two really generous and humble people that deserve our admiration for their hard work to make this event possible.
I'm actually not sure if they were able to recover the expenses of the audio equipment rental, construction and organization, since they put a very low price of 75.000 Rp as entrance ticket, about 6$ for the 3 days, to promote the event and make it known for future editions, and to allow everybody to have the chance to participate. And being the first event of this kind on that land, they had some extra expenses to set up facilities, like concrete toilets, pump for water, plenty of showers and drinking water purified with a carbon filter.
All the work were done on a voluntary basis, with some final tasks still going on during the first few hours of the event. But everything was incredibly good and ready to be enjoyed for the rest of the festival: we were actually quite surprised to see how good were the facilities, since we weren't expecting anything that "stable" but more temporary kind of services.
The land was just perfect, hidden away from the crowds and unwanted attentions, but at the same time easy to find. Plenty of camping space below a refreshing forest, sand dunes, sea not far away and wide open space for the stage and activities.
We later found out that in the same land, they used to gather hippies in the '70: that's probably also why this land was so dense of energy.
The musical choice on the stage was varied and many bands and performers joined the event.
Since it took place in the middle of April, rainy season was not completely over, and schedule quite flexible according to the rain.
The first day we arrived quite late in the afternoon, but apparently it was a relaxed day waiting for people to arrive and set up. After choosing a place where to put our tent for the next 3 days and getting comfortable with the surroundings, it was time for the first series of concert, with Indonesian and international artists, performing till 1 at night.
The concerts started calmly with acoustic music played by several bands, and ended up with people dancing in front of the stage on the hip-hop notes of "stinky durian" and reggae-ska rhythm of Black Finit, my personal favourite band of the day.
After the music was over and the electricity off, rainy season decided to make us a great present and to allow us to admire a clear night sky, dark because of the new moon, with thousands of stars and the milky way. Quite impressive considering we were no more than 20km away from a major city.
The fears of the beginning, of Muslim associations showing up trying to interrupt undesired events as it's unfortunately common in Yogyakarta, turned out to be true, but they couldn't do anything against the impeccable organization and firm will of the organizer. All the papers were in order and a police patrol didn't find anything "immoral" at the extreme organization dislike.
The second day started with a little bit of laziness. Options for food were plenty, with two warungs inside the festival area offering cooked meals, and a kitchen area where to commonly cook food for free, eating on a donation basis.
We went for a walk to the seaside, just 200 meters away, to enjoy the view of the roaring Indian Ocean, before relaxing and drinking the juice of a tasty coconut.
Saturday was the only full day of the festival, and it was supposed to be focused not only on music, but also on workshops, given on a voluntary basis by the attendants. If there is one thing we feel like "complaining" a little bit, was the little communication about the workshops.
We wanted to attend many, but missed some of them taking place in unknown places at obscure time of the day. But we still managed to speak about gender issues in Indonesia, learn some basics of nitting and recycling plastic bags, enjoying a "holi style" colour fight (Thanks Mas Ivan!), and practicing contemporary dance and acroyoga.
For the next edition thought, a black board with a flexible schedule to be constantly updated would suffice to make the experience of everybody more enjoyable!
After and during the workshops more concerts were performed, before a big storm hit the area, with strong rain and lightnings. Everybody was safe, but a few tent got flooded or broken, with some people that had to look for hospitality in other's shelters. We later found out that even in Jogja they had a quite bad time with a, electrical black out lasting almost 2 hours.
Once the adrenaline of the lightning storm was over, music on the stage was already playing ready to welcome again its happy audience.
Last day was definitely my favourite: it was the most spontaneous one and it reminded me of Rainbow Gatherings.
I don't know if it was planned to be like that, my feeling is that it just turned out to be, with no previous planning.
While people were recovering from the harsh night, because of little sleep with the storm, drying clothes, fixing tents and getting some more sleep, some notes started to be audible from the cooking area. It revealed to be a symbiotic and harmonic mix of spontaneous music, pantomime, bands, happy kids, clown on stilts, screaming performances and many more I now forget, that ended up with a collective hug: definitely my high energetic point of the festival.
A special mention for Briegel, the core of Maladialum band bringing back memories of the Sigur Ros, always ready to share his special energy and his music, and to the amazing pantomime Wanggi Hoediyatno.
The Littlelute band from Bandung was the main "official" guest of the morning, an incredible mix of people, with the Singer that looked like a tiny sweet doll, and the other band members that seemed like randomly taken from a vintage Mafia movie or a beach in Bali: a strange mix but with great music and vibes that we definitely enjoyed!
We ended our festival with a little bit of stretching attending the Ashtanga Yoga class with Noel and Karolina from Yoga-Karta, before sadly packing our staff and luckily being picked up by some fellow festival goers while hitchhiking back to Yogyakarta.
To end up this short, or maybe too long, hopefully helpful report, a great thanks to DJack and Dimas for putting all of their energy and savings on this events, and to every single person and performer that shared its vibes with us!
Probably we won't be there for the second edition of Sound of Sand, but if you happen to be around Jogya at that time, don't miss the opportunity to refill your batteries!