Sunday, August 18, 2013

ARISE Music Festival, Friday Recap - Loveland, CO

Gate to the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
Gate to the Main Stage
Friday starts hot and slow with acoustic music from Shimshai on the main stage. My wife Leigh went off to do a morning yoga session at the Temple of the Heart and I find myself once again in the tent of the Syntonic Stage to escape the sun. 2NUTS plays a glitchy, downtempo set at the tweener dome. Things are generally chill throughout the festival. My good friend and media partner Matt has gone to hit the pool.

The Pool Party, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
The Pool Party
In a search for some refuse from the noonday sun, we settled under the rarest patch of trees and find ourselves watching the Earth Guardians. Xiuthezcatl Roske Martinez, a young activist from Boulder, CO, leads a motley crew of youth on the Solar Overdrive stage. A hip-hop group with a very strong conscious message, The Earth Guardians are led by the young Martinez brothers, Xiuthezcatl, age 13, and Itzcuauhtli, age 10. At first, the show doesn't strike me as anything more than a novelty, something at the fest for the kids. But within one song, as I hear the brothers backed by around fifteen other kids sing out: "the hope is in our hands," I realized that this was something special.

We decided to wander again and find Freelance Whales at the main stage. In a haze of heat and dust, we settle at the back of the main concert bowl to soak in the dreamy, lush tones of the Queens, NY native band. The melodies off a glockenspiel carry the rich three, four, and even five part vocal harmonies across the dome and out to the campgrounds. The main stage keeps us captive as Nahko and Medicine for the People storm on to the main stage. The crowd is clearly enraptured with the band with wild hoots and hollers rooting for Nahko and the band even as they ride away on a golf cart after their set.

The Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
Main Stage

Shortly after Nahko, the Solar Overdrive stage was featuring Mister Loveless from Oakland, California. Post-punk, thoughtful songs serenade us as we lounge and hide in the shade of the trees for only brief stint. Moving along again, we find Greensky Bluegrass stirs up the concert bowl once again with bare feet abound at the main stage. The less traditional bluegrass sounds of Greensky are a welcome progression to Friday's Keller and the Keels show. Followed by festival darling Xavier Rudd, the main stage reaches it's heady apex before hip-hop takes over from Chali 2na.

ATOMGA at the Solar Overdrive Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
Before the big show on Friday, we groove out at the Solar Overdrive stage again, this time with Denver afrobeat band, ATOMGA. A swollen bandstand of at least nine people sets the tone for a heavy night. ATOMGA features a four piece horn section with trombone, trumpet, tenor sax, and baritone sax. The trombone player is dancing so hard I am literally afraid he is going to bounce off the stage.

ATOMGA keeps the secondary stage bumpin', but we depart to catch the lyrical stylings of Chali 2na from the famed Jurassic Five. Backed by his three piece band, House of Vibe, Chali brings us his own "radio station" with a blend of his own material, Jurassic Five tunes, and even covers from Michael Jackson. Clearly inspired by the happenings at ARISE, Chali invites the young brothers of Earth Guardians out on the stage to improvise two of their own original songs with the band. Chali is split from cheek to cheek smiling at the antics of the Martinez brothers. Chali even gladly took the role of hype man, rapping "I'm Young. I'm Positive."

The Magic Beans at the Solar Overdrive Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
The Magic Beans
The night takes a swerve toward the party side when we arrive at the Solar Overdrive stage for the Magic Beans. Denver local jam-band brings a tight almost medley-like sound, skipping smoothly through intricate originals and cheeky covers like Hall and Oates' "Maneater." The fellows of the Magic Beans bring the intense energy of a young, inspired, and motivated jam band. From the many shows that had played the Solar Overdrive stage, the Magic Beans show on Friday began to crystalize the tangible vibe of ARISE.

By this time, I was trying to urge myself toward the main stage for Lynx and then Michal Menert, but the party vibe of the Solar Overdrive stage had firmly taken hold on me. Although I was hesitant to spend the day out in the sun at the Solar Overdrive Thursday and Friday afternoon, the nighttime line-ups had made a clear impression to me that this stage would be the host to some exciting and surprising events.

I began to lose my footing halfway between Michal Menert's main stage set and laid out in the campground listening once again to the sound waves bounce off the cliff side into the tent. For me the night had ended, but the weekend was ripe. Although I felt Friday would be the apex of the festival, it turned out to be truly a penultimate day to what was still in store.

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