As part of our official review for Sonic Bloom 2016, here is staff writer Austin William’s day-by-day recap of the wonderful music acts of this year’s festival.
FKJ: French Kiwi Juice came all the way from, you guessed it, France to play here at the unified field. His blend of new house, chilled out hip hop beats, and light female R&B vocals gave a nice warm up to the fest. The use of groovy boom bap loops and fun synth licks gave everyone the opportunity to stretch their legs and shake their tail feather.
The Opiuo Band: Led by the funky, bassy, rock god that is Opiuo, this collection of friends brings a fun and exciting cross between live instrumentation and electronic whomps. Opiuo brought squishy upbeat percussion backing as, one by one, the musicians around him busted out funky solos. The Australian super group made for the perfect end to the first night of the fest.
Dixon’s Violin: Having gone to ten years of Burning man, this man is no strangers to festivals. His enchanting violin licks created a peaceful and captivating energy. The one man symphony layered improvised melodies on his 5 string violin creating a sound that is truly unique.
Pumpkin Tribute: A beautiful tribute to Nicholas “Pumpkin” Alvarado who was taken from us too soon. The celebration of life allowed those who love Nick’s music to feel the energy one last time and fill all of our souls with positivity in response to his passing.
Defunk: A fun collection of upbeat booty shaking beats and fun banjo breakdowns, DeFunk never fails to put on an amazing show. Bringing everything from swing music to filthy bass drops, this man is a must see for all EDM heads out there.
Sunsquabi: Bringing the vibe back towards acoustic jam bands, the three part group adds amazing instrumentation to digital production. The lighthearted electro-funk groove brought everyone closer together for a feel good dance party.
Louis the Child: This Chicago based duo has been taking the scene by storm recently and their live show definitely made us understand why. Hip hop and trap influences are re-imagined with a Miami house feel. They played wonderfully groovy tracks that made it impossible not to dance the night away.
Living Light: Definitely one of my favorites, even more so now after seeing them live. With their deep, melodic, almost trance inducing bass swells giving way to bouncy dub, the set spoke more to the soul than it did to dancing shoes.
Bonobo: Aka Simon Green, this man is no stranger to the stage. He brought a feel-good chilled-out sound that brought everyone together and gave us a great sense of euphoria. His unique style of upbeat acid jazz made this set peaceful as well as energized.
Bean: Having worked for Sub.Mission for over 7 years, Bean has perfected the deep dub sound. Heavy sub bass boomed through the forest of hammocks as everyone fell prey to the unified head bob.
Lily Fangz: A fierce talent in the hip-hop community, Lily brought freestyle rhymes together with a wide variety of different back beats. This allowed for unexpected switch ups accompanied by lyrical fire.
Ind33p: This set brought it back to the classic deep dub, but with an energetic drive behind it. Ind33p played their wonky genre known as ‘aggressive party music’, and it was exactly this.
Michael Travis: One sixth of String Cheese Incident, one half of Eoto, this man is just as much fun to see solo as he is with accompaniment. The live drummer brought together everything from bluegrass to jazz to heavy bass in a fast paced and exciting way.
The Widdler: Producing beats since he was 10, this seasoned dj had a beautifully paced ambient set. Even though it featured a lot of catchy loops and remixes, the spacey sound made the set a perfect time to vibe out and meet people.
Deya Dova: An experience like none other. Deya Dova’s strong beautiful voice caught us as we were walking by and the intricate feathered headdresses and outfits had us hooked. The Australian singer belted out native chants while a woman in a gorgeous ornate outfit danced about the stage. The beats behind rolled with the tribal aesthetic but added the deep bass that we all love. It was a lovely collection of very contextually striking talents, a definite must see for holistic minds.
Michal Menert and the Pretty Fantastics: Michal never fails to put on a funky dance party any time he’s on stage. With the Pretty Fantastics, a live funk band that accompanies him, this is even more so. The band brought loud, bright sax and horn licks as well as wonderful drum solos and smooth R&B vocals while the man himself added a touch of electronic mastery and even sung for quite a few of the tracks. Having given out life size cut outs of himself, Michal Menert also danced stiffly in several places throughout the crowd during his set.
Templo: A favorite frequenter of Cervantes, Templo brought his ethereal deep downtempo sound to the Other Stage. His mesmerizing samples created such large soundscapes that even those at the edge of the crowd were wrapped into the experience.
Quixotic: This group never ceases to blow me away. It was a true multisensory experience featuring live orchestrated music as well as aerial dancers and ballet dancers all synced up to the projections used on stage. There was even a special guest appearance from the group’s violinist, Shane Borth’s, sister Jessica Borth. Amazing music, beautiful dancing and a family reunion, what else could one want?
Phadroid: Showcasing a lot of fun glitch hop, Phadroid also incorporated the use of augmented projection on a live dancer. While deep and down-tempo, the artist wasn’t afraid to get a little up-beat here and there, although the audience was too captivated by the artistry on stage to focus on dancing.
Tipper: David Tipper, the man, the legend, not only stole the show that night, but he took over the entire festival with this performance. His relentlessly up-tempo beats, wonderfully squishy samples, and incredibly fast table scratches together with a projection system led by Android Jones left everybody either with their jaw dropping to the floor or dancing every last bit of energy out of their system. Switch up after switch up, the UK legend brought out a terrific selection of his best hits. After his set, without a word from or even a sight of him, Tipper was gone, leaving an entire crowd screaming for more.
Clozee: Those that were still able to move after Tipper were able to catch this wonderful set. The French producer utilized tribal drum samples, feel good vocals and live instrumentation to keep the party going well into the night. At the end of her set, she gave an adorably shy good bye and left in perfect timing to the last hit of her closer.
Orphic: Imagine your favorite funk songs shot out of a bass cannon. This is the funkadelic party that is seeing Orphic live. Even as tired as we all were, Orphic had everyone jumping up and down, vibing out to wonderfully groovy music.
Tipper (down tempo): Not nearly as hyped as the set the previous night, Tipper slowed the pace down with a relaxed set. Although, it was hard to call this set strictly down tempo with Tipper throwing in some fun dance drops here and there. Regardless of fast or slow, this man’s talent on stage is impeccable, and it is a wonderful sight to behold.
Break Science: This Brooklyn based duo hit the stage full force with live instrumented jams with a dash of hip hop flavor. The crowd danced eagerly in anticipation until the two dropped their hit song Brain Reaction as a finale, causing everyone to go bananas.
EOTO: I got goosebumps as Michael Travis and Jason Hann took the stage and gave their run down of how their music is live and improvised. What followed was an hour and a half of two masterfully trained musicians playing off one another seamlessly. The two definitely have a distinct bass-heavy, drum sound, but what they can do with that sound is truly incredible.
Russ Liquid Test: Russ Liquid, the jazzy, trumpet playing master of glitch hop, found a drummer and a guitarist and the result was absolutely fantastic. The three were busting out booty shaking beats with expert precision and laying down phenomenal solos nonstop. Although the performance was centered more on acoustic musicianship, Russ didn’t shy away from taking the wheel and getting weird with it.
Sonic Bloom Orchestra: The ending, the finale, the last hug from a friend you won’t see for a while. The orchestra came on stage, huddled up, shared words, and then proceeded to give the best jam performance I have ever seen. (I’ve taken up too much space as it is but definitely look up the members.) One by one, artists would cycle on and off stage. The show started with two, next we knew there was four, then eight, then twelve, all playing off of one another perfectly. For the moral of talent coming together and thriving, one could not find a better example.