Arise Music Festival 2017
Gabrielle DeCristofaro • August 17, 2017 • Art •
Since moving to Colorado a year ago, I had yet to attend a music festival in the Colorful state. So going to the sold out ARISE Music Festival on the Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO from August 4-6 was guaranteed to be a new experience for me.
I’ve been to a few environmentally clean festivals (RIP Aura Music Festival), but this was by far the cleanest. There was an understanding of “Leave No Trace” with tents accessible everywhere for people to leave their trash, recyclables and compostables. One MC noted that there were no plastic water bottles being sold on the grounds. Watering stations were placed throughout the festival. I was greatly appreciative of that: being able to fill up my 48 oz Nalgene water bottle as often as I needed to. This, I see, as a solution to a huge problem common at so many festivals: lack of hydration. The first festival I ever went to, I didn’t drink water for two whole days, and was extremely sick for the days following. People tend to forget to take care of themselves. To eat well and drink lots of water, even during the summer.
Further, another amazing thing I saw done at Arise was the communal clean up. At the end of the first night, after Desert Dwellers finished their set, an announcement was made that people would be coming around with trash bags, and if you saw them, to help them pick up any trash you saw on the ground. One woman came up to our friend, Hunter, and handed him a trash bag, and on our walk around the festival and back to the campsite, we picked up trash along the way.
There was an aura of sustainability and bettering ourselves and our planet. One thing I never partake in, and always regret not doing, is the workshops. Classes were held throughout the weekend about art, yoga, and renewable energy sources. Inside the Big Sunrise Dome lectures were also held throughout each day on topics ranging from art to spirituality to Standing Rock. And The Children’s Village was also something not to be missed, as it was welcoming to all ages. A small stage and their own workshops allowed for a learning environment for the young ones, but also a nice getaway from the traditional music festival environment.
As is common at many festivals, there was plenty of visual art to be enjoyed. Including a large instillation art-style tree that people could climb on, an owl made of metal and lit on fire, and an art gallery with pieces from artists such as Android Jones and Martina Hoffmann. As for the music, I found myself generally catching the first half of one show and the second half of another. With both Colorado-local and nationally touring acts performing at five stages across the festival grounds, there was something for every music appreciator.
On the first night, after a heavy downpour and strong winds that left us holding down our tent, Rising Appalachia took the stage for a shortened set of simplistic folk textured with graceful harmonies. I particularly got down to Dirtwire, as they had one of the most interesting and creative sets blending world percussion with blues and psychedelia for a novel take on Americana. Despite minor technical difficulties, the festival headliner Atmosphere delivered a passionate barrage of personable lyricism. Lettuce, which has been one of my favorite bands to see live since I started following the jam scene, brought a world of funk to the festivus. To finish out the evening was Desert Dwellers, an etheric, ohm-filled dedication to psy-bass production.
There was a different vibe for every day and night of the festival. For me, local favorites SunSquabi kicked off Saturday evening with an hour and half of funk-charged live electronica. But the longest set of the weekend was filled by the tribal sounds of Beats Antique experimenting with down-temp Middle Eastern rhythms and cinematic orchestral arrangements. Tipper, whom I had never seen before, paired his highly creative and seemingly unpredictable production with Android Jones’s mind-bending motion graphics.
Sunday, as is typical for similar festivals, rounded out the weekend with bluegrass and comforting acoustics during the day. I thoroughly enjoyed the four-piece Bluegrass & Bloodies in the smaller Scene Magazine Stage tent, who was followed by a soulful set from The Travellin’ McCourys.
As anyone there can attest to, it rained on and off for all three days. But this didn’t dampen the spirits of most people, as they freely danced in the rain, and found shelter under one of the two stage tents to continue enjoying the music. To me, Sunday had the standout acts. Shane Burke’s genuine message of love permeated throughout the festival grounds. The Expendables rallied up the crowd with their surf-rock-reggae arrangements. Fort Collins-based Skydyed hit a new level of their ever-growing maturity on the Green Tea Stage, accompanied by fire-spinners and aerial artists performing on the platforms on either side of them. Ani DiFranco’s enchanting set had everyone singing along. And then there was the Jeff Austin Band, whose high-energy bluegrass I thoroughly love. Wookiefoot, too, powerfully brought the crowd together as the festival was beginning to wrap up. But to close the weekend, with two competing time slots, were SunSquabi & Friends, and one of my personal favorites, Dopapod. I had to catch a little of each set, and danced away to both.
As a whole, there was something really lovely about Arise. Artist messages of love and sustainability permeated throughout. The relatively small Sunrise Ranch made it easy to get from camp, to stage, to vendors, to workshops. It was very family friendly, and there was a feeling of security and friendship throughout. With opportunities to dance, learn, play, and take care of each other, I left feeling the possibility of bettering myself and my community. And to get people pumped for next year, Arise has already announced dates and headliners for 2018. Leading off will be Slightly Stoopid and Thievery Corporation on August 3-5. Tickets are on sale now for $139, plus fees.ARISE Festival