Sonic Bloom: Saturday 6.25.11
Words By J-man
Photos By Carly Marthis & J-man
June 25th & 26th, 2011
Shadows Ranch- Clear Creek County, CO
Electronic music is not for everyone, in fact electronic music was not for me. Leading up to Sonic Bloom, I pondered how I would survive a day among young fans on hordes of substances. With the same beat in the background, tolerance would be difficult to maintain. After a day at Sonic Bloom I was surprised at what I heard and even more so how I felt. Would it be possible that I would desire to return for a second day? Within those 48 hours at Shadows Ranch, I learned a lot about electronic music, but even more about myself.
Any trip that heads west on I-70 from Denver into the mountains is alright with me. The views provided are some of the most beautiful in the country. Nestled in those very mountains, just past Georgetown, lies Shadows Ranch. Driving down the small I-70 Service road, camping became visible on our right and on our left, the festival grounds. We parked, loaded up our gear and made our way into Sonic Bloom.
The day prior, I had received a frantic call from the winner of our ticket giveaway informing me that she was not on the list. A couple of phone calls later and a short conversation with a Sonic Bloom staffer, and our contest winner was good to go. The reason I mentioned this scenario was to preface our entrance to the festival. At the media check in we were informed that MusicMarauders only had one on the list. I offered up my e-mail conformation (something that I have begun bringing with me for just such occasions). After an assertive conversation it came to light that they had not printed enough media credentials, so Carly was given a bracelet. Before we turned and walked away I requested a schedule/booklet, to which I was told that they had only printed up five hundred. My first impression was not a good one.
It was interesting to me and a very different experience from what I am used to when we arrived on scene after a full day/night of music. The site looked pristine. One of the first things that stood out were the recycle, compost, and trash receptacles. They were clearly marked with examples of what item should go where. Also conveniently located were large versions of the schedule, solving the lack of schedule booklets problem.
The festival organizers did a great job as far as visual aesthetics. There were stimulating pieces of art everywhere. Large metal colorful flowers placed near the stage, rock garden and meditation areas. One of the most beautiful parts of the site was the river that ran through the middle. Across the somewhat fast moving river, over a small bridge was a DJ dome, a couple of large domes/tents with art and workshops, and additional camping. The site, nestled in the mountains, was really something special.
The first act of the day was MTHDS. They started their set by informing the crowd that their hard drive had crashed, so they would be doing everything live. Initially I wasn't impressed with their sound. However, as the set progressed I began to enjoy their what they were doing. At one point they called all of the hoopers and spinners to the front to do their thing. They were a good band to kick the day off.
Next up was Somasphere. Their jamtronica jams intrigued me. Though they didn't dig deep I could not fault them, as they had a one-hour day set. There was a lot of nob turning, but it was somewhat tasteful. I would be interested in seeing them do a late-night headliner set at a smaller venue/club.
J Wail and Chuck Morris from Lotus followed on the main stage. They sounded tight, and folks seemed to be enjoy what they were doing. Again, it was a lot of nob turning, but solid production value.
Around 6:00 PM, we made our way into the main building that was being utilized as a bar, dinning room, VIP and media area for the Saturday press conference.
Following the press conference, we were treated to a very classy buffet, especially considering we were at a festival. We dined with festival publicist Ami Heinrich, her friend Charlie, Jason Hann (EOTO), Damon Metzner (Signal Path), his girlfriend, myself and Carly. After the meal, full and satisfied, I walked to the window overlooking the forest to have a look at what a group of folks seemed excited about. To my surprise, there were wolves in a fenced in enclosure. It was really cool to see the majestic animals so close.
After dinner we caught the tail end of Jamie Janover's set. I have always been impressed with Jamie's musical abilities as well as his tasteful approach to electronic music. It was great to see how appreciative folks were of Jamie's involvement and efforts. He is the man to thank for Sonic Bloom.
Octopus Nebula hit the stage around 8:00 PM with their low-end bass rumbling rib cages. I had heard good things about them, but I wasn't impressed with their simplistic jamtronic sound. I found little uniqueness to what they were doing. Though again, I offer an excuse in the fact that it was a short early evening set.
Looking around as day turned to night, the crowd was one of the youngest that I'd ever seen at a festival. It was odd to look around and see kids as well as adults dressed as kids, everywhere. We wandered across the river to the DJ dome which was blasting some of the most cliche/tasteless dubstep that I had ever heard. Though the vibe was euphoric, we spent little time listening to the noise.
We made it back to the main stage for an artist that we were told not to miss, Tipper. Apparently he was from Europe, and one of the pioneers of the electronic/dubstep movement. Additionally, he pioneered the sound system that Sonic Bloom was utilizing. His music sounded good. There were a lot of diverse beats and samples and I found the music to be tasteful. There was a period of about 20 minutes where he fell into what I would consider mindless repetition, but he came out of it to close the set with force.
Somewhere during Tipper's set I realized that I was having fun, dancing, smiling and getting down. It was an odd thing for me to lose myself in electronic music. It felt like I had no choice in the matter.
At about 1:00 AM EOTO hit the stage 45 minutes late due to what appeared to be sound/equipment issues. I have heard a lot of EOTO, and though I'm not really a fan of what they do, I really enjoyed their set. Their sound seemed to have developed, and a lot of the rhythms and samples that were being utilized seemed fresh and diverse. It is interesting to see all of the music sampled and recorded live as opposed to just pressing buttons.
Somewhere along the lines, the vocals (which I assume was Jason Hann) start saying "east side to the west side..." in a high-pitched, altered vocal range. It was weak to say the least and the set began to decline from there. We decided at that point we would call it a night and make the trek down from the mountains and back to Denver.
On the drive home, we reflected on the fun that we had and joked about how we should cancel our Sunday plans and head back to the mountains for the festival. Neither Carly or laughed at the notion, and with that we knew we would return for another day of music...
Photo Gallery From Saturday Morning
Photo Gallery From Saturday Evening
Sonic Bloom Sunday Coverage