It got really, really loud at opening night of the Symbiosis Gathering, a music festival that kicked off at Woodward Reservoir on Thursday.
But in the afternoon, Kelsey Sharp of Sacramento played soft music, tapping gongs with a padded mallet for visitors seated close to them.
The five-day event features a range of music on several stages, a villagelike collection of Earth-friendly vendors, and lots of large art installations.
Sharp, working at a booth called Relaxsonic, planned to take a break to go hear the noisier stuff.
We close it down for a couple of hours so the crew can go rage together, she said.
This is the festivals first time at Woodward. It also has been held in Angels Camp, Camp Mather near Yosemite National Park, the Santa Cruz Mountains and Pyramid Lake in Nevada.
Organizers did not have a crowd count Thursday, but they said the site, north of Oakdale, could hold up to 10,000 people. All of them will camp out.
A few thousand cars had arrived by evening, all of them covered in dust from the roads they traversed at 10 mph, if they followed one of the many rules posted around the site. Those rules include no glass containers, no drugs, no leaving and coming back, and no skinny dipping.
The land around the reservoir, a Stanislaus County park, is mostly treeless grassland, very dry this time of year. The temperature was around 90degrees, something festival volunteer Marisol Ojeda of Riverbank did not mind.
Were selling ice, so were everybodys best friend, she said.
As for the event overall, she said, Its something different for Oakdale. Oakdale is more your cowboy country. Now its being taken over by hippies.
One of the attendees, a guitarist and singer who goes by Cozmic, took part in the gong experience. He and others sat on a rug with Zodiac symbols while Sharp and her partner softly played the eight gongs.
Its like a pillow fight with sound, Cozmic said afterward. Its just gentle and soothing. Its not abrasive at all.
The food booths are heavy on organic and vegetarian, though there is pepperoni pizza if youre craving it. Lydias Lovin Foods offers organic, raw and vegan fare.
Casey Reed of Fremont said the Woodward site was deserty but still better than the event he attended at Pyramid Lake.
He talked while browsing the clothing at Phoenix Rising Designs, with sunset nearing, Woodward Lake shimmering, and more and more festival fans arriving.
The overall people that Symbiosis attracts are happy, positive, he said.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2385.