Burners from coast to coast are erupting in anger over this year’s ticket procedure.
With the debut of a lottery ticket system yielding unsatisfactory results this week, many who have attended the annual gathering in Black Rock City celebrating participatory art and culture are left ticketless.
The annual event sold out for the first time ever in 2011, so Burning Man organizers adopted a new lottery system this year, which randomly selected submitted credit cards for three separate ticket tiers.
The internet has been a firestorm of complaints since the results came in.
“I think I will go to Hawaii instead of Burning Man this year,” said Stephanie Salazar, a performer and burner. “What a mess. This may be the end of Burning Man as we know it.”
Complaints in Eugene were of a similar nature.
“Only five out of 60 core members of our REVO-FUCKIN-LUTION camp got selected for the lottery,” Nathaniel Klute said. “Is Burning Man becoming too mainstream?”
One burner in Eugene joked that he used multiple credit cards to obtain 10 tickets from the lottery. He said he is selling each ticket for $600 ($300 over face value) to customers who want to avoid the lottery.
Booking agent and Portland DJ Tyler Sammons (aka Tyler Tastemaker) criticized the whole culture itself.
“Its crazy to me that so many burners are about the universe, vibrations, and what not,” he said. “However, when they don’t get a ticket to the big show, they are mad at an organization. Could this not just be the universe telling you to try something else?”
During the 2011 Burning Man press conference in Black Rock City, Communications Director Marian Goodell explained the organization behind the event.
“Every year is different,” she explained. “We just provide the vehicle for creation, and the people come in and do what they will with it.”
For those who haven’t attended the annual freak-fest in the Nevada desert, when Goodell says “vehicle,” she is talking about the circumstances under which burners live out their dreams every year for one week at the end of August. She is referring to a society created by its participants—a “do-acracy,” if you will. She is talking about a place where heckling is encouraged, decibels are through the roof, and cocktail-drinking nudity is common practice.
She is talking about Burning Man as a place where people can do whatever they want.
That idea is attractive to many people, and is probably the very reason why the organization hasn’t marketed itself during its 22-year history. It has well exceeded its 50,000 person ticket-capacity, perhaps outgrowing its venue.
Which is why burners need to pick up the lead from the artists who spread Burning Man values beyond Black Rock City.
Beats Antique did just that in Eugene last week.
The livetronica, steampunk experiment took the stage at the McDonald Theatre, prepared to soothe the ears and capture the hearts of an eclectic crowd.
As a light projected brightly on belly dancer Zoe Jakes, the crowd went silent.
Percussionist Tommy Cappel and multi-instrumentalist David Satori took their positions. They cued up their computers and signaled to their new bass saxophonist Sylvain Carton. Red lights lit a rocky backdrop as Eastern sounds pumped through the system.
It was as if Beats Antique had brought a little bit of the playa with them to Eugene.
The band drew crowds larger than any other act this year in Black Rock City. Despite their inability to utilize live instruments in the desert, they united burners of every facet throughout the week, climaxing on Saturday night at Bass Camp only hours after the man burned.
During an interview with Legit Grit at Burning Man on Sunday, they alluded that perhaps there is a graduation from the central playa.
Beats Antique with Legit Grit’s The Dirt Mopper at Burning Man.
“Do you have any leads on why Bassnectar isn’t out here this year? He’s supposed to be a figment on the playa,” The Dirt Mopper questioned.
Tommy Cappel looked at David and then at Zoe, and then back at the camera.
“He’s on tour,” he responded. “And if you look around you here, these are his friends. This camp, the camp who bought us tickets and where we are staying, is full of his crew.”
Two years ago Beats Antique opened up for Bassnectar at a sold-out McDonald Theatre show. Last summer they played to thousands of fans at the Eugene Celebration.
And last week they headlined their own show at the McDonald for the second time in Eugene, selling out the venue.
They are approaching electronic music from a unique angle: combining Eastern sounds with Western percussion, topped off by contemporary dance and performance, and enhanced by the limitless potential of modern technology.
The crux of the band’s philosophy is rooted in expanding on ideas, rather than embracing the ones that are already proven to be accepted. Instead of paying for fancy lights and expensive sound systems, they are focusing on improving their music and performance for the audience. At the same time, they are embracing technology to its fullest extent, utilizing its many facets to create a sound that no one else has heard before.
Their innovative attitude—implemented in a fashion that breaks all rules and removes the barriers—is an ethos that embodies the ten principles of Burning Man itself.
They take what they learned in the desert and apply it beyond the playa.
Burners complaining on the internet can follow their example.
For Burning Man didn’t originate with art cars and sound camps. It was an empty desert with a few visionary people. Opportunities to start similar trajectories of artistic evolution await deserts, forests, and venues on an international scale.
Perhaps this year will be the most different. Perhaps the Burning Man experiment has reached its peak: a year that will not be graced by Robot Heart, Bass Camp, or the Sunrise Saloon.
Perhaps it is time to evolve.