Hello. my name is Kris, I am Astrals’ graphic designer, web designer and occasionally help out on product design such as the LE5 and LE7 lifevest. I also have a life outside this, which involves DJ’ing, photographing nature and Hippie Watching, which is an internationally appreciated form of people watching used to pass time at festivals. It can be done without the Guides I’ve written, but… why reinvent the wheel?, plus the sales of it help perpetuate the cycle of me going to festivals to charge hippies to make fun of them. This gastank ain’t gonna fill itself, SON! The below photos illustrate some of the uses people have found for the guides at festivals

The Guides in action

The Guides in action

Ephraim Hippie Watching

Ephraim Hippie Watching

ZsaZsa training the next generation of Hippie Watchers.

ZsaZsa training the next generation of Hippie Watchers.

I was asked by Bryan if I would be interested in trading a pair of the soon to be released Bakers for a humorous Jaded Review style review of them. Of course, I said yes, because who doesn’t want to trade gear for something they were going to do anyways? Now… to figure out how to somehow make the fact that I went to a party relevant to a shoe review.

I ran into my first dilemma – I have to assume most readers of this blog are not familiar with the west coast festival culture and the jenga-like towering mountain of nonsense these hippies have built their summer yurts on. I imagine it’s imilar to when you try to explain the river rat lifestyle to normals they look at you as if you politely asked them whether they would mind if you ate their dog. So, before I get into the shoe review, I feel it’s only fair to explain the environment they will be used in first.

For this unavoidably biased review I chose Photosynthesis Festival, which is one of the smaller festivals comparatively. It happens on the Northwest tip of Washingtons Olympic Penninsula on Makah Bay in the Nation of Makah. This is a Native America dry reservation with population of a few thousand.The Festival itself is a three day affair primarily centered around scaring local wildlife, small children and dogs by attempting to play techno loud enough to be heard from the moon using immense soundsystems.

This would be the third year in this location and leads to some very interesting encounters between the local Makah and hippies. It draws about 800 hippies and about 800 locals. The are itself is absolutely stunning – that is… when it’s not covered in clouds and misting. As an added bonus there is tons of smoked salmon and dungeness crabs around. To save needless typing – Everything south of this sentence is photo credit: me

Cape Flattery 5 Miles to the North of where the event was held. This is the northwest-most point in the US and where you can wrestle and tame your own winged rainbow covered spirit reptiles like in Avatar.

Cape Flattery 5 Miles to the North of where the event was held. This is the northwest-most point in the US and where you can wrestle and tame your own winged rainbow covered spirit reptiles like in Avatar.

Godrays.

Godrays.

The Gear:

I like gear. I like being appropriately ready for some crazy adventures while at festivals. Just past where the event is held there is five miles of jaw dropping tidal flats which connect up with Cape Flattery. We call this place CrabTown, which is an in-joke but knowing this will help explain a few things a bit below. These flats are covered in slippery kelp, crabs and all forms of beach detritus washed up from Japan and beyond. Even though Bryan only asked a Baker review, I brought my entire run of Astral shoes to give them all a try.

Essential Hippie Watching Gear: Left to right: Waterproof Ortlieb Vario panniers/backback, Go Ruck 1000d Cordura bag with Think Tank Camera system with 5dmkIII, 70-200 2.8II, 17-35 f2.8II and 50mm 1.4,  Watershed dry bag, and Packcubes.

Essential Hippie Watching Gear: Left to right: Waterproof Ortlieb Vario panniers/backback, Go Ruck 1000d Cordura bag with Think Tank Camera system with 5dmkIII, 70-200 2.8II, 17-35 f2.8II and 50mm 1.4, Watershed dry bag, and Packcubes.

The line of shoes Im testing this weekend. Front to back Black and Tan Porter, Green and Lime Brewer and Tuquoise Baker.

The line of shoes I tested this weekend. Front to back Black and Tan Porter, Green and Lime Brewer and Turquoise Baker.

Why am I here in the first place?

As mentioned before, I am a DJ which is another ludicrous profession where I press buttons which play other peoples music and dance around like I’m doing something of consequence. This time around I got a beach ‘showcase’ which means two friends and I all play in a three hour block. Since the three of us all have big hair we called it the Big Hair Showdown At Crabtown. This is the first place I tested the Bakers out. I can report that they are perfectly fine to DJ in, No trainwrecks or embarassing faceplants while dancing around. – see pictures below.

The Bakers 400d Cordura gives me peace of mind when walking through fields of crabs that throw their ‘come at me bro’ stance. We’ve later decided that this is not an aggressive stance; they are in fact throwing their claws  up in revelatory worship of you as an omnipotent deity.

The Bakers 400d Cordura gives me peace of mind when walking through fields of crabs that throw their claws up in their ‘Come at me, Bro’ stance. We’ve later decided that this is not an aggressive stance; they are in fact throwing their claws up in revelatory worship of you as an omnipotent deity. Either way, your feet are safe.

Flyer for The Bighair Showdown at Crabtown

The Tables have turned: the flyer for The Bighair Showdown at Crabtown

Essential Gear – Crabtown Anti-Social Club Flask for drinking whiskey on the sly in a dry reservation. shhhhh. Also Great for Childrens Birthday Parties, Funerals and parole hearings.

Essential Gear from 2011 – Crabtown Anti-Social Club Flask for drinking whiskey on the sly in a dry reservation. shhhhh. Also Great for Childrens Birthday Parties, Funerals and parole hearings.

The Baker – Performance Review

Now that I’ve regaled you with three pages of uncut nonsense… Let’s actually talk about this shoe. The Baker is a slip-on shoe with upcycled and regrooved tire tread sole, 400D Cordura upper and soft cushy midsole. It has the flushport in the back and mid-sole drain ports you are familiar with from the first two releases of Astrals’ shoe line. Since a majority of my time at a festival is spent either in a circle talking or walking somewhere else to stand in a circle to talk, comfort is important and the Bakers bring it. Of the three semi-technical shoes I brought it was the best fit for the wide range of activities I found myself participating in and also let the least sand and dirt in.These activities are explained and illustrated below

Other shoes make bold claims – but for my money the Baker is the only shoe I would trust for mission critical performance while operating a bike powered smoothie blender. p.s. Double Mountain: Hire me to write about your beer! I’m fucking killing it here.

Other shoes make bold claims – but for my money the Baker is the only shoe I would trust for mission critical performance while operating a bike powered organic smoothie blender. p.s. Double Mountain: Hire me to write about your beer! I’m fucking killing it here.

The Bakers excel at color coordinating with costumed Festival dogs. Ideal for accessorizing with a festival hottie – that is, ahrmm, if you aren’t happily married.

The Bakers excel at color coordinating with costumed Festival dogs. Ideal for accessorizing with a festival hottie – that is, ahrmm, if you aren’t happily married.

I ran across a sign advertising a workshop about “Monetizing Quantan Mechanics” which, frankly, I knew would be absolute gold; giving me a wealth of material to work off of for years. Apparently, if you buy these little holograms to put in your vehicles gastank it will not only clean the output of your car but it will also clean the input of the air going into your vehicle. These claims are backed up by revolutionary breakthroughs in the cutting edge field of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. In fact, I believe I have a better understanding of Quantum theory than this guy for for two reasons: 1) I can spell it right 2) I know that most of the explanations of Quantum theory are simply oft-abused metaphors trying to explain the mathematics to people who don’t have a mathematical background about the illogical behaviors of sub-atomic particles. Not you know… Gastanks. </minirant>

The first step in monetizing anything – Try spelling it right. This was one of at least 6 workshops – the only thing worse at this festival was the dude who was trying to play saxaphone over everyones set.

The first step in monetizing anything – Try spelling it right. This was one of at least 6 workshops – the only thing worse at this festival was the tophat dude who was trying to play saxaphone over everyones set.

End of Festival Blow out sale on Holograms for your gas tank.

End of Festival Blow out sale on Holograms for your gas tank.

Turntable Bike soundsytem next to Holograms for your Gastank ‘workshop’ – The Joys of Hippie Watching – This shit writes itself.

Turntable Bike soundsytem next to Holograms for your Gastank ‘workshop’ – The Joys of Hippie Watching – This shit writes itself.

The Bakers performed well in all aspects of this. They work great running towards Quantum Snake Oil Salesmen so you don’t miss anything… Great for standing there, and great for running away after your brain absorbed a near-fatal dose of BS. Additionally, they would be excellent for pedaling that turntable bike soundsystem around.

It’s not all bad!

Lest you think that the festivals are filled with weird scams and dudes running around with a tophats and saxaphones let’s take a peak at a few of the better moments.

 

Main Stage in the evening with dancers and glow toy spinners.

Main Stage in the evening with dancers and glow toy spinners.

I took a bunch of these pictures because I figure kayakers and nature lovers would absolutely love the radiolarian/protozoan/diatom feeling of this glass piece.

I took a bunch of these pictures because I figure kayakers and nature lovers would absolutely love the radiolarian/protozoan/diatom feeling of this glass piece.

Inside the Tribe 13 Art Gallery. More next-level glass art featuring bubbles and kelp.

Inside the Tribe 13 Art Gallery. More next-level glass art featuring bubbles and kelp.

Inside the Tribe 13 Art Gallery - A collaboration between Alex Ubatuba and his partners whos name I stupidly didn't write down.

Inside the Tribe 13 Art Gallery – A collaboration between Alex Ubatuba and his partners whos name I stupidly didn’t write down.

Resin cast Romanesco brocolli flower

Resin cast Romanesco brocolli flower

Onward! To CRABTOWN!

Wel,l we didn’t goto the official crabtown – we went to another Tidal flat just north of Neah Bay (nicknamed New Crab Town) to look for fossilized crabs. I originally intended to test out and write about the Brewers here but my friend showed up with flipflops which is no way to explore tidal flats (doubly so since the last time we went it tore up his flipflops) So I gave him my Brewers and I went mucking about in the Bakers. All in all, the Baker performed fine but for the sort of crazy climbing and exploring I do I would much have preferred to have the Stealth rubber sole for traction and the shoelaces to keep it tight, which would have been really useful in the incredibly slick kelp fields. The tire tread did a surprisingly good job but I probably wouldn’t recommend it for everyone.

The wife, Alisha, flexing her crabtown steez while showing us this starfish breaking open a mussel. Astral Brewers in the back and hand wrought chain-mail bracelet I bartered for last summer.

The wife, Alisha, flexing her crabtown steez while showing us this starfish breaking open a mussel. Astral Brewers in the back and hand wrought chain-mail bracelet I bartered for last summer.

Crab!

I, for one, welcome our new crab overlords.

Wind Carved Sandstone.

Wind Carved Sandstone.

More awesome sandstone

More awesome sandstone

Seagrass, Mussels Bladderac and Seaweed.

Seagrass, Mussels Bladderac and Seaweed.

Tidal flats with seagrass and millions of little snails.

Tidal flats with seagrass and millions of little snails.

Lastly, The Spoils

After a good festival you end up with some good pile of junk to bring home to stack on your hippie altar. Here’s ours with some descriptions.

Festival Spoils - Including: Large Bismuth crystal & Melanite Andradite Crystal traded for some zines, 'Upgrade to Warlock Status' pin, 'Everyday is overtime for a Jedi Hustler' Money-clip, random Altar junk, Seal Vertabrae, Play money to make it rain whenever I deem necessary.

Festival Spoils – Including: Large Bismuth crystal & Melanite Andradite Crystal traded for some zines, ‘Upgrade to Warlock Status’ pin, ‘Everyday is overtime for a Jedi Hustler’ Money-clip, random Altar junk, Seal Vertabrae, Play money to make it rain whenever I deem necessary.

Thank you for reading this LOOOOOOOOOOONG article all the way to the end.


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