Given his name, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Damian Lazarus has a predisposition for themes of rebirth and renewal. (His predisposition for ponchos is another matter.) In December, the chieftain of the Crosstown Rebels crew will lead his ragtag band of rabble-rousers to a crossroads of a different sort — a spiritual one, if you will.
Set at a picturesque site near the tourist town of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Day Zero is the kind of party that only comes around once every 25 millennia or so. As the organizers explain in a press release: “The occasion will mark the end-date of a 25,625-year-long cycle and fifth and final cycle of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. Waves of transformative mystery, magic, and expectation will wash across the blissful crowd ushering in the inauguration of a new reality, a second chance, a departure from the disappointments of the past.”
Headlining the high-minded bill are Massive Attack’s Robert “3D” del Naja and UNKLE’s James Lavelle, performing “live recreations and re-edits” of Massive Attack’s music; Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs; and Trentemoller. The lineup also draws heavily from the Crosstown Rebels extended family, including Jamie Jones, Art Department, Infinity Ink, Subb-An, Metrika, Acid Pauli, Francesca Lombardo, Amirali, Fur Coat, Thugfucker, Matias Aguayo, and Maayan Nidam. Lazarus himself will play the final set, coinciding with the metaphorical turning of the calendar’s page, at 6:11 p.m. on December 21. (Will U2’s “New Year’s Day” make the setlist? Probably not, but that would be pretty rad.) A second stage is dedicated exclusively to Mexican performers, including Pachanga Boys’ Rebolledo, Damian Romero, Robbie Akbal, and residents of Juarez’ Hardpop and Guadalajara’s Bar Americas.
The real star of the event, however, is the location: Stages will be set at a reconstructed pyramid site within Pueblo SacBe, a “sustainable eco-friendly community primarily for those working in the arts.” Additionally, representatives of the local Huichol community will perform workshops and shamanic rituals. Skeptics may wonder if this amounts to a kind of spiritual tourism that cheapens the local culture, especially given the circus-like antics for which the Crosstown Rebels crew is known — Party in the Jungle! See Real Live Indigenous People! Cleanse Your Soul While Dancing to Deep House! Alternately, perhaps anything that puts money in the pockets of the local community and raises foreigners’ awareness of Huichol culture could be a positive thing. It certainly won’t be the first time that northerners have come to Mexico seeking enlightenment; as last year’s narco-tourism documentary The Secret Life of Mushrooms points out, John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and even one of the Osmond brothers all allegedly made psilocybin pilgrimages to remote Mexican villages in the 1960s.
To be fair, the Day Zero press materials make no mention of psychedelics of any kind. But if you expect me to believe that a party like this will go off without any substance-oriented mind alteration at all, well, my spirit animal is a monkey’s uncle.