The Universe has a peculiar way of speaking to you, especially when your judgments are closed and your heart and mind are open. When you are tuned into the right frequency, it becomes obvious that there is another force guiding us through this existence. You just have to trust that energy, and once you do, you recognize that the answers are often right in front of you and have been this whole time. Everything that happens in life has a purpose. It may not be what you want, expect, or understand, but as time goes on, you will realize that it was exactly what you needed.
It was the beginning of October, and my friends and I finally copped tickets to a drive-in rave. Not just any show but the Wakaan Halloween takeover in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Liquid Stranger, Champagne Drip, and Mize were set to throw down on top of Montage Mountain. We couldn’t think of a better first show back since the pandemic and were hyped as fuck, to say the least. Not just for the fact that we were going to see Liquid Stranger, or that we were finally going to see live music, but that we could ultimately rage together. We haven’t danced and headbanged through the night since Okeechobee, and we were all itching for an evening of good vibes, good music, and debauchery.
As Halloween approached, Liquid Stranger announced that each night of the three-day takeover would be unique. Night one would be dedicated to throwback jams, night two would be a tripped set, and night three would be full of bangers. Each night was sold out, and we were going to night two.
As much as I love downtempo tripped out music, I was skeptical of the tripped-out theme. It was my first show in 8 months, and I wanted to party. I had all this pent up energy from quarantine that I needed to release. How can I do that during a slow trippy show? But the Universe doesn’t always give you what you want but what you need.
Aside from my reserves, we were ready to be back in our element. We missed the crowd, the atmosphere, and of course, the people. Before we knew it, it was Friday morning, and we were finally on our 2 hour Journey to Montage Mountain Resorts to check in our hotel before the show. The only problem was it was not only freezing but raining. Not the greatest weather for an outdoor show, but the gray clouds wouldn’t stop our shine. After sitting in line for almost two hours, with flashbacks to Bonnaroo 2019, we finally made it in just in time for Mize to hit the stage.
Strangely enough, the sky opened up, and all the clouds disappeared. A full moon lit up the heavens above with Mars in the background. It was still cold, but it was perfect. As the night went on, Mize changed to DMVU, which switched to Champagne Drip, and then finally Liquid Stranger. The entire time I could not take my eyes off the moon. All I kept thinking that this is what humans have been doing for thousands of years. Dancing under the full moon, losing ourselves in the moment.

As Liquid Stranger finished his set, he spoke about his decision to perform a tripped set under the full moon. That he never gets a chance to play the music that he played that night. That every song he played from Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin to Forever Young by Rod Stewart had an impact on his life and his career. He spoke on how the world was going through a transition and that we need to treat each other with love.
It is then I realized that the Universe was speaking to me through Liquid Stranger. The world is going through a transition, but so am I. I realized that the tripped set was exactly what I needed. Instead of giving me a night full of bangers for my first show back, I got music that opens your mind and soothes the soul. I’ve been going to shows for ten years now, and I’ve partied as hard as anyone. I kept having this thought that part of my life is over. Not that I’ll stop going to shows or festivals, but my intentions will change. That I will be motivated by spirituality instead of just getting fucked up. It was as if the Universe was pushing me in a new direction.

Since then, I’ve been meditating, reading, and positively focusing on my goals, and things are suddenly falling into place. I’m starting to get opportunities I’ve never had before, I feel better mentally and physically, and I have a newfound excitement for the future.
I felt this story was important to share as we head into 2020’s winter solstice coming early next week. On December 21, for the first time in 800 years, Saturn and Jupiter will align, creating what’s called the great conjunction allowing the Christmas star to be visible. This extraordinary event is said to be a sign of powerful change and spiritual transformation as we transition to a new age.
The fact that this will happen in 2020 is pretty remarkable considering what’s going on in the world. 2020 isn’t the year we asked for, but it is the year we needed. A year that acted as a wake-up call to say that this way of existence, full of hate, neglect for the earth, carelessness for our health, and need for material pleasures, is not sustainable. Our way of life has been taken from us. We have been forced to stay inside with no restaurants, no bars, no concerts, festivals, weddings, or parties. We can’t go to work, kids can’t go to school, and some of us have lost loved ones. But through all the tragedy, there is a silver lining. 2020 has forced us to find happiness from within and think in different ways. It taught us not to take life for granted because you never know when life will abruptly change. People are finally beginning to wake up. Everyone has grown in someway through quarantine. Whether it’s finding a new hobby, a new passion, or realizing you can survive on much less than you thought.
We’ve seen worldwide protests in the name of peace and equality. Governments are being exposed, the powers are shifting, and the world is learning that love trumps all. As Bob Dylan famously put it, “The times are a changin!” 2020 was not the year we wanted, but the year we needed. We struggled and survived together. New beginnings are ahead of us. It’s time to stop saying fuck 2020 and start being grateful that it happened. 2020 will be known as the year we woke up, and 2021 will not only be our year but a promising start to our greater purpose.

Unless you live as a hermit and dismiss technology all together odds are you listen to music every day. It’s 2020. Everyone listens to music in some form or another. In fact, in today’s digital age, it’s damn near impossible to avoid it. According to a Nielson Music study in 2017, nearly 90 percent of Americans listen to music on a daily basis for about 32 hours per week. That’s a lot of our time dedicated to music, and without the advancement of technology, it wouldn’t be possible.

Music and technology go hand in hand. As technology advances to make our lives easier, we end up just adding more and more onto our plate. We are continually striving to be the most efficient we can be. Multi-tasking ultimately becomes our greatest skill as we try to cram as much as we can into 24 hours, and if you don’t, you, unfortunately, will be left in the dust. So how does every American have time to listen to 32 hours of music every week? Do we really listen?

I want you to really think about when you listen to music. You listen when you’re working out, sitting in traffic, writing your email, making dinner, in the shower, or mindlessly scrolling through social media. And how do we listen? Usually with our phones. We listen to music to distract us from what we are doing. We don’t actually listen to music. We treat music as background noise in our lives, so we don’t have to live in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong; music is a great escape. It makes driving and working tolerable. It pushes you to get in that last rep at the gym or run that last lap at the track, but music has more than that to offer. Because of streaming services, music has never been more accessible. Frankly, I couldn’t live without Apple Music, but it does come with a cost. It takes away from the magic of listening to a song the way your favorite artist intended. It went from being something you looked forward to doing everyday to something mundane and just a natural part of life, such as walking or breathing. Streaming apps are not only changing when we listen, but how we listen, and I fear we’re beginning to take music for granted.

Sixty years ago, when the only way to listen to the music of your choice was a vinyl record, the process of listening was a lot more exciting, and some may argue like a ritual. When a new record would drop, you had to go to the store, buy an album, drive home, and pop open the record player all before you could hear just one note. You would sit around the speaker like you would a tv and listen to the full album front to back.

Every song had a purpose and told a unique part of the story the artist was trying to portray. There were no distractions. You weren’t aimlessly scrolling through your phone or focusing on that email to make a sale. You were fully immersed in the sound. It wasn’t just something you did. It was an experience for the body, mind, and soul and the music reflected that. Bands and artists such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, the list can go on and on, would focus on the whole album. The whole experience. Every song meant something, and fans took the time not only to listen but interpret and consume every lyric, emotion, and guitar riff.

Today, at least in the mainstream, we seemed to have lost touch with the art of music. Songs are getting shorter and shorter. Lp’s are turning to Ep’s, and Ep’s are becoming singles. Our attention spans are disappearing, and the music is suffering. When did we choose the 2 min song made in 20 minutes over full-scale albums and seven-minute ballads? It’s not the artist’s fault either. It starts with us, the listener. Artists need to make a living, and if they have to make singles over albums, that’s what they’ll do. If we change our listening habits and fall in love with the art again, the music will follow. I’m not saying stop streaming music. I’m saying take time out of your day and dedicate it to listening to your favorite album—nothing else, just the music.

The good news is it’s not all doom and gloom. As much as things are changing, there is a demand to slow down. We’ve been fed the digital life so much; people are starting to get fed up. There’s a reason the demand for physical vinyl records is skyrocketing. There’s a reason meditation apps are the new big thing. People are starting to wake up and slow down. Sometimes we need a break from all the complex technology running our lives. We need to live in the moment and experience, not just the now but something real and physical. The Glass Animals said it best on the opening song of their new Album Dreamland.

“You’ve had too much of the digital love. You want everything live, you want things you can touch. Make it feel like a movie you saw in your youth. Make it feel like that song that just unopened you”

A revolution in listening to music needs to happen, but we’re on the right track. The more we sit down and listen to music the way it is intended, the more things will change. It won’t only help the artist. It will help the listener have a full experience in body, mind, and spirit. Just listening to your favorite artist with no distractions could be a form of meditation and could not only entertain you but ease your stress, anxiety, and overall well being. So get comfy, grab a drink, spark a joint, close your eyes, and get lost in the music, man.