Earth, water, fire and…pineapple?: the meaning behind pineapples at music festivals

Julian Cassady

The Elements music festival is a dance music fest held annually in one of New York’s various water-front industrial parks each year. Hosted by BangOn!, the fest has some wild art and music to give you a new NYC experience. It’s all about getting in touch with the “new world” it creates and with some of the best beats in the industry. The elements of that world are relatively similar to ours, as the stages are called Earth, Water, Zero Air, Fire and Fifth Element. The fest had one of the most unique layouts I’ve seen, boasting art exhibits, jungle gyms, mermaids, roller skating, and aerialists.

The one thing that wasn’t unique was the pineapples being toted around by festival goers. I’ve seen pineapples at festivals before and just thought it was someone’s comic flair or a way to find a friend in a big crowd. It turns out that the pineapple trend is pretty big in the dance music world because it’s a symbol of peace and friendship — a huge thing at music festivals. After Columbus learned about them and brought them back to Europe, our fav crowned fruits were seen as a token of friendship, so naturally, attendees adapted that. People at music festivals always seem to be some of the friendliest around, and if they’re holding a pineapple, they’re probably chill AF and trying to make friends.

The first pineapple I saw was at the water stage during Bakermat’s set. The Dutch DJ performed an impressive set full of summery techno music. A girl in the crowd was holding the pineapple over her head, and both the pineapple and the rest of the crowd were bumping to the stellar set Bakermat was giving them. One of the highlights of the fest for me was when he brought a live saxophone player out. Who knew bass and sax worked so well together? Bakermat, apparently.

The saxophone player brought some NOLA blues feels to the beachy feeling set, which made Bakermat an ideal choice for the water stage. Granted, the water we were looking at was the East River, and not anything tropical, but the set still felt like a beach party in the Bronx.

After Bakermat, we made our way over to the Zero Air stage to see Damian Lazarus’ set. While walking into the press area, we saw yet another pineapple, left alone on the grass next to a fence. We tried to bring it backstage with us, but it didn’t have a press pass and was turned away. Our pineapple friend enjoyed Damian’s deep bass beats and heavy vibrations from his fence perch, but the music was enjoyable from anywhere around the stage. Damian’s set gave off some serious “Stranger Things” vibes, with most of his music sounding like it could be the soundtrack for a trippy mystery plot. And I’m serious about the vibrations; he plays the type of set where you feel it just as much as you hear it, which was super enjoyable for both me and my pineapple friend.

My favorite part of Elements was the roller skating rink that we stopped by after Damian Lazarus. The fest did indeed try to give everyone a whole new and fun experience and didn’t stop at the music. All of the art and performers were amazing, but the fact that they had an indoor roller skating rink, complete with some fresh and colorful lights, and the sounds of all the DJ’s outside, was sick. It’s always nice to be able to do something besides jump around at a music festival, and the skating gave fest goers the opportunity to do just that.

Our final set for the day was headliner GRiZ, who is a performer if I’ve ever seen one. He spent his entire time at the Earth Stage (the fest’s only indoor stage) giving off insane amounts of energy while he jumped around the stage. GRiZ’s blues-infused set was the second that day featuring a saxophone, which makes me think I’m the only one that didn’t know how well sax and dance music go together. (They go very well together, and I’ll def be petitioning to get jazz and dance music to merge). GRiZ’s take on dance music is funky and was different from everything else I’d heard up to that point. His set engaged every single one of the thousands of people in the crowd, which I think was due to the mixture of his unique sound and his ridiculously good stage presence. Didn’t see any pineapples in this crowd, but I’m sure they were there getting down and dirty.

Elements proved to be a learning experience for me, between the sax/bass thing, learning how to keep myself up on roller skates, and the meaning of the Festival Pineapple. It also proved to be a crazy fun time, with a ton of great people and some stellar music.