written by Νίκο Απέργης
Held over Summer Solstice in the colorful state of Colorado is Sonic Bloom Music & Arts Festival. Now on its 10th year, Sonic Bloom reigns as Colorado’s longest standing electronic music festival. Looking to know more about the experience? Keep reading…
Sonic Bloom Quick Facts:
Capacity: Small, around 10,000 people
Crowd type: Relaxed vibe, passionate about underground/bass music, averaged in the mid-20’s but kid friendly
Music genre: Electronica, trip hop, ambient, glitch, house
How To Get There
Driving is the only way to reach the festival, about 2.5 hours south of Denver off exit 64 on I-25. Sonic Bloom is also provides detailed ride sharing information through Rickyrides, and teamed up with Sharethebus to provide another easy transport option that gets you straight to the festival. Details on all this can be found here.
Where To Stay
This festival offers regular tent camping, or RV/bus glamping.
Camping is all BYO equipment; car camping upgrades are available. The walk from the parking lot to the campsite area is very short, and also a comfortable distance from the festival entrance (not too far, but far enough that camp is quiet; stages are strategically faced away from the camping area). There are little to no shady spots, so definitely bring a canopy. Showers, ice, and some camping supplies are available for purchase.
A variety of reasonably priced food options included Asian cuisine, burgers, and vegan options. My experience was primarily fueled by the heady taco stand and the smoothie bar, both of which exceeded my expectations upon first taste and kept me coming back all weekend. Plenty of free water refill stations were spread out through out the festival—very welcomed in the 90-degree heat!
My favorite stage has to be the Hummingbird Stage, an intimate space nestled in the woods. Projection mapping made for some stunning visuals, and hammocks surrounding the stage offered the perfect spot to relax and escape the heat. On the first two nights, the Hummingbird Stage transformed into a silent disco around 2am; top quality headphones and remarkable performances definitely made this a highlight of the festival.
Other notable stage elements included the Bloom Stage’s giant flower, and crystal clear sound quality made possible by the Funktion One sound system. The Other Stage was complete with a beautiful light board display only to be outshone by the crowd itself. Everyone was so welcoming and respectful of one another, truly a model of how all festivals should be. The easygoing atmosphere even got some artists to come out from backstage; I was able to meet Justin Martin and J. Phlip at the Hummingbird Stage, and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear about others who were out and about, interacting with the crowd.
Artists You May Not Have Heard of But Can’t Miss
Digital Vagabond threw down an amazing, diverse performance at the Hummingbird Stage, a real treat for glitch fans. Linear Symmetry also blew me away with their unique sounds and live performance; I’ll definitely catch them the next chance I get.
This one’s a bigger name, but I have to give Tipper a shoutout for putting on an absolutely magical show, enhanced by visual art from Android Jones and Jonathan Singer.
Things To Do
My favorite activity was heading to the creek for a swim during the hottest part of the day. Other than that, art galleries, live painting sessions, yoga classes, and meditation sessions can all make for interesting mini-adventures.
Why Go VIP
VIP at Sonic Bloom allows for early entry to the festival at noon, versus 3pm for general admission. Car camping is included in the cost of a VIP ticket, as are access to VIP bathrooms, three meal tickets, six drink tickets, a some Sonic Bloom swag (t-shirt, poster, bandana, and pin). I personally didn’t find the VIP to be worth the $200 difference but it more with it others.
What Makes The Festival Different?
Sonic Bloom’s emphasis on healthy food (including vegan and vegetarian options) was certainly more noticeable than at other festivals I’ve attended. And interestingly, thanks to Colorado’s marijuana-friendly laws, attendees who partook were noticeably less stressed by the fear of a run-in with authorities as recreational marijuana was allowed at the campsite and inside the festival. Sonic Bloom is also kid friendly; the festival’s Rainbow Lightning Kid zone featured workshops and play areas.
Lines are unavoidable no matter what time you show up. I’d still suggest arriving early; a line was forming by 11am even though gates weren’t scheduled to open until 3pm (except for VIP ticket holders, who are permitted to enter immediately upon arrival).
Bring dry ice. Normal ice will melt too fast, and a cooler full of dry ice will help you save money on meals.
Parking is simple enough and close to the camping area, but I would highly recommend upgrading to a car camping pass to avoid lugging your gear back and forth.
Finally, one of my favorite parts of Sonic Bloom was how relaxed security was; they knew everyone was there to have a good time, and helped make that happen by keeping their primary concern to looking for glass or weapons.