The year of 2020 rocked the world to a near stand still and it took a while to come back to normality, especially in the music industry. Sonic Bloom, a transformational music festival nested on the foothills of Greenhorn Mountain in Rye, Colorado, came back to what seemed to be stronger than ever after their two year hiatus. Obviously they took quite the hit both emotionally and financially for being absent from curating astonishing experiences but given the drought of gathering on ‘the Unified Field,’ it came to create an unique vibe more so than any other year prior. For many artists, during the time stuck at home, they came to create some of the wonkiest, brightest, and truest forms of their craft. At Sonic Bloom, it was clear that a lot, if not the high majority, of music played (and visual art showcased) was absolutely brand spanking new! Every stage, except one for the locals (Starwater stage,) was equipped with the renowned ‘Funktion Ones’ that gave absolute clarity while still pumping out gnarly bass! Add in the combination of some of the best VJ’s (Visual Jockey’s, who controls the visual art on screen) in the scene, Sonic Bloom came to create one of the best transformational music festivals. They brought in artists who are no strangers to the Unified Field, such as; Tipper, Of the Trees, Yheti, kLL sMTH, and many more, but also brought in a grip of new names who truly made a BIG statement like; Wreckno, Ultrasloth, Tripp St., Black Carl!,and Shlump just to name a few. Sonic Bloom rightfully sold out from the immense build-up over the two years, the absolutely mind blowing line-up, and most of all, finally being back at ‘home.’ Come with us deeper into the article as we go over some of our favorite moments, where we were straight astonished by raw talent, and where we were surrounded by the best of vibes that we ‘oh so missed!’
Templo Kicking off Bloom
Sonic Bloom always starts off with an opening ceremony on the main stage where they have the Native Americans who live on the other side of Greenhorn Mountain come down and present their sacred traditions by blessing the grounds with prayer and dances. Shortly after that, the music ensued with a Colorado local music producer who is no stranger to the Sonic Bloom grounds. Templo kicked off the festival on the main stage for a solid hour and fifteen minutes and completely grasped the attention of all who were slowly filling in the grounds. His music is very much so experimental and diverse. He can lure you in with downtempo beats and take you away with some wonky-ness. Over this whole ‘covid’ time, he has been working hard in his studio and put out quite an array of music and at Bloom he got to showcase a decent bit of it on the bumping Vero sound system by Funktion One.
After Templo’s set, the festival truly began with all stages fully kicking and the grounds becoming alive. At the Hummingbird stage, a stage nested in a scrub-oak forest in-between the two other larger stages with give or take, ’20’ live painters scattered throughout the trees, had a back to back of funky Denver producers that had the crowd getting down ‘n groovy! Kaptain and Phyphr took the gorgeous honeycomb styled stage at the Hummingbird for a crazy ride with their live instrumental get-down! Add in guitar with creative funky and bass heavy music production and they are riding the lines of getting to the level Gramatik or GRiZ. Definitely one of the notable performances of the weekend and it was only day one with day light still out. Going on at the same time at the Meadow stage, located on the other side of the grounds from the Bloom stage (main,) one of Yheti’s close friends and outstanding music producer, Honeybee started to take over. She rattled the meadow stage with heavy and weird bass that lead perfectly into Saka who carried that vibe and put out some heaters with a fresh twist. Coming from Hong Kong and living in San Fransico, Saka has had quite the interesting influence of music production and you can clearly hear the exotic sound production when he plays live and with those sub frequency notes, it was damn near perfection hearing it on the funktions. Truly a revered sound system that amplifies the experience of hearing music by so much.
Yheti into Of the Trees
Before we knew it, the night had come in and the headliners of day one were about to take off with Yheti on the main stage who was booked to perform an all OG Audio and visual set, where he controls the visuals in addition to DJ’ing. This came to be a very weird set (as usual, every Yheti set is very weird, but when it’s all of his music, things just…get more weird,) and with the main stage lighting and size of production, his set just POPPED! Absolutely packed main stage on a Thursday night and the vibes were just immaculate. Yheti has loved playing this festival from the years prior and finally being booked to play the main stage plus the years of waiting from 2020, had just made his performance truly a one of a kind Yheti set that will go down in Yheti Spaghetti history.
Straight after Yheti, Of the Trees came on the mainstage, which was a brilliant choice for time slots and was easily one of the best artist transitions of the weekend. They are very close friends and so even though they may have not played together during their sets at Bloom, one friend playing with another following up had definitely presented some marvelous emotions and brought them to perform at their peak. Both of them had tributes to the late Charlesthefirst that riddled passionate energy throughout the crowd and got us all in the heart. Charles was also a massive fan of this festival and had left us with some of the best Sonic Bloom performances that ever graced the grounds. He was originally booked in 2020, so to hear tributes to him from both of these artists (and more throughout the weekend) was straight beautiful! Like Yheti’s set, Of the Trees had his own visuals running, with his team controlling them and honestly this lead to be such an entrancing set. All of his produced songs had unique visuals that catered to each one and with his music and aroma being peaceful and full of nature, the visuals were nothing short of that. A magical performance that properly ended out the main stage for Thursday night, but not the festival activities…
PACKED Thursday Night
Once the main stage ended on Thursday night at midnight it became time for some late night shenanigans in the center of the festival grounds. The forested area around Hummingbird stage had various types of art installations that led many wandering the grounds into spaces of creativity, zen, and of course psychedelic art. Even though it was a Thursday night, it was absolutely packed, to where it felt like it was a sold out night and it was clear that after an exhilarating first day, the crowd was not ready to rest with so much still going on for another two hours. And unfortunately when there is so much to do and see, time flies. On the Hummingbird stage two artists who have established their sound and craft took over the honeycomb inspired stage. Player Dave began the late night festivities with exotic and harmonic bass music. Sprinkled with drum and bass amongst his experimental 808 production, Player Dave took the massive audience for an intergalactic journey that sparked the crowd up!
Following up that gnarly performance was one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend with a young duo from Florida that go by the name, Eazybaked. They are wonky music producers with a very distinct bass sound that can be instantly recognized from any bass music lovers ear. Eazybaked recently put out their first album, Intertwined and at Bloom they played a plethora of their new music with fresh drops / VIPs that kept their performance full of surprises. One of their songs from the album, Stimulated, got played out and had the crowd go straight berserk! As the night progressed the crowd did not dissipate or fade out, it stayed just as packed as before with everyone gripping onto the same kind of release from built up festival tension that finally got released throughout the day and evening.
The Hummingbird wasn’t the only stage poppin’ off at this time though. Down from the Hummingbird in the same kind of scrub oak forest, nested in a tight-night area was the Yoga Dome that hosted local and up and coming artists that truly rocked the Funktion Ones for what they are worth. In the late hours of Thursday night they had Molokai, from the ‘Spicy Bois’ take the Dome to the next level. We were only able to be here at Molokai for a bit of his set due to conflicts with the Hummingbird, but with the walking distance being so close, it was definitely worth the travel time and struggle of finding good spots.
Funky Hummingbird (Superbest Records Mini Takeover)
Day two came up with beautiful Colorado weather that was just ideal for catching funky beats at the Hummingbird. It was a mini Superbest Records takeover that started with Shuj Roswell, a local four person funkadelic electronic band that played out some of the best live beats all weekend. (You can listen to their set here on SoundCloud.) Following up the performance was supposed to be just a Mikey Thunder set, but low and behold, it was his other, very funky and live side project with Benjamins Vibe and Mr. Bugatti, the PARTY PEOPLE. A trio made up of live vinyl spinning, electronic affects, and a MC who can freestyle the festival away. They played out rather energetic and funky beats that kept the crowd alive and craving more. Following them up was the Superbest Records founder Michal Menert, who was also apart Pretty Lights Music Fam. It has been a few years since he has played at Bloom and it was an outstanding return back to the Unified Field! Filled with new music and riddled with the old classics, Michal performed a set that resonated throughout the trees and created a near packed out stage. For all funk lovers, this was the place to be as the day progressed into the evening.
Friday Night Meadow Stage Campout
Once the sun went down and the night life took over the grounds on Friday, the Unified Field truly blossomed into a festival extravaganza. All of the art installations and goofy exhibits were open, such as ‘Fricks and Fracks’, a wook based Casino where you can put down odd items to bet against others and where damn near everyone wins. Or the ‘Oracle Portal,’ a little dome with multiple gongs hanging around in a big enough circle for a group of up to 6 to six next to each other and blast off to the cosmos with radical vibrations. Between all stages and at all of them as well, live painters were posted up, giving plenty of opportunity of many to discover new artists and see new pieces consistently throughout the weekend.
Friday night was full of heavy conflicts in music that lead us to miss out on the live jams from Lettuce and house beats from some Dirtybird fam, but it did lead us to some of our favorite sets of the weekend. We posted up nice ‘n tight on the middle – right side of the meadow stage for the night that gave us an excellent view of the big mural behind us and live performance arts on the platform to the right of the stage. The area filled up real early with one of the members of Lab Group, Potions, who took away the stage on a psychedelic bass journey. Paired with visuals from Diethylamide, Potions had the grounds in a wondrous daze with flawless transitions, unreleased tunes, and some of his best releases. Even though after his set, a lot of the audience dispersed to the rest of the festival, the stage was still noticeably packed with the crowd getting amped up for Tripp St.. A producer who rides genres of Drum and Bass, experimental bass, and other wonky beats that have high energy. Not knowing what kind of set I was getting into, his performance absolutely blew me and so many others away. He riddled his set with some of the best DnB that I have ever heard and to hear it on the Unified Field was an absolute blessing!! Dirt was getting kicked up, the crowd was moving as one and honestly it may have been one of the ‘moments’ that sticks out the most to me from Bloom. Drum and bass is finally making its move to be at every type of electronic music festival and people are digging it, not just standing around anymore. Check out this video clip of Tripp St. going berserk with visuals from Mezmer!
After such an energetic set, it was kind of hard to imagine who can follow it up and keep the vibes going, but Sonic Bloom did an outstanding job of putting together time slots and booked Wreckno to play after. This was another one of the best artist transitions of the weekend and Wreckno did not take their set on a light trail. They started their set off with a remix of the Powerpuff Girls theme song that lead straight into Wreckno beats and their outstanding vocals that grazed both masculine and feminine notes. Throughout their set, Wreckno would sing during their songs and would mix it into some other high-octane dubstep and bass music. A true performer that kept the crowd absolutely eye locked the whole time. This set had plenty of unreleased music and upcoming collaborations that led the performance to be one of the most recognizable from the weekend.
Chee & Yheti Late Night Set
The main stage closed out Friday night with a magical Lab Group set, composed of Potions, Supertask, and the late CharlestheFirst. Throughout the performance emotions filled the packed grounds into the late night hours with nearly all the Lab Group songs being dropped plus a plethora of songs that will remain unreleased. Of course, the weird and wonky music didn’t end there, the festival night-life fun was just beginning with 2 hours of music and the grounds being alive with two stages going off, ‘The Hummingbird’ and the ‘Yoga Dome’ along with the silent disco that took over the ‘Meadow stage’ area. The hummingbird was our choice for the night with Chee, a producer from South Africa, who played out his insane versatile range of bass music for an hour. He has releases on Wakaan, Insomniac Records, Deadbeats, UKF, and more! His high energy kept strong throughout the AM hours into Yheti’s DJ set with visuals powered by Shields. Yheti played out some of his older songs, such as his flip of Korn’s ‘Twist’ plus many from friends that kept his set truly weird and fresh. My group and I decided to turn in early with thirty minutes of his set left so we could prepare for the gnarly Saturday ahead of us. With the sun being so direct during the day, we knew sleep would be crucial and oh… it so was.
Decision of Food Vendors & a hypnotizing Black Carl! set
Saturday’s (and Sunday’s) at festivals for me are typically my days I splurge out and catch up on much needed energy by shoveling food in my face by getting some grub at some of the food vendors. Unfortunately this year at Bloom, a handful of my favorite food trucks did not return to see the Unified Field, (such as gyros from the Colorado food truck or catfish from the Cajun, or even the renowned Super Heady Tacos,) but that left room for discovering new food, which was interesting. Some of the trucks had outstanding lines that, when keeping to some what of a schedule, made it so we choose somewhere else with a lesser line. Surprisingly. the dumpling place that we chose had some crazy flavor and with just two dumplings gave me enough fuel to last into the later hours.
A nice overcast of thick clouds covered the sky in the Afternoon of Saturday and when music started to kick off, it was the perfect time to be out in the crowd, getting down, and starting the third day of the festival off right. We got to the meadow stage at the end of one of the local DJ’s set, Grymetyme. He blew me away with gnarly 808 bass and developed harmonies that made his set feel like he was no up & coming artist and one who we will be seeing plenty more of. He led perfectly into another up & coming artist coming from Alabama, Black Carl! and honestly this was one of the most unique sets of the weekend. Damn near sound scape, theatrical type of bass music that built up with hypnotic spacious beats and led into absurdly wonky and out of this world brilliantly designed sounds. He kept me on a trance that kept me away from my phone or camera and truly drawn into his set. Looking around, I could tell I was not the only one blown away…
Not much longer after his set, during the start of Veil, a Deep, Dark, and Dangerous artist, a rain storm sprinkled its way into Bloom for a solid half hour. As the sun was setting behind the mountains and the rain was keeping the dust down, it made for a nice chilly night that I was oh so thankful for. We went back to camp, which was in sound range of the Meadow stage, got geared up for the chillier weather, the night, and the Tipper and Friends take over along with some of the biggest conflicts of the weekend.
Conflict of “Tipper & Friends” & electrifying hyped up bass music
Tipper & Friends take over started a bit late on Saturday night, beginning at 10:00, each of the four artists had an hour to take away the main stage on an absurd journey. As any true festival should, with their most hyped up night, (the night that sold out this year,) the other stages were straight poppin’ off with some massive names. We didn’t catch any of the artists at Hummingbird stage being Supertask or Daily Bread but we were caught up in some gnarly electrifying bass music that all started with a last minute replacement from a highly anticipated set. INZO was booked for an hour and 15 minute set and something had come up to where he did not make it out and Sonic Bloom put Luzcid in as his replacement and oh my, it was one of the best parts of the weekend. He had mentioned that his life had been giving him some downs lately and he was in an odd place and that the booking truly sparked him back into the light of things. That energy portrayed through his set was one that gave me goosebumps and made the hairs on my arms stand. His high energy set led perfectly into Ravenscoon‘s idea of downtempo. He had been working on this set for months and you can feel the dedication throughout the performance. Ravenscoon mashed up gnarly old school dubstep with some acapellas from popular songs during the 2000’s era. Check out this clip of Ravenscoon goin’ in!
Again, Sonic Bloom did a magnificent job with artist booking and they brought Mize in after Ravenscoon, another artist who has high energy, electrifying bass music that layers over vocals from classic tunes that oh so many know! Mashed in with unexpected drops his set was one of a kind and had fit in perfectly with the vibes of Saturday night. His performance was just outstanding but a conflict of his set and Resonant Language at the Bloom stage made it so we had to split each of their sets.
Getting through the crowd of Tipper fans are always quite the journey but thankfully there was enough space to post up in a decent spot and catch the end of Resonant Language and get ready to get tipped. From what we saw of Resonant Language, the whole production of audio and visual was just near perfect. Hearing his intricate and complex sounds on the impeccable Funktion Ones truly made for a one of a kind experience. Of course, this outstanding production led up to the Headliner of the festival for a performance like no one else. With visuals from ‘Fractaled Visions,’ Tipper came on with a theatrical build up with a geometrical hummingbird that was getting nectar from a sunflower and flawlessly dropped it into a magical, yet heavy Tipper style drop. From that point on his set only gained momentum in getting heavier bass and wonkier visuals. As always, Tipper keeps so many of his songs as ID’s and unreleased music to make for a unique set from any other of his and this set at Bloom was just that. Way over half of the music was ID’s and the rest was his music with new takes / VIPs on it, that again made for such a clean set. Check out a lil clip of this legendary artist his and mesmerizing performance!
Saturday ‘Night’ Shenanigans
It is never easy to get the move on after getting tipped and being surrounded by ‘Spunions’ but thats what makes for an interesting journey. We had left the main stage that was riddled with some of the best trip-hop bass music in the scene to an up & coming trio of epic underground bass artists that make up a trip-hop DnB group named Ultrasloth. Composed of kLL sMTH, Duffrey, and bioLuMigen, the group covers the grounds of insane vinyl scratching, high energy beats and gnarly visuals that rocked the brains of many. Especially on the beautiful Hummingbird stage that is lit up with an insane screen projector with some of the highest quality resolution you can project. Topped with visuals from ‘Planz Visuals‘ it made for yet another of one of my favorite moments of the weekend. Watch this NUTTY video from Ultrasloth playing out their song ‘ Animalz’ below!
Sunday Wind & Rain Storm
Colorado is always a hit or miss with weather. One year we got hail that covered the ground like snow. One year we had record breaking heat. This year we had Bloom end out with some of Colorado’s finest and strongest wind gusts that absolutely destroyed camps with people who were not prepped for this type of wind. Being from Colorado and having this be my 7th Sonic Bloom, I know that the wind is insane and so everything; Easy-up and tents, are staked down with the big metal stakes that go deep into the ground and when the orange clip is snug into the ground I secure that with one of the cheap stakes that for what ever reason people think they can do their whole site with. Don’t do that. Save your equipment and heart ache! Unfortunately though, no matter how prepared you are sometimes it isn’t enough and that is what happened with the main stage. It had blown over, LED wall and speakers. This storm put a postponement up for the festival that delayed all music until a little bit before dusk. The first beats to hit the ground were ones from someone…deep…dark…and dangerous.
Deep, Dark, & Dangerous
NotLö brought the vibes back into the festival with heavy sub-bass and the notable DD&D style of dubstep. A more spacious style of dub that is definitely underground, (head honchos and founders of the label are Truth.) She had Incredible high energy for her set and with most of the set being originals, collaborations of hers, and a couple of songs from the DD&D label, she absolutely wrecked her set and got the crowd back into it!! Later on in the night, a highly anticipated performance from Integrate (VCTRE and Black Carl!) rocked the grounds into submission. Sunday sets are hard for a 4 day festival but with sets like this, it gives you the last burst of energy to rock it out! The exotic styles to their sound design came together perfectly and while you can hear each one of their styles individually throughout the set, I was mind blown with some of the tunes that came out of those speakers. Closing out the festival for us was perhaps one of my most anticipated sets from the get-go. Shlump. A bass music artist who has ‘alien sounds’ and multiple releases on Wakaan and Deep, Dark and Dangerous, played out a unique set that rocked me to my core. He hit the sweet spot of heavy bass with wonky sounds and spacious beats that left the Funktions bumping hard for a proper close out to Sonic Bloom.
END. Appreciation & Gratitude
Sonic Bloom never fails to impress with the vast amount of art that gets portrayed throughout the grounds. From on stage with music, the visuals on the screens, the lighting; to ALL types of performance arts, to live painters scattered ALL across the grounds, the immense gallery posted up next to hummingbird, and all the other random and beautiful, exotic, art installations and pieces that filled the grounds to capacity. Even though Sonic Bloom is a ‘smaller’ festival that is quickly growing, it holds so much art, beauty, and love, that surpasses its size and makes it a one of a kind festival that is not comparable to any other festival out there. Truly made up of some of the brightest and kind-hearted humble people that in turn has that energy radiate throughout the Unified Field. I’d like to thank Jamie Janover, (one of the founders of Bloom) Katie of Blooming Footprint, my friends who were there with me, Chase my close friend and photographer that I was able to bring along, and the rest of Sonic Bloom staff! We are beyond excited and thankful for being able to come out and do coverage for Sonic Bloom for a 5th year! Check out our full gallery posted in the link below! (Saturday and Sunday still being updated!)
Photos: Chase Sexton & Dom Ragusa
Article Author & Edit: Dom Ragusa