When a group as talented and beautiful as this comes together in the Colorado mountains, we expect greatness, and for another consecutive year, we received it! Jamie Janover and company built it and the rest, feeding off of his lead, followed suit. Now, a year later, we are more mature and experienced, heading into the weekend with more of an understanding as to what we are trying to get out of it. But Sonic Bloom also featured more new friends and first timers to enlighten and bring in on the action. Sonic Bloom – which over the past three years has become synonymous with words like Shadow’s Ranch, June, Georgetown, Colorado, and electronic music festival – has completed its 8th year, and as somewhat expected, with plentiful smiles and cries. This weekend took on a range of emotions most festivals want nothing to do with, let alone know how to properly handle. Sonic Bloom, its creators/organizers, and its attendees did a fantastic job of dealing with the highs and the lows, which became evident on Sunday, the event’s final day of activities.
Soulacybin Live Set – Sunday @ CODome – 3:45pm
The very long weekend started Thursday at 2pm (gates opened at 4pm for the general public with the Opening Ceremony commencing at 7:45pm), and music went through Sunday night into Monday morning. Considering the elements – Colorado’s very dry heat and powerful sun coupled with the thinning Oxygen at a respectful elevation of 8,600 ft. – this isn’t time to to become lackadaisical and lose focus of your health. Mother nature wasn’t going to let this one go without a hitch. Periodically throughout the weekend there were showings of threatening clouds along with the constant risk of an overflowing river (for the woods campers), but the veteran in us was prepared for most of this. However, I’m not sure anybody could have been prepared for what we now know to be a “microburst” (an unfortunate surge of energy). To us, it felt like an insanely powerful quick blast of wind ripping through the grounds with the idea of causing serious destruction – downed power lines and flipped over vendor tents, but nothing that was unrecoverable, most importantly, lives. It became apparent that these festivals can be used as an incredible opportunities for one to train or test their body and mind while immersed in different environments.
You can easily go all three or four days partying your face off with a recovery period of the same length to begin your next week. Or you can go into the festival with the mindset of trying to better yourself and use partying/dancing as a productive release. A big component of The Bloom Series (Transformational Festival Documentary, which they showed parts one and two on the Main Stage during the afternoon) that I took away with me was when they interviewed the artist Skytree. His idea is very direct and has helped me put perspective into this “festival life” that I still want to enjoy even as I get older and become more responsible. He makes a goal to himself to leave festivals feeling just as good if not better than when he arrived… Something that takes maturity and self restraint at times, as I’m quickly learning no doubt! This type of attitude seems to be more and more of a theme among artists making festival culture a regular facet to their reality. Specifically in the Transformational Festival Community, health, wellness, and oneness are main principles echoed throughout their events.
Similar to the crowd and the attitude of attendees, the music felt extremely community driven, like a giant jam session for electronic hippies (a.k.a. Burners? haha). Case in point – on the first night while Love & Light was finishing their set on the Main Stage and Phutureprimitive was setting up, the joy and happiness between the two groups was apparent (especially when they get to share the stage with their friends or musicians that they listen to). The pleasure of being there, to be sharing the moment with each other even if it is for just a few smiling moments, radiates off stage and into the crowd – as is the case with a close knit community such as Sonic Bloom. Similarly the next night, Russ Liquid spent an abundance of his time helping Opiuo close out the Main Stage, playing trumpet, saxaphone, and maybe even some flute*! All in all the introductions from one artist to the next were genuine and smile inducing. When you see an artist still jamming out on Sunday night days after their scheduled set, you hone in on that sense of community which binds the festival together, like the brick and mortar of a house.
Before I indulge in Saturday night’s CODome madness, I’ve got to give props to Wick-it the Instigator, who brought his own idea of late night mania to the Dome! His commanding physical presence is easily overshadowed by his sometimes silly antics (featuring often used crazy samples from pop culture like Will Ferrel’s “CANNONNBALLL”). But seeing a man that size grab the mic and give us his own “CANNONNBALLL” for a high impact beat drop is pure entertainment to go along with his very danceable hyphy bass mashups. We would joke that while at the Dome the harder it was to breath and the dirtier you got, the better the set. When all the bandanas were busted out, you know it was time for the thizzle dance. But this was just a warm up. Essentially, Saturday night’s appetizer.
Lucent Dossier Experience got the weird kicked off, with stage rigging setup to support hanging, spinning, and circus like acrobatic stunts utilizing what can only be described as a kids jungle gym floating in the air! Colorado was awoken to the interesting dance troupe and dubstep producing wild men and women, and I saw a lot of basically motionless, jaw dropped, eyes gaped dancing amongst the crowd. Polish Ambassador succeeded Lucent, and although that can potentially feel like a tough act to follow, once the super galactic space suit is on, there is no stopping the World’s Funkiest Diplomat and his skilled VJ friend (who also happens to be the Director of Fan Interaction), VJ Liminus. Due to a great set with a couple of phenomenal remixes or just sheer excitement for what was upcoming, Polish’s set was over before I even realized it. And for the next eight hours I was about to call the Dome my home.
The CODome ThrowDown was slam packed with energy and dancing bodies (luckily the “slam packed” felt more like an energy and hype to the air, rather than the actual shoulder to shoulder sweat fest we more commonly associate with those words). The crowd was plentiful both inside and out, don’t get me wrong. However, if you weaved your way into the giant geodesic steel structure you would find that there was ample dancing room! (Though one jackass decided he wanted to laydown during all of this and brought his air mattress into the Dome… Needless to say, it didn’t last very long. C’mon man!!!! Where’s the etiquette?!?) What was originally just some words written on a menu that I found myself staring at quite often, was now materializing in front of me at the perfect time. Everything was peaking, and I could tell I wasn’t the only one feeling it! Our treat of a lineup looked a little something like this: Gaudi > Truth > Thriftworks > Random Rab, a perfect way for Bluetech to celebrate his birthday along with the rest of the Sonic Bloom family.
Aside from a couple of mishaps where Gaudi’s music cut out in the beginning, his set wound up being one of our favorites. Sometimes you’ve got to show that resilience as a fan and stick through the bullshit to get to the goods. After swearing he would walk off stage if it happened again (not sure what the problem was, but getting upset with the sound people for “unprofessionalism” seemed to remedy the issue), everything worked out. Even though there were a couple of problems, it was nice to not be sitting there blaming it on some computer or the dreaded rainbow wheel of death on MacBook’s (as Gaudi proclaims, “No Computah! Computah for the studio only… This is live!”). With a recent album release and years and years of history as an accomplished producer, this was a walk in the park for him, even though he would not lead you to believe such a thing. Having as much fun as anybody else we saw that weekend on stage (he even grabbed my rage stick from the front row and tronced around the stage with it for a few moments), that guy knows how turn things on!
Truth and Thriftworks were next and both on point in their own right, their scheduled slots seemingly the optimum time for each of them to play. Another fine example of the craftiness of the musicians this weekend was Random Rab’s 4.5 hour sunrise set, happily accompanied by David Block (Human Experience), Lynx, and many others on stage. Honestly, anybody who made it through that entire set was given that extra special feeling when we left Shadow’s Ranch that weekend. Those types of things are life changers, and I’m so glad Janover suggested at the end to get a group shot with Rab in the middle. After hearing songs from Rab like “Best Friend” and “For My Corpse,” unity was the word which I felt most related to.
The Unified Field was important this weekend, as things tested and tried our nerves, weaknesses, exhaustion, and spirit. This isn’t the first time I have been at a festival where a concert-goer has breathed their last breath, but this is the first time that I have seen the festival organize a mass ceremony, almost immediately following the gruesome discovery. The spontaneous mass gathering at the Main Stage, commenced with a giant group hug of what felt like 1,000 people, with 90% of them in tears. The organizers helped put the importance of ceremony and the principles that go behind them in layman’s terms. Collective grief and mourning and a “what we can do together to seek unity and an understanding?” is important in these situations.
Another important message a little more specific to this situation and constantly arising throughout festivals (and other instances) all over the country was clear (even coming from a society where differences and indulgences are not only accepted but sometimes celebrated): the importance of plant medicine vs. synthetic chemicals (designed to inhibit you from achieving oneness) is key. This blessed service was educational and showed a clear devotion to achieving greatness, by your own standards of course, but ensuring healthy living for your mind, body, and soul. Anybody who was there still has chills when they think about it… I guarantee it.
Also, as a group, they helped attempt to metabolize the tragedy and teach the rest of us how to prevent it. Literally and figuratively. What to do at a festival with an unresponsive person, but also how we react as a community to a “lost soul,” who could use some help, guidance, and direction. This is the first year Sonic Bloom has been marred by a death, and we’d love to hope and say it’s the last. But that isn’t something us or anybody else for that matter can guarantee. What we can do is play our part in the community and rise to the top as one, unify and fly. Expand our wings to not only get us to where we need to go, but to encompass or protect the ones we tightly fit underneath those wings. We have a duty to watch over one another, and nothing spells this out more blatantly than a community responding to tragedy and adversity.
Taking everything into account, including the fact that the stages were shut down due to power outages and fear of more “microbursts,” Sunday shouldn’t only focus on all of this. There was still music and art to be enjoyed. Soulacybin, a recent up and coming act who, since relocating to Denver, has been gaining popularity, played an absolutely phenomenal set. And Lost in Sound readers happen to be lucky enough to get an exclusive taste of that very set! (Hopefully you clicked play up top and have been indulging while you read our recap!) And playing when that microburst hit was Plantrae, with his wildly ecstatic and intensely powerful violin, which we joked brought the insanity, just like we joked years ago when Bassnectar brought the hurricane to Camp Bisco. Things got back on track, and we had a few more enjoyable moments to rage out to. Govinda rocked the Main Stage and although I wasn’t super excited to see him again for the umpteenth time, he surprised me! Always a fan of his music, I’ve just been waiting to hear a refresh to the set, and that’s exactly what we got! He was DJ’ing more than I’ve been accustomed to and dropped some crowd pleasers. This was Govinda’s 2nd Bloom in a row, and now sooner than later he will be back at Shadow’s Ranch for Unify Music Festival (July 26th-28th). David Starfire’s energy was off the charts, and I love when he really gets going in the rhythm section, all while running around like a madman on stage.
Following the days event’s, the Dome was put on a strict curfew of 4am, so there would be no sunrise for the last morning, and the Main Stage feature, Sonic Bloom Orchestra went until 4am as well, although it seemed a bit all over the place. A little more orchestration would be great, but to me I take the performance for what it is, and that’s a bolster to what I talked about earlier – a weekend full of community driven jam activities. Whitebear was nasty, although most fans either missed him or only caught the last 20 minutes, after learning about said curfew. Quick as it was however, it was easy to tell how good the guy is. His beats and rhythms change so fluidly but make sure to keep it dirty.
What an incredible weekend! That felt like a marathon more than anything, but those forged relationships and experiences will last a lifetime. Colorado is such a destination state, you think I’d be accustomed to copious amounts of friends and family always getting in on the action we love out here. However, I’m still in awe every time the Lost in Sound / Use Your Head crew gets together. A serious, but friendly rowdy bunch we are. The levelheadedness at this stage of our careers is becoming all the more reliable, something I legitimately feel proud about! As The Bloom Series does a phenomenal job of documenting the Transformational Festival environment, I feel as though we are making transformations ourselves. It’s a beautiful thing when a creator sets out to “create” something of such power and of this magnitude… And it is passed on through the “ranks,” eventually it creates an interaction amongst thousands of people – silent and audible/verbal. This interaction causes emotion, adversity, enjoyment, and most importantly if done with positive passion, growth. Vital for the nOObs to understand, self reliance and introspection is key. And once you’ve started to figure that out, you start to realize there’s no wrong way to go about your festival weekend (as long as your objective isn’t to hurt anyone obviously). Just like there’s no wrong way to jump into the water, just as long as you make it in there! Head under and everything! Oh Sonic Bloom, how I can’t wait for next year… 😉
Thursday – Yu Yu (Cualli & Omega), Future Simple Project
Friday – The Grouch & Eligh, Andreilien (left), Late Night Radio
Saturday – Lotus Drops, Bluetech, Zilla, The Floozies
Sunday – White Robot, Temple Step Project
Orchard Lounge‘s renegade set on the Flamingo Stage at Camp Crater – Absolutely love when we get together with these guys. They bring such an amazing energy to the area they are playing, and a nice refreshing house music campsite throw down was perfect for Saturday middle of the night.
Elevated Arts & Entertainment co-produced the Hummingbird Stage, done by a handful of talented artists/designers. Big ups to Robbie Oberg with Golden Grain Designs, as well as Tommy Lyle.
Props to everybody who helped get co-author this article and Lost in Sound resident DJ, Digital Vagabond, on the Hummingbird Stage Sunday night for 45 minutes of deep bass appreciation!!!!! And of course major rude boy stomps for Paddy, who came to Bloom with many ideas but only one goal, that he wasn’t going to leave unaccomplished. Driving 30 hours from Boston, he was going to play a set here in the Rockies.
Photos captured and provided by Andrey Trofimov a.k.a. Dopamine Pics
We are excited to announce:
• A Mid Summer Night’s Bloom •
Kaminanda, Kalya Scintilla, Birds Of Paradise, Jamie Janover & ∞༺ reSUNator ༻∞, adham shaikh, Whitebear, Temple Step Project, bioLuMigen, & 2NUTZ with extensive performances, live visuals, deco, vibe enhancement, speakers, vendors, food, community reunion, and love…
Brought to you by team SONIC BLOOM, Cervantes’, and Elevated Arts & Entertainment
July 20 at 9:00pm
~A Post-Festival Message from Jamie Janover (via FB)~
Hello everyone, Jamie Janover here, producer of SONIC BLOOM. I am incredibly grateful to the Sonic Bloom community, staff, speakers, performers, artists and everyone who helped make this weekend an incredible experience to remember. This Sunday, however, was a very challenging day for the Sonic Bloom community. With great sadness we report that one of our own passed away on Sunday morning, something that has never happened in our eight years together. After learning of the news, the entire festival gathered in ceremony and made a circle to honor our lost unnamed brother. We would like to thank everyone for coming together in support of each other in the face of death by reminding ourselves how precious life is and how important it is to be grateful for life by celebrating it, which is what Sonic Bloom is all about. Though his name and cause of death have not yet been released by officials, the Sonic Bloom community would like to send our love and condolences to his family and friends.
After the ceremony had concluded and the artists had returned to the stages, the Georgetown area was hit with a powerful microburst: a very short and very intense period of strong winds. At the festival, this blast of wind blew over a trailer belonging to one of the production crews and sent the artist and staff check-in tent flying into power lines. Two Sonic Bloom staff members and one volunteer were injured. Thankfully, they sustained only minor injuries and have all since been released from the hospital.
The safety of everyone at the event is of the utmost concern to us, and the festival’s procedures and site layout are designed to maximize safety given the unique features of the Shadow’s Ranch site. Right after the unexpected microburst, the stage and structure areas were evacuated and the festival staff began to do everything it could to return the site to normal function, including repairing the fence along Alvarado Road, which had been blown over.
One somewhat unique feature of the Shadow’s Ranch festival site is that it is divided by Alvarado Road, which runs parallel to I-70 and can be busy on the weekends. Out of a concern for safety, the site is designed to restrict the crossing of Alvarado Road to a single designated crosswalk that has warning signage for motorists and is staffed by crossing guards. While the site was recovering from the microburst, an unclothed man left the pedestrian crossing and began running down the public Alvarado Rd. at which point the local authorities restrained the man using force, including the use of a taser. I am very disappointed that the option of the taser was utilized in this incident. It was an incredibly challenging day for all of us, as this was a disturbing and heartbreaking thing for us to witness.
We at Sonic Bloom are proud of everyone’s ability to remain present, overcome serious challenges, heal and celebrate life together despite having just having gone through the toughest few hours that the festival has ever faced in its eight year history. It was incredible to see how our community could face adversity and yet come together in support of each other. We hope that collectively we can hold the space of love and forgiveness and remember that we are all in this together.
I love you all very much,
*A personal apology for any vague information or clerical errors, as I lost my Moleskin. One can only hope that it is safe and happy. With luck it would have found a nice home, one which will not take advantage and publish the notes so dutifully written inside.