We got an awesome treat with some (a very small “some” – check out this full Sonic Bloom lineup) of the Sonic Bloom artists playing at a pre-party at Cervantes. Not unusual for an event this size, both stages at the venue were utilized. The second night, the Masterpiece Ballroom even housed a set custom built for the festival – but I’m getting ahead of myself. No I’m not, it was sweet (and brought to you by Pickles Visuals.)
(And if you’re just here to look at some awesome photos – we got ’em right here.)
Day 1 (Night 1?) Started out strong. On The Other Side stage, the energy was high all night with Stone Soul, JPOD (!!!) Pumpkin, and Fort Knox Five (two of the Fort Knox Five.) Stone Soul took a unique take on bass by bringing in a baritone horn to accompany the compositions, JPOD had a knack for some unique mixes (check out his Shmabhala mix), Pumpkin brought the smoothness and by the time Fort Knox Five came on the room had collectively, more or less, lost their minds.
During that time, the Masterpiece Ballroom side had Soulacybin, Janover & reSUNator, Lafa Taylor and Thriftworks. Soulacybin, no stranger to Sonic Bloom, started the night off with a bouncy, almost tingly set (kind of like this one from 2013) and was really my first introduction into the sound Sonic Bloom seems to be aiming to curate. Janover & Resunator might have had the most unique set of the evening, and after some digging around I found a good video for why – these are their 2012 Burning Man shenanigans, complete with pyrotechnics and a mini drum kit mounted on a recumbent trike. Lafa Taylor was a DJ in true DJ form, he mixed live, skillfully and got the crowd going without going overboard with the mic. His original music is hella good too.
Thriftworks was the artist I was most familiar with, which means I’ve seen a glimpse of him at a past festival. He undisputedly brought the weird deep into the night. His style is hard to pin down, it definitely has a percussion feel to it and forced the listener to constantly consider “what’s next?” He’s also no stranger to Sonic Bloom, and this quick video does more explaining about his style than I can.
Day 2, The Other Side started with Zuvuya, a Xander Greene and Michael Travis project. The Cheese Vibes were real, the guest musicians were plentiful, and the music varied in style but never in quality. The Other Side stage might as well have been the Michael Travis music stage if it wasn’t… for That 1 Guy.
After That 1 Guy played his shoe and sock puppet, things got weird. As Dowerks succinctly put it, this is what Frank Zappa would be like if Frank Zappa did drugs. That 1 Guy’s set up included a handful of homemade instruments, Nirvana-meets-nursery-rhyme lyrics and a stage presence that could pull off the entire performance without coming across fake. If I remember correctly, he ended his set with The Moon is Disgusting, and it was great.
The Other Side stage closed down with a Michael Travis DJ set. We didn’t know he DJ’ed, but we liked it.
On the Masterpiece stage the music progresses from Cualli, to AtYyA, to kLL sMTH, to Andreilien to Dirtwire (phew.) Cualli really had one of the happiest sounds of the night, we watched a guy stand straight in front of the stage with a huge smile just plastered over his face. His style transitioned seamlessly to AtYyA who brought a more spiritual spin to the positivity.
kLL sMTH is another artist with a hard to pin down style. The recordings don’t do his sound justice, because live it’s intense, energetic and most of all big. Here are some recordings anyway. As with a lot of these artists, he definitely falls into the “go see him live” camp to get just how much energy he brings.
Andreilien (formerly known as Heyoka) 100% falls into the “see him live” category. He moves somewhere between the glitchy spiritual and occasionally throws out a catchy musical hook that gets the whole crowd moving.
He’s got a new album out too, listen all the way through or skip to The Great Grabowski for some condensed goodness.
The stage shut down with Dirtwire, moving somewhere between good ol’ fashioned EDM and bluegrass on DMT. The duo beautifully blended musical styles that normally would have no business being together, so by the time I realized this was a David Satori (of Beats Antique) and Evan Fraser (Hamsa Lila, Stellamara) project it wasn’t at all surprise.
Definitely can’t watch to catch these artists again at Sonic Bloom. The overwhelming feel of the pre-parties is that at the festival we’re about to be exposed to a lot of new artists, with some very unique sounds. My shameful confession is I went into this almost completely blind, having heard and seen just a few of the acts here and there, and not a single performance disappointed. With STS9 headlining it’s going to be a party to remember, but I have a feeling that the huge lineup is going to bring a lot of new favorite artists to listen to.