Saturday, August 17, 2013

ARISE Music Festival, Thursday Recap - Loveland, CO

What seemed like a slow start to ARISE picked up quickly as Toubab Krewe hit the main stage at 4:45 pm. Jans Ingber, singer for the Motet, grooved along with the swollen and ecstatic crowd. Bare feet stirred up little dust storms every time the Krewe picked up the tempo. Although much other music had been flowing Thursday, Toubab Krewe seemed to bring a true inaugural energy to the stage as the day began to cool down. As we watched the band play their last song, a little girl playing hide and seek dodged around us. The vibe here is very family friendly as lots of little ones hang at the barrier at the front of the stage. Like the many parts of a ticking clock, the three percussionists beat out the rhythm of an African song. All moving together yet each on their own beat, the syncopation they create is hypnotizing and soothing under the light hearted and uplifting guitar melodies. As the band wraps their set, they stressed to the audience that ARISE is something that they hope we can take care of and keep going. And although they have nothing official on their tour dates, guitarist Drew Heller hinted that they would be back in Colorado around New Years.

Toubab Krewe on the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday August 15
Toubab Krewe at ARISE, Thursday
Next, we found ourselves settled in a tent dome at the Syntonic Stage before the stage had gotten busy. Candy shaped pillows and exercise balls in wrapper like coverings acted as our seats. Face painters sat inside the dome of the tweener stage excitedly making people their canvas. Numerous other decorations surrounded the stage, pyramids, stars, a kissing booth and lots of burner-worthy constructions made up the DJ booth. Music was only starting up in the tweener DJ booth, so we continued to migrate.

Tents at the Syntonic Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday 8/15
Dome Tent at the Syntonic Stage
We found a trio of graffiti artists at work on a wall sized mural just outside of the main event area. BerkVisual, 84Pages, and David Bywater of Plaant were in the beginning stages of a three way painting collaboration. Three to four figures were beginning to take shape from a design that the guys had worked out together before arriving on site. It was clear that the design was coming to life but at the same time you could tell the guys were improvising and adapting their original art as they went along somewhat as well.
ARISE Mural by BerkVisual, 84Pages, and David Bywater of PLAANT, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday 8/15
Berk shows P Buck the Design
As we made our way back to camp, Keller and the Keels had started their set at the main stage. The dust is kicking up once again as the bluegrass tunes get the crowd moving. People are very happy to watch Keller pick his mandolin with the Keels, married couple Larry on guitar and Jenny on the bass. The trio blazed through lots of covers, doing a Tom Petty medley at one point switching back and forth between "Last Dance with Mary Jane" and "Breakdown." "Tweaker by the Speaker" made its obligatory appearance in the set and die-hard Keller fans rejoiced. I overheard one Keller fan waxing "Keller doesn't age."

Keller and the Keels at the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday 8/15
Keller and the Keels
We wandered off again to the Solar Overdrive stage where Loveland locals, Genetics, were rocking their blend of progressive rock. This four piece was tight and continually kept their set moving through many different sounds from heavy riff rock to chilled out disco grooves. The guitarist was outwardly thrilled to be playing, expressing multiple times his exhilaration with ARISE. The band was an unknown for me but a nice surprise to see a very talented group of young players tucked into the early Thursday line up.

The Motet at the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday August 15
The Motet at the Main Stage
From there we caught Denver funk legends, the Motet, on the main stage. Playing tunes from their previous album like "Nemesis" blended with new material from a forthcoming album that is currently in the works, the band was hitting hard. The fellas of the Motet never disappoint me with the personally awe-inspiring talents of Garrett Sayers on the bass and Joey Porter on the keys. The entire group is without a doubt a talented bunch, but I cant get enough when Sayers or Porter get their chance to solo. In a nice surprise of the set, one of the percussionists of Toubab Krewe came to sit in for a song

After another quick stop at the Solar Overdrive stage with Astronomix, Quixotic hit the main stage for their highly involved performance set. New Age chill beats set the tone for the roaring violin. Dancers graced the stage as well as a hanging trapeze area to the side of the stage. The set was both musically and visually very inspiring.

Octopus Nebula, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday August 15
Octopus Nebula at the Solar Overdrive Stage
Octopus Nebula was definitely one of the breakout sets of the day. Rocking the midnight set at the Solar Overdrive stage, O Neb had the crowd at the secondary stage as packed as the main stage. Denver locals truly represented for the Colorado crowd. The jamtronic blend was a perfect sound for the late night set.

Midnite on the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday August 15
Midnite hit the stage a bit later than their namesake would suggest. Coming on the main stage at 1:15 am, the classic reggae group brought us the dub sound to the mountains. By this time, I was running out of steam and laid down for the night, but luckily the stage was close enough to our camp that I could still listen to the band. The sound waves bounced off the surrounding cliffs to create an even more dubbed out reggae sound as I drifted off to sleep.

The ARISE location and production are top notch. The environment they have procured at the Sunrise Ranch is an amazingly beautiful setting for a music fest. On top of that, the production level is very much on par with the best of summer camping festivals. While admittedly the attendance seems lower than expected, the event is set up for years of success if they are able to grow in the coming years. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the weekend has in store.

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