Sonic Bloom 2015: A Solstice Celebration to Remember
● By Grant Johnson
Every summer during the summer solstice, thousands of electronic music fans (including a decent-sized handful of Steamboaters) flock from all over the country to an event called Sonic Bloom: The Unified Field. Over the past 10 years, this event has been held in various locations across Colorado including the close-by Mishawaka Amphitheater, Georgetown, South Park, and finally, Rye. Each year, Sonic Bloom has seen growth in ticket sales and therefore, venue size. In 2015, a new location was chosen for Sonic Bloom's 10th Year Family Reunion at Hummingbird Ranch in Rye, CO.
Although there were thousands in attendance this year, the small festival community feel of previous years was still noticeably present. This is one aspect of Sonic Bloom that keeps the festival a favorite for Coloradoans. Ill-Esha, a multifaceted musician and producer who has performed at Sonic Bloom for a number of years states: "Sonic Bloom is a huge part of what made me want to move to Colorado, and one of the most incredible things I've noticed is the heart and the loyalty of the people. This is one of the only festivals where I see people get just as excited about seeing some locals that are their friends as they do about the headliner...sometimes a big name will be on a stage but I’ll see everybody rushing the other way because their buddy is on and they just can't miss it. And that’s really special. That’s not something that happens everywhere. It’s so beautiful to watch people embody that support.” Ill-Esha is well loved in Steamboat after having performed at the Tap House, McKnights and Schmiggitys, and you can bet she received the exact kind of support she referred to from Steamboat locals who attended the festival.
This year, 90+ musical artists performed at Sonic Bloom and were spread among 3 stages. Notable performances on the main stage for Sonic Bloom 2015 included Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9), Desert Dwellers, and Shpongle, and more. Shows on the main stage felt large-scale with plenty of room for all in attendance, and at the same time intimate with easy access to the front row and plenty of cozy spaces to kick back in the near surroundings. Kudos are due to the sound engineers as well, with a set-up that was both crystal clear and loud enough to rumble the earth in the area.
The Sub.mission Stage, which included its own unique laser and video screen setup, was run by Denver’s own Sub.mission collective. Artists such as Bluetech, Kaminanda and Random Rab took to the stage to deliver their unique blends of organic and electronic sounds. The wide-open space and huge sound stirred un-nameable feelings reminiscent of the pinnacle of festival experiences, Burning Man.
Other artists such as Michael Travis, Future Simple Project, Cualli, and more performed at The Hummingbird Stage, a beautifully crafted grotto of auditory and visual delights surrounded by hammocks hung in trees and artistically crafted shade cloths, which cast shadows on the dance floor during afternoon sets. At dark, the forest became colorfully illuminated with lights and lasers. Each night around 2 a.m., the main stage performances wrapped up and the Hummingbird stage transformed into the Silent Disco area, where the performances were heard only through 2-channel headphone sets provided to attendees. During the silent disco, 2 DJs are on stage, simultaneously spinning beats. Members of the crowd are able to switch back and forth between the 2 channels, which live-broadcast each of the performing DJ’s sets. The Hummingbird Stage was so well done that it developed a reputation for capturing festivalgoers on their way to other destinations and holding them enraptured.
Beyond the incredible musical performances, Sonic Bloom featured a huge variety of aerial acrobatic artists, fire spinners, dancers, and even live flower arranging. Tucked among the many nooks of the festival were live painters and visual art on display. Educational opportunities abounded as well, with workshops on subjects as diverse as digeridoo pranayama breathing exercise, rock balancing, crystal pendant making and belly dancing. One standout was a question-answer session in the wee hours of the morning with the widely known Boulder, CO-based visionary artist, Android Jones.
After ten years of experience, it is apparent that the crew behind Sonic Bloom has the kinks worked out and look to the future with vibrant dreams. When asked what the next ten years holds for Sonic Bloom, festival organizer Jamie Janover replied, “The next ten years will involve us not using any fossil fuels whatsoever to do this festival, because the technology will be there. We’re doing incremental steps right now – we have a solar offset, we have bio-diesel, we don’t sell plastic water bottles, we give away free water – these are just the baby steps... In the next ten years, the evolution of our technology is going to speed up so quickly that we are going to have devices that give us as much energy as we want. So instead of having scarcity consciousness and asking ‘How many resources can we pool?’ the question is ‘How amazing can we make everything? How can we make everything beautiful, ornate and perfectly constructed, so everything’s flowing and there’s way less death, pain and suffering on this planet? How can we make it so everyone is having as much fun as humanly possible, just like Sonic Bloom, but planet-wide?’ That’s the next ten years. Sonic Bloom will be like ‘Oh yeah, this is just every day life.’ hopefully. The whole world should be like this. It should be ‘Festival Earth’ – that’s what I’m saying. These are the very beginning seeds of this culture, which in ten years will be fully blossomed, and I hope that we see this behavior happening across cultures, across religions, across philosophies, and people just start getting along instead of getting upset with each other because they believe different things. We’re setting a very important example by doing this. It’s not just because we want to go out and party. We’re actually changing the planet by resonating the field and doing this. That’s why it’s called ‘Sonic Bloom: The Unified Field’."
Stay tuned for more Sonic Bloom 2015 coverage from Steamboat Magazine and news regarding additional festivals and live music this summer.