Until Next Year, Arise! One Final Look at 2019 - Recap Video, Photo Gallery, And Editorial
A Cheshire moon smiled over Sunrise Ranch the weekend of Aug 2nd - 4th 2019, mirroring the bliss that Arise Music & Arts Festival conjured in us. The convergence of music, performance, visual art, creative wares, spiritual and mindful education, experiences, food, and the collective energy of us, the attendees, cultivated a palpable positive vibe felt in all corners. Love and acceptance were everywhere you looked. We’d like to share with you some of our experiences:
Beats Antique brought an expansive turnout, making it clear that people were willing to sit through rush hour traffic to get to the festival in time to catch their set. Tommy Cappel crushed song after song on the drums while David Satori took turns shredding on his electric violin, banjo, and guitar. Beats Antique is known for their unique take on instrumental electronic music because their stylization is tribal, spiritual and utterly sensual. Zoe Jakes, along with her belly dancing entourage, provided an alluring mystique to the show. Not only did Jakes engage the crowd with her incredible routines, but she also did it several months into a pregnancy, which she came out and proudly announced. A ghoulish treat for Beats Antique and Les Claypool fans alike was during their rendition of Beezlebub, a collaboration track from the 2013 album A Thousand Faces, Act I. It was captivating to see their performance take off while the sun was still overhead and watch as it crescendoed just below the sunset.
Tipper blessed us with two distinct performances, covering all the bases in his otherworldly aural odysseys. Friday night’s Uptempo set maintained an energy built up many climaxes, each drop arranged with a unique set of noises that can only be roughly translated with Seussian language: swizzles, glorps, and wiggy wonks; blurbilidoops and diggilitoots, and whole songs that go ree-ee-ee-ahh-ahh-ahh. It was g-g-g-greeatt. I had the pleasure of dancing next to a couple, KMAC and Josie, obvious fans of Tipper who described the experience as, “getting your brain licked.” The visuals of The Art Of Steven Haman featured many fading faces and focus on eyeballs, evoking self-reflection.
Sunsquabi kept us cool in the toasty Saturday sun. The musicianship of this trio was on full display and boosted by saxophonist Nick Gerlach’s brassy accompaniment for tracks like Reptile and Dexter. No doubt the Squabi boys had us happily sweating as we grooved into the evening. Following their debut on the mainstage, the crowd at Autonomix got a sweet surprise later that night when Sunsquabi hopped on stage for an all-out jam sesh. Kevin Donahue and Zack Smith went head to head on guitar, propelling one another forward with every riff.
Tipper’s Saturday Journey set opened with the blissful Sayonara, the first track off of Tipper’s latest release, Jettison Mind Hatch. As the sunset behind a burst of clouds, Tipper dipped into his more unnerving and mysterious tracks, pulling us into strange dimensions by nightfall. Weirdness gave way to more big moments as Tipper hit us with some bangers like “Its Like”, and had us getting down once again.
Clozee followed Tipper Saturday, featuring Android Jones visuals and a bass-heavy set. Though her music always incorporates a wide scope of emotions and even cultures, she came out swinging and had us headbanging more than swaying. Lasers filled the sky as she closed the mainstage for the night. Although exact numbers were not calculated until after the weekend came to a close, it was plain to see that Clozee generated the biggest crowd of the festival. “Mind-blowing” is how many people described her set to me, no one could stand still if they wanted to but believe me, no one wanted to. We were all exposed to an overarching case of Clozee’s musical contagion, met with a cinematic experience. It was easily the premier set of the weekend garnering the biggest production and buzz. One of my favorite rumor mills, second to the whispers of how many people attended the weekend, was why there were no lasers Friday or early Saturday. Rumors were about how the laser company pulled out of the festival, etc. but around 1/3 of the way through Clozee’s set they popped off one of the most beautiful visual light shows I’ve ever seen, and boy was there lasers!
Arise brought some Colorado festival favorites such as Super Heady Tacos and Vegetable Express. The former is out of Boulder and offers speedy organic options such as the Kale Yeah taco. The latter is out of Nederland and provides plant-based alternatives in comfort food form. Their BBQ jackfruit bowl with green chile is a savory masterpiece while their seitan buffalo wings prove that vegan food can pack a punch too.
A large mural section featured pieces by Edica Pacha, who uses a photographic layered style that fuses hyperreal with surreal imagery. Her piece was my personal favorite. MPEK had a piece of a large tiki face over Mayan imagery. Displayed under blacklight, it was particularly inviting to stumble upon at night.
The Dragomi Art Car provided a colorful beacon with its origami-style LEDs and wowed with bursts of pyrotechnics. DJs onboard kept people partying around the dragon all night. This giant origami dragon is situated on top of a 20 foot long truck bed and has been optimized to hold a large group of people at once, so anyone can hop on and hang out while the magic happens. Dragomi also features a sounds system, pyrotechnic effects and over 15,000 individually controllable and pixel-mapped advanced LED lights!
Lunar Fire performed their combo music/performance show every night of the festival, fusing world-music inspired beats with acrobatics and pyrotechnic dances. Beauty and danger mingled and created quite a spectacle.
Being that the Arise founders established the festival to be focused on much more than music, they brought in craftsmen and artisans to hold workshops throughout the entire weekend. No doubt Arise is a relaxing environment nestled up next to the mountains, however, with so many potential activities it becomes necessary to utilize time management skills. I had so many plans going into the first day, but my expectations certainly got the best of me. One of the biggest attractions of the festival was the Yoga Sanctuary, with a variety of classes being held from sunrise up until the late afternoon. Located in GA camping, the Yoga Sanctuary was never lacking participants because there was something for everyone; classes ranged from breathing oriented practice, Bhakti flows, Vinyasa, detox, acro and many more. Most yoga classes were accompanied by live music, creating a calming and restorative atmosphere.
Across festival grounds, nearer to the stages, was the workshop tent where participants had access to a wide array of interactive and hands-on tutorial sessions. Arise brought out experts in a variety of fields, with a passion for sharing their knowledge with others. Teachers came intending to engage patrons and plant a seed that hopefully spreads into far-reaching communities. For anyone who has ever wanted to generate their own energy via solar power but has been thwarted by lack of time or funds, John Ripley conducted a solar kit workshop which went over how to source, build and maintain a functioning solar kit. Everyone has stress at one time or another, some of us more than others, so Beth Blaskovich brought her tactics to deal with high levels of stress to her Freedom from Fear and Stress with Neurosculpting workshop. This tent was a wonderful space to learn new skills, gain knowledge and make new connections, which is what Arise is all about.
Before Arise, I commonly heard how one of the biggest “downsides” to the festival was how early the music stops. After experiencing Arise for myself, I couldn’t disagree more. Sure it’s no secret this is a more family-oriented festival than say, 515 or Lost Lands, but the balance was next to perfect in my mind. Whatever you were there for, you were able to find and enjoy to the fullest, without being burdened by whatever you weren’t there for. The music went plenty late and was funneled perfectly from one stage to the other until it was time to push the party into one final place each night, The Silent Disco.
I have two words for everybody reading this. MIKEY. THUNDER. Both nights at The Stillwater Stage, a DJ battle was waged and while everyone who played rocked our socks off, none could hold a candle to the undisputed champion, Mikey Thunder. I’ve seen a lot of silent discos, some done better than others, but this was hands down my favorite silent disco ever.
Mikey knew how to work the crowd so well, consistently leading everyone into popular singalongs, having everyone basically waking the neighbors by shouting jams like “MAKE MONEY MONEY MAKE MONEY MONAYY” at the top of their lungs. So much for "silent" disco. Sometimes the build-up would be so strong, then be instantly followed by watching a sea of headphones all turn to one color, let’s call it “Blue Thunder”. Was the lights guy in cahoots with Mikey? We’ll never know but there was sometimes so much blue under that tent it made the extraordinarily large whale in the air seem like it was actually swimming in an ocean. Shout out to Lucid Vision, a surprise showing from Bass Physics, and SunDragon for some honorable silent disco mentions.
Arise 2019 was the peak of our Summer, in more ways than one. Looking back at what we learned, it’s clear to see Arise has separated itself as Colorado’s premier music & arts festival. Hearing so many stories about people and organizations really “rising” to their full potential after attending Arise, it became difficult to grasp until we really took part. Moving forward, we’ll always look back at this particular event and hold it with the highest regard, and we will also be amongst the many who’s successes and accomplishments can be at least partially be sourced back to ARISE 2019!