The crack of dawn at the In D Negev camping ground is greeted with the strumming of guitars, and people gathering beside their tents to greet the new day with what they love most in the world: music.
The sixth In D Negev indie musical festival, held this weekend at Kibbutz Gvulot, gave lesser-known musicians a chance to shine in the hot desert sun, and gave fans a chance to immerse themselves in the harmonic atmosphere. The desert venue was chosen specifically to unite such a culturally neglected music genre, with a similarly socially neglected natural environment.
The annual festival allows indie music-lovers to ‘”rough it” for a couple of days, while disregarding hygiene and nutrition to focus their attention on the music and the simply beautiful Israeli desert.
“The indie music community in Israel is not that big, and this gives a chance to all be together in one place to celebrate our music,” said Gilad Lautzker, who plays guitar in a band fairly new to the indie music scene, Luiza.
It’s really about the atmosphere more than anything, Lautzker explained right before his band’s first set. He had attended the festival as a fan in previous years. Even though this year was his band’s first In D Negev performance, he wasn’t the least bit nervous.
Thousands of tents crowded the campground, and there was a certain feeling of camaraderie amongst the crowd. No matter how different the attendees were in real life, at In D Negev, everyone had the same intentions; “to be with good people and feel the good vibes,” said Lautzker.
With two stages, an indie film outdoor theater, local art displays and more than 70 acts over a two-and-a-half day period, the festival accommodated every indie passion among the alternative hippy crowd, including resources for observant attendees. The festival grounds included a Chabad tent, which held Shabbat services, and general religious gathering and discussion.
The festival also provided a separate campground for families. Young children might be the last thing you would expect to see at a music festival full of young music-lovers, but Or-ly Ben Shlush and her husband Isaac said that they bring their daughter every year.
“Of course we love the music, but we come for our daughter. We want her to feel the atmosphere of the festival. It’s important for her to know what true freedom feels like, and this is true freedom,” said Or-ly of bringing her four-year-old daughter Noam to the festival.
One thing that makes In D Negev different from other music festivals is that people don’t use it as an excuse to do drugs or party. “People come for the music,” insisted 22-year-old first timer, Sea Greenberg.
There were many highly anticipated performances, including that of emerging artist Rotem Or, but none as energetic or vibrant as Yemen Blues. Their Friday night set was eccentric and inevitably jam packed with fans, and was one of the highlights of the In D Negev lineup.
No matter which band took the stage, every audience member was immersed in feeling the atmosphere. Although not every performance emitted as much skill and audacity as the Yemen Blues, fans showed appreciation and support to every musician on that stage.
On the final day of the festival, eager fans began to pack up their tents and clean sand off of their belongings in order to catch as many final day performances as they could. Through the ‘tent-jamming’ and cheering audience already at the concert, a faint voice could be heard in the campground over the loudspeaker from the stage: “All we want to do is to give back what you always give us, which is love.”
Though it wasn’t clear whether this announcement came from the band finishing their set, or the next band setting up to begin, one thing was for sure: this was the shared feeling of all musicians on that stage.