Canadian electronic music artist ill-ESHA unleashed a set at a recent Do… (Lauren Foliart / For The…)
On a cold and rainy December night, the dance floor at Hollywood's King King brims with young, urban hippies for the final show of the year presented by the Do Lab.
Founded by brothers Dede, Jesse and Josh Flemming, the production troupe is best known in Southern California for its artfully crafted soundstage on the Polo Fields at Coachella, its fast-growing alternative electric dance music festival Lightning in a Bottle and more recently its intimate biweekly King King shows, which are not only a source of income for the costly circus of stages, lights and interactive art at the brothers' larger events but a way to keep the like-minded members of the Do Lab community active between festivals.
Not one of the Flemming brothers is present in the club. Many other key Do Lab figures are absent too. That's because the Flemmings have taken their Do Lab show on the road, all the way to Egypt. Their latest entertainment venture, the three-day Great Convergence, through Saturday, is planned to peak with a music festival at the foot of the Giza Pyramids when the planets align on Friday.
"We're going to try and infuse what we do with Egyptian culture," Dede Flemming said before he left L.A. "It's out of the box, for sure."
Pyramid raves tied to Dec. 21 end-of-world predictions are a trend among EDM promoters. Several festivals are taking over parts of Mexico where ancient Maya ruins remain. Playa del Carmen, a Maya civilization site south of Cancun, is hosting Day Zero. Chichen Itza is the stage for "Synthesis 2012," and in Tulum, Mexico, there's Mayan Holidaze. Even DJ megastar Skrillex is using the occasion to take over Piramide de Cholula for his show.
But the itinerary for the Do Lab's Great Convergence looks slightly different than other doomsday events. Rather than bidding riddance to the past, it takes a positive twist and celebrates the "dawning of a new era." It also presents a deeper look into the significance of the pyramids and their role in constructing ancient calendars. Discussion panels with an Egyptologist are part of the event, which includes headliners and Do Lab close friends Beats Antique, Random Rab and Bluetech, along with a couple dozen other music acts. Bedouin tents, Persian rugs for lounging, Sufi dancers and whirling dervishes are all part of the scene framed by the starry sky and golden pyramids. That is, if all goes according to plan.
"The itinerary has taken some dramatic turns in the last few days," Jesse Shannon, also known as Y2, director of Do Lab communications and longtime member of the Do Lab family, e-mailed from Egypt. "The government has gotten involved in the proceedings. We are adapting and moving things around, but the government decided to completely shut down the pyramids on Dec. 21."
Do Lab organizers have optimistically rescheduled the music at the pyramids for Saturday -- the day after doomsday -- and have kept almost everything else as planned.
The Great Convergence arose from a partnership between the Do Lab and the Flemming brothers' close friends Tamer El-Shakhs and Isis Indriya. The collaboration started in January 2011 after El-Shakhs, a native Egyptian, came to the brothers with the idea for a glorified cultural excursion to the Giza Pyramids. Indriya soon joined El-Shakhs and Jesse Flemming on a trip to Cairo, where they started the foundations for the 2012 event. When Dede Flemming visited Cairo this September, his job was to assess the safety of the area given the recent political events. By coincidence, he happened to be in Egypt during the Sept. 11 uprising.
Dede said that the extreme images he saw on television did not match his own more positive experiences during his visit. Back in L.A., he tried to ease people's nerves about the safety of the area, but not everyone listened.
"It's not for everyone," Dede said. "It's for the people who want to take a journey with us. There's going to be some really great music, but it's in a very traditional setting. We're not trying to have this blowout. It's not like we're throwing a big dance party by the pyramids."
The team expects close to 300 attendees and had to add a second boat for a Nile cruise it's planning as part of the festivities.
"The Great Convergence events will be very intimate experiences," Shannon said. "The feeling of closeness will only grow. By the end of this trip, we're sure everyone that participates will feel a part of the group and this journey we are sharing."
Do Lab's King King shows will resume Jan. 18 with Gladkill, Kastle and Anthony Ellect. And on Jan. 26, Do Lab will bring Nit Grit, GoldRush and Labels to San Diego's Ruby Room.