Editor's Note: As Colorado prepares for this weekend's Sonic Bloom Festival (July 26-28 at Mishawaka Amphitheatre), JamBase jumps back to the last weekend of April with a look the two Sonic Bloom Pre-Parties that raged through Boulder and Denver.
By: Tk Kayembe
Sonic Bloom Pre-Parties - Night 1 :: 04.24.09 :: Fox Theatre :: Boulder, CO
Those privileged enough to have attended a Sonic Bloom in the past know that it is an undeniably remarkable festival, different from the plethora of others that take place every summer. Nestled away in small mountain towns along Colorado's front range, Sonic Bloom has been an annual summer gathering integrating the talents of phenomenal musicians with exceptionally gifted artists of every variety. While Bloom's ensemble includes an array of artistic architects from all over the map, it pulls a great deal of its guests from its home base in Colorado. Bringing together local gems such as live painter Krystleyez, visualizations from Aeon Child, hoop, fire, fusion and interpretive dancing from The Kaivalya Dancers and visual artists like Rainbow Michael, Sonic Bloom feels like its own smaller, well contained universe. So, for our enjoyment, and to up the ante for this year's festival, the ever so adroit Jamie Janover condensed his weekend brainchild into a two night pre-celebration.
|Jamie Janover by C. Taylor Crothers|
Beginning the Pre-Parties the first night was young Reuben Garst, aka S.P.E.C.T.R.E. His style blends filthy low-end whomp subs and drums with cut up boughetto a capellas. Respectably snatching samples by '90s faves like Ginuwine, Busta Rhymes, Salt n Pepa, he carefully merges them with well produced backing tracks from the likes of Tipper and Mimosa. While many dance floors are left bare at a 9 p.m. concert launch, this was not the case for Reuben as he gave the gratified early bloomers something to dance about.
Following S.P.E.C.T.R.E. was Beats Antique, a twosome who brought their distinct Middle Eastern influenced psy-hop from Oakland. The eerie moans of a reverb laced fiddle and drones from oily horns impel all that is still to move, the lifeless to spring fourth and dance, and the dull to shimmer. Picture a modern electro-soundtrack for Rudyard Kipling's Kim conceived the last night at Burning Man. During their time allotment the stage was an obscure mob of pumping arms, flickering visualizations, and... rubber masks? Yes, during their tight-rope walking, side-showish track "Roustabout," the two laptop wielding gentlemen disappeared and then re-appeared in masks - soon to be joined by a collection of other masked individuals who danced and spun about like tops on stage. I'm positive they gained quite a few fans during this run with their crazed tunes that were quick to catch onto and even easier to dance to.
|Vibesquad :: Sonic Bloom Pre-Party by Kayembe|
The LYNX & Jamie Janover collaboration is one that sprang from the perfect combination of two extremely gifted and creative minds combining elements of folk, hip-hop, trance and electronica together to create a compelling live performance and sound. LYNX harbors an incredibly powerful voice, which she presented with poise when she wasn't spitting confident flows, conscious spoken word or beatboxing to her attentive crowd. Janover kept it sweet, gracefully hammering out enchantingly calm sounds from his dulcimer, and supplying backing drum beats with his mini-kit. They kept the show faultlessly moving for a captivated, swaying audience with a serene atmosphere they developed together.
Bringing the first night of the Sonic Bloom Pre-Parties to a close was Vibesquad. A collaborative with Zilla and Sporque, as well as his solo venture, Aaron Holstein aka Vibesquad always seems to keep ahead of the curve. Synth kissed bass lines, produced on synthesizers and saturated with effects, dominate Holstein's tracks, which he pairs with drop-filled drum loops he painstakingly produces himself. Getting the party started immediately, Holstein danced about behind his laptop, a smile carved into his face as he twisted knobs on his midi-controller, trickling effects in and out of his soulful bass-hop. Soon, a group of breakdancers spilled out onto the stage, displaying incredibly difficult and skillful moves, splattering dumbstruck expressions of wonderment on the captivated faces in the crowd (see vid below). Taking an innovative approach to sound is what Holstein has become known for, well, that and the faces he makes while playing. It's always comforting watching a musician dig their music just as much as the audience does. Ferociously raging the stage with all his might, Vibesquad pleased mountain-dwellers with another special night of lobe grinding music.
Continue reading for Night 2 of the Sonic Bloom Pre-Parties...
Sonic Bloom Pre-Parties - Night 2 :: 04.25.09 :: Cervantes' Masterpiece :: Denver, CO
While Night 1 of the Sonic Bloom Pre-Parties was an absolutely exhilarating electronic ride, Night 2 seemed to be about one thing: Dubstep. Night 2 exploded, and at the perfect venue to boot. Cervantes' Masterpiece, in my opinion, is easily one of the best venues to see live music in Colorado. The larger of two adjoined clubs (the other one being Quixote's True Blue), Cervantes' shows seem to always be a ball. Superb booking, great sound and a terrific atmosphere seems to be what packs this venue most every show; and it's no surprise this Saturday was no exception, especially with a lineup as stellar as it was for the second and final night of the Sonic Bloom Pre-Parties.
|Beats Antique :: Sonic Bloom Pre-Party by A. Frost|
Upon entering Cervantes' I was greeted with sublime sounds from Boulder natives Raja Ananda and Mikey Fisher's Future Simple Project. Spend a few minutes listening to these boys' music and it's crystal clear these guys understand dubstep. Cleverly flexing their expertise for the crowd to sweat it out on the floor, they kept their set tight and clean while twisting and tugging their audio with effects. Gentile melodies drenched in bass move their recordings, which typically slo-step along at around 70 bpm. These gentlemen are just getting started on their audio adventures, and I truly can't wait to see what the future holds for these two crafty individuals.
The beautifully voiced LYNX returned on stage with Sonic Bloom mastermind Jamie Janover to again serve up their original approach to folk-electro. Adorned with an acoustic guitar and sturdy pipes, LYNX let her soul shine, while Janover provided the backing structure needed to keep the party going for a second night in a row.
Also back for a second night, indulging Coloradoans with their fuse of eastern rhythms and sitar-laced ballads, Beats Antique blew up the stage with high energy and charismatic force. Once again, live fiddle was incorporated into their fun glitch-y tunes, while they wavelessly fed haunting effects through their leads and drums. With foreign strings and horns ferociously ripping through Byzantine scales like a giant through tissues, one could easily get lost in their verses, as if stuck in a smoky, opium induced stupor.
What can one say about the exceptionally talented Ana Sia? She's delicate with her scrupulously produced instrumentals for one. She's a radiant spirit who arranges alluring and hefty bass lines fluctuating from high to low ranges. For her vocal tracks she delicately chops and blends European and other non-American flavors in with various hip-hop faves, gracefully heightening and accentuating her music. All these things being true, the clear-cut crowd favorite stepped out to her applauding audience and spoke a few kind words before spoon-feeding her funk to eagerly awaiting ears. Midway through her set Ana Sia was joined by LYNX, who donated her beatboxing, flowing and singing skills to the crazy audio wave that was already rolling out in full effect. For the duration of her time on stage, people scurried around the floor, creep-stepping to the exquisite noise being generated on stage.
|Ana Sia :: Sonic Bloom Pre-Party by Kayembe|
Having never seen Mimosa before, I was worried about him handling the difficult task of closing after Ana Sia's stellar set. But, this was only because I had never seen him perform before. When he began playing I looked around at the astonished faces that surrounded me. The mutual consensus was, "Holy shit!" Tigran Mimosa dropped nothing but filthy whomp-step until the wee hours of the morning, holding the speakers and the people in the building hostage until he was good and ready to release them. His incredible eye for detail had the crowd howling out cheers of approval during each and every alteration to the beat. Keeping the assemblage busy with luscious, varied whomp bass samples that switched from 1/16 to 1/32 notes to slowed down quarter-note triples, it was just what the bass animals wanted to hear. Mimosa's impressive first class performance astonished many Pre-Party attendees, giving them something fresh and new to look forward to in the future.
If all good things must come to an end, they did so in the best way Saturday. The music Friday night seemed to be more varied, each artist displaying a different sound, while the performers on Saturday all flowed together, as if they were one humongous team interested only in keeping people dancing as hard as they could. Having attended a Sonic Bloom Festival in the past, I realize that these superb shows were only a tiny taste of the musical excellence that was soon to come.
These bands and many more will perform at the official Sonic Bloom Festival which kicks-off this weekend, Friday June, 26 and runs through Sunday June, 28 at Mishawaka Amphitheatre, in Bellvue, CO. Details, including ticket links and lineup available at www.SonicBloomFestival.com.
JamBase | Colorado
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