**Authors Note: I was only at Further Future on Friday as I was double booked for the weekend. I did not get to attend any of the talks or partake in any of the $250 plate meals or spa services. My review is more based on what was there while I was.
With new festivals popping up around the world, it is rare to hear of one making so much noise. My decision to go to Further Future was fueled as much by curiosity as it was by desire. I wanted to know if Robot Heart – one of the most highly talked-about (love ‘em or hate ‘em) camps at Burning Man – could pull off a three- day festival experience. I was also curious to see what the crowd would be like, as Further Future proudly caters to the top 1% of the Burning Man community who are happy to pay to have everything done for them.
As my crew and I made our way to the gates, the greeter handed us a fancy Further Future water bottle, sunglasses, and a bag for trash. This was the first time I had ever been given so much swag on my way into the venue. I was completely stoked, as I had just lost my water bottle at Coachella and had only one pair of sunglasses with me (it’s always good to have a backup). The trash bag was a step in the right direction to encourage people to pick up after themselves (but where was the recycling bag)?
After parking across from a Ferrari (another first) we pointed ourselves in the direction of the venue. As we walked in that direction, we made our way past a variety of different pre-assembled accommodations. There were the Shift Pods, the Airstreams, the tents, and even a couple of blow-up houses that I hadn’t seen at a festival before.
I still can’t decide if the uniformity of these areas was sleek or off-putting. It was organized like a nice neighborhood, but without any mood lighting or decoration it also resembled some sort of soulless military camp. I’ll never understand why anyone would pay $1,000 to rent a Shift Pod for the weekend when they could have bought one for the same price.
Inside, the first thing I noticed about the venue was how small it felt. The entire property was 49 acres of flat ground, meaning you could see from one side to the other. I’ve always felt that a large part of what makes a festival a magical experience is the ability to explore all the nooks and crannies of the property. Further Future was completely cranny-less. After being inside the venue for 20 minutes, you’d seen everything there was to see. There was one standard festival stage, one DJ tent, the spa/yoga center, the Envelope stage (very cool), a couple tents for guest speakers, and then there was the Robot Heart Art car. It was a fun place to watch music but lacked the other aspects that complete the festival experience.
Between the stages there was a surprisingly small presence of art. There was one interactive installation that was quite popular, and one art installation that glowed and changed colors, but the venue still felt empty and really dark at night.
While the art was lacking the crowd turned out to be top notch. While many fit the mold of the high-class Burner that was so heavily advertised, there were still lots of the same crowd you see at every west coast festival. I felt like everyone there was fun, approachable enough, and ready to party. After attending Further Future and Burning Man (five times) I can confidently say that the 1% crowd is misunderstood. These people can be anywhere in the world at any time they desire, but the fact that they choose to come to Burning Man – and in this case, Further Future – shows that festivals are the most fun you can possibly have. This crowd may like to be catered to but once they are there they are still just people hoping to have a good time. Having so many creative people in one place did make Further Future a wonderful place to network and help spread ideas.
The overall experience left me wanting more, though. I was not expecting Burning Man, but I was expecting a festival that was worth its $350 ticket price. With a price like this, you should have a festival teeming with art, lighting that glows, and a never-ending list of things to do. Maybe next year this festival will take the steps it needs to be a true festival of the future.