(If you’re into looking at pretty pictures, check out our photo album from this weekend. We definitely didn’t hold back.)
Let’s talk about the venue. Hummingbird Ranch was kind enough to host Sonic Bloom this year, which is a beautiful piece of land right on the edge of the mountain foothills. We were literally camped on a slight slope leading up to a huge mountain. So, kudos on the location. The weather, in true desert form, was hot and sunny and dry. Except for the first day when it dumped rain for maybe 15 minutes, there wasn’t a lot other than the trees and festival ground decorations to help you forget that you’re in a desert in June. But, as one of the guys from Greener Grounds wisely put it while we fried outside during their interview, “I’d rather have our set sunned out than rained out.” Myup.
We were lucky enough to camp in the shade of some trees and within earshot of the sub.mission stage so we could hear sets from artists including Lafa Taylor, Pumpkin, Omega and Yuyu while we melted into our chairs with our beers during the day just trying to avoid the sun. The festival grounds were planned out really well, with each stage containing some sort of structure or installation to give everyone a chance to see who they wanted to see without burning to a total crisp. The Hummingbird stage was wisely located in the woods connecting the sub.mission and Bloom stage, so you always had somewhere new to go and something new to see with vendors, workshops, art installations and slacklines to keep you even more occupied.
The hot sun started setting around 6pm every day, and by the time the cool night took over the entire festival grounds transformed into an absolute madhouse. It felt like everyone had a second wind, and this culminated into an explosion of energy from the artists, performers and festival goers.
Desert Dwellers – We were definitely excited to check these guys out, so once they hit the Bloom stage we made our way over to a pulsating crowd, the Desert Dwellers breaking it down and a man in goggles and a white robe enthusiastically making a bouquet onstage. This is when the realization sank in that this place was going to get weirder and weirder as the weekend went on.
STS9 – STS9 treated us to a fantastic late morning surprise on Friday. The band stepped out for soundcheck, and as more and more fans realized that tribe was on stage, the band turned their soundcheck into nearly a full set for the daytime crowd. Luckily, there was a great deal of shade with good sightlines towards the stage, so we watched this amazing moment while staying out of the sun. Their night time sets met our expectations. Tribe 2.0 is truly making waves in the jamtronica world right now.
Shpongle (Simon Posford DJ set) – Both of us from Ear Nuggets were lucky enough to be a part of the amazing Shpongle Live show that took place at Red Rocks last year. While we understood that the Simon Posford DJ set would not compare to the full Shpongle Live experience, we were still very impressed with Simon’s set. Simon was live mixing the entire show, and weaving in and out of classic Shpongle songs while putting a new spin on songs like Dorset Perception, My Head Feels Like A Frisbee, and Divine Moments of Truth. Live performers accompanied Simon’s set, and added a beautiful touch to this amazing moment at Sonic Bloom. We’re still trying to figure out why the main stage smelled so much like moth balls during this set 😉
The Trancident – The Trancident was easily one of the sets I (dowerks) was looking forward to the most. Being a huge SCI fan, I was curious to hear how the electronic styles of EOTO would mix with Kyle and Kang on stage. The show featured a wide range of improvisation, and most of it seemed to work pretty well. The Trancident was full of energy, and had the crowd at the main stage dancing for the whole set.
Talib Kweli – One of the first things we heard from the stage was “My DJ couldn’t make it, so I’m my own DJ tonight!”. Talib Kweli turned lemons into lemonade and put on an energetic performance despite having to fulfill the role of being his own DJ. Once his band made it to the stage, he settled into his set and it was steady coasting from there. Talib Kweli definitely injected some energy into the Friday night crowd.
Fire Art and Performers – I feel like the strong burner presence deserves a shout-out of its own. There were performers, and not like my buddy in the backyard scorching his eyebrows off after a couple of beers, people who professionally blew your mind with their craft. There were installations on the festival grounds, with the fire owl, fish and while not on fire, giant red car that glowed by the sub.mission stage. While relaxing one evening, our neighbor’s radio started going off (he was one of the campground managers) with words like, “20 foot high bonfire” and “just let it burn out” crackling through. Hell. Yeah.
Porto-Potties – As usual, the portos are where the other party is. On Saturday night while standing in line, a man bounces up and asks the wide eyed crowd, “Anyone want some vegan cheesecake? I got it after my yoga class.” Next time I looked over, two guys were feasting on the cheesecake with their bare hands. Little moments like these were common all over the festival, but especially during those weird and melty points of the night when you’re waiting in line to potty. The portos also had inspirational quotes taped to the inside, and sometimes all you need to get through the day is a quote from Ghandi after some man tries to offer you his cheesecake.
Super Heady Tacos – If their posters were to be believed, their tacos are best thing Bassnectar has ever put in his mouth. This was our go-to grub for the weekend.
If we wrote about every single set we liked, this thing would become a long rambling book. So here are some folks that really caught our eye this weekend.
That 1 Guy – That 1 Guy put on a strong performance Friday evening on the Sub.mission stage. His odd yet tantalizing musical style made for a great way to introduce the madness of Friday night at Sonic Bloom. It’s hard to not be captivated by a man playing a boot, and playing it well too.
Vibe Squad – This set caught us completely off guard in a good way. VibeSquad was an absolute rager of a show. If you haven’t checked him out before, we’d highly recommend doing so.
Chali 2Na w/ the Funk Hunters – This was just plain ol’ fun. A guy with a bass voice, doing the right amount of DJ style hyping, rapping, and singing to funky basslines. It was awesome.
Greener Grounds – Denver local jamtronica foursome one of who may or may not have had an allergic reaction to talking with us. Or maybe it was the grass. Any band that draws inspiration from the Disco Biscuits receives my biased adoration. Keep an eye on these guys, as they’ll be making waves in the near future.