Located two and a half hours south of America’s bass-music hub, Sonic Bloom sits at the base of Colorado’s Spanish Peaks. Once you turn off I-25 you begin to feel like you are leaving the world you know behind. The pavement fades away as you find yourself on a dirt road with only mountains on the horizon.
After a few minutes of cruising you come across several friendly faces in yellow vests directing you towards the check in area. Everyone that works here looks as if they could be attending the festival themselves, which is a huge part of Sonic Bloom’s success. It is staffed entirely by people who share a huge passion for the electronic music scene. There’s no corporate feel to Sonic Bloom, everyone on site feels like family; all they ask is that you leave the weapons, glass, and glitter behind. Speaking as someone who was blasted by a glitter bomb at Euphoria Festival, spending the rest of that weekend looking like a stripper sat on my face, I had no qualms with these standards.
Once you leave the check in area, it’s back to the old dirt road that brings you even closer to the mountains. After you pass the iconic wooden frame with Sonic Bloom’s signature hummingbird drinking the nectar of a sunflower logo, you feel that you’ve arrived. The campgrounds themselves allow for the perfect amount of space to set up a home base for the weekend. You don’t feel like sardines in a can, you feel like a member of a small community made up of people with similar passions.
As you make your way into the music venue itself, all you can see are happy faces dressed in every color of the rainbow, ready and excited for the festivities to begin. There are two entrances to the grounds (known as the Unified Field): one that leads to the main “Bloom Stage” and another that leads to the Meadows Stage. No matter which entrance you chose to go through, the feeling hits you all the same. You see vendors, art installations and beautiful stages with massive rigs that dole out bone crushing sound – and that’s just the surface.
As you walk deeper in the grounds themselves you find yourself submerged in a small forest filled with still & live art, hammocks, and flow artists performing in front of hand-made sculptures. With each pass through you are bound to notice something new. It’s the perfect set up for those who like to wander and see every inch of what this festival has to offer. Within this forest lies the festival’s third official stage known as the Humming Bird Stage, adorned with a beautiful geometric white foreground that allows for projection mapping to thrive. This is the stage that starts early and ends around sunrise the following morning. The vibe that emits from every part of the Unified Field is tough to put into words but, when you’re there, you get it. It’s got the energy of a large scale fest but the feeling of togetherness you can only get from an intimate setting.
In previous years, the dry climate kept fire from being used in production but, with more agreeable weather this time, bewildering sculptures on both the Sonic Bloom and Meadow Stage spurted out magnificent gusts of flames while bangers cranked out of the speakers throughout the weekend.
Like years past, Sonic Bloom once again boasted a diverse lineup that satisfied the many cravings of electronic music fans. The first night saw some truly incredible performances from up and comers in the scene like Daily Bread and Of The Trees. Two huge sets closed out the main stage a la Colorado-native Vibesquad and the Australian-based Kalya Scintilla – who in tandem with Eve Olution took the Bloom Stage on a journey through sound.
The Second day of Bloom was one full of soul and out of this world bass music from the likes of Yheti and Bogrtotter. Electro-Soul artist Artifakts kicked off the evening properly at the Meadows Stage. As the sun went down, the Hummingbird Stage saw special DJ sets of original music from power houses Michael Travis (of String Cheese Incident and Eoto) as well as Adam Deitch (of Lettuce). In a press conference on Saturday, Michael Travis revealed that all of the music played during his set was comprised 95% of material that he had never played in front of others. This is the spirit of Sonic Bloom. It’s a place where self-expression thrives and creativity is applauded. Closing out the second night, the main stage hosted a special performance from Emancipator Ensemble that left the massive crowd at the Bloom Stage in a state of bliss before getting funky with the low-temp lord, Gramatik.
The third day of Sonic Bloom, and first official day of Summer, got off to an interesting start as a freak downpour turned into a twenty minute hail storm around 4PM. However, once the weather subsided, all that could be heard through the campgrounds was the howling of patrons who were ready to get back at it.
Detox Unit had a packed main stage crowd stomping around in the wind and rain as he unleashed his signature sound in support of his (now released) “Deviate” EP. The Meadows Stage hosted an evening of dark and raunchy dubstep from the likes of Phlo, Khiva, Pushloop and The Widdler. Meanwhile the Bloom Stage saw highly-sought after producer Spoonbill play the first of his two sets of the weekend, followed by the one and only Jade Cicada. Jade Cicada has been fast gaining traction with his impressive sound design and sets that feel more like a ride than a concert. As he closed out the Bloom Stage, Opiuo reminded us all why he was there, and that was to throw the ultimate party.
The last day of Sonic Bloom came to a close with another magical Spoonbill experience during the sunset. The Russ Liquid Test bolstered a big band for a larger than life sound and groove. The Bloom Stage drew to a close with some improvisational electronic music from the New Observatory (Ft. Michael Travis and Jason Haan of String Cheese Incident and Eoto & Jamie from the New Deal).
It was hard not to feel the sheer gratitude and joy on Sunday as another magical weekend of Sonic Bloom ended. There is a palpable energy that grows stronger each day in the Unified Field. Sonic Bloom has what music lovers want; a breath-taking space, terrific music on impeccable speakers, mind-boggling art, unique installations and most importantly, THE VIBES. I was speaking to a friend of mine who also works in the music industry and we came to the following conclusion: Sonic Bloom fucks. It fucks hard and it fucks tenderly. It gives you everything you didn’t know you had been missing in more. As far as festivals go, Bloom has it all. It’s a place I and thousands of others look forward to revisiting every year. So, if you are like I was, seeing the lineups every year and thinking, “Man I gotta go one of these years”. Pull the trigger. You won’t regret it.