GZA & Smalltown DJs @ Beakerhead (Calgary, AB) 9/16/2015

Calgary’s Beakerhead, a unique festival that bridges cutting-edge science and technology with arts, music, and culture, kicked off the evening of September 16th with a multitude of interactive dance and musical numbers, a brief appearance by Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and the most esteemed guest of the night, his majesty GZA of Wu-tang Clan giving a very moving speech on the importance of science to a crowd of hip-hop and science lovers alike hanging out in a giant sandbox.  I will repeat this for emphasis.  His highness GZA on the microphone (a myriad of galactic space images projected on the screen behind him) preaching his love of science to a bunch of stoked kids in a sandbox.  How cool and once-in-a-lifetime was that?   

The commotion started at sundown, when a mob of protons, also resembling humans in white jumpsuits, burst from backstage, grooving to the warrior-esque rhythms of a six-man drum fleet.  Flash-mob style, the protons dispersed into the crowd in osmotic fashion.  David Saint-Jacques (he’s been in space!) took the stage to narrate their journey, a story beginning with the singularity point, the very beginning of all existence.  The protons, now not just dancing with the crowd, but swinging from structures and showing off their best gymnast tricks, managed to get through some billion years of particle history in about twenty minutes, which was impressive.  To end this portion off, a miniature rocket ship burst forth into the sky (ok it was attached to a crane) carrying a few lucky space cadets in it. 

Next, GZA took the microphone to a warm applause of Wu-tang fans young and old.  His speech was part autobiography, part philosophy, and part science, speaking of his first moments of scientific fascination as young boy, and the path that this pursuit has led him down, influencing both musical and deeper spiritual understandings in his life.  GZA ended his talk with a song from his new album, Dark Matter (good name), navigating the audience through a world of waves, particles and vibrations with poetic flow and finesse.    

Evening was now upon us, and Smalltown DJs, a local Calgary favourite, ignited the dance party with some groovy break beat tunes and science-lab inspired samples.  The dancing went for a real long time, and the moves got pretty extravagant and fierce.  We moved like waves, like particles, like the evolved beings we were, our eagerness sometimes colliding with the confines of our flexibility and clumsy dexterity.  I guess this is what inevitably results when you put a bunch of nerdy party animals in a sandbox together.