very brief description in case you don't want to go through what's below: I experienced ego loss but was so terrified at the time that I couldn't comprehend that I had reached nirvana. It took me 4 weeks to come to terms with it, but shrooms, ecstasy, and Fever Ray equaled the most euphoric, awesome, and life-changing experience of my life.
It was my first time going to Coachella and I was super psyched to see Swedish electro-witch Fever Ray. If you haven't heard of Fever Ray (Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife), go listen to her music. It will seriously change your life. Her lyrics are meant to speak to the subconscious, and she uses a synthesizer to change her voice into this eerie sound that sings to your soul. Whoever designs her set is genius. They purposely make it otherworldly and spooky: swirling incense, crazy demonic tribal costumes, mesmerizing lasers that catch the smoke in the air--all this combines with Karin's mystical voice to create a fantastical atmosphere that envelops the audience, transporting them to the shadowy realm of a Scandinavian's witch's lair.
Sounds intense right? If that's the effect her performances are normally designed to have, imagine how it must feel for people who are on something!
That's why my first reaction to watching Fever Ray was sheer terror
. An hour before she went on, I dissolved an Ecstasy pill (Red Devil) on my tongue and then ate 3.5g of shrooms. I felt the effects of the pill first and become really excited and talkative. I don't know what the pill was cut with but I also got dry mouthed and extremely anxious. When the shrooms first kicked in, I was on the verge of having a horrible trip but convinced myself to stay put because this was Fever Ray's last performance in the US and I was going to be pissed as hell if I missed it. Thankfully, someone found me a bottle of water so I calmed down a bit afterwards. It's a lucky thing that the set was delayed because in the beginning of
my trip, I was freaking out and wouldn't have been able to handle the
music. I had taken shrooms a couple times before, but had totally forgotten that they make you extremely introspective. I kept on thinking about stuff I didn't want to think about at a concert: schoolwork, the repressed subconscious, Freudian theory, how self-centered I am, etc. When "If I Had A Heart" started off the set, I had to close my eyes because everything was too intense. However, in doing so, the psychedelic patterns I saw became even more prominent and my introspective thinking increased. I became paranoid that everyone was staring at me and judging my actions so I would force myself to open my eyes to reassure myself that it was all in my head. Everyone was completely engrossed in the music and wasn't paying any attention to me. This was the portion of my trip where I was thinking "oh shit, oh shit, fuck, i have at least another 2 hours of this to go through. Aaahhh I wish I could stop tripping!!!!!" I now realize that was the period of intense fear that you go through before your ego is released from societal constraints.
I had this image of my self
standing alone with Karin's voice pouring into my body while my being
flowed out towards her like I was sacrificing myself. I no longer knew what song was playing, where I was, or who I was. All I knew was that this supernatural voice was filling my soul with an indescribable divinity
which is impossible to define with words. There was one moment when Karin emerged and you saw her white face and
long pale hair amid the swirling smoke. She held up her hands above her
head and made a triangle symbol and lasers emanated from her body.
Everyone in the audience did the same symbol with their hands. I felt
as if all my life had been leading up to that one terrifyingly beautiful
moment. I completely understand now the song lyrics to "Dry and Dusty": we are capsules of energy. During her performance, my identity ceased to exist and I was nothing more than a capsule of energy, captivated by the colossal power of her wordless music. When I danced it was a religious dance of ecstasy. I would hug
the people next to me and we swayed together. Sometimes I would snap
out of it and the E would kick in.
At these times I was
actually able to understand what song Fever Ray was singing . I would
the people next to me and hug them because we were in this beautiful
moment together. We were all disciples of Fever Ray.
I understand now why shrooms are illegal because people will do crazy
shit on them. If Fever Ray had commanded me to kill myself as a blood
sacrifice to her I would have done it. It was like she was God and light
was pouring forth from her. I really wanted to make a tribute to Karin but since I didn't have a knife or anything sharp to slash my wrists with, I decided to make do with what I had to worship her. During "Coconut", the last song of the set, I held up a beach ball in the air as an offering to Karin's awesomeness.
Watching Fever Ray was so surreal
. I experienced an infinite number of emotions
watching her set: sadness, fear, awe, ecstasy, confusion, enlightenment... It wasn't a fun
experience, more terrifying yet awesome (in the sense that god is
awesome). During those 70 minutes which seemed like an eternity, I was the most emotionally and physically fulfilled I've ever been in my life. I existed only as the sum of my perceptions. Afterwards I was in a state of shock for three hours. My friend randomly found me standing before the stage ten minutes after the set had finished, not realizing that Fever Ray wasn't performing anymore. I had no
conception of what was going on around me, we went to go watch the band
who closed the Gobi but I didnt hear the music or see the people moving past me. I was still seeing Fever Ray in my head, awestruck
The next few days I was really down that I had tripped so hard and
didn't experience music normally. I wasn%u2019t able to recall all the songs
she had sung and I felt that I had wasted what might probably be my only
opportunity to see her perform. I was also really worried
that because her music was on an entirely different level than anything
I%u2019d ever heard before, I wasnt going to enjoy the rest of Coachella. Since I had never experienced anything of the sort before and couldn't comprehend what had happened, the first reactions I had to my trip were those of fear, confusion, and disappointment. On Saturday (the day afterwards), I was depressed while watching other sets play but
snapped out of it after I listened to Im Not Done on my Ipod. The song lyrics
pretty much told me not to be afraid of what I had just experienced and to
get on with my life. Thankfully I still had fun at Coachella but nothing came close
to Karin's performance.
I've had a month to evaluate my trip and in my various evaluations ranging from 12 hrs after Fever Ray's set to what I'm currently writing a month later, my reaction has shifted from freaked out/regretting I took shrooms to completely in awe of the fantastic, transcendental world I glimpsed. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to experience Fever Ray's music in such a life changing way. Although at the time I wasn't able to recognize what songs she was performing, I don't regret taking shrooms at all. What I experienced was even better. And now when I listen to her songs and watch videos of the Coachella performance, I experience a feeling of euphoria that takes me back to the night I heard Karin sing. Because I am so content, I am unable to feel any anxiety. This has totally screwed me over with finals and getting things done on time. Additionally, seeing Fever Ray on shrooms has expanded my creativity. I feel so grateful to Karin for giving me my first musical orgasm that my room has become a sort of "Fever Ray shrine." I've never tried painting before, but now I've begun to do a series of paintings based off Fever Ray/ The Knife lyrics. which I feel an intense connection to. I also think I stopped believing in Christianity or organized religion in general. Dressed in her shamanistic garb, it was like Karin was a shaman who showed me that you don't need the Bible or anything else to help you reach paradise. Enlightenment exists in us all. We just have to let go of everything and find our true selves to reach that state.
This description of Karin's performance by another Fever Ray fan pretty much encapsulates what I saw that night, and what I have learned from my shroom trip:
"It was like they were demigods from an ancient, forgotten Scandinavian
religion. They descended from the smoky ether of the Universe not to
convert us into followers, but to remind us of the power that shapes our
reality and that there are still an infinite number of things beyond
our understanding as human beings. We must treasure these fleeting
glimpses of strange and eldritch energies that hide behind the veil of
our mundane lives for they will be with us after our physical bodies
have ceased to exist.""
If I didn't feel like Fever Ray ate my soul already, I would give it in exchange for another chance to see her perform. Ideally I would see her on shrooms, once on E, and the last time sober.
Even if I won't see her perform again, thank you Karin Dreijer Andersson, for this mind-blowing soulgasm.
If you're a Fever Ray/The Knife fan, private message me :-) I always love talking about Karin