When Club Matryoshka, Likido, Spoonin’ Boys, and Para://site Projects, announced that they were holding their first 24-hour online music festival called Infinite Summer, my first urge, really, was to sequester myself in my closet and hyperventilate in panic.
See, the thing is, I am what many people might find fundamentally un-cool. Online clubs, music that isn’t from the same playlist I’ve been listening to since I was twelve, and sandbox games that promise world building capacity beyond the Sims are, to me, all unmarked territory. Even alternative art spaces were things that I dreaded going to as someone whose headroom is still shackled to the 19th century. I only ever read about the glories of Minecraft; I was always too daunted to actually play it. Suddenly, here I was at a music festival that incorporated so many experiences I dreaded attending due to my pitiful lack of coolness, on a Minecraft server no less.
At 26, I really didn’t think I could ever surprise myself, but that day I did. I ended up loving Every. Single. Minute. of it. More than halfway through exploring Club Matryoshka’s world, I lost count of how many times I gasped out audibly. And man, I didn’t even know I could still make that sound.
It took the team months to translate the fantastical builds onto a blank Minecraft server.
You enter with a star-speckled sky as your backdrop, and are immediately brought to a colossal world that I know, even in my most Lovecraftian dreams, my brain could never have created. This was the world that Infinite Summer’s event organizers had been planning and building since before ECQ. Jorge Wieneke (a.k.a. similarobjects) explained in his message of thanks on the Club Matryoshka Discord server, that it took the team months to translate the fantastical builds complete with their moving parts onto a blank server. And no detail was overlooked.
While your eyes and AWSD keys explored the terrain, your ears were beatified by music playing from Club Matryoshka’s Twitch stream that they made available for all; curated music from several continents thrumming in your ears for free. Beams of red shot from the ground way up into the atmosphere. Portals led you to different art installations. The music didn’t fade off when you moved away from the huge skull overlooking the Primestage. You could jump into a boat (and potentially sink it), while you listened to Tarsius and Oceantied. crwn played a K.K. Slider- K.K. House remix while you walked through Mariah Reodica’s Flat Earth installation. You could watch yourself levitate among suspended bricks, before being shot into a library, a set by PAMCY as your backdrop.
We’re surviving in a time when there’s a rapid surge of news updates that only leaves us with more uncertainty. I watch my attention span deplete exponentially day-by-day, so to have spent hours at Infinite Summer was no small feat. But the wonder that the festival rattled out of me made those hours worth it, even desired, and really, it made me feel a bit more human. Yes, that probably sounds like a grand statement, but given that my ECQ state of mind has been a toss up between numbness and sheer dread, it felt really good to be reminded that it’s still possible to feel something that isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to a press con. The promise of Infinite Summer felt like a pause I didn’t know I asked for.
Even with lava trickling down just beside the entrance to the Primestage, or the threat of slipping off the walk-way leading to the Para://site House, the world felt like a safe space. And it’s become very difficult to find those in our internet landscapes. It was somewhere you could come dressed as Bojack Horseman, or just as the default character build, and no one would question you for looking too strange, or looking too… normal. Admins literally looked over you to make sure everyone moved safely. If you were left behind by the tour group for the exhibitions, you only had to call for help on your screen and you’d be teleported to the destination. It was refreshing to view galleries were not filled with trustee-donated art that served as vehicles for injustice, but only with works that posed questions and dissent against the phrase, “the new normal,” and the politics that comes with it.
Views from the Primestage and Spoonstage, and virtual bars around the area.
Club Matryoshka, Likido, Spoonin’ Boys, and Para://site Projects presented a world and an experience that could only have been birthed from unbridled love for each of their disciplines and the desire to share that with whomever was willing to listen. That world they created, in turn, became a place where you really could come as you are with all your initial apprehensions about the music, the computer controls, and the art strapped unto you, only to have those apprehensions quickly abated.
And when you think your insecurities about not being cool enough to be there begin to claw their way back to the surface, you, along with your other festival attendees are levitated into the sky to a Very Excellent Tomggg set, and you’re gasping irl yet again. If you told me that that was the rapture, I’d honestly believe you. Felt like a little bit of heaven to me.
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