Well it certainly feels like it. So much has happened in the last couple of weeks, and there’s more on the way as always! I’m going to split everything I want to say into two posts, the “then” and the “now/future”, to make it a little easier to digest / skim, but first off, I must extend hugest of thanks to both Bootie SF and the team behind XOXOfest for being so many flavours of awesome and making my US trip such a joy.
I’ve always maintained that the San Francisco Bootie crowd are probably the most open-minded bootleg crowd in the whole world, and again they did not disappoint, lapping up everything that I threw, including the debut of a clutch of new tunes. A mighty fine time was had by all, big hello back to everyone that came up and said hi, and thanks to the cheerfully tolerant DNA Lounge crew and A+D as always for being excellent hosts. Again, soon, I hope!
From the rolling fog of San Francisco thence up the coast to Oregon, to find Portland gently fanning itself in what I was told was rather unseasonable, humidity-free, mid-late 20s heat (celsius, I am a euro ;). A glorious and welcoming start to what was, well, a glorious and welcoming long weekend.
A working start for me, though as I immediately zoomed up to Holocene to provide a five and a half hour DJ set as backing for the festival opening party. Not that I was complaining, it was a great relaxed opportunity to play right across the board, drink good beer and meet some folks, including a long-overdue first hello with co-organizer Andy Baio, a fan since early K-days, and whose mirroring of “Hip-Hopera” back in 2004 when my site went down led to a considerable amount of legal hi-jinks.
For most of Friday I was in a rather stressed state of mind, preparing for my first-ever solo AV Kleptones performance that night, and generally looking down my own body for more digits to cross. Yes! Previous AV shows, as you know, have been ably assisted by Butch Auntie, but budgetary restraints had always stopped us from taking this show any further than Europe. As XOXO was going to be rather special, and also I was a little unsure as to whether the crowd would be in a dancing mood or not, I thought the time was right to take the plunge and do it all myself. And I did… just. Needless to say, sharing the load onstage is a great thing, and not to be underestimated!
That said, I was delighted with how it went down. and doubly delighted to see many, many dancing people (including the aforementioned Mr.Baio ;). Thanks to you all and the ace crew at Holocene for making that a fun one, and also hail-fellow-well-met to both Julia Nunes and MC Frontalot and their respective musicians, who both played great sets before me, and did wonders in reducing my own pre-set nerves. A top night, if a little scary. Apologies to everyone that got the full blast of my adrenaline-fuelled relief afterwards – I was buzzing quite a bit, as you may have noticed…
Saturday morning found me with my responsibilities discharged (HT ‘The Young Ones’ ;), allowing me time to soak up the festival and conference itself.
Much has been already written online by finer hands than my own (see Wired, The Verge and Boing Boing), so all I need to add is that it was an absolute joy for myself to be part of the friendly tornado of ideas and wisdom that constituted XOXO.
As has been pointed out elsewhere, some in attendance were not what one would call “natural mixers”, but the collective down-to-earth mindset (established and encouraged in no small part by co-founders Andy McMillan & Andy Baio), the beautiful urban setting and the balmy weather (and of course, the fine Portland food and drink) encouraged everyone to dump their excess mental baggage and egos at the entrance and use the weekend as the creative playground it was intended to be. Big talk, you may say, but for once, it all fucking worked, and it was glorious. Coders, designers, makers, artists, musicians (hi!), organizers, do-ers, thinkers-one-and-all stepped into the ring simultaneously yet gave each other sufficient space. Yes, that is possible, and it was truly impressive.
A high standard of presentations and speeches (including a highly polarizing keynote from Dan Harman) provided plenty of kick-off brainwaves to keep the conversations buzzing throughout the day, and some great after-parties (and other concurrent local events – was surprised to end up at a Fade To Mind show on the Saturday night!) allowed folks to kick back and continue their conversations at a more leisurely pace. Everyone I met, without exception, was a true star in their own field, and many, many new friendships and creative partnerships will, I’m sure, be formed in the festival’s wake. Job well done, everyone!
I did feel rather sad to be returning, but fortified by the wave of energy described above, it doesn’t feel so bad to be home.
Onwards and upwards, as always…