Burning Man will continue their yearly tradition this August in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert with a flurry of art installations and music. From their massive heat reflective NASA space blanket in 2018 to their 100-foot-tall disco ball, Burning Man has emerged as a pop-up art installation epicenter where travelers come from far and wide to showcase their own art while taking in what the festival curators have planned. Every year, Burning Man sifts through hundreds off design submissions for their esteemed temple, and this year’s prized honor went to Colorado-based architect Renzo Verbeck and artist Sylvia Adrienne Lisse.
The structure is called “Empyrean,” an eight-pointed centerpiece for the annual gathering which will be burned on the final day, along with the “man.” “Empyrean” refers the birthplace of fire in the heavenly realm. In the middle of the temple lays the artificial “Empyrean Flame” that can be seen from all cardinal directions of the desert.
The 2020 installment of Burning Man music festival has gained artistic shape, with festival organizers announcing “Empyrean” as the thematic temple design for this year’s chapter of the Black Rock Desert-based affair. Designed by Laurence “Renzo” Verbeck and Sylvia Adrienne Lisse, “Empyrean” has an eight-star configuration, a design that Burning Man lauds for its “lovely geometry and inclusive design.”
The temple is 200 inches in diameter and will peak at 70 inches. “Empyrean” is an interactively structure that will be outfitted with flag poles that attendees can write on and pulley to the top to release their written sentiments to the wind as an offering.
“Empyrean’s” symbolic value dates back to Medieval times. Representative of the “highest celestial point,” from which humanity can reach the cosmos, Empyrean is also heralded as the birthplace of fire. A light that simulates a flickering flame will be displayed in the center apex of the temple, in homage to this association. Notably, “Empyrean” is not Verbeck and Lisse’s introduction to Burning Man temple architecture: the artistic pair erected 2019’s Temple of Direction. Burning Man will return to the Nevada desert from August 30 – September 7, 2020.
Since 1990, the quite literally scorchingBurning Man festival has drawn droves to the deserts of Nevada to celebrate the best of music, art, and the spirit of legendary event. The festival has historically hosted on public grounds, renting space from the government. Now, Black Rock City LLC (the company behind Burning Man) is suing the Bureau of Land Management for raises in fees and “inflated and unnecessary costs on [Black Rock City] without providing adequate justification.”
According to The Hill, the BLM’s overcharging has been an issue for four years and the lawsuit is Black Rock City’s “attempt to break the cycle.” However, despite the recent suit, the event brand has filed a total of six separate appeals in attempt to overturn the average $3 million annual cost it pays towards securing Burning Man festival grounds, as well as the BLM’s aggressively increasing fee for providing law enforcement and general oversight of the land. In 2012 BRC paid the BLM $1.4 million in total expenses. The following year the fee increased to $2.9 million with only a 4% increase in Burning Man attendees.
In a public complaint regarding the lawsuit, BRC writes that the BLM and interior department are guilty of “ongoing, unlawful, and prejudicial conduct … that threatens the viability of the iconic Burning Man Event.” The complaint also states that Burning Man has paid nearly $21 million since only 2015 to use the land required for the festival.
Burning Man 2020 begins in August with the theme of multiverse.
The sandy surrealism of RÜFÜS DU SOL‘s Burning Man set spans 90 minutes of surefire transfixion. The live endeavor, like the dust of the playa, has settled, landing in its full-length form on SoundCloud.
Originally delivered atop the Robot Heart bus in Black Rock Desert, the set is a tactile jaunt; staccato percussion rhythmically labors at the opening. It’s a structural anticipation of what is yet to come in the textured set. The beats agilely pound, synths ebb. The arches, staggered throughout, are tantalizingly slow in their development, attention demanding. Listeners would be remiss to direct it elsewhere.
Appropriately catalogued as “playa tech,” the electronic outfit’s Burning Man stint is an affective deviation from their typical live format. A particularly arresting highlight colors the 51-minute mark, where RÜFÜS DU SOL work in an alternative version of SOLACE inclusion, “All I’ve Got.”
Straight out of Black Rock Desert and to streamers’ speakers, Gorgon City‘s set from Burning Man‘s 2019 installment bestows an hour and a half of sauntering sound upon listeners, sans the playa dust. Akin to the slow burn of the Nevada sun at the height of day, the opening minutes of Gorgon City’s set simmer. They arch with a dark ambiance as the steady beat with which the full-length showing opens plods forth.
In contrast to the more animated, upbeat technics that have colored Gorgon City productions in the past, such as the Kaskade co-effort, “Go Slow,” the pair’s Burning Man set is more muted and minimalistic. It’s replete with dusky sonic drama and shadowy, synth-assisted climaxes; a musical match to the mood of the desert.
Carl Cox‘s torrential techno reign has foraged Black Rock City for over a decade, and this year was no disruption from tradition. The global DJ veteran recently released his hour-and-a-half set at the Opulent Temple stage at Burning Man. Cox brought his unequivocal energy to the majestic desert playground with a set strewn with melodies riding percussion.
With various IDs and tracks from Audiojack, Kenny Dope, wAFF and more, the set is best-spent reminiscing the fleeting nature of time or simply lavishing in the array of long-form buildups and celestial hooks.
Burning Man may only last for a week, fragments of the elusive weekend continue to surface—reminding the rest of the music community of the desert-dwelling spectacle’s all-embracing artistic artillery. Below is another unearthed memory from the depths of debauchery entertainment, delivered by Playground BRC.
Well, luckily for everyone involved, the future-beats producer, who built his reputation Down Under (go figure), promptly dispelled all ambiguity during his set in the desert this weekend when he, for lack of a better term, made a meal of it. A video posted to Snapchat by Flume’s girlfriend, actress Paige Elkington, was quickly deleted, but not before being captured and shared to the r/flume Reddit corner, eliciting reactions from all corners of the electronic ether. It remains unclear if the woman on the receiving end of Flume’s… generosity (depending on whom you ask) is indeed Elkington.
Earlier this year Flume released his heatedly fawned-over Hi, This is Flume mixtape, featuring originals such as “How to Build a Relationship” and “Wormhole.”
Disclaimer: Clip contains sexually explicit material.Continue to footage here.
For years, Tycho has treated Burning Man attendees to blissful sunrise sets and has also delivered his sets to those who couldn’t attend the festivities. This year, again, the producer has uploaded his 2019 sunrise set to SoundCloud, allowing all fans to experience two hours of dreamy beats even if they’re not in Black Rock City.
The new set takes listeners on an introspective journey, kicking off with Van Halen’s “1984” and setting the tone for the out-of-this-world collection of music that follows. From his own songs to selections from Bonobo, Chrome Sparks, Four Tet, and more, the celebrated artist thrills from start to finish.
“Happy to present this year’s sunrise set, live from the Dusty Rhino in Black Rock City on Thursday, August 29th, 2019,” Tycho notes in the mix’s description. “Thank you all for taking the time to share in this moment, it’s truly a highlight for me to spend this morning with you each year.”
Skrillex keeps a special place in his heart for Burning Man. He’s made a number of trips out to the Playa in recent years, typically stopping by for pop-up performances and dusty hangs in the Nevada desert at least for a few days each year. Ahead of 2019’s iteration of Burning Man, the OWSLA head honcho is donating a performance in Reno to help raise funds for Head Maze—a new art installation aiming to debut at the burn later this summer. This isn’t the first time Skrillex has done this, last linking with the same team of artists to help with fundraising efforts for their 2016 piece, Space Whale.
The new piece, Head Maze, which is currently under construction at a shared art space in Reno called The Generator, actually sounds like quite the head-turner. The structure is three stories tall, depicting a massive head resting on one hand, whose skin is being peeled back by the other hand to reveal a crystalline design beneath. Inside, the 40-foot head will be a complex labyrinth comprised of 18 rooms.
Matt Schultz, the lead designer on the Head Maze project described the sculpture, explaining,
“The sculpture will be dedicated to the complexities of cognition, our common struggle between body and mind, nature and nurture and our persistently fluctuating perception of self.”
Skrillex is performing on July 20 at Cargo Concert Hall and tickets are $44. Head Maze is aiming to raise 190,000 to meet the project’s fundraising goal before Burning Man kicks off on August 25. Purchase tickets here.
Burning Man has struck a deal with the U.S. Bureau of Land and Management to put a hard limit on the event’s attendance for the next 10 years. The iconic music, arts, and expression festival will now be limited to 80,000 attendees. This agreement comes after the BLM cited expected regional traffic and environmental impacts if the festival continued to grow to its expected 100,000 attendees over the next few years.
Although Burning Man, which begins on August 25, has come to terms with the Bureau of Land and Management on attendance, the festival continues to resist other mounting pressures from the government entity. The bureau has also proposed adding physical and dumpsters barriers to the festival, as well as taxing the event based on its expected environmental impact, however one change that the festival plans to fight back on is the hiring a private security firm to screen attendees for drugs and weapons upon entry.
In a statement to the festival journal, Burning Man organizers explained their stance:
“This mitigation will likely not be implemented for 2019, and we may have the opportunity to prevent it in the future. This proposal from BLM represents a massive shift from Burning Man’s 30-year history running our own operations to BLM running certain Black Rock City operations, without our coordination, and without our control over the costs or implementation. It also subjects a peaceable gathering of people to searches without probable cause other than a desire to attend Burning Man. We’ve submitted our serious concerns to the BLM (see Attachment 2 in Volume 2 of the FEIS) about the significant constitutional, civil rights, environmental, cultural and operational impacts of this proposal. This is one requirement we are prepared to push back on, and we will keep you posted as we better understand the situation and what can be done about it.”