by Eloise Ryser
Festival season is in full swing. For most people, this entails amazon shopping carts full of body paint, dry shampoo, and glow sticks, as well as pondering the limitations of various beer coolers. Festivals are famous for their ability to bring people together through good music and a shared predicament of dehydration. This theme of camaraderie is especially palpable at Sonic Bloom, Colorado’s premier music festival held at Hummingbird Ranch, just south of Pueblo. As a festival, Sonic Bloom has distinguished itself with the theme of the “Unified Field” which references the theory that every being is infinite, and therefore connected to all things. This idea is pervasive throughout Sonic Bloom from the venue, to the people, to the music itself. Even though it isn’t as well known as other large scale summer festivals, the Sonic Bloom experience is undoubtedly a staple of the Colorado music experience.
Bloom never fails when it comes to constructing a worthy lineup, whether it be producers, visual artists, or classes. Some of the artists this year included big names such as The Floozies, Ott, Claude VonStroke, The Polish Ambassador, Space Jesus, and a super band comprised of Big Gigantic, The String Cheese Incident, and The Disco Biscuits.
Kalya Scintilla’s thursday night set seemed a bit lackluster compared to his 2016 last minute performance in place of Ott, however it was still a great start to the weekend. The stand-out performances happened on Friday and Saturday when Claude VonStroke took the Hummingbird stage by storm and Ott managed to make up for the fact that he had to pull out last year.
Since Bloom has reserved the land where the festival has been held for the past three years, the production quality of the stages has improved significantly. The Hummingbird stage, which is situated within a wooded part of the venue surrounded by psychedelic visual artists, trees, and hammocks has integrated a more permanent setup with phenomenal sound. The main stage also incorporated an insane number of lasers during the headliner acts, which were used to write messages and draw patterns in the clouds above the venue.
In addition to the incredible lineup, the visual artists scattered around the venue were also pretty impressive. On the side of the main stage was a flower sculpture installation called Lady of the Night, which also doubled as a flame thrower for people to line up for and experiment with throughout the night. In the wooded parts of the venue, there were lots of painters and visual artists working on psychedelic art through a range of different mediums.
The crowd that is attracted to Sonic Bloom is a healthy mix of professionals looking for a weekend of hedonism, artists, and serial festival-goers sometimes known as “wooks”, that will ask to borrow your wristband, or just everything. Since many daytime hours in the campground are various levels of miserable due to the heat, it is very important to like the people that will inevitably spend a large part of the festival with you, spraying fan misters in each other’s faces and smoking weed. The good news is that pretty much everyone you will meet at Bloom is there to share a good time, whether that be taking a minute to compare heady hat pins or becoming long-lasting friends. There is a certain sense of fellowship you share with the people you sit with all day and party with all night that is truly hard to leave behind at the end of the weekend.
Throughout its eleven years of existence, Sonic Bloom has remained relatively small, however, after seeing the continued improvement of the venue and the festival’s organization in general, I can only imagine how quickly this
event will garner a bigger following with every summer. Ultimately, Sonic Bloom is not just a great music festival, it is an experiment in creating a happier, more connected community of people. Jamie Janover, the festival’s producer, envisions the future of Sonic Bloom as a zero-waste event similar to Burning Man. He even claims that in the future he plans on running the entire event with a single generator. His vision corresponds to the unified field theory that is pervasive throughout the entire festival, bringing the focus away from just the lineup, and towards living a better, more connected life in general. Bloom is a one of a kind experience; I left this year feeling like a different person but like most transformative experiences, I knew that when I returned home I wouldn’t be able to put into words what I had just witnessed. In a few months, I won’t even remember these things myself, but the magic of Sonic Bloom is its ability to surpass my expectations each and every time, and I’m sure next year will be no different.