“The goal is only that we all return home after Sacred Ground full in heart and lungs from the time together,” says the festival mission statement.
It’s a beautiful Saturday morning in Brüssow, a serene country village situated 100 kilometers north of Berlin. The sun is shining and the locals are out, from the young children to the town elderly, all watching in amazement as music lovers arrive from far and beyond to enjoy the first edition of Sacred Ground Festival. The grounds, a luscious field with aged farm buildings around the outside, is scattered carefully with low-lying beds, Persian rugs and home-made benches, all placed to promote a relaxed and care-free atmosphere —a welcome contrast to the hustle and bustle that surrounds the common festival.
With a line-up that included David August, Âme and Howling, it would be easy to go on and on about the music — but to do so would serve as a great injustice to the magic of Sacred Ground. Reflecting back, while the tremendous art installations and performances provided a focal point for all those fortunate few in attendance, it is this sense of harmonious community that must be captured in this review. As RY X alluded to in an interview leading up to the event, Sacred Ground is more akin to a gathering than a festival. Absent are the queues and overpriced refreshments, replaced instead with fresh local catering and a sense of togetherness, captured most perfectly as the artists mingle with the crowd, dancing in unison under the stars and indulging in the moment all together.
The music, as expected, was spectacular. Though initially a questionable ploy, the lack of confirmed set times actually worked in such a small setting, encouraging a sense of unity and collaboration. Notable midafternoon performances by Dream Koala and Kalabrese & Rumpelorchester came and went, but it was when Howling graced the stage that the party really began. As the locals began to drift off to there homes as the skies darkened, the intimacy gave the feeling of a private showcase for which one had won tickets rather than a festival open to the public. Stunning sets from Dauwd and Âme set the tone for David August, a special talent who delivered once again with a spectacular early morning performance before going back to back with Wiedemann and RY X as the sun began to rise over the ancient barn that formed a perfect backdrop to the festival.
Inevitably for a festival in such remote location, the accessibility of Sacred Ground could certainly deter some folk from making the journey. Although the train ride is easy and shuttle buses are provided between the station and the festival site, it's a long way to travel for an event that spans only one day. However, this is only a minor point, and based on this it is hard to brand the first edition of Sacred Ground anything other than a grand success. The challenge, however, comes now. As the demand for the event grows as will the temptation to expand the size, and the scalability of the Sacred Ground “community” formula is dubious, at best.
As for Edition One, however—it is certainly mission accomplished.
Co-written by Itzel Ramirez