Day N Vegas Just Might Have the Ultimate 2019 Festival Lineup

By: Luis Castro

With a star-studded lineup, Day N Vegas is bringing together some of the best names in hip-hop, and is making a strong case for festival of the year. Dreamville, Astroworld, and Top Dawg Entertainment will join forces during the weekend to bring fans the best experience possible. Kickstart the weekend with Dreamville's J. Cole, J.I.D, Bas, Earthgang, and Saba. The energy will only continue with Juice Wrld, Denzel Curry, Lil Mosey, Comethazine, and Lil Uzi Vert (who, if he drops Eternal Atake beforehand, fans are in for a treat.)

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Saturday, we'll be left stargazing after Travis Scott, Migos, 21 Savage, Da Baby, and Sheck Wes, who are definitely must-sees as their festival experience has taught them how to master a crowd and keep the energy high. Lil Nas X proved he's way more than just a one hit wonder with his new 7" EP this year too, and we can't wait for this young talent to perform it! 

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Sunday really will be a fun day for Day N Vegas’s close-out with a TDE heavy lineup. Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad, Jay Rock, School Boy Q, and Kendrick Lamar will put the cherry on top to an already amazing festival lineup. Tyler the Creator will pay Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver a visit just a month before Day N Vegas, which will likely be a great preview to what will surely be an energetic set. Brockhampton, Ski Mask the Slump God, and Flatbush Zombies will make sure all the jumping and hype is well alive throughout the day too.

Overall, this is one fest we can’t wait for! Close out the 2019 music season with us in Vegas for more than just a day. Get your tickets here

-Luis

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Rockygrass 2019 Had Attendees Debating the Identity Politics of Bluegrass

By: Riley Ann 

Another sold-out Rockygrass Festival went down in the books last weekend, culminating with Punch Brothers’ much-anticipated Sunday night headlining set: “Punch Brothers Play & Sing Bluegrass.” However, festivarians left with differing attitudes - some in awe, some confused, some disappointed, and some even downright angry who claim, “That wasn’t bluegrass,” which begs the question: What is bluegrass?

The Punch Brothers.

The Punch Brothers.

Planet Bluegrass continues a track record at their bluegrass festivals of booking acts that represent the different generations of bluegrass. This year’s first-generation legends include the Del McCoury Band and Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers, second-generation folks including Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, and Tim O’Brien, and bands from the more progressive era of Bluegrass (and arguably beyond), including Sam Bush (while considered to be second-generation, the “Father of Newgrass”), I’m With Her, Hawktail, and, of course, Punch Brothers.

Bluegrass, a hybridization of various styles, is historically attributed to Bill Monroe, the “Father of Bluegrass,” and his music remains the standard for comparison of the genre much like Robert Johnson’s music defines the origins of blues. When people read “Punch Brothers Play & Sing Bluegrass” on the program, the crowd generally assumed the set would showcase tunes from the canon of traditional bluegrass (i.e. first generation). However, the band played Tony Rice’s 1983 album Church Street Blues in its entirety. The album, which Chris Thile (Punch Brothers) proclaimed is “...the best Bluegrass album ever made,” is noted for its creative songwriting and Rice’s iconic progressive guitar playing, remarkably different from Monroe’s prototype of bluegrass. The band accentuated the album with their own flavor.

I’m With Her.

I’m With Her.

Punch Brothers wasn’t the only band playing a different kind of Bluegrass. Noted fiddler Brittany Haas’ supergroup Hawktail performed an entire set of instrumental compositions. While the group describes their sound rooted in old-time Scandinavian fiddle, their intricate arrangements and virtuosic solos indicated neoclassical and jazz elements. Kevin Slick, President of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society (CMBS), comments, “Hawktail is Americana chamber music, and Punch Brothers have always been a more urban, more sophisticated band. Some people seem to think ‘Bluegrass’ has to come from the rural South and feature simple song structures.”

While some could argue that Punch Brothers and Hawktail have deviated “too far” from the origins of bluegrass, Slick suggests a different perspective, saying, “Bill Monroe played music that nobody else was playing, at least not in that style. He incorporated jazz and blues into country music and created bluegrass. Nobody was taking extended improvised solos in country music at the time or extending harmonies like that, and it was incredibly inventive. The music that Hawktail and the Punch Brothers are making is probably closer to the original spirit of bluegrass because it’s continuing to be inventive and doing something new, just like Monroe was doing.”

Sam Bush.

Sam Bush.

Though Sam Bush is unquestionably accepted as a pillar of bluegrass today, he also battled his own trials and tribulations when launching the New Grass Revival in 1971, and heard similar complaints in the early days. Regardless of his bands’ initial reception decades ago, he has indisputably become a major player of the bluegrass realm, and his headlining Saturday night set at Rockygrass was met with open arms of the crowd despite having a full drum set and electric bass, a very different feel than Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys

Slick asserts, “Any musical genre that survives will diversify; at one point in time, jazz music was only what they played in New Orleans. There was no Miles Davis or Coltrane. Rock’n’roll was Chuck Berry and Little Richard, but now those genres are incredibly diverse- we can have Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones. So if bluegrass is a genre- within that genre, it’s probably going to be pretty diverse.”

Certainly people have different reasons for resisting new developments in the genre. A common one is rooted in the fear of cultural extinction. Slick counters this, saying, “New music won’t sound like Bill Monroe, and that’s fine. The music won’t ever go away. You can still pull up Bill Monroe’s music online and listen to it. A million different artists play the blues and people do all kinds of different things with it- B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan. In Kendrick Lamar’s music, you might not hear Robert Johnson anymore, but people still respond to it. I just see it as we’re expanding the buffet.”

With change often comes resistance, whether that’s in our sociopolitical climate or a genre of music. The question is not how we divide ourselves, but how we maintain the discourse of our differences. 

The Earls of Leicester featuring Jerry Douglas.

The Earls of Leicester featuring Jerry Douglas.

Planet Bluegrass still has one more festival this year, and tickets and volunteer opportunities to Folks Fest are still available. The lineup includes Ani Difranco, Ben Folds, Violent Femmes, Josh Ritter, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, and more. More information is available on the Planet Bluegrass website here.

See more photos from Rockygrass at this link.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

All photos provided to BolderBeat by the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Denver's Underground Music Showcase Proves It's Once Again Unlike Anything Else in Denver

By: Adrienne Thomas 

Denver’s Underground Music Showcase truly is the highlight of the year for many local music lovers, and this year was no exception. As far as multi-venue festivals go, UMS is a well executed one, and was a smooth experience for concertgoers. The “official” UMS venues spanned about 7 blocks down South Broadway, and included 3 separate outdoor stage areas. Most venues had their own vibe, like the punk and modular synth daytime-dark shows at the Hi-Dive, late-night crooner showcases at Skylark Lounge, house and techno dance parties at the 303 Magazine “Green Rom” below 3 Kings Tavern, and the intimate singer/songwriter serenades at South Broadway Christian Church. Simply put, there was always a place to go for everyone, with plenty of food trucks and friends to run into along the way. The heat, once accepted, couldn't hinder the excitement of seeing dozens of local gems and national touring favorites. 

Some of our UMS 2019 local highlights included Anthony Ruptak, Maya Bennett, and Kiltro, who drew devoted fans out in large crowds. Claire Heywood sang to us in church, Pout House jammed out at the Hi-Dive, and Ramakhandra and Emma Mayes & The Hip gave all their energy to a packed 3 Kings Tavern crowd. Favorite touring acts included Earthgang, who included the new J. Cole collab “Dreamville” in their set and even brought crowd members on stage for a very real dance-off. The latin rhythms and energy of Y La Bamba and Chicano Batman also made for a great time, and LA-based soul duo Annabelle Maginnis smiled in a furry two-piece through a killer R&B, upbeat soul set. Still, while the national touring acts may help sell tickets, we all know it’s the local artists who make the UMS something special. There’s no Colorado festival quite like the UMS, so here’s ‘til next year!

See more photos from UMS 2019 here.

-Adrienne

All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Our Top Picks to See at Denver's Underground Music Showcase 2019

By: Adrienne Thomas 

During the last weekend in July, the Underground Music Showcase brings out Denver’s local music scene, along with a handful of national headliners. Affectionately known around town as UMS, the festival came to life in the early 2000s when The Denver Post decided to ask local music experts to name the region’s “Top 10 Underground Bands” in an effort to rouse more interest and support for the local scene, as well as to cultivate a city that successful bands want to stay in. The festival’s evolution continued last year, when Two Parts took ownership of the festival under the direction of Tobias Krause, exciting supporters at the potential for new spins by the local event and marketing agency.

Headlining names this year definitely worth checking out include Chicano Batman, Black Mountain, Still Woozy, Y La Bamba, and Earthgang. Also worth checking out are two hip-hop wild cards from Chicago: Rich Jones and RapperChicks. Let’s dig into these acts, shall we?

Y La Bamba.

Y La Bamba.

Chicano Batman is a Latin psychedelic soul and funk four-piece, so bring dancing shoes to this wildly percussive show. Stoner rockers Black Mountain will show up for the lovers, heady beach followers, and spirited grunge rock fans inside all of us. Still Woozy joins soul/pop melodies and raps together with smooth electronic bounces for a uniquely lovable style. Y La Bamba is an incredibly diverse indie folk/pop outfit from Portland featuring eclectic, female-fronted jams. Earthgang, the fresh and unrivaled hip hop heroes from Atlanta known for collabs with J. Cole, 6LACK and J.I.D., will definitely be a UMS highlight to close out Sunday night.

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The lineup of local bands is beautifully long, and sometimes overwhelming, but mostly a glorious scroll through the talented musicians who walk our Broadways and Colfaxes every day. The heart of UMS is really just a big party where all the best local shows you’re invited to all year happen again- this time all at once- throughout the course of one weekend. Don’t sleep this time. Organize an interactive schedule of your own for the weekend here. But if that’s too much, here’s a list of favorites: 

FRIDAY 07/26

6:00 Corsicana @ Skylark Lounge - Ambient shoegaze that will make for a smooth start to the festival

6:20 Sophie Meiers @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Dreamy electro-pop from Durango

7:00 Extra Gold @Hi-Dive - Kickass country y’all

7:20 Still Woozy @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Playful and melodic chill-hop with a devoted following

7:20 RapperChicks @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Self-described as “3 badass women who rap, sing, play & melt faces all by ourselves” from Chicago

8:00 Claire Heywood @ South Broadway Christian Church - Raspy bird songwriter known for poetic lyrics and soulful vocals and melodies

8:30pm Black Mountain @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Stoner rockers, go for a worthy rock show

9:00 f-ether @ Blue Ice - Electronic compositions, house music, dance party and big mountain energy

10:00 Motion Trap @ Denver Drumz & Music - Dreamy synth dance grooves 

11:00 The Velveteers @ 3 Kings Tavern - Heavy grunge-rock trio, double drummers, powerful female lead

11:00 The Hollow @ The Hornet - Alt rock with horse blinding attitude 

11:00 LITELVL @ Denver Drumz & Music - Triptastic soundscapes 

12:00 Oko Tygra @ The Irish Rover Pub - Dark and dreamy 80’s pop

1:00 @ Skylark Lounge - Shred rock with indie, Latin & ska feels

SATURDAY 07/27

12:40 Kiltro @ The Irish Rover Pub - Experimental folk mixes with Chilean guitar, makes dance party

2:00 Oxeye Daisy @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - A nod to the 90’s, youthful synth/guitar rock band

2:40 Slowcaves @ The Irish Rover Pub - Indie rock with beach vibes 

3:00 Whole Milk @ Skylark Lounge - Surf jazz

4:00 Erin Stereo @ Blue Ice - House/Club DJ extraordinaire

5:00 Chicano Batman @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Latin psychedelic soul/funk 4-piece

6:00 Sur Ellz @ Blue Ice - Future space funk R&B

7:00 OptycNerd @ Blue Ice - Electro indie pop 

7:30 Rich Jones @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Prolific Chicago hip hop artist and evolving pop/soul creator, legendary presence

8:00 Decollage @ Denver Drumz & Music - Kaleidoscope avante-garde pop

9:00 Whiskey Autumn @ The Irish Rover Pub - “Prom jams from the future” meets indie psych synth surf rock

10:00 Anthony Ruptak @ Denver Drumz & Music - One of Denver’s singer/songwriters that we just can’t get enough of

10:00 Definitely, Maybe @ Moe’s Original BBQ - Lush percussive and vocal layering makes this psych rock duo very important to experience live

11:00 Random Temple @ Denver Distilling Co. - Electronic and acoustic instrumentalist known for diverse harmonies and eclectic, high-energy sets

12:00 The Cosmic Ball @ 3 Kings Tavern - A mix of Denver bands partnered with psychedelic production company Synesthesia which is likely to promise awesome visuals and glitter vibes

1:00 Retrofette @ 3 Kings Tavern - Part of the Cosmic Ball lineup, this synth group is not one to miss

SUNDAY 07/28

12:00 Laura Goldhammer @ Ross-Broadway Branch Library - Classic Americana merges with quirky styling to create socially-conscious folk music often accompanied by her stop-motion videos

1:00 Katie of The Spirettes @ Ross-Broadway Branch Library - Ethereal guitar-driven rock

2:20 YaSi @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Much like her Iranian-American upbringing, her music is a melting pot, with a mix of R&B, hip-hop, and pop 

3:20 Kyle Emerson @ Goodwill - Buzzy indie rock

4:00 Bellhoss @ Denver Drumz & Music - Female-led folk meets DIY punk

4:30 Flaural @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Spacey psych-rock band best known for drifting and dancing

5:00 Levi Double U @ The Irish Rover Pub - NuDisco beats 

6:00 Moon Hammer @ 3 King Tavern - A ragtag supergroup of unpredictable and wavy tunes

6:20 Y La Bamba @ Knockout State at Punch Bowl Social - Diverse indie folk/pop outfit from Portland featuring eclectic, female-fronted jams

7:00 Big Dopes @ The Hornet - A modern 90s alt-feel with steady grooves 

7:55 Earthgang @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Hip hop duo from Atlanta known for collabs with J. Cole, 6LACK and J.I.D

8:00 Bun Bun @ Baere Brewing Company - Future Shock Bee Wave G-House

9:00 Cheap Perfume @ Denver Drumz & Music - Long-standing feminist punk-rock band from Colorado Springs

9:00 Emma Mayes & The Hip @ 3 Kings Tavern - “Highly Important People” making highly important music, a soul/funk/jazz band joining complex horn arrangements with lush harmonies

10:00 Los Mocochetes @ 3 Kings Tavern - Latin gypsy-funk band

11:00 Ramakhandra @ 3 Kings Tavern - Hip hop/soul fusion, with a pedal harp!

12:00 The Guestlist @ 3 Kings Tavern - Modern blues & soul

1:00 Ned Garthe Explosion @ Hi-Dive - Kinda bad, kinda rad but definitely a party to end the weekend

Whether you create a guide this year for your own UMS, follow ours, or just wander, discover, and repeat, give my Underground Music Showcase playlist a listen on Spotify. And if you haven’t yet, get your UMS tickets here!

-Adrienne 

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The End of an Era: Warped Tour Comes to a Final Close at California's Shoreline Amphitheatre

By: Nathan Sheppard

It’s hard to put into words what Warped Tour has meant to so many people over its 25 years of hot summer days in parking lots around the country. Founder Kevin Lyman saw an opening to start a new type of festival to highlight less mainstream acts and ended up launching artists like No Doubt and Katy Perry to stardom, and opening doors for punk rockers like Blink-182 to become one of the biggest bands in the world.

Circa Survive.

Circa Survive.

For two generations of punk, rebel, and emo kids, Warped Tour was a place where they could come together as a community and listen to their favorite artists. It’s essentially the music equivalent of running away to the circus for a day, or for a summer for some. Kevin Lyman said that for the final WT shows of 2019, he wanted to, “Bring the atmosphere of a classic Warped Tour show, but on a scale that our fans simply could not get with a national tour. The bands, the special attractions, everything – we want to bring back elements that have made the Warped Tour, Warped Tour, over the past 25 years.” And he did just that.

For the final shows in California this month, Lyman stayed true to his word and transformed yet another parking lot into a classic Warped Tour by bringing back two of the original acts from the first ‘95 tour, Face To Face and Quicksand. Many of the artists that were pushed into the mainstream thanks to Warped Tour joined for the finale show as well, including Simple Plan, Sum 41, and Silverstein. Warped Tour still maintained its discovery roots though, booking lesser-known artists like The World Over and Street Drum Corps along with WT greats. It was truly the best way to end such an iconic and meaningful part of people’s summers, and it goes without saying that Warped Tour has left a legacy and had a major impact on today's music and festival culture. While it was the ending of Warped Tour in name, here’s to hoping that it might be resurrected in some form, what Lyman decides that may be. And if it is, you bet we’ll be there.

See more photos from the festival here.

-Nathan

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Westword Music Showcase's 25th Anniversary Brought Together Artists, Friends & Powerful Frontwomen

By: Taylor Naiman

On Saturday, the Westword Music Showcase overtook the streets of Denver’s Golden Triangle. Though it was a 97-degree day with the sun overhead at all times, everyone had a beer in hand and seemed to be unbothered by the heat. People were happy and excited just to hear some brand new music from local and national artists alike. From the bars to the clubs, there were plenty of venues along Broadway and Lincoln Street to escape the heat while enjoying some good tunes. Rather than occupying a bunch of stages outside, Westword Music Showcase nurtures local businesses, with a majority of the sets taking place at various bars and clubs including Bar Standard, Stoney’s, 100% De Agave, Mirus Gallery, #VYBE, Club Vinyl and The Church. This amalgamation of local businesses and bands allowed people to discover new venues, new music, and new people along the way.

Bishop Briggs. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Bishop Briggs. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, this one-day music festival is a staple of the Denver community. It has been a successful launch-pad for many local artists over the years, including the likes of DeVotchKa and 3OH!3. This year, we caught some big-name acts such as Jai Wolf, Bishop Briggs, Yasi and CHVRCHES, among others on the main stages. Bishop Briggs was a fan-favorite, with her powerhouse voice and contagious smile. The last time she was in Denver was for her set at the now defunct Grandoozy. At Westword, Briggs was loving every minute of her Mile High set, running from one end of the stage to the next, unphased by the altitude or the heat. The audience was treated to some of her new music, while also hearing  the entirety of her Church of Scars album. 

CHRVCHES. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

CHRVCHES. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Denver Westword’s Music Showcase presents an essential platform for artists to share their craft and tell their story. Music delivers a message and over the day, we heard a lot of stories Denver’s local rock’n’roll band Los Mocochetes used their music to address today’s political issues, such as immigration. At the end of their set, they told us, “Dance is a form of prayer.” We definitely love our music out here in Colorado, and it was a blast to see the differing forms of expression coming from the artists and concert-goers.

Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Westword Music Showcase is all about supporting the local scene, and thrives on the concept of concert-goers discovering the unknown or what may be an undiscovered talent. The Showcase this year was jam-packed with a culmination of genres curated for diverse tastes. Throughout the day, it was nice walking the grounds, running into friends having a drink together. This fest is a “squad up and see that new band you have not heard of” type of event. It thrives on the idea to not listen to one type of genre, but rather to branch out and hear a new voice. The beauty of this Showcase is that you will, without a doubt, discover a new musician or band to follow on Spotify

The Velveteers. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

The Velveteers. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Whether rocking out to Cheap Perfume or The Velveteers, it was a breath of fresh air seeing Colorado frontwomen take charge and own the stage. The festival also featured a number of strong national female acts, including Lauren Eve Mayberry, the lead singer of CHVRCHES, and aforementioned Bishop Briggs.

If you didn’t get the chance to go to Westword Music Showcase this year, listen to their festival playlist here! We’re already looking forward to Westword’s 2020 announcement. 

See more photos from this festival here.

-Taylor 

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

After 47 Years, the Magical Reputation of Telluride Bluegrass Festival Has Long Been Earned

By: Cy Fontenot 

Nestled in the epic Box Canyon, Telluride Bluegrass lives up to its reputation year after year. There’s not a place in Telluride where pickin’ and dancin’ isn’t goin’ down. From the songwriting contests in town, to incredibly uplifting shows and picking circles in Town Park until sunrise, the Telluride Bluegrass vibe stays alive 24 hours a day for the weekend’s festivities. There’s an undeniable sense of synchronicity to the festival and to Telluride all together. 

Bela Fleck & The Flecktones.

Bela Fleck & The Flecktones.

This was my second year attending the festival and as soon as I walked into Town Park, I was greeted by a familiar face, named Toast who hollered, “Welcome home Cy!” The family at this festival is real, loving, accepting, giving, and very cool. Within the festival walls, it was difficult to not have a smile on my face. Beyond the music, the general positive, healthy, and environmentally conscious vibe is my favorite part of this festival. 

Lake Street Dive.

Lake Street Dive.

Though I was able to witness some incredibly inspiring performances on the main stage by Lake Street Dive, Broke Mountain String Band, and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the late night shows are where I found the tastiest of tunes. Leftover Salmon, Magic Beans, and Greensky Bluegrass are always a fantastic time, and proved to be this year as usual. Liver Down the River, which I am a member of, played some solid Funkadelic Grass, and if the people and mountains weren’t enough, Railroad Earth reminded us that this is one amazing festival to be a part of. A feeling of gratitude even flowed through the crowd as Sam Bush showed us if you play enough mandolin, and you are rock’n’roll enough, maybe one day, you too can become the King of Telluride Bluegrass. 

Sam Bush.

Sam Bush.

There really isn’t another festival quite like Telluride Bluegrass, so needless to say, I’m already looking forward to their 47th year. Check out their website here to stay informed for next year! 

View my full photo gallery from this festival at this link

-Cy

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Same Same But Different Music Festival Returns for a Second Year to Perris Beach, CA

By: Benjamin Tillis

After a successful inaugural year of the Southern California music festival, Same Same But Different (SSBD), we are excited to see that the two-day arts and music event is returning for a second year. Taking place September 20 and 21 at Perris Beach, CA, which IS 90 minutes from both Los Angeles and San Diego, SSBD just released its funk and jam focused musical lineup, and now we simply cannot wait to attend.

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The weekend’s headliners are Baauer and Beats Antique, and they will be joined by Turkauz, Exmag, Cofresi, Megan Hamilton, and CAPYAC. Beats Antique is a favorite on the list, an electronic trio that incorporates sounds from all over the world with a focus on Middle Eastern beats. David Satori, who plays guitar among many other instruments for Beats Antique, also performed at last year’s Same Same But Different as part of his other musical project, Dirtwire.

There are other names from last year’s lineup that are returning this year, and we’re not sad about it! Those names include, CAPYAC, an LA-based funk band that plays to a beat of its own, Fashion Jackson, a San Diego-based garage pop group who gained our fandom last year when they played their rock-heavy but humorous song “Gossamer,” and MDRN HSTRY, another group out of San Diego that plays surf rock.

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With just one band or artist playing on one of two stages at a time, SSBD is unique in that you can truly see every artist if you want to. And the crowd is very small, so you never have a bad seat or feel too crowded. On top of that, Same Same takes place on a beautiful beach under the California sun. What else can you ask for from a music festival?

We are very excited about this year’s festival and are already counting down the days! For more information, visit the fest’s website.

-Ben

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Emissions Festival in Belden Town, California Was Full of Surprise Vibes

By: Taj Leahy

When a friend decided that I simply must join her at a so-called “bass festival,” I at once figured it was not where I wanted to be. Why? I judged the whole thing to be a hyper-masculine meat market with a shitty sound system and profanities on perpetual loop. But surprisingly, I wasn’t disappointed. It was nothing like that at all. In fact, I had the time of my life, and this “dirt rave” was one of the best parties this old raver has been to in a long time.

Emissions Festival.

Emissions Festival.

With a rocksolid vibe and a fairly insane sound system, Emissions Festival is a gem of an event. Held in the old mining and logging town of Belden, CA, the setting is idyllic as well. The Belden Town Resort is a sprawling building with a restaurant, mercantile, and hotel. The lengthy bar has surely seen and heard many a story, though I didn’t get to add any of my own. Most of the “town” seems to be held up by this single lodge on the banks of the mighty Feather River.

Oddly enough, this oft-used festival site is also a known stopover on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). It’s not hard to imagine taking to foot in this lush country. Everywhere you look is either soaring canyon walls, rivulets making their way to the Feather, or some other natural feature reminding you of nature’s enormity and grandeur. It’s little wonder that this area was chosen to be a part of the PCT, though it’s hard to imagine a hiker on a months-long trek pulling into a dirt rave like Emissions. They’d find everything but a respite. The bass cranks all night long; it rattles your waking hours as well as your dreams. Pots and pans vibrate off of stoves. It’s bonkers.

Belden.

Belden.

Another factor that was outside of reckoning was the multitude of Black people at this event. It came as a welcome surprise. Too often, I am one of a handful, and that’s being nice. Honestly, I am more often than not one of perhaps two Black people at a rave. This phenomenon is so normal, and the opposite was so true at Emissions, that when we melinated people did cross each other’s paths, it was hard not to acknowledge it. One Black raver, after commenting on my outfit for the day, pulled down his sunglasses and issued forth a simple and complete statement, “Black people!”

Yes indeed. Judgment be damned. This dirt rave was nothing that I expected, save for the prevalent use of n*gger and b*tch used in the stripped-down and non-melodic music. To be fair, the music didn’t all sound the same, but the genre itself is styled off of Trap music, which is a style of rap with an emphasis on sparse lyrics and a high attention to bass. The funny part is hearing White people play and love this style of music, knowing that it comes from “The Hood” and that it directly contributes to the detriment of Black people, as well as women in general. But I digress.

Speaking of degrading women for sport, the skin at this event was enough to work everyone into a frenzy. But the kicker was that never, not once did this event feel like a meat market, as I had earlier feared. In fact, from the production team to the average partier, everyone I met said that this rave felt “safe.” These days, that’s an important factor. “It’s so good not to have to fight someone off every five minutes,” said one raver to the nods and exclamations of her female friends standing nearby.

Bass. Photo Credit: Audrey A.

Bass. Photo Credit: Audrey A.

Then it hit me: there was something about this party that seemed so good. Partly, I accredit it to being such a small event; they cap the ticket sales at around 600. Coupled with the small area in which the rave takes place, you end up seeing everyone over and over again. It’s ripe for a good time and you can make rave buddies and keep interacting with them for literally days, which took the edge off. Even with the hefty amount of drug use around, most people seemed happy and willing to be there together. Instead of women hiding from men and people lurking, there were spontaneous dance groups and speaker piles, the likes of which I haven’t seen since the 90s. Yes, I’m that old. Yes, I’m still raving.

Rave franz.

Rave franz.

This rave was bliss; ecstasy even. When it was time to go, I found myself sad to leave the new dancer buddies I’d met, which really was a good feeling. The couple of “bromances” I had at Emissions left me feeling very differently than I had expected when first invited to come to this dirt rave in the forest. The plain of it is that I barely want to tell anyone about this festival, but I’ve made an exception for you dear reader. Emissions was such a good party that I’d hate to have it spoiled by too much notoriety.

That said, everyone is welcome, and I myself would love to see Belden from the vantage of a hiker on the PCT. Once again I was reminded of what the raver gods teach us: that all are welcome and that music is life. Life indeed is music, if only we are willing to let it play and be open to its many forms. Everyone is welcome on the dance floor no matter if they have a hiking stick or a Thai stick. Emissions in Belden Town is the place to be.

Learn more about Emissions here.

-Taj

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.    

Joshua Tree Music Festival is an Oasis for All

By: Moriel O'Connor

I was in Youssoupha Sidibe's vintage aluminum artist trailer, listening to the Kora and drinking coffee with Senegalese spice. I had lost my voice from singing higher than ever before. Raspy and sandy, I sat in reflection and recognized the greatness of Joshua Tree, California and their amazing bi-annual festival.

Life at Joshua Tree Music Festival.

Life at Joshua Tree Music Festival.

The night before, the rainbow sherbet skies turned to black as the full moon rose. She shined golden over the vista. The air was cold and crisp, yet still my heart was warm. Everywhere I looked, there was an art installation or mural. I realized nobody was fighting and everyone was friends. There was no room for hate. We stepped, swayed, and sang together to gather all the precious moments we could.  

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The festival was all encompassing and unconventional. For 17 years, it has been run without corporate interests or greed. The music fit this mood, with rebellious acts such as Vintage Trouble, Earth Arrow, Cole Williams Band and Trouble in the Streets. The collection of local bands included Gene Evaro Jr, The Adobe Collective, Megan Hutch and more. Dynohunter brought some Colorado funk, and Oliver Koletzki and My Baby flew in from overseas. Much more than a dance party, there were yoga classes, workshops, children's activities, a  healing village and songwriter sessions.

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The Mojave Desert Land Trust was there as well, educating us on the land and park. The town and national park are named after the Joshua Tree (Yucca Brevifolia). This is the largest species of Yucca, and it only grows in the Mojave Desert. The Joshua Tree and Pronuba Moth are in an everlasting relationship. They cannot survive alone. Sometimes called the Yucca Moth, it is the only insect that can pollinate the Joshua Tree. Female moths collect pollen while laying eggs inside the ovaries. Larvae hatched from the eggs, then use the seed of Joshua tree as a food source. From this kinship, I learned life itself is incomplete without one another. This was a vibe felt strongly among Joshua Tree festival-goers throughout the weekend.

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If you missed the spring fest, the 14th annual fall Joshua Tree Music Festival will take place this October. North Mississippi All Stars and The California Honeydrops are headlining.

To see more from Joshua Tree Music Festival, view this photo album.

-Moriel

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

My Baby Spill the Scoop on Their Shamanistic Saga from Amsterdam to Joshua Tree

By: Moriel O'Connor

My Baby, a mesmeric trio from Amsterdam, journeyed to the USA for Joshua Tree Music Festival this year. Electrifying, funky, and bluesy, their music goes beyond reality. If you have yet to hear them, listen below. Read on for my interview with the trio:

So, whose baby is it anyway?

‘My Baby’ is our shared, imagined muse. So 'our' baby has resulted from our combined imagination.

Amazing. How did your band come together?

Daniel (guitar) met Joost (drummer) in Amsterdam while traveling from New Zealand. They formed a series of bands/formations that were fronted by a then teenaged sister of Joost named Cato. My Baby is essentially a three-piece split off from those earlier groups.

How was your experience at Joshua Tree Music Festival?

Joshua Tree was gorgeous; so much fun. The audience had such a great energy, and [it was] in such a beautiful part of the world to boot.

Being based in Amsterdam has got to be fascinating. What's one way Amsterdam's music scene differs from North America?

Amsterdam has its share of great venues and jazz and art scenes, but have to say, [it’s] nothing compared to the music history and tradition of North America.

My Baby.

My Baby.

Seems like you've been all over the globe with your music. What is your favorite country to perform in?

We do a yearly tour to New Zealand (Daniel's a kiwi) which is a highlight for us, but the U.S. is getting up there pretty quickly as the place to play.

What do you love about your music?

We love the expression of freedom it allows us to delve into, and sharing that experience with an audience.

Your lyrics are incredibly visionary. How do you manage to merge music and story so well?

Our music, it seems is primarily focused on creating a particular mood. A particular mood can quite easily be fitted to accompany some type of storytelling. It also comes from a natural urge to create characters in songs that resemble something or somebody important. And [they] resemble something you can relate to.

What does your songwriting process look like?

We often start with improvised pieces/jams/moods which Cato sings melodies on. Then we look through words that fit, or scenes that fit the mood of the music. Sometimes a storytelling lyric has already been written and can be edited to suit a melody from those jams.

Your album, ‘Mounaiki, By the Bright of the Night’ was released last year. Tell me about it.

For this album we decided to develop a story around the MyBaby character from which to base songs around. The My Baby character is introduced, and named Mounaiki by a fictitious shaman, and a plot develops following the hero’s journey, a traditional mode of storytelling.

It’s also a coming of age type story, where a young girl is trying to find out what the world means to her, spiritually or any other kind of way. We like to describe her as, ‘a girl in the '70s fantasizing about being a flapper girl and dancer in the '20s. So the songs are loosely connected to a storyline that follows the adventures the character undertakes over the course of a night.

Your trio presents such a profound, layered sound without the use of computers or samples. What are some of your favorite effect pedals to use?

Playing without a bass player forced us to experiment with bass octave pedals. Also, we use a lot of delay on both guitar and vocals. Particularly, layering rhythmic delays over each other has became a signature sound of ours.

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And your go-to guitar?

Cato uses a sixties Teisco in recent years, or at times a Guyatone LG50, both Japanese guitars. Daniel primarily uses a Fender Stratocaster or a Supro Ozark from the early fifties.

Your music reminds me of Sister Rosetta Tharpe in a way. Just as she did, you manage to bring the sacred to the secular. What inspires you to perform this way?

Music has such a power to connect people. Spiritual music has such an awesome power. It serves a higher purpose. Music in general serves a higher purpose in many ways. The feeling of being part of that in some way is inspiring.

With such soul-stirring vocals and hypnotic beats, you are sure to set your audience into a trance. Do you find it fulfilling to facilitate that transcendence?

If that's where the music takes us, then for sure.

What's next for My Baby? Any upcoming tours or projects?

We are gonna work on a live record this year, and hopefully an extended visit to the U.S. is in the near future.

I think we could use all the moody, world music we can get here in the States. Nothing says the blues like having to fight for our basic rights. Thank God music heals, because most of us can't afford to see a doctor. Thanks My Baby.

Keep up with My Baby here.

-Moriel

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Real Street to be Orange County's Largest Music Festival to Date

Real Street is a new hip-hop and lifestyle festival set to take place at the Honda Center grounds in Anaheim, CA on Saturday August 10th and Sunday August 11th. The festival, presented by REAL 92.3, is to be the largest music event held in Orange County, and will feature all of the biggest names in hip-hop including Future, Cardi B, A$AP Rocky, Migos, and more.  

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Inside the Honda Center, Real Street’s new music experience will feature a West Coast Customs car show, along with Big Boy’s Neighborhood, which will include a barber shop, nail salon, and live artist interviews. Outside, there will be three stages for attendees to watch all of their favorite artists perform. Murals and art walls will be showcased throughout the festival grounds, and there will be an artist alley and vendor village. The two-day event will also feature the California Love Thunderdome bar complete with a pyrotechnic display.

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Real Street festival is a summer must, with 2-day general admission tickets currently on sale for $169, and 2-day VIP for $539. Snag your tickets today here.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Trouble in the Streets Brought the Beats at Joshua Tree Music Festival

By: Moriel O'Connor

It's 1AM in the Mojave at Joshua Tree Music Festival. On the rim of the crowd, I rest on adobe walls within windows and swoon the moon through metallic umbrellas sculpted above. Shivers. The desert chills are real. Pulling up my thigh-highs, I stand up to move to what could be a soundtrack to a riot.

Trouble in the Streets.

Trouble in the Streets.

Must be Trouble in the Streets. They play the kind of music that makes you feel ready to overthrow the government: Power, Soul, and Rock’n’Roll.

People are stomping up the sand and it smells like liberation. A sparkly hooded creature dances ghostly and gracefully on, then off the stage. Oh sweet mystery. Feeling the rush of my blood and curve of my spine, I wonder, is the earth really shaking? Or is that just the cactus juice? The beat keeps going, and things keep getting weirder. There’s hip hop, punk, neo-soul and more. The sounds are boundless, psychedelic and polyphonic. The crowd is lifted by influential lyrics such as, “Challenge the evidence and take control of your existence.”

This is more than a set, this is a work of art. Nnedi Nebula Agbaroji plays the keys and activates the crowd with compelling vocals. Andy Leonard honors the bass and keys while Bobby Snakes drums for the people. This trio has chemistry, and they are damn not afraid of entropy.

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If you dare, dip into their density, discover Trouble in the Streets yourself. Listen to their Rule Breaker EP then check out Electro Tribe. Be prepared to lose your mind and move your body. Trouble traveled to Joshua Tree from Austin, Texas and is currently touring California with TV Broken 3rd Eye Open. Catch the remainder of their tour this Friday, May 24th at Surfside Venice, or on Saturday, May 25th at WinstonsOB in San Diego. You can also find them home in Austin at venues such as Stubb’s, One-2-One, North Door, or Empire.

-Moriel

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

3 Lasting Takeaways from Lightning in a Bottle 2019

By: Benjamin Tillis

On Monday, May 13, over 15,000 attendees of Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) music and arts festival departed their five day home of Buena Vista Lake outside of Los Angeles to return to their regular lives. But not everything is simply back to normal. If other festival goers had a similar experience to what my camping group and I had, which I’m sure they did, then they not only returned home with countless great memories, but also a new vibrant energy and attitude on life.

LIB glow up energy. Photo Credit:   Timothy Bailey

LIB glow up energy. Photo Credit: Timothy Bailey

I was lucky enough to attend the festival as part of a 20-person camping group, many of whom I had never met before. But by the end of the weekend, and really by day two, there was a distinct and strong bond between everyone, and it’s no fluke.

It’s because if you were to remove from LIB the great music, the learning workshops and yoga, the delicious food, and the parties, you would still be left with something special: thousands of people coming together around art, creativity, mindfulness, compassion, and fun! The festival creates a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that makes meeting new people and building on current relationships easy and natural.

Campsite times. Photo Credit:   Timothy Bailey

Campsite times. Photo Credit: Timothy Bailey

And of course, the music and other activities are why we’re all there in the first place. It’s what we create these amazing experiences around. Most importantly, I believe it’s the following three aspects that make LIB the amazing festival that it is, and allowed me to become so close to, and have such an incredible time with, the group I attended the festival with.

Dance dance. Photo Credit:   Timothy Bailey

Dance dance. Photo Credit: Timothy Bailey

1. The Music and Dancing - Lightning in a Bottle curates an incredibly diverse musical lineup. It opens you up to different music tastes and styles, and introduces you to types of music you would never listen to. In addition to that, no stage is ever packed with people, and the crowd is so welcoming that you feel zero pressure or judgement when you dance. More so than any other festival I’ve attended, people are moving to the music however they see fit. Dance is a way for us to interact and communicate with each other in a purely physical sense. It lets us feel things and play with one another. Through dance, one can create a unique bond with a total stranger, or get to know a close friend in a different way than usual. By cultivating a space that welcomes all sorts of dance and movement, LIB made it easy for us to go out of our comfort zones and get down!

Photo Credit:   Timothy Bailey

Photo Credit: Timothy Bailey

2. The Workshops and Art - During the daytime, Lightning in a Bottle hosts countless speakers and workshops on an endless amount of topics. Researches and teachers who are leaders in their respective fields of research share ideas and thoughts that you’ll have never heard before. In addition to that, there are amazing art installations throughout the festival. One notable one was a duo who deconstructed a piano and turned it into a new musical instrument that resembled a harp. You could go inside of it and have others strum the strings, creating a really cool experience for the person inside the instrument.

Typically, the time we spend with our friends is purely social. Being able to learn new ideas with each other and experience artistic creativity can be a new experience that helps you learn more about one another.

Lakeside at LIB. Photo Credit:   Timothy Bailey

Lakeside at LIB. Photo Credit: Timothy Bailey

3. Camping and Nature - Buena Vista Lake is beautiful. The festival grounds have green grass and there's a gorgeous lake and pretty sandy beaches. And when you’re camping with a large group, you’re there as a team! Different people contribute differently to the group, and everyone is valued. Essentially, you are surviving as one unit, and that will naturally bring people closer. We cooked breakfast for each other in the morning, cooled down and washed off in the lake, and prepped for the evening activities with fun pre-games. It felt like we were all part of one tribe. All of this said, LIB is something that could absolutely be enjoyed solo. I spent most of my Sunday roaming the festival alone and I made new friends quickly. In fact, it could open one up to make new connections more than someone who’s already surrounded by a crew of friends.

I understand now why festivals like Lightning in a Bottle are referred to as “transformative”. I feel like I’ve gone through noticeable growth and have a better understanding of myself and my old and new friends. Truth be told, I’ve been on a complete high ever since the festival, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Don’t miss out on the incredible time next year, and stay tuned for news on early bird tickets here!

-Ben

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Lightning in a Bottle Is One Transformative Experience You Shouldn't Miss

By: Benjamin Tillis

Lightning in a Bottle (LIB), Southern California’s hidden gem of a “transformative” music festival, took place last weekend from May 8-12 at Buena Vista Lake, a few hours north of Los Angeles. This year was the first time LIB took place at this venue and not on Memorial Day Weekend, which led to attendees being wary about what to expect. But it is safe to say the festival was a huge success. Lightning in a Bottle continues to be one of the best music festivals out there and something that truly everyone should experience, and here’s why:

The Music

If you look at Lightning in a Bottle’s lineups, you will definitely see names you know and love. This year, those names included Disclosure, Big Gigantic, Santigold, Flying Lotus, and Toro Y Moi. But more than other festivals, LIB curates music that is so diverse and exciting to listen to- and watch.

Flying Lotus. Photo Credit: Jess Bernstein

Flying Lotus. Photo Credit: Jess Bernstein

The festival is made up of 7 main stages. Some of the most popular are Lightning Stage and Thunder Stage, where most headliners play. But then there’s Woogie, a bass-lover’s paradise. There are people who come to the festival with full intentions to be at Woogie for the entire festival. And on the other end of the spectrum is my personal favorite, Grand Artique. Grand Artique is the brainchild of a thrift shop in San Diego and has become a staple at LIB. It is so much more than a stage for music. Grand Artique creates a setting that takes you back to the early 1900s and has a distinct “Western” feel. They host one-of-a-kind jam bands and this year that included Ozomatli and WC Thornbush & The Great American Show, as well as talent shows and interactive theater and games.

As opposed to other music festivals where hype is built around certain artists, it seems like discovering new music is what is really encouraged at Lightning in a Bottle. It is safe to say that my three favorite acts were ones I hadn’t heard of and didn’t plan to see. The group that stole the show out of nowhere for me was My Baby. Closing out the night until 4:00AM at Grand Artique, this trio hailing from The Netherlands got the whole crowd going wild. They brought a new energy to psychedelic rock, and people were dancing like crazy.

Clozee and Hellmana. Photo Credit: Timothy Bailey

Clozee and Hellmana. Photo Credit: Timothy Bailey

Other great acts were Clozee, the French DJ who spins incredibly exotic music. Clozee played alongside Hellamana, a fire eating group of acrobatic dancers.

Elohim. Photo Credit: JLB

Elohim. Photo Credit: JLB

Also very fun to watch was, Elohim, an electro-pop DJ and singer who relates to her fans by getting real about mental illness with her lyrics, while also singing incredibly upbeat songs with hooks like “I got love f*ck your money,” “I just wanna go where love is alive,” and “Don’t half love me, love me all the way.” It’s notable that these three best performers (in my opinion) are all females or projects led by a female. The festival does a great job of diversifying their lineup in regards to gender, where artists are from, and genres of music.

The Workshops

During the day you can roam around the festival grounds finding endless music and entertainment. But if you want to go a different route, there are plenty of workshops and classes taking place. This is what truly makes LIB the transformative festival that it is. There are 11 “Arts and Culture” tents/stages that host amazing experiences like a Cacao Ceremony, meditations, and classes on things like painting, keto diets, hula-hooping, and the list goes on. On top of this, there were two tents hosting yoga throughout the weekend.

Vibes. Photo Credit: Jess Bernstein

Vibes. Photo Credit: Jess Bernstein

One of the most impactful and unique workshops I experienced was Psychedelic Breath & Meditation, lead by Anne Marie Kramer. Just through breathing exercises and partnered activities, a group of around 100 people who hadn’t known each other before became very connected and vulnerable together. It was something I had never experienced before, and it set me up for an incredible last day of the festival.

These countless workshops allow one to really grow over the weekend at LIB. They’re a great way to meet like-minded people or really put yourself out there to learn about something new. These are highly recommended for those who attend next year’s Lightning in a Bottle!

The Atmosphere

The past several years of Lightning in a Bottle took place at Lake San Antonio, about halfway between San Francisco and LA. The grounds had rolling hills that really made you feel disconnected and free from the real world. Many long-time LIB attendees feared the new grounds would take away from this feeling. But this year, we learned it’s not the venue that gives LIB its special vibes, but the people and artists. For five days straight, LIBers roamed the grounds with smiles on their faces and positive attitudes. People came to share a new experience with new people. It was easy to open up, meet new people, dance how you want, and roam freely without any judgement.

Photo Credit: Jess Bernstein

Photo Credit: Jess Bernstein

On top of that, although it lacked the typical hills of LIB, the new venue was beautiful. There’s a giant lake with plenty of beachy shoreline with breathtaking hills in the distance and green grass on the grounds. During the hot, sunny days, you could go to the lake and party with new friends. Or you could go to the stages and dance alongside people who couldn’t be happier to be there.

Even when it rained the first night, everyone was there working as a team, providing shelter to those who needed it, while many didn’t let the weather get to them and just kept dancing in the mud and wetness. It was a site to see!

Photo Credit: JLB.

Photo Credit: JLB.

Days after leaving the festival I still feel like I am on cloud nine. LIB allows you to get to know yourself and others better than you could imagine. It gives you a better sense of self. And a stronger connection to those around you.

Lightning in a Bottle truly is a transformative experience filled with amazing art and people. I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind event, LIB is for you. Look out for details on LIB 2020 at https://lightninginabottle.org.

-Ben

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.


Spread the Word Festival Takes Over Denver this Weekend for Its Biggest Year Yet

By: Will Baumgartner

A testament to the vision, drive, persistence and commitment to musical community of its founder and mainstay Alex MacKenzie-Low, Spread the Word Festival (StW) returns to Denver this weekend with an absolutely explosive lineup at top venues Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom, Levitt Pavilion, and the Denver Coliseum. Now in its seventh year, Spread the Word has grown from its rather humble beginnings to an unstoppable force, bringing international superstars like Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and BoomBox to head up another powerhouse lineup of local luminaries including Analog Son, Gasoline Lollipops, TNERTLE, Juno What, Magic Beans, Rob Drabkin, and Mackenzie-Low’s own fantastic band A-Mac & The Height. Colorado up-and-comers like The Reminders, Graham Good & The Painters, Eldren, Jaden Carlson Band, Mama Magnolia, Morsel, Dog City Disco, Float Like A Buffalo, Zagriculture and more will join as well.

Alex Mackenzie-Low.

Alex Mackenzie-Low.

It’s hard enough to keep moving forward and upward in the music business as a bandleader: to add the tremendous responsibility and challenges of putting on a festival, do it year after year and keep it growing, seems almost superhuman. As a member and avid supporter of the Front Range music scene, I’ve watched with considerable awe and respect as Alex has struggled with challenges and disappointments, and still managed to persevere. This year’s Spread the Word looks like a substantial breakthrough, so I was happy to sit down with him and get some insight into the process and rewards.

How did StW get started?

I started it in 2013 because I was really into Denver's music scene and enjoyed promoting shows. I loved the layout of the old Quixote’s on 23rd & Lawrence and got comfortable incorporating all three stages in a single event. From there I decided to launch the first Spread the Word Fest at Quixote’s True Blue on 13th Street in April 2013.

That was [also] the year I graduated UCD with a bachelor's in music business so putting on the festival was also my way of launching out of the college world into the music industry. My old band Green River Vibe had just released an album called 'Spread The Word' and I thought it made a lot of sense for the grassroots Colorado-centric festival I was envisioning.

Had you put on festivals before starting StW, or was this your first?

Aside from the aforementioned mini-festivals, StW Fest is the only festival I put on. This is the 7th year of StW Fest and I'm 27 so I've been working on it the majority of my career in the music industry.

StW has consistently grown over the years, from being comprised entirely of local bands with moderate regional recognition playing in small venues, to the nationally and internationally known headliners and top regional acts in huge local concert destinations like the Denver Coliseum and Levitt Pavilion. How did you get from there to here?

Honestly it mainly comes down to putting in a ton of hard work year after year and making the right connections and keeping relationships strong. I try to keep respect and integrity with everyone I work with and believe it all comes back around when talented people work together. I definitely feel blessed to be working with the team we have this year.

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 What acts are you most excited about at this year’s festival?

 Wookiefoot is my favorite band, so that is an honor, especially with Mike Love. BoomBox headlining the main stage after The Werks will be epic, as well as round two of Spread the Word Family Band. Last year's family band was a treat and this year's super group features members of SunSquabi, String Cheese Incident, Thievery Corporation and Pretty Lights Live Band. Karl Denson to end the weekend will be the perfect finale. Stoked!

What advice would you give to fledgling impresarios trying to put their own festivals together? 

Believe in what you are doing and why you are doing it first and foremost. More practically speaking, find an investor. It’s not cheap and it’s a very risky business. Once you have the funding, vision, location, team, plenty advance notice and the drive to see it through… give it a shot!

A-Mac and The Height.

A-Mac and The Height.

You also lead one of the best bands in the Denver area, A-Mac and The Height. Isn’t it a tremendous amount of work to run your band and a festival of this magnitude? How do you balance the two?

It’s very hard. My free time from January to May is extremely limited. I also book the shows at Moe's BBQ, which is my main day job, so it’s definitely a balancing act. A-Mac & The Height is building our management/booking team, and the team supporting StW Fest has grown which helps. Either way, it’s a labor of love which pushes through all the long days.

The proof that MacKenzie-Low’s labor of love has yielded some spectacular fruit, as the old saying goes, is in the pudding. Get out at and taste it this Friday through Sunday May 17th-19th. Tickets and more info available here.

-Will

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

KAABOO Del Mar's Music Lineup Perfectly Combines New and Old

By: Benjamin Tillis

We may be in the thick of spring, but who isn’t counting down the days until summer and summer festival season? One we’re most excited for is the return of KAABOO Del Mar in sunny San Diego. This three day festival prides itself on providing a premium experience compared to other festivals because it focuses on “comfort, hospitality, and good times.” It’s true. The camp grounds are clean, roomy, and filled with friendly faces who are happy to be there.

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Aside from music, KAABOO features delicious food served by trendy restaurants in the area, and they invite world famous chefs to lead workshops for festival goers. Additionally, you can see some of today’s top comics, as they host a full comedy lineup. This year’s laughs lineup includes Pete Holmes, Bert Kreischer, Bob Saget, Wayne Brady, and Tig Notaro.

But we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t the music lineup that has us most excited, especially because of how unique it is compared to other festivals this year. KAABOO’s list of artists provides an incredibly eclectic mix of up-and-coming artists while also booking headliners who have been at the top of their genre for decades.

Bert Kreischer.

Bert Kreischer.

First, let’s start with the classic names. Some of the biggest headliners this year are Dave Matthews Band, Mumford & Sons, Duran Duran, Black Eyed Peas, Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan, The Bangles, Boyz II Men, REO Speedwagon, and Silversun Pickups. That list alone is packed with musical legends, some of whom haven’t played live in years. It will be a real treat to see these artists underneath the Southern California sun.

Duran Duran.

Duran Duran.

Additionally, KAABOO always has a great eye for fresh artists who are doing something new and exciting. Performers this year include Con Brio, Griz Folk, Cash Cash, Cheat Codes, and Keuning. These musicians are relatively new to the game, with the exception of Keuning, the lead guitarist of The Killers who has recently begun his own solo career.

Overall, we cannot wait to see what KAABOO has in store for us. Learn more about the festival here.

-Benjamin

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Denver's Underground Music Showcase Announced Their Entire Lineup Today

Denver’s favorite music event of the summer is back for 2019! Get all of the details:

Who: The Underground Music Showcase (UMS), Denver’s largest and most iconic music festival, just announced the full 2019 lineup and will once again bring an array of acclaimed national and local artists, creatively curated stages, and host endless surprises across the three-day showcase.

From Friday, July 26 through Sunday, July 28, the 19th annual Underground Music Showcase will return to the historic and hip Broadway corridor just south of downtown Denver.

What:  The just announced 2019 UMS lineup, with performances by more than 200 artists, includes national headliners Honne, Chicano Batman, Black Mountain, Tuxedo, Earthgang, and Still Woozy.

Supporting artists include Empress Of, Yves Tumor, DRAMA, Sophie Meiers, LEIKELI47, Y La Bamba, Gardens & Villa, William Elliott Whitmore, Miya Folick, Tessa Violet, Haviah Mighty, Liza Anne, Spooky Mansion, Greyhounds, Dressy Bessy, DBUK, SWSH, Kainalu, Jackie Mendoza, Clavvs, Rapperchicks, Rich Jones, Divino Niño, Parallelephants, Deezie Brown, Garrett T Capps and more and more than 200 acts from across Colorado. View the full lineup here.

When: Friday, July 26 – Sunday, July 28

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“UMS is a strong representation of all types of music. This year’s lineup of national and local bands was strategically designed to showcase the volume of musically talented individuals Denver has grown while also inviting some national acts to crash the party. Denver’s music scene is growing and shaping into something special, something worth putting Denver on the map as a nationally recognized ‘music city.’ We have put our heart and soul into ensuring UMS helps grow that positive image for all Denver artists while keeping the soul of this underground music community alive.”

— TOBIAS KRAUSE, EVENT DIRECTOR OF UNDERGROUND MUSIC SHOWCASE

Photo Credit:   Nikki Rae Photography

Photo Credit: Nikki Rae Photography

Where: The Underground Music Showcase takes place in a multitude of venues along Broadway, in Denver, Colorado. More details on specific stages and locations will be announced closer to the festival.

Three-day weekend tickets are now available for $50. The three-day weekend tickets include general admission access to all musical performances and all stages, all weekend long. To purchase tickets, please visit: https://www.undergroundmusicshowcase.com/tickets.

Why: Denver is on its way to becoming a globally recognized music city with locally organized festivals like UMS leading the shift towards more immersive, live music events. UMS is the perfect representation of the vastness of incredibly talented artists from in and around the Denver metro area, showcasing the city’s growing music scene.

Two Parts purchased UMS from The Denver Post Community Foundation in January 2018. Since taking over the festival, Two Parts has worked to expand the number of outdoor stages and experiences and to continue building on the success of the past 18 years.

Grab your presales here!

The Top 5 Acts to See at Lighting In A Bottle This Week

By: Benjamin Tillis

Lightning In A Bottle is less than a week away! The music lineup is one-of-a-kind this year, and it’s difficult to go through the lineup without getting excited over and over again. Here are the top acts we can’t wait to see at LIB:

LIB.

LIB.

5. Cautious Clay- A year and a half ago, Joshua Karpeh, a.k.a. Cautious Clay, was unheard of. That is until he released one song on Soundcloud in 2017 which blew up, titled “Cold War.” Most recently, Cautious Clay released his EP Table Of Context. Packed with soul and creative song lyrics, it’s hard not to look forward to his set. Listen to his songs “SIDEWINDER” andSETTLER’S PARADISE” if you want to get an idea of what to expect.

4. Elohim- Elohim is an electro-pop DJ and performer based out of Los Angeles. What makes her sets so much fun compared to other DJs is that she sings over the awesome beats she plays. Her lyrics are uplifting and positive, and her songs are fast paced, giving you no choice but to bounce up and down with the rest of the crowd. Fan favorites that she’s destined to play at LIB include “Sleepy Eyes”, “The Wave,” and “Half Love.” Don’t miss her at The Lightning Stage.

3. WC Thornbush & The Great American Show- One of the most unique things LIB has to offer is its Grand Artique stage. Grand Artique began as an art collective based out of San Diego, and it is now a Lightning In A Bottle staple, coming up on its ninth year at the festival. The Grand Artique stage hosts unique musical acts, immersive art, and fun theatrical performances. Returning once again to Grand Artique is WC Thornbush & The Great American Show. It’s a full hour of comedic songs and theater taking place in old-time America. It’s amazingly creative, funny, and will still make you want to dance!

2. Disclosure- A rare performer in the U.S., Disclosure is no doubt the most popular name on LIB’s lineup, and for good reason. Their 2014 debut album Settle arguably gave artists Sam Smith and AlunaGeorge their first big hits. And their follow up album Caracal in 2015 also had plenty of big songs, most notably “Magnets” featuring Lorde. Since then, the group took a short hiatus of touring, but has returned with some very unique singles, including “Talk” featuring Khalid. Disclosure will be the final act of the week on Lightning Stage, slated for a 90-minute long DJ set.

1. Lane 8- A California-born and Denver-based house DJ quickly climbing in popularity, Lane 8 makes beautifully melodic music which gives you no choice but to feel good. Many of his songs feature incredibly talented vocalists over instrumentals he creates, which can only be described as ethereal. This set will put the crowd through an emotional journey that will vibe perfectly with the spirit of Lightning In A Bottle. Expect there to be tears in everyone’s eyes when he plays “No Captain.” Check him out at Woogie Stage at midnight Saturday night!

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Of course there are an so many other acts that we’re looking forward to, along with the full itinerary of yoga and workshops focused on mindfulness, health, and community taking place throughout the weekend. The sun will be out and the lake will be full. We can’t wait! See you there Cali!

-Benjamin

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Sabroso Music Festival Had Eats, Lucha Libre, The Offspring, & the Best Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce in All the Land

By: Taylor Naiman

After its inaugural year in 2018, the one-day Sabroso Craft Taco, Beer, and Music Festival made a return to Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater last Sunday. Whether the crowd saw Nerf from 93.3 KTCL dressed as a taco or witnessed a record-holding competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi scarf down a bunch of tacos in one-minute, there was no shortage of enjoyment. Music, tacos, and craft beer: what is better than this trifecta? Well it did get even better than that. How? One word: luchadores. But more on that later.

Sabroso’s festival was a spicy taco lover’s delight. There were rows of taco trucks with plenty of food to salivate over and a wide range of flavors to choose from. Sponsored by Gringo Bandito, the brainchild of Dexter Holland, lead singer of The Offspring, there was hot sauce on every table in sight whether mild or extra hot. Holland has established a name for himself outside of the music industry and continues to expand his horizons. The Gringo Bandito Super Hot sauce was the perfect addition to my tacos and chips throughout the festival- it gave everything that nice kick I was looking for. As a devout hot sauce lover, it’s something I would put on my chicken, fries, eggs, and definitely on wings. Over the course of the day, some of my other favorite foodie noms included the shrimp taco from the Denver Taco Truck; the green chile chicken tacos, which the menu described as chicken braised in hatched green chile, smoked jalapeno crema, onions, cheese, and cilantro (call my tastebuds now); and the “Pig Sty” tater tots from the Colorado Pig Rig which were smothered in green chile, cheese, onions, cilantro, and jalapeno.

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As a part of the ticket price, festival-goers were able to go from booth to booth and partake in beer tasting from noon to 4PM too. Besides the definite local favorites (i.e. Ratio and Odell), brews that stood out included Rhapsody from Meridian Hive and the Pome Mel from the Colorado Cider Company. Being in the 70-degree weather, both of these hit the spot as refreshing and sweet. The Rhapsody was enriched with blackberry and honey notes and the Pome Mel boasted notes of “Colorado wildflower honey and granny smith apples, with hints of rosemary & lavender”. Though not your typical brews, these evened out the spiciness of the tacos with a perfect little sweetness.

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With food and drink out of the way, let’s get to the action! Los luchadores! Originating in Mexico and characterized by colorful, ornate masks, Lucha libre professional wrestling has its own particular vibe and flavor. It was a major highlight of the festival and there were people of all ages enjoying the comedy and the animation happening inside of that ring. Each of the luchadors had a character to play, and the audience had a favorite that they cheered on.

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At one point, an onlooker decided to step into the ring (hold my beer!), and the luchador slapped the wanderer’s glasses off of his face, thinking he was a part of the show. (Rather hilariously, he was not.) For the fourth and final match, we were treated to a very special guest, the famous luchador, Cesar Gonzalez, a.k.a. Ramses. For those of you who do not know who he is, watch Nacho Libre! This villainous star gained notoriety from Jack Black’s 2006 comedy and women in the audience were definitely shouting “Sexy Pants!” at him. A lucky few were even given the opportunity for a photo with Ramses in the ring. Following the matches, people were allowed to buy their own professional masks, with prices ranging from $20 to $60 each. Each mask was modeled after Lucha libre’s best wrestlers and yes, there was even a Nacho Libre mask. If all of this ruckus sounds like your kind of get down, make sure to catch a Lucha libre match at the Livestock Arena in Jefferson County (Ramses unfortunately not included).

Black Flag.

Black Flag.

Of course, Sabroso had to sprinkle in some good music somewhere too. With a stacked lineup including The Dendrites, Dwarves, Strung Out, Black Flag, The Vandals, Bad Religion, and The Offspring, there was no shortage of entertainment at the festival. Even though the beautiful weather was replaced with a downpour of rain and 40-degree weather by the end of the night, it was all worth it. During The Offspring’s set, many concert-goers had to mosh or jump around to keep warm. The cold was chilling to the bone but the ones who had stayed and braved it got to hear some of The Offspring’s best songs including “Self-Esteem,” “Gone Away,” You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid,” and “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy).” Here’s to hoping there will be many Sabroso Festivals to come!

-Taylor

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.