“My cousin and I were discussing the landscape of music festivals and how electronic music festivals in particular tend to be these ‘go crazy’ bender weekends,” Levinson, now 24, explains. “Which, don't get me wrong — those are great and have their place. But we wondered, why isn't there an electronic festival that's more slowed down, with a chiller vibe?”
Levinson’s "high-dea" will finally come to fruition on Saturday, October 2, when High Ground Music & Arts Experience debuts at Levitt Pavilion in Ruby Hill Park. The inaugural eighteen-and-up event will offer a laid-back, low-pressure environment and showcase more than twenty acts across two stages, as well as installations and activations that highlight Colorado culture, art, food and cannabis.
On the main High Ground Stage, headliners Snakehips and Kasbo will join acts like Louis Futon, Chet Porter and Pluko alongside Colorado artists Bass Physics, Haywyre, JackLNDN, Lucy Daydream, Shae District and Who’s Calling.
“I’m really excited to play the first High Ground and to perform at Levitt for the first time,” Denver-based multi-instrumentalist Bass Physics, aka Arja Adair, says. “My set will be live guitar and keyboard, and I’ll be joined by Colby Buckler from Emancipator on drums, who’s one of my favorite people to play with.”
“We wanted High Ground to look, feel and be Colorado to the essence, to the core,” Levinson says. “The whole goal of adding the second stage was to really showcase amazing local talent. We definitely accomplished that partially with the main stage, but we wanted the second stage to provide even more opportunities for local musicians.”
The Denver-based event impresario is passionate about melding elements of psychedelic rock, funk and jam sounds into his electronic lineup, which he credits to his Deadhead parents, who soundtracked his San Diego upbringing with a wide swath of bands and musicians.
“I come from two hippie parents, and my earliest music memory was being four years old and holding my parents' hands in the living room while I danced to Jimmy Cliff,” Levinson laughs. “Years later, I used my bar mitzvah money to buy DJ decks and attend the San Diego Turntable Institution, where I learned how to scratch. Music has always been a huge part of my life.”
High Ground Music & Arts Experience is a full-on family affair; Levinson’s mother, Jobi Halper, who works as a lawyer, acts as the business manager for all Levitate Events properties.
“In raising our kids, we imparted our love of music, especially jam bands and the Dead,” Halper explains. “Noah introduced us to EDM, and as a family, we have fallen in love with so many artists together. We complement each other perfectly as partners, working as equals, guided by respect and admiration for each of our strengths.”
Since moving to Denver in 2019 to execute his High Ground brainchild, the festival’s founder and executive producer has been endlessly inspired by the Centennial State’s patulous outdoors and natural beauty. Levinson dreamed up a fantastical backstory for the festival’s origin, which channels the spirits of native Colorado animals to create a world where all souls, sounds and ideas can flow together harmoniously.
“The animal spirits help us to tell a story of collective positivity, rebirth and growth — especially coming out of this crazy 2020 we all had,” he says, smiling. “With all this disruption that we’ve had in the past year, the gates to this spirit dimension have been kind of closed off. So we have to work together to reopen that portal and reignite this feeling of togetherness."
IRL Art to develop an immersive art experience complete with sculptures, installations, muralists and live painters. A 23-foot geodesic dome structure called the SoundDown TranscenDome will host mindfulness programming throughout the day. Attendees can participate in yoga classes, guided breath work and other wellness-focused sessions, as well as relax in the Backyard Lounge presented by Backyard Soda Co.
While High Ground may be the first full-scale Denver festival that Levinson will produce, the Levitate Events ringleader is no stranger to throwing and booking shows across the country. From coordinating concerts under electronic music festival behemoth Insomniac at just twenty years old to co-founding his own talent-buying company and booking artists for festivals and venues like Groove Cruise, Vision & Colour and Celine Orlando, Levinson thrives as a music-industry polymath.
“From the beginning, my whole vision has been to dive deeper and help fans discover something new,” he says. “We’re ready to bring a new festival to Colorado, especially at the amazing Levitt Pavilion, where many electronic music fans haven’t experienced a festival yet. I couldn’t be more excited to share High Ground with the world!”
High Ground Music & Arts Experience debuts on Saturday, October 2, at Levitt Pavilion, 1380 West Florida Avenue. For tickets and more information, go to the High Ground website.