ARISE Music Festival returned to Loveland, Colorado for their seventh year of music, art, yoga, workshops and locally sourced food and produce. Held on Sunrise Ranch, a holistically managed ranch based on the pillars of community, enlightenment and sustainability, the entire event was geared toward creating a space that helped maintain the grounds’ pristine conditions.
This year, the event grew substantially, awarding ARISE the title of ‘largest camping festival in Colorado’ (surpassing Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Sonic Bloom). Festival planners say that the reason for this year’s success is ultimately due to the lineup, which included fan favorites such as Tipper, CloZee, Beats Antique, Sunsquabi, Defunk, and Rising Appalachia.
Dave Tipper gave two incredible performances, each displaying the artist’s widely popular blend of ambient bass music and glitchy trip-hop. His famed sound, combined with captivating visuals created by industry-favorite Steven Haman created two completely unique sets that highlighted the mountainous surroundings.
CloZee, a little bit newer to the main stage, followed Tipper’s set with a worldly instrumental bass set that kept the entire crowd on their feet. She played a mix of fan-favorites and crunchy edits of Sumthin’ Sumthin’ and Ratatat. Hailing from France and catching like wildfire over the United States, her music is quickly becoming a household name for music-lovers of all genres.
Sunsquabi gave a high-energy performance to their devoted fanbase. Walking through the crowd, there were tons of families and children having a blast dancing to their upbeat blend of improvisational jamming and electronic funk. If one Sunsquabi set wasn’t enough for fans, the electronic funk band also stepped on stage with Autonomix, a Denver-based electronica jam band. The members had a blast on stage and even ended with some unreleased music that will leave fans refreshing their music platforms for weeks to come.
Oddly enough, my favorite set of the weekend wasn’t from an artist on the lineup. On Sunday, ARISE put on an official Children’s Talent Show, which featured break dancers, singer/songwriters, hoopers and more! The turnout was huge and the cheers were loud for every performer that came out on stage. There aren’t many music festivals that are safe (or frankly, even fun) for kids to attend, but ARISE absolutely made a tremendous effort to make sure that the weekend was fun for fans of all ages.
I think that inclusivity is my favorite part of going to music festivals; it doesn’t matter what you wear, or what you do for a living. The only thing that matters is that you show up in your truest form and that you accept others for doing the same. I can’t imagine a better place to really find yourself than Sunrise Ranch. With the festivals’ impressive turnout this year, I’m hoping that next year the ARISE team works on increasing security staff for quicker entry into the grounds, as well as more elaborate stage designs. Much like the name of the event, I truly think that ARISE is on the rise.
Just over a year old as a band, Autonomix has taken the Denver music scene by storm, providing a sound that combines jazz, funk, psychedelic rock and modern electronica. The band consists of Jeff Pfannenstiel (Drums), Zack Smith (Guitar), Danny Littler (Bass), and Josh Nermon (Keyboard). Their debut album Counter Balance (released earlier this month) was a huge leap forward for the band, locking them into even more prestigious opportunities like being direct support for Papadosio at Summit Music Hall on October 18th. Autonomix will be performing at ARISE Music Festival this Saturday, August 3, during sunset, 8:00pm – 9:15pm at the Starwater Stage. With the festival fast approaching, the Autonomix extended an invite to their band practice where I got an exclusive look at their creative process, listened to some unreleased material, and sat down for an interview during their break.
Thanks so much for having me over! How did you guys get started as a band?
Josh: Well, these three started without me at first…
Zack: Danny and I had just come out of playing with Telemetry. Some friends connected us with Jeff and we ended up putting together a sort of casual jam. We had another keyboard player. We ended up “vibe”ing really well together. We got about three weeks into the band before the keyboard player quit. We all freaked out for about five minutes, I called Josh and had him in the band about 5 minutes after that.
Josh: And I had just quit my other band the week before. Me and Zack had been trying to play music together for over a year so it kind of worked out perfectly.
Was the vision for Autonomix always to be a psychedelic jam band?
Zack: I’ve always wanted to make music like this. I went to my first STS9 show as a metal-head and was like “wow, this kind of music can have this kind of effect on people?” So when the four of us started jamming—Jeff’s favorite band is Lotus, Danny’s into Disco Biscuits, Josh and I both love STS9—that was kind of the natural direction we went in.
Josh: It was all super natural. The first time we all played together it was like a 15-minute improv.
Jeff: We pretty much record each practice, which helps a lot in the writing process. Our song off the new album Harmonomix came out of an improv jam.
That’s actually my favorite song on the album.
Zach: That song came out of an improv at our second practice as a band. The improv we did isn’t far off at all from how the song ended up getting recorded.
Do you guys come up with a set list for all of your shows, or is it mostly improv?
Danny: We come up with set lists.
Josh: [laughing] Well, except for that one time…
Danny: As we’re getting better at this, we’re trying to learn to read the room a little bit; the crowd we’re playing to, the location, whether it’s a nighttime Cervantes set versus a daytime festival set and kind of fit those factors into a solid set that tells a story.
Alright, I’m curious… What’s the story of the show where you guys didn’t have a setlist?
Josh: We played this STS9 after party at this mansion and the whole night got pretty wild.
Zack: So we had wrote a setlist and we played our first set… then for some reason we decided to tear the setlist in half and just went for it in our second set… [laughing] things got crazy that night!
It was so cool watching you guys in rehearsal and I think I noticed it at Sonic Bloom too, but do guys sign to each other while you’re playing?
Zach: We have our own sign language. The saxophone player that sits up with us, Carl Cox, him and I used to play in a band together and we wrote our own signs for communicating key changes on stage. Then Danny here expanded on it an came up with even more signs for the rhythm parts of songs. So when you see me on stage making weird signs, I’m prepping the band for a key change, and if you see Danny making them, he’s prepping us for a rhythm change.
Danny: Each of our sets are about 40 to 50 percent improv so communicating is really important.
Autonomix has only been around for a little over a year but I still feel like I’ve seen your name everywhere. Can you tell me a little bit about how you’ve grown so quickly and successfully?
Josh: The great thing about this band is that we’ve all really played to our strengths and have taken the right opportunities to keep the momentum going. We all know that in this industry, losing momentum is detrimental to expanding as an artist. It’s always going through the front of our heads, “what can we be doing to take steps forward?”
Zack: A huge advantage that we have is the fact that we practice here at Jeff’s place for free. We’ve been lucky to be able to methodically pick and choose which shows we want to play and not have to worry about making $400 a month to cover rent space. We’ve only played about 13 big shows in the last year. We really don’t play for money. We all have jobs outside of this band, so any money we make with music gets invested right back into Autonomix.
What’s your favorite show or festival that you guys have played so far?
[all laughing]: Album release at Cervantes!
Josh: But ARISE this year is going to be really special because we actually won a contest to get to play there last year.
Can you tell me more about that?
Josh: So every year, ARISE holds a Rock the Fest contest where fans vote in a list of their top 10 artists and then a panel of judges choose their three favorites. Our fans really came through for us and got us a TON of votes. We had only been a band for about four months so ARISE ended up being like, our third-ever show. It was epic.
This is actually my firstARISE. What can I expect to see?
Zack: ARISE is definitely a lot more family-oriented. I’d say it’s half about the music and half about the workshops and the yoga and the art-installations. It’s all-encompassing.
Josh: It’s one of my favorite festivals… the grounds are absolutely beautiful, it’s right on a lake. The people who put it on put a ton of focus in keeping the event sustainable, not using single-use plastic, that type of vibe.
Zack: I’d say environmentalism, safety, and fun are the three pillars of ARISE Music Festival.
Jeff: The very first thing I did when I moved to Denver a few years ago was go to ARISE. It’s really cool to get to be on the bill.
Josh: Not quite ready to announce this yet, but we will have some very special guests on stage with us. People are going to lose their minds when they see what we have planned.
Can we have any hints?
Josh: The people or persons sitting on stage with us are also on the ARISE lineup… and it’s definitely someone big.
As a band, how do you like being based in Denver?
Josh: The music community is something like I’ve never seen before. We help other bands, they help us, it’s really a symbiotic relationship.
The music industry in Denver, to me, definitely highlights collaboration rather than competition.
Josh: Right! And it’s not like that anywhere else. I moved from California. Out there, it’s cutthroat… the fanbases are divided… I knew I wasn’t going to make it as a musician out there. Danny and Zack are actually the guys who convinced me to move out here…
Zack: To join a totally different band!
Josh: But they’re some of my best friends. They knew that being a musician is what I wanted to do and they helped pull me to where I needed to be to become successful.
Zack: The competition that does exist in Denver is healthy. There are a million different shows happening every night, so if you want to stand out, you constantly have to be working really hard to put on a good show. So while we aren’t necessarily competing with other people, we see our peers stepping up their performances and it pushes us to do the same.
Your fanbase is clearly really supportive of your music and your message, do you have anything you’d like to say to them?
Zack: We worked really hard over the past year on this album and learned a ton. The final product is something we’re really proud of. We have so many friends who have been with us since we started the band, and they have totally shown up for us. They’ve been patient with us during the last 6 months of trying to get this album out there and while we haven’t been able to personally thank each and every one of them, none of that goes unnoticed.
Josh: We have so much gratitude for every single person who’s ever shown up to a set, bought a tee shirt, or even just pressed play on a song. We’ve got some amazing friends in our corner.
What is it like being a part of this band?
Zack: [laughing] It’s like dating three other dudes except you don’t get any sex out of it and you spend a lot of money.
* Be sure to check out Autonomix atARISEMusic Festival; Saturday 8:00 – 9:15 at the StarWater Stage
Wow! What a weekend… Sonic Bloom returned to Hummingbird Ranch for yet another year of absolutely fantastic music, beautiful art installations, and probably one of the kindest groups of festival-goers I have ever witnessed. From start to finish, the entire event ran like a well-oiled machine, utilizing all 300 staff leaders who have been meeting for months to make sure Sonic Bloom maintained the standard of excellence they have achieved year after year.
Driving up to the event, about three hours south of Denver, CO, I realized that Bloom, while absolutely a staple in the underground music scene, was kept a hidden gem from the outside world. There weren’t any massive signs pointing us towards the event, there weren’t speed traps and police officers crowding the surrounding area, there wasn’t even traffic. The only hint that we were getting close was the familiar sight of the Spanish Peaks and the beautiful grassy hills surrounding them.
Looking at the absolutely stacked lineup featuring Gramatik, Opiuo, Emancipator Ensemble, Russ Liquid Test, Yheti, Jade Cicada, Detox Unit, The Widdler, The Librarian, and Funkstatik (just to name a few), it completely shocked me to find out that final attendance for this festival was about 5,000 people. For me, getting the chance to see Gramatik with only a few thousand people was a memory I’ll never forget.
Not included in that number are the performance artists, yoga instructors, VJs, workshop leaders, stage managers and artists who made Sonic Bloom a true gallery of art in all mediums. It seemed as though each person there, whether staff or attendee, had something special to bring to the table. The food vendors carried a wide variety of different flavors from all over the world (I personally enjoyed ‘Umami Mobile Eatery,’ where I ordered a pork and rice bowl filled with veggies and covered in a Thai-inspired peanut sauce). The painters set up shop right next to a stage so people could enjoy live-painting while listening to their favorite artists. The dancers, hoopers, aerial artists, and flow artists were absolutely everywhere all weekend, creating a circus-like feel to the event. And most importantly, the musicians each had something truly wonderful to say about Sonic Bloom, claiming it to be one of their favorite events to play music for.
While all the acts were fantastic, one really surprised me.
Aaron Holstein, of VibeSquad (typically of the new age electronic dance music), got up on stage during the afternoon sunshine and played a stunning set comprised of classical piano music. Besides a few flow artists dancing gracefully to the sound, the entire crowd was sitting down silently or laying quietly in the surrounding hammocks completely in awe at the sounds they were hearing. The set became even more special when Holstein got on the mic towards the end of his set and announced happily and teary-eyed that it was his birthday. After his set ended with a large cake, party hats and a beautiful group photo, I had a moment to greet Holstein, wish him a ‘happy birthday’ and thank him for his set. He revealed to me that while he had been making music like that at home for years, he had never gotten a chance to perform it for anyone live, and that he thought Sonic Bloom was the absolute perfect place to debut this music that he has held so closely to his heart.
It wouldn’t be a Colorado music festival without a completely random and unpredictable change in weather. Throughout most of the weekend, it was sunny, windy, and (be warned) very, very dusty, but come Saturday afternoon, nothing surprised us more than a massive 30-minute hail storm overthrowing the entire festival and covering camps and cars with ice the size of golf balls. After the storm, I emerged from my car expecting to see people packing up and leaving but was surprised to enter the festival grounds to a nearly full event of festival-goers wearing ponchos and dancing like nothing could stop them.
My favorite art installation from the weekend was ‘The Complimentary Bar,’ which was a small booth set up between stages where patrons would “friendly heckle” people walking by. I met one of the owners of The Complimentary Bar, Heather Stiver, and stood with her for a half an hour shouting things like, “I love your outfit!”, “Your smile is contagious!”, and “I’m so happy you’re at Sonic Bloom!” The reactions from the people that passed us made my entire weekend. It reminded me that sometimes going out of your way to tell someone something positive can turn the entire day around (for you and for them!). It’s one memory from the festival I have packed in my suitcase and taken home with me.
Overall, Sonic Bloom reminded me of the feeling I got from my first music festival; it reminded me that there’s no such thing as a stranger, that sometimes the best part of your weekend will be someone else’s smile, and the importance of being kind to our planet as well as being kind to ourselves. Sonic Bloom will certainly be a festival that I return to for years to come.
Sonic Bloom, Colorado’s premiere electronic music festival, is celebrating its 14th edition this year with a bold nod to the thoughtful and diverse musical curation that has catapulted this boutique festival into worldwide recognition. The lineup is nothing short of incredible, including artists ranging from Of The Trees, Yheti and Detox Unit to Opiuo, Gramatik and Emancipator Ensemble (featuring Jamie Shields from The New Deal and Michael Travis and Jason Hann from String Cheese Incident). The intimate music festival brings a large variety of underground artists, giving festival-goers a chance to experience their sound far before the general population of mainstream festivals.
Sonic Bloom is an ideal festival for those looking for something different. With short lines, respectful community and plenty of room to dance, camp and be, this weekend in paradise is a step away from the day to day. Thought provoking workshops hosted by internationally acclaimed speakers, a diverse range of yoga and movement workshops, overflowing visual art and unique vendors provide a little something for everyone.
Hosted once again on the stunning Hummingbird Ranch, riverside camping is easily available, children and families are welcomed end encouraged and a hand is always outstretched to join in, contribute and participate.
Sonic Bloom remains an event for the true individual; a welcoming, creative community encouraging the exploration human potential, the next wave of art and music and the possibility of a more beautiful and just world. We come together June 20-23 to celebrate a global community that believes in the power of art, music and innovation to inspire a future worth believing in.
As I loaded my car and headed down to Hummingbird Ranch in Rye, Colorado for Sonic Bloom 2018 I felt both excited and nervous. This would be my very first Sonic Bloom, and also, the first festival I’ve ever gone to completely on my own. I was only familiar with a few of the artists on the line up, however, I was intrigued by the variety in genre that this festival offered and I was excited to be taking this leap-of-faith in hopes that this festival would live up to all the wonderful things I had heard.
When I first arrived to Hummingbird Ranch I was greeted with smiles and high fives by the volunteers, hugs from strangers while I waited in line for my pass, and a lot of dust and wind. The positive vibes and great attitudes from strangers were infectious and immediately set the tone for what was about to be a fantastic weekend.
As mentioned, I traveled by myself, only knowing a handful of people that would be at the festival. I already made the decision that whomever I was meant to find would find me. I was leaving my fate in the hands of the festival gods and I had brought along my pineapple son Alex on the way to help me break the ice with strangers, and give everyone a good laugh.
Alex the Pineapple at Sonic Bloom 2018
As I finished settling in, I decided to walk around and explore the festival grounds before they opened the gates to everyone. I saw a pretty little hippie girl with blonde dreadlocks and a steam-punk styled hat that I hollered at so I could ask to take her picture. She turned around and looked at me and said “Dianna?” recognizing me from Facebook, where we had been online friends for two years but hadn’t ever met until that moment. Within the first 15 minutes at Sonic Bloom, I had already run into an immediate friend, someone I could trust to have a good time with.
We decided to wander together as people were putting the final touches on art installations, setting up the artist pathway, and while vendors were preparing their shops for the weekend. There was art everywhere and I couldn’t wait to see this place lit up at night. I immediately resonated with the Electric Forest type of vibes, but in a much more intimate setting.
Flow artists at Sonic Bloom 2018
We came upon what looked like a spider web made of para cords across several trees. Later in the weekend, we would end up spending many hours in that man-made spider web, lounging, cuddling, enjoying the sights and sounds of the Hummingbird Stage along with other soon to be friends. The spider-web was the creation of a Colorado native, @treenetwilly. I had the opportunity to talk with Will about his passion for not only life in the trees, but for creating a relaxing place for people to stop and enjoy the festival. Will’s tree-net was one of Sonic Bloom’s best interactive creations. I found myself traveling back to those trees repeatedly throughout the festival, and every time I found myself there, I was surrounded by new friends, hilarious conversations, and plenty of space to lay out and relax.
Hanging in treenetwilly’s installation at Sonic Bloom
As the day progressed, we made our way back to the campsite. We were lucky enough to be situated in artist camping, right behind the Bloom Stage. I met my neighbor Karlyle here, also known to the music industry as Krushendo, a Denver-based artist who describes his style as melodic future bass and heavy dubstep. As a basshead/headbanger at a festival that was not musically based around headbanging, I was beyond excited to go to his set at the Hummingbird Stage to see what he had to offer. Krushendo, a play on the word crescendo (a gradual increase in loudness in a piece of music), lived up to his name, in both crushing it, gradually building his mix from melodic to heavy, throwing in a variety like Michael Jackson, Illenium, Riot Ten, and Bassnectar; it was just what I needed.
Checkout a recording of his full set on Soundcloud.
Artists perform at Sonic Bloom 2018
The highlight of Sonic Bloom wasn’t the number of artists I had to opportunity to see, nor was it the amazing production value put into the entire event. It was the intimacy the festival fostered. Sonic Bloom is unique because of the degree of artist immersion within the culture of the event. From late night walks through the forest, while I watched painters actively creating beautiful works of art, the incredible performing artists and flow artists that blew stunned with their talents, the lifelong friendships I formed with complete strangers, and the amount of good energy around every corner. For those attendees that appreciate beautiful festivals in an intimate environment, Sonic Bloom is the place to be.
Sonic Bloom has released their full lineup for Sonic Bloom 2018, taking place this June 14-17, 2018, featuring a funky mix of live electronic bands and DJs, like Shpongle (Simon Posford DJ Set ft. Live Visuals by Android Jones), Keys N Krates, Nightmares on Wax Live Band, Liquid Stranger, Eoto, Break Science, Desert Dwellers, and more.
Sonic Bloom is a four-day camping festival at Hummingbird Ranch in Spanish Peaks Country, Colorado. Tier 2 GA tickets are currently on sale for $199, not including taxes or fees. Car camping is an extra $99, while parking is $44, and to enter early on June 13, an additional $40 ticket is required. Tier 2 VIP tickets are on sale for $440, which includes early entry on June 13, and a reserved car camping spot.