Wonky Donk in the Honky Tonk

A Review of Deep Tropics 2017

The inaugural Deep Tropics Festival took place in the heart of downtown Nashvegas this past weekend. Just a few blocks from the rambunctious Broadway bar scene, the festival was held at the classy War Memorial Auditorium and attracted folks from all over the east coast. Surrounded by mighty Ancient Roman architecture, polished marble hardscape, and tropical implants (ha get it) this festival truly had a unique vibe that transcended time. The lack of grass meant there was never any mud to worry about, although I did see a few wobbly wooks lose their balance while sliding around on the slick tile that covered the majority of the festival grounds. The clean indoor bathrooms and water fountains were a luxury that you don’t often see at festivals. The walls of the bathroom lobby told the story of the venue’s past, which was rather expansive. From Billy Joel to JFK, this place had seen some big moments in our nation’s history. The bathroom also happened to be just about the only place that didn’t have a heavy cop/security presence, yet I didn’t see a single arrest all weekend. It seemed like security was more focused on keeping the peace rather than seeking out people breaking the rules. I saw more fist bumps and photo ops shared between security and patrons than I could count. To top it off, every time I passed the medical station the EMTs were sitting there twiddling their thumbs and that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

The music took place on two stages, one inside and one outside. The Paradise Plaza (outside) was a little more humble in size and production, but I got to see some big names crush it on those precious purple funktions. Jade Cicada and Polish were great as always, and I got to see some acts for the first time that I really enjoyed including Sango, Justin Martin, Dave Mata, and of course the Desert Hearts Crew. Members of the DHC, Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Marbs, & Porkchop, took the crowd deeper and deeper in the rain for almost 3 hours, all while simultaneously having a rowdy dance party on stage. The Tropical Auditorium (inside) got going a little later in the evening, and reminded me of a basketball gym combined with the Tabernacle. Patrons piled in on the floor, which was surrounded by massive (I mean massive) LED walls on 3 sides. It was air-conditioned, and there was plenty of room for hoopers, nappers, and beach ball bouncers. I saw quite a few really talented musicians take this stage over the weekend like Bob Moses, Troyboi, MachineDrum, and Paper Diamond, but nobody blew me away like Gramatik. His set was high-energy, had just enough variety, and the visuals were mesmerizing. He had his pal on stage destroying the keys the entire time, which is my favorite edition of the Gramatik project that I’ve seen live over the years. It added a nice touch of organicness to an amazing DJ set.

Looking back on the wild weekend, I’d say Deep Tropics was a major success considering it was in its first year. It’s impossible to throw a flawless event the first time, because you never know what kind of issues you’re going to run into on the spot, but the crew at Deep Tropics came really close. I think my biggest complaint all weekend was the lack of a pizza vendor, but the free Love Water and “Big Cups of Fun” totally made up for it. On a real note, I’m very thankful to everyone who worked their butts off to put together a weekend of fun and relaxation at such an affordable price. It’s easy to take this kind of stuff for granted, but we’re very fortunate to exist in a time and place where we can enjoy events such as this one. I’ll leave you with the quote that was carved across the top of the War Memorial Auditorium. “AMERICA IS PRIVILEGED TO SPEND HER BLOOD AND HER MIGHT FOR THE PRINCIPLES THAT GAVE HER BIRTH AND HAPPINESS AND THE PEACE WHICH SHE HAS TREASURED.” WOODROW WILSON

Stay tuned for info on 2018’s Deep Tropics – http://www.deeptropics.org/