When I arrived at Shadows Ranch in Georgetown, CO, I knew instantly that Sonic Bloom had found the perfect new home. I have attended Bloom, one of Colorado’s most progressive and cutting-edge electronic music festival and one of my favorite musical events of the season, for three out of the last four years. It has changed venues numerous times over the years, from small obscure mountain locales, to Winter Park, to The Mishawaka Amphitheater, but Shadows Ranch is by far the best layout and most beautiful location yet. It is no surprise that the festival will be returning to the Ranch in 2012 and 2013.
With Clear Creek running through the grounds, a beautiful lake on-site, flowers, landscaping, shade, and rustic buildings, Shadows Ranch helped make Sonic Bloom feel like and ethereal musical wonderland. The main stage was surrounded by huge flower sculptures, food vendors (may of which were vegetarian), painters, art installations, light sculptures, projections and four giant speaker stacks on all four sides of the dance area.
By crossing a narrow bridge over the creek, festival-goers were lead by large LED-light box sculptures to the COdome that was presented by Sub.mission, a side-stage that hosted local and lesser-known artist. Across from the COdome past the grassroots and chill domes was the entrance to the well-shaded campgrounds marked by red glowing sticks and a giant disco ball.
The festival began at 4:20 in the afternoon on Friday with an opening ceremony and a sage blessing. The first musical act, Dayquill, began what was to become a total whompfest with heavy beats and sporadic rhythms. Next to take the stage was multi-instrumentalist Fugate, a master of broken rhythms and smooth melodies who made his bloom debut this year. The day continued with high-energy acts as I began my shift working back-stage. I was disappointed that I was not able to catch Ishe, who had just blown up Steamboat Springs the night before, or Eminence Ensemble, an up-and-coming jam-tronic band out of Boulder who have surprised and impressed crowds all over Colorado. It’s no wonder EE’s next gig was an opening for The New Deal’s last Colorado show.
After working a chaotic shift checking in musicians, dancers, performers, painters and artists, I was finally free just in time to chug a few beers at camp and join my friends for Zilla’s set. Zilla, comprised of Jamie Janover (Sonic Blooms founder who played with numerous bands through out the weekend), Aaron Holstein (Vibesquad) and Michael Travis (EOTO, String Cheese Incident), played a mellow mix of laid-back dub with swirling melodies and moody rhythms.
Up next was MartyParty who definitely lived up to his name. He brought the party by playing heavy, hard dubstep and glitch with fun samples like the Mama’s and the Papa’s “California Dreamin’". His ever fluxuating samples, rhythms and sounds dared dancers to keep up.
I escaped the MartyParty madness to catch Michael Menert in the COdome, who helped to produce Pretty Light’s first album “Taking Up Your Precious Time.” His Pretty Lights affiliation was apparent as Menert played a soulful mix of funky melodies with futuristic danceable down-tempo beats. I have discovered in listening to his album “Dreaming of a Bigger Life”, that my favorite dance moment of his set was during a song called “Feeling Better”. The song features floaty flute samples and bright soul horn hooks that made me want to shake, flail, shimmy and move my hips in ways that I never imagined possible.
After dancing harder than I had all day, I returned to the main stage to see the another Pretty Lights Music artist, duo Adam Deitch and Borahm Lee of Break Science. BS was joined on stage by Aerialist who contorted their bodies into beautiful shapes while hanging from flowy fabric on the sides and in the middle of the stage. The highlight of the aerial performance was when a couple joined forces on the fabric and performed death-defying tandem tricks.
At the end of an electrifying first day I had to put myself to bed early to save up my energy, despite knowing that I would be missing British headliner Mala. He was meant to close out the main stage however his flight was delayed so he was forced to play a witching hour in the COdome around 4 a.m. Although I can’t really say that I missed his set, as I could still hear thumping sub-sonic bass well into the wee hours of the morning. Reports back were that he played a haunting sensuous set, perfect for a dream-state soundtrack.
Check back for more on day 2 and 3 of Sonic Bloom.
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