It's hard to put the ARISE Music Festival, in Loveland, in a certain category. It features music, but it's not just a music festival. Aerial yogis perform, and specialists in aromatherapy hold workshops. There are fire twirlers and classes on different global music genres. Oh, and bands like Ziggy Marley and Jurassic 5 performed at this year's fest, which took place Friday, August 5, through Sunday, August 7.
ARISE shows great potential to become the benchmark for other festivals, as it challenges attendees to contribute to, rather than exclusively take away from, the experience of a music festival. We've corralled a few of the reasons that we think ARISE is bigger than the sum of its parts and perhaps more than just a music festival. Indeed, some would call what they're doing out at Sunrise Ranch a movement.
5. The food
Ramen, tacos and snowcones were hitting the spot, and tasty vegetarian and vegan options were available at every vendor station.
4. The activism
Volunteers milled about the festival, and whether their particular issue was of interest to passersby didn't matter. The presence of their political consciousness was apparent, even appreciated.
But activism popped up not just in clipboard holders. Attendees could register to vote at stations around the festival; for every ticket sold, a tree will be planted; and recycle stations were everywhere.
3. The dancing
Whether it was in a tent as Mike Love crooned reggae-inspired love songs, on a grassy knoll as Phutureprimitive melted the faces and legs off its crowd, or among devotees of Deltron 3030 rapping along to "Clint Eastwood," there was dancing.
2. The people
For most of the 5,000-plus attendees, the festival grounds became a home away from home. Base camps throughout the general admission, vendor and VIP (which is a worthy upgrade) sections featured unique structures that provided shade or held flags, tapestries, lights or pop-up shops. Little girls on their dads' shoulders surrendered to the bass of So Down. Camping neighbors actually spoke to each other. Someone even started a howl that swam through the thousands-deep crowd.
1. The music
With a lineup as diverse as that of ARISE 2016's, the festival was not a one-size-fits-all affair. The festival featured hip-hop, livetronica, instrumental, jam, bluegrass, trap, and funk. Highlights included Dynohunter, Jurassic 5, CloZee, Del the Funky Homosapien, So Down, The New Mastersounds, Phutureprimitive and Papadosio. And the take-away performance of a given day was anyone's guess.
Jurassic 5 and Hieroglyhics' Del the Funky Homosapien, aka Deltron, delivered performances that catered to two of the more diversified audiences of the weekend: all ages, all styles, all together. The inclusion of such influential hip-hop artists in 2016 was a wise and welcome departure from previous lineups. The last classic hip-hop MCs to be featured at ARISE were Chali2na (of J5) and Lyrics Born (even then only supporting Galactic) in 2014.
With Jurassic 5's Friday night performance quickly becoming one of the most talked-about shows of the weekend, it's safe to assume we'll see more of the same in years to come.
On the newer side of the musical spectrum, Dynohunter, So Down, Papadosio and Phutureprimitive, while different from each other, collectively showed that electronic instrumentation has undergone an evolution of late. Not dissimilar to the beginnings of the famed Sound Tribe in the late ’90s, these artists offer hope in an occasionally bleak EDM landscape. Innovative, technical and sensual, it's exciting to see a new generation of artists challenging the boundaries of classical and technical instrumentation.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.