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Favorite This100+ photos of the beauty that was ARISE Festival 2015. Just gorgeous.

Published: August 28, 2015

Photos by: Juliana Bernstein (Get Tiny Photography)

Story by: Daniel 'Bruddacup' Finney

It was a warm, early August Colorado day; my buddy Bryce and I were scrambling to get all of our festival gear (camping, wardrobe, props, coolers, etc) packed in the car. We were already getting a later start than we wanted but still had high vibes. We finally got on the road from Westminster,CO, and as Murphy's Law would have it, we end up driving an hour west in the wrong direction. When we finally realize our mistake we exit and head north through the mountains towards Loveland; the perfect name for a festival as full of love and great vibes as ARISE Music Festival.

We pull up to Sunrise Ranch around 5pm and I make a bee line to the Will Call booth to get my credentials. My boss for McDevitt's Super Heady Taco Supply Co., based out of Boulder, had flown me in from Chicago to work the festival and thanks to our detour, I was late for my first shift. The lines took a little time but were pretty quick overall, especially compared to other festivals I attended this summer. I quickly get my credentials and head to the Super Heady Taco booth. As I walk up I hear Mike Love's powerful voice permeating the brisk northern Colorado breeze. I won't be able to make it to his set, or a lot of other sets that I'd like to see, because of taco responsibilities, but at least I can still hear it. He played his song “Permanent Holiday”, which he creates using a loop-machine and  almost super-human timing, all of which i'm sure the crowd is soaking up. I wash my hands and dive right in to making tacos, taking orders and monies, and feeding the masses of hungry, hungry humans.

I was scheduled for a 6-hour shift, but I was able to get off by 10; just in time to explore the festival some and see the Emancipator Ensemble do their thing. I've seen them multiple times this year, and other than their Bicycle Day set at The Warfield Theater in San Francisco in April, this was my favorite set of theirs. The vibes of the crowd were awesome, everyone dancing or performing with their flow art of choice, and the band was really on point as a unit. Between Emancipator Ensemble and The Polish Ambassador I waited in a not-too-long beer line, conversing with some of the other festival goers and making new friendships. I also stopped and saw some of Turkuaz's set. They're a 9-piece, Power Funk band out of Brooklyn, New York with a unique sound and great stage presence.

I make my way over to the main stage just as The Polish Ambassador's set begins. He comes out with high energy and his always styling, always profiling, yellow and blue jumpsuit. He thanks his fans, Colorado, and Arise Music Festival for having him and dives right into his mix. I recall my first time seeing him live at Sonic Bloom 2014, I thought his music was dope but his jumpsuit and dance moves were cheesy. But as I dove into him as an artist I found that he is a genuinely good guy that is doing his part to make a difference for our communities and planet, all the while giving us some great music to get down to. He interacts and dances the whole time, dropping the funky-fresh beats that are sure to keep everyone's bodies moving. He played mostly new music with a few TPA classics. One song in particular that stood out to me was “Let The Rhythm Just” Ft. Mr Lif & Ayla Nereo. TPA closed out his set by praising Arise Music Festival, stating, “I love this festival so much that I brought some friends with me and we'll be hanging out all weekend!” which was followed by a massive uproar of cheers and claps from festival goers. Slowly the crowd dispersed; the night was winding down now. Other than a thirty minute set at a distant stage by an artist that goes by the name Totem, the music from the festival was over for the night.

I wandered around the campgrounds with friends for a little while before deciding to catch some shut eye. Arise Music Festival is more than just a “music festival"--I consider it more of a “transformational” festival. If you choose to participate, each day is started shortly after sunrise with options ranging from morning yoga, meditation, and workshops of various causes; ranging from Chakra healing to breathing exercises to flow toy arts. I arose (see what I did there?) somewhat bright and early and decided to catch a laughter yoga class, mainly for the curiosity  of what a laughter yoga class entails. You're probably wondering too, huh? Well, as it turns out, it's EXACTLY what you think it would be! We started by stretching and doing breathing exercises, followed by laughing uncontrollably, then mixing the two. The high vibrations from all of the early risers laughing together were magical to say the least. Doing yoga AND laughing while surrounded by beautiful humans and gorgeous 360 degree ColoRADo views is in fact one of the best ways to start your morning. Scientifically speaking.

The day carries on and the sun heats the air, making an EZ-Up, or any shade structure for that matter, a hot commodity. We didn't have room in our vehicle to bring one, but thankfully there were plenty of other campers that had us covered. I always have the most fun at festivals when I let loose and really come out of my shell by going up to strangers and striking up friendships. No matter how shy or outgoing you are, looking for a shade structure to chill out in is a great way to easily approach new potential friends and usually ends up in some great conversation; sometimes even a joke or twenty-eight. I don't have to work my taco shift til 4pm so I spend a few hours wandering around, seeing old friends and making new ones. Later on in the day I went inside the festival to check out the vendors and do some shopping. A lot of my favorites were there, including my friends at Third Eye Pinecones and Grassroots California. I ended up scooping some new awesome new threads, a hat, and a new Third Eye Pinecones, and a Sunbrella. Formerly known as a parasol, to which I say NO! (Doesn't it make way more sense to just add a “S” and change the “M” to an “N” in umbrella and call it a Sunbrella?! Rant over.) 

I make it to my shift at Super Heady Tacos just in time that evening. I hop on the line and slang tacos for a couple hours, then decide to grab the mic (literally and metaphorically) and start taking and calling out orders. I always enjoy interacting with the food buying patrons and trying to win their belly-filling vote. Much of  the time by just being silly and obnoxious on said microphone, but we also keep some awesome tunes bumping. The shift goes smoothly and we all have a good time, which is what it's all about! I end up getting off at 10pm, just in time to see Joe Russo's Almost Dead, a Grateful Dead tribute band that was formed by Joe Russo, the drummer from Further. I watch some of  their set and then spend some time walking around, looking at the live painters creating and the flow artists flowing.

I explore until it's time for The Human Experience a.k.a. David Block's, set. His set has a fun, trippy, psychedelic vibe to it. Beautiful humans are not only dancing but FEELING the music flow, pulsate through their veins. The whole crowd seemed to be on the same frequency or vibration, if you will. I have a blast dancing and enjoying all of the positivity happening around my friends and I during T.H.E.'s set. I can't recall any songs in particular to recommend, but I do recommend checking out his SoundCloud or catching him live. Not too long after his set ends I make my way to my tent and pass out as to not be exhausted during my 9am shift.

Around 7:30am Sunday morning I'm greeted by the amazing smell of my neighbors cooking bacon, eggs, and potatoes. Yummy! I pop my head out and ask when it will be ready to which the answer is “Now!”. Sometimes day three of a festival can be rough, but I can already tell it's gonna be a great day. I make it to my taco shift on time and start slanging amazing, scrum-deli-umptious breakfast tacos for the hungry, hungry humans. People are already out and about enjoying their day and the perfect weather. I have another flawless shift, with new and old friends swinging by every now and again to say hi, and get off at 3pm. I decide to head back to the campgrounds and take a nap so I can wake up in time for Larry Keel's All-Star Tribute to Jerry Garcia. When I make it to the Eagle stage for Larry Keel's set there is a good sized crowd jamming out to some Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead songs. After their jam session I made my way to the Phoenix Stage to catch Stick Figure, a 4-piece Roots, Reggae, Dub style band from California. They have a rocking stage presence and bring the happy, up-beat reggae feel that many of us have come to love.

I mosey around for a little while before making my way to Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zero's set back at the Eagle stage. I chill to the back right near all the live painters and to really soak in the show. I have passed Edward Sharpe's sets at festivals past and only caught bits and pieces while on my way to other performances. The band and Ed really put on a enbtertaining show, keeping the crowd involved a lot of the time. At one point Ed Sharpe actually pulled my Super Heady Taco boss's, Super Heady Taco super-hero cape on stage and put it on; He then sang an impromptu “Taco Man” song with the band going along with the whole thing and jamming flawlessly on. The show had a great energy; People were dancing and singing the whole time.

The final show that I was really excited to see was Trevor Hall closing out the Eagle stage at Arise. I had the pleasure of seeing and meeting Trevor for the first time on Big Island, Hawaii at the beginning of this year at FlowFest Hawaii, and know how amazingly powerful his shows are. He greets and thanks ColoRADo, the fans,and Mother Nature for giving us such beautiful weather and scenery. He plays many of his familiar songs, even starting his song “Well I Say” with a cover of “Zombie” by The Cranberries, mixed in with some new tracks from his new album KALA, which means “time” in Hawaiian. My favorite song that he played from KALA was “Back To You”, a song he wrote for his wife about being apart while traveling. It's a great song that many people, including myself, that deal with being away from their loved one can resonate with. He closes out his set and the festival with his song “Obsidian”, which he wrote about Nahko after seeing Nahko and Medicine For The People for the first time. It's great to hear a song written by a positive light warrior about another knowledge-spreading spiritual leader. I hope one day in my experience to see them grace the stage together. Perhaps at Arise Music Festival 2016?

The swarm of festival goers head to the campgrounds, some are still partying and socializing while others are already embarking on their journey home. Many of them probably from not too far away and anxious to sleep in their comfortable beds before their week ahead. I make my way back to the Super Heady Taco stand to check on the taco family before going to let loose some. I wander around the beautiful festival and look for interesting people to hang out with. I have fun telling stories and sharing jokes with some new friends for a few hours before deciding to head to bed around 3am. I arose early the next morning and went in to help break down the Super Heady Taco stand, much to my pleasant surprise, was already taken down and loaded up in their  short school bus. I throw my belongings in the bus and we head to the nearest cafe to have our taco families standard after-festival breakfast.

Arise Music Festival was overall one of the best festivals that I attended this year! And that's saying a lot considering I worked a handfull of the time. The location was breath-taking, and other than getting chilly at night, the weather was perfect! The line-up was perfect for the kind of festival that Arise is striving to continue to create. Beautiful humans came from far and wide to contribute to this amazing gathering of music, art, yoga, permaculture, creativity, and positivity. I hope to be a part of this phenomenal festival again and see you all there in 2016.

Tags: BreaksDowntempoGlitchHip HopLivetronica