Sonic Bloom 2010 - Day 1, Friday June 25
We started the day by leaving Boulder, CO around 2pm without worrying that we'd miss any music because it was scheduled to start at 6pm with Psymbionic (hailing from Austin TX, one of the 2 DJs that won the online voting contest to DJ at Sonic Bloom held on theUntz.com). After driving through Fort Collins, the Bloom campground was a mere 10 minutes outside of town. The venue, Mishawaka Amphitheatre, sits perched at the top of the Poudre River canyon.
Friends at the Basics Fund (basicsfund.org) were running shuttle busses from the campgrounds to the venue, which takes about 30 minutes. My first bus ride was relatively low key as most of the campers hadn't even arrived to the campground yet, thus making it an uneventful ride. Once in Mishawaka, I met up with the duo Signal Path (signalpathmusic.com) before the music got started for a quick interview.
Once Psymbionic (who also helps run bwompbeats.com) started jamming out some psy-dubstep and glitch beats, Sonic Bloom 2010 had officially started. The next highlight of the day was the aforementioned Signal Path as they held the crowd by playing their original blend of live electronics, guitar, keys and drums. Keep an ear out for their new EP coming out on September 1st.
Jamie Janover, the lead coordinator of the festival and a founding member of both Zilla and Lynx & Janover, was the next artist I witnessed when he came out and introduced Merton. I thought the gesture was a little out of the ordinary for a festival in the Colorado wilderness, but Merton is a unique live piano improv act. During his performance, Merton's face appeared on a projector overhead via live internet stream. As Merton progressed through his set, the crowd and Jamie enticed Merton to perform a variety of songs about Blooming to hanging out in Jamie's room and oil spills.
Post Merton was Octupus Nebula, who played an amazing psychedelic fusion set blending lush ambient background textures, pumping bass and heavy drums. Mike Rempel, the guitarist from Lotus, came out and joined them for the last few tracks much to the crowds delight and surprise.
Evan Bluetech took the crowd on its next journey playing his typical bass and drum-driven chill dub. Zilla, which is the trio of Aaron Holstein (Vibesquad) on bass & keys, Michael Travis (EOTO & SCI) on drums, and Janover on hammered dulcimer and percussion, was the night's next highlight. It was truly a unique treat to see their live improv project and the way the crowd responded.
As most festivals get into the thick of it, inevitably some band misses a flight, a shuttle, forgets an instrument or are delayed by some catastrophic event like a volcano in Iceland, and Sonic Bloom was no different. The first schedule change of the night happened due to Karsh Kale's flight trouble, so Denver's S.P.E.C.T.R.E. saved the day with an impromptu DJ set that ignited the crowd. Boulder's Big Gigantic was on next and played to their home crowd where they're always a fan favorite. Finally, the last 2 acts of the night, ill.Gates and An-Ten-nae, played their combination of dubstep and acid-crunk which kept everyone awake dancing 'til sunrise (including this guy below).
Most bloomers stayed out late on the first night of the festival, so many campers were still up or arriving back to the main grounds at 9:30am. With only 6 busses to move hundreds of wasted bloomers back to the campground that was a half hour away, there were many campers that unfortunately had longer nights than planned.
The second day of Sonic Bloom was another success, with highlights coming from EOTO, Vibesquad, and Sonic Bloom Orchestra (featuring Kang from SCI & members of Hamasa Lila). Since music started at 6pm, bloomers in the campsite either hung out and avoided the sun during the day or attended one of the many workshops that were going on all morning.
As festival-goers waited for music to commence, back at the campgrounds the workshop area created a central hub for people to meet up and listen to lectures. The two highest attended lectures were "The Unified Field Theory of Nassim Haramein" with Jamie Janover and "the ill.Methodology" with ill.Gates. Unfortunately, both were plagued by fierce winds that forced breaks once or twice and ended up cutting the lectures short.
Project Aspect, another winner of the online contest sponsored by theUntz.com, opened up day 2 with a high energy and original set that his local fans (he's based out of Boulder) couldn't get enough of. Deru (LA) played a hour later and surprised many bloomers that had never heard his experimental hip hop style, which was received with much support. As night came over Mishawaka, Rena Jones wooed the crowd with her blend of ambient-IDM rhythms and live violin. Lynx & Janover were another success because they played their familiar hits that previous attendees of Bloom have come to know and love.
By the time Vibesquad (CO) took the stage, the crowd was ready to dance, and his crunchy bass-driven beats put the crowd in a frenzy. After a short, but much anticipated performance from Android Jones, EOTO played one of the most hyped sets of the weekend. Fusing live drums and dirty dubstep, EOTO gave bloomers exactly what they wanted, and precisely what they've come to expect from the Colorado-based band. The burden to follow EOTO was put on Eskmo (SF), but the crowd was 100% ready for his ill-bient dubstep that combined equal parts club bangers and melody driven sonic landscapes.
The Sonic Bloom Orchestra, which is a Bloom-exclusive live improv group, took the stage a little later and entertained the crowd with an evolving rotation of members that were either playing the festival or brought in to play their unique instruments. To end the night, SPL hit Bloomers with the hard dubstep that Colorado fans crave.
I can only imagine what awaits on Sunday.....