Wed, 12/12/2012 - 10:44 am

In a town that prides itself on a diverse music and arts scene it comes to no surprise to see a band like Good Gravy rise from the mix. With bluegrass roots combined with eclectic jams, this 5 piece groups creates a warm, welcoming sound that invites the crowd to get down on the dance floor. Although the roots of this group are imbedded in bluegrass, Good Gravy dissolves boundaries playing a mix of jam rock, jazz, funk and psychedelic grooves. On top of their eclectic sound, the group is known for their captivating melodies that really fuses their “party grass” sound together quite nicely. Good Gravy consists of Jeremy Page on guitar, lead vocals, Ross Montgomery on mandolin, Evan Brenton on upright bass, Kyle VanBuskirk on percussion and Nick Deyo on drums. Also sitting in with the band on their recent shows is Zebulon Bowles on fiddle.

After playing a string of Colorado shows, the band returns home to Fort Collins, Colorado. I have seen Good Gravy play locally a few times before, so I was looking forward to this show at the Aggie Theater. The band has a strong following locally in Fort Collins and is known for throwing down long dance party jams into the early hours of the morning. I arrived at the Aggie early before the show to meet up with members of the band with hopes for an interview. After meeting some of the band, it is clearly evident that music is certainly a labor of love for this group. The band members I met were genuine and enthusiastic about their music.

To get the night started off the crowd was treated to the Dead Winter Carpenters, who have been on tour with Good Gravy on their recent string of Colorado dates. The group encompasses an earthy, americana vibe which started the night off nicely. The acoustic quintet creates a genuine warm, organic sound that was definitely cohesive for the Good Gravy crowd in attendance.

It wasn’t long before Good Gravy took the stage, starting off with the blue collar ballad, “Outlaw Man”, an upbeat bluegrass piece that starts off with Page’s solid vocals and then quickly escalates into an intricate neo-psychedelic jam. It certainly didn’t take long for the hometown crowd to get warmed up for these guys, with the dance floor packed and in full force after the opener. The band then played fan favorites “Ronny Letterman” and “Against the Grain”. By combining warm melodies with intricate jams, this band definitely gives off a positive sound right from the start.

There are a few things evident when watching these guys play, the chemistry in the band is fantastic, they are locked in together which helps create seamless transitions while jamming, whether it is Montgomery on mandolin or Page on guitar, the two together put on quite a show. Their musicianship is further illustrated when these two put down their acoustics and plug in. I particularly enjoyed watching them take their sound to the next level with the electric guitar and mandolin. The other aspect that is noticed quickly is the driving rhythm section with Brenton on upright bass, Deyo on drums and VanBiskirk on percussion, these three create a beautiful canvas for Montgomery and Page to work with. The driving rhythm that these guys put forth is a staple of Good Gravy. With the show in full swing the band then played another crowd pleaser, “Bashni”, a jam that has loose funky yet playful feel to it. Somewhere in the middle of that song, the group played a well known cover of “Tequila” by the Champs. They even had a saxophone player join them for the jam.

A part of Good Gravy that might get overlooked is the play of their percussionist Kyle VanBuskirk, who plays conga, bongos and washboard. Such a percussionist is a rarity in traditional bluegrass outfits, but Good Gravy is far from traditional, VanBuskirk’s play helps to create that loose, latin, easy going sound. Next the group performed their rendition of David Bowie’s “Golden Years”, followed by another fan favorite, “Woo Hoo” off Good Gravy’s 2010 debut album. The fiddle player, Zebulan Bowles, really deserves a lot of credit as well; his play really enhances the jams and overall live sound of the group. This band has no problem keeping the energy up all night; they really put on an enjoyable show for everyone. As time passed close to 2:00 AM, the band finished up their set, and quickly returned for an encore. The members of Good Gravy truly enjoy making music, and that positive attitude emanates from the stage. With Page’s warm vocals combined with driving rhythms and ultra-melodic jams, Good Gravy creates a positive sound that is near impossible to ignore.

Good Gravy just finished its string of shows in Colorado and now is heading to northern California for a few shows. They are also scheduled to open for Railroad Earth at the Ogden Theater on January 18th. The band plans on returning to the studio this winter to work on their second album. They have recently started a Kick Starter campaign to raise funds to complete this album. The future looks bright for the jam-grass quintet, I would advise anyone to check them out.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 8:22 am

Music often invokes a different emotion or nostalgia in everyone. Not only do these emotions or feelings warm our hearts, but they keep us wanting more. Groups such as Elephant Revival have no problem unlocking these emotions within us, and do so in an impressive yet joyful fashion.This 5-piece acoustic or “transcendental” folk band comes to Fort Collins to play a New Years Eve show at the Aggie Theatre. By playing a mix of folk, bluegrass and americana this group truly creates an innovative heart-felt sound. Elephant Revival encompasses a laid back relaxing vibe, but can quickly turn up the tempo with their upbeat Celtic violin arrangements. All five members sing and write songs, the variety is never ending, but all members work together nicely to create their signature sound. The talent that each band member contains really is outstanding. Each member can be seen playing multiple instruments throughout the show, the songwriting and lyrics really stand out with this group. The band just recently released an EP “It’s Alive”, and also has two full length albums, “Break in the Clouds” and their self titled debut album.They will be performing on December 31st at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins, there are still tickets available. Elephant Revival has a strong following in Colorado, which comes to no surprise seeing as the group has its roots in Nederland Colorado. If there is such thing as a “Colorado sound”, I believe that sound really radiates from this band. I highly recommend attending this show; Elephant Revival is one of those bands that leave you feeling warm and comfortable. Such a feeling is indescribable, but can be likened to relaxing by a fire enjoying a warm bowl of soup after being out in the cold winter snow all day. It can be tough to explain how this band makes one feel, to truly understand you must see them perform in person. A quote for Elephant Revival’s website, “Where words fail…. music speaks”.

Fri, 01/04/2013 - 4:38 pm

New Year’s Eve can be celebrated in many different ways. Some people choose to be close with their loved ones, others want to find to wildest party, or for some it’s just another day. Music lovers across the land can undoubtedly agree that New Years Eve means good music with large array of shows to choose from. I particularly like the themes of these nights; reflection, celebration and renewal. I find people are always more positive on New Year’s Eve than other holidays. First, obviously there’s always a party. Second, when the clock hits midnight everyone has a clean slate to start off the year in a manner of their choosing. After some reflection I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the New Year than seeing Elephant Revival in Fort Collins.

Elephant Revival’s first set started around 11 pm, and I’ve never seen the Aggie Theatre more packed before. This comes to no surprise as they have a strong contingency here in Colorado. With roots in Nederland Colorado as well as in Oklahoma, they have no problem filling up venues in this state. Elephant Revival consists of Bonnie Paine, Daniel Rodriquez, Sage Cook, Dango Rose and Bridget Law. Each member sings, writes songs and plays multiple instruments throughout the show. With no traditional drummer, it is appealing to see a folk group rock out on the washboard and conga drum, which both are manned by Bonnie Paine.

To start the night off the band opened with “Forgiveness” from their first album, a beautiful folk tune sung by Daniel Rodriquez. Rodriquez’s warm vocals accompanied by Bridget Law’s sweet fiddle playing started the nice off right. Next up was a new song “What’s That”, which has a gypsy-folk feel and the stunning vocals from Bonnie Paine. The song is off the group’s latest EP, “It’s Alive”. Paine has a truly unique voice that is reminiscent of Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries. It’s unfair to just single out one these members, but Bonnie Paine is a magnificent musician, and with her shy and sweet stage demeanor, she is instantly loved by the crowd.

The production of the show was fantastic, extra lights and decorative banners, the energy at the Aggie Theatre was overwhelmingly positive. It’s really hard not to like the personality band; they are friendly, modest yet great showmen and their positive attitude really shines from the stage. That positive energy on stage gets reflected to the crowd, creating a wonderful atmosphere for everyone. Another focal point of the night is when the group played a new unreleased song “Remembering a Beginning”, and they had an acrobat doing a routine to the song on stage. The first set ended with a solo a cappella tune by Bonnie Paine. Elephant Revival has a unique skill of instantly grabbing the attention of everyone in the crowd, and they did not disappoint.

The second set began shortly before midnight and the Aggie was maybe even more packed then when the show started. I thought about getting a drink but after looking at the overwhelming sea of people surrounding the bar, I decided to hold my ground. Finding good dancing space was not an easy task. Early in the second set as the clock ticked right up to midnight, Elephant Revival performed a Native American prayer a cappella style. The prayer had a primal, mystical feel to it, and it was repeated until the clock struck midnight. I thought it was a very graceful way to pass into the New Year. Next the group played the classic folk tune “Auld Lang Syne” and then kicked the set up a notch with some upbeat instrumentals. Every time I see this group I am impressed by their ability to play a foot-stomping upbeat arrangement and then transition seamlessly to slower heart-felt tune.

As the night went on the group played a lot of new material mixed with some older fan favorites. It is amazing to see how much quality material Elephant Revival has up their sleeve. Some notable songs were “Cosmic Pulse”, by Sage Cook. This certainly seemed appropriate with lyrics such as, “Why we keep on hanging on this way” and “If waking life’s a dream, then wake me up.” It proved to be a great renewal song for the New Year. Another impressive song was the instrumental “Tam Lin Set”, which is a free flowing jam, highlighted by Bridget Law’s fiddle and Bonnie Paine’s relentless washboard playing. They also performed “Ring Around the Moon”, a real beautiful song from their first album. Another gem from their EP is “Quill Pen Feather”, which they also played during their second set. Eventually Dango Rose put down his bass and played a few songs on mandolin. It’s amazing the talent in the band and it seems that there is not one leader. Everybody writes their own songs but all them collaborate together to get the most out of each other, the end result is beautiful. Trying to define their sound can be tough or irrelevant, but they certainly encompass a wide range of folk, americana, bluegrass, celtic, Scottish fiddle,all with a sharp progressive edge. Towards the end of the second set they had their talented acrobat do another impressive routine, I love how they incorporate these types of things into shows, and it really gets the crowd into it (as if they needed extra help with that).

The chemistry between the crowd and band was phenomenal, at one point the crowd was foot stomping and clapping to their own rhythm in between songs and the band followed suit and incorporated the same rhythm into the intro of the next song. The show was certainly a fun time for everyone involved, it appeared the band had a lot of close friends and relatives in the attendance and the crowd was respectful yet fun to be in. As Elephant Revival finished their last song, they quickly returned to do an encore for the hungry crowd.

All in all it was a great night. The band captured the crowd’s attention and never let it go throughout the night. The Aggie Theatre proved to be a wonderful venue, accommodating the large crowd and helped to create the wonderful atmosphere that night. Elephant Revival is heading to Seattle to record new material, and then hit the road for lots of shows this winter; nonetheless the future looks very positive for this quintet. I hope everyone who hasn’t seen this band will make an effort in 2013 to do so. I wish everyone a happy and loving new year.

Tue, 02/12/2013 - 3:07 pm

With the winter doldrums in full swing it’s easy to contract some severe cabin fever. We are getting ever closer to spring but the temperatures seem to say otherwise. Thankfully the Aggie Theatre was serving up a warm dose of John Brown’s Body and Euforquestra to ease our winter suffering. A warm intimate show at the Aggie is just the right cure the body needs to help get through these final winter months.

I headed to the Aggie Theatre early to make sure I caught all of Euforquestra’s set and to check out the opener Dj Mikey Thunder. It was around 9 pm when I arrived, and there wasn’t many people there, but I knew the place would fill up eventually as Euforquestra’s set began. Mikey Thunder was solid, playing lots of different styles but primarily a lot of dub material, which was quite appropriate to start the night.

Not too long after I arrived Euforquestra began to set up and started their set around 9:30. I grabbed a drink and headed to the stage for a good front row spot. The dance floor began to fill up as the set started. Euforquestra started with their afrobeat instrumental, “Obatala”, and moved to some reggae tunes. Fort Collins and the frontrange are really lucky to have Euforquestra as a hometown band. As they are originally from Iowa City but has since made Fort Collins their home. Their sound is a blend of reggae, afrobeat and funk, but they are certainly not confined by those limits and definitely play with a progressive edge. The set really took hold after they played their popular tune “Soup”, a song laden with tasty guitar melodies and playful lyrics, you can’t help but dance to this jam. With the audience’s full attention, Euforquestra played some newer songs, and kept the energy high throughout the set. They ended with an energetic cover of Beck’s popular “E-Pro”, the group has played sets of Beck’s music in the past and know how to bring their own energy into these Beck songs. Euforquestra started the night off proper, and the Aggie was filled up and ready for John Brown’s Body.

As the bands transitioned, Mikey Thunder played in the down time between sets to keep the crowd moving. This was going to be my first time seeing John Brown’s Body, So I was really looking forward to the show. The crowd thickened even more at this point as the band took stage. John Brown’s Body consists of Elliot Martin- lead vocals, Tommy Benedetti- drums, Nate Egar- bass, Jay Spaker- guitar, Jon Petronzio- keys, Scott Flynn- trombone and Sam Dechenne- trumpet.

The set started with a dub jam, but Elliot Martin was not on stage as the band jammed for a bit. The band jammed for a while getting the crowd into a good groove.Soon enough Martin walked on stage and got the crowd pumped up for the set. Martin has a powerful stage presence, and gets into a good flow immediately.

John Brown’s Body plays a distinct type of dub reggae, with rich melodies, steady rhythms and driving vocals. They can get that really spaced out dub sound and quickly return to the warm, positive reggae vibes. As is most bands, anytime you add a horn section to the mix, awesomeness ensues, especially in a dub reggae band like JBB. The horns add a huge dimension to the band and fills out their sound nicely. The Aggie was pretty crowded and stayed like that for the entire show, which comes to no surprise as John Brown’s Body is a solid draw and haven’t been to Fort Collins in a few years

The band played with high energy throughout the show, I’m not as familiar with the group’s material as long time fans are, but I recognized some of their newer material. The group has been around for a long time and definitely have evolved their sound throughout the years. They certainly play a progressive style of dub reggae music. The energy levels were kept up throughout the night as JBB played close to 1AM.

The guitarist Mike Keenan even sang on a couple tracks, which helped complement lead singer Elliot Martin and gave him a deserved break every now and then. The group played a great set, the crowd was in it the whole time, it was a great night for everyone involved

It is always a worthwhile endeavor checking out a show at the Aggie Theatre, especially during these winter months our options for going out are limited to the indoors only. John Brown’s Body and Euforquestra both played great and started my weekend off perfectly. JBB recently released an album last September and Euforquestra continues to tour all around the front range. I highly recommend seeing both of these bands.

Tue, 02/19/2013 - 1:40 pm

The Colorado front range has many perks, beautiful scenery, great hiking and lots of sunshine. Since I’ve moved here though, I was able to experience the sense of community along these front range cities and learn to love it very quickly. I feel that our impressive local music scene is a core glue that not only strengthens our communities, but creates a positive environment for people to get involved and help their local scenes evolve. No better way to celebrate that spirit than a Trichome headlining show at the Aggie Theatre with Technicolor Tone Factory and Genetics opening.The night’s bill consisted of all local bands, with Trichome and Genetics from right here in Fort Collins and Technicolor Tone Factory from Boulder. I’ve seen Trichome briefly last spring, and I haven’t seen the other bands before, so I was going in a little blind. Trichome harbors a electro-funk rock sound with a bit of electronica in there, they can certainly deliver those dance beats.I arrived at the Aggie Theatre a little after 9pm just in time to catch the first opener, Genetics. The group played a variety of orchestrated jams ranging from jam rock to electronic to a reggae vibe at times. They played a good set, I was impressed by there ability to switch rhythms on a dime and keep a good groove going. Genetics started the night off on a good foot.Next up was Technicolor Tone Factory, a 5 piece band from Boulder. With one guitarist decked out with a large cowboy hat, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. As the set got going, it was easy to see that these guys were packing the heat. They started there set with a jam rockabilly tune, that easily got the crowd moving and into it. The neat thing about this group is there ability to nail out a jam rock tune and transition to a super funky jam seamlessly. Their set consisted of that jam, rock, funk fusion sound and lots of great original material and lyrics as well. The Aggie started to fill up a lot more during the set, and the crowd definitely enjoying the show so far. Technicolor Tone Factory second to last song was a very well done cover of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar”. After that they played one last jam that ended with guitarist, Jarrod Guaderrama, ripping a solo with his guitar behind his head. Technicolor Tone Factory really put on a fun set, and next up was the headliner, Trichome.Trichome has been around for a bit now, with their roots originally in reggae, the group has since moved on to it’s electro-funk rock sound. Their sound creates energetic dance music, which is alway a good direction for a band to follow. Trichome is a 5 piece band that consists of Evan Daldegan- lead vocals and guitar, Matt Newhard- lead guitar, David Frediana- Bass guitar, backup vocals, Matt Schooley- drums and Mike Windhamkeys and sax.Their set got started around 11:30pm, and there was a pretty decent size crowd in attendance. There first song was a powerful rock jam with a driving guitar riff entwined in it. Then they moved into an electro-funk jam with laser disco balls going off behind stage. At times lead guitarist Matt Newhard will loop in some electronic textures to really fill in their sound. Soon enough we were greeted to the soulful vocals of lead singer Evan Daldegan as the set started to really heat up. The last time I saw Trichome and this time as well, I was first drawn towards the play of lead guitarist Matt Newhard. It’s easy to see how talented he is, he plays a unique style and is fun to watch as he picks up and down the neck of the guitar. Eventually keyboard player Mike Windham picked up his sax, and really played the hell out of it, I love a funk group with some brass in it.The production of the show was great, I loved the laser disco balls and the rotating led pattern lights. There was certainly a lot of love in the crowd that night, with Trichome playing in front of their hometown friends and family. At one point lead singer Evan Daldegan introduced the band for first timers seeing them, “welcome to the family” he stated. It was easy to see that the band was having a great time, and so was everyone else in crowd.As I looked at the time is was around 1:30 am and Trichome was still going strong. I enjoyed watching the play of bass player David Frediana, he played with a quirky, energetic attitude. A lot of their jams were lead by his funky driving bass lines. Again later in their set Mike Windham ripped some fantastic sax solos, Trichome really brought a full force effort for the show. It was a fun night for all parties involved.Trichome continues to tour around Colorado and are playing again with Technicolor Tone Factory at the Fox Theatre on February 23rd. I recommend this show for everyone who loves that funk-rock jam fusion sound. Trichome recently released a new EP last fall, so check out this band on the rise and help support local music.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 6:47 pm

The Mishawaka Amphitheater is certainly well known for its intimate location located 30 minutes up the Poudre Canyon. In such a scenic area, it’s no surprise the success of this venue. The Mish consistently puts on quality shows from local bands to national touring acts. A night with Good Gravy headlining just feels natural at Mish. The local jam-grass quintet is no stranger to area, with a big following in Fort Collins. I was certainly looking forward to seeing them rock out the indoors at the Mishawaka.

I left for the Mish sometime after 7pm, the Mish has a convenient shuttle system that can take you up the canyon and back for a reasonable rate. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it in time for shuttle, So I made the drive up the Poudre canyon. The Mishawaka isn’t too far up the canyon once you get in it, about 30 minutes or so. I arrived right before the opener, Frogs Gone Fishin’, started their set.

All the music played inside is in the SpokesBuzz Lounge, named after the non-profit that supports and helps the growth of local bands. The inside has a warm, rustic feel. I enjoyed the huge wood burning fire place in the room, and so did everyone else, it was tough to find a spot to stand near it. As Frogs Gone Fishin’ kicked off their set, the dance floor began fill up. Frogs Gone Fishin’ played a fun set, they play with a funk, rock sound and catchy jams laced within. They played with good energy, the dance floor was moving easily. I was drawn toward the play of the bass player, he laid down some righteous funk beats, the whole group had good chemistry with each other. They had a tombone player in the group as well that filled out their sound. So far I was impressed with the indoor setup at the Mish, I’ve seen a number of shows outside, but never indoor before. There was an artist doing a live painting by the side of the stage, and girls spinning hoops in the back, I love the intimate environment.

It wasn’t too long before Good Gravy made their way to the stage to start off their first of two sets for the night. They started off with a traditional bluegrass tune and quickly got the dance floor moving as they moved into some flowing jams. It’s especially fun to watch when guitarist/singer Jeremy Page plugs into his electric and rips off some sweet riffs. There was a good crowd in attendance, the place wasn’t super packed by any means but there were lots of dancing bodies on the dance floor. The mandolin player, Ross Montgomery plays a fun flamenco style mandolin on a lot of the jams, and he plays very comfortably and fluid with Jeremy Page, the band’s chemistry is very obvious. The band has been playing together for a long time now, and you can tell by the end product. The group played a solid first set and ended it with the jam, “Outlaw Man”.

With 2 sets of I knew it would be a dance party until the early morning hours. The band invited a harmonica player up on stage sometime in the beginning of the set, and was going pretty strong. It’s hard not to love Good Gravy; they play with a warm catchy sound and really have some good sophisticated arrangements. Page’s vocals fit the band well and his lyrics are usually laid back and playful. The band played an energetic cover of “Love is Alive” by Gary Wright. Then they moved to their own jam, “Bashni”, a very catchy jam song, with a flamenco style mandolin riffs and catchy lyrics. Good Gravy’s rhythm section consists of Evan Brenton on bass, Nick Deyo on drums and Kyle Vanbuskirk on acoustic percusion and as usual these guys kept up the driving yet steady grooves and allowed Page and Montgomery to knock out some intricate jams.

The group continued to play late into the early morning hours. They put on a great time for everyone involved. Indoors at the Mishawaka made for a fun and intimate setting to see a show. These indoors shows are nice warm-ups for the wild summer Mishawaka season. Good Gravy has been on the road a lot recently and continues to tour around Colorado in March.

Fri, 03/15/2013 - 5:09 pm

Our Colorado music scene is bursting at the seams with diversity. Whether you love jam bands, folk and bluegrass or bass heavy dubstep, you can easily find your niche in our music community. SnowBall Music Festival brings us music fanatics together to celebrate that spirit of music, love and community in the high elevations of the Rocky Mountains. This year’s 3rd annual SnowBall Music Festival took place in Winter Park. At around 9000 feet elevation and in early March, it’s safe to say that winter is still in full force. SnowBall creates a nice contrast from the hot and sticky summer festivals we are all used to. The exclusivity of SnowBall combined with the 10,000 or so fans creates majestic and near indescribable atmosphere.

This year’s SnowBall took place in between Winter Park and Fraser, which was the first obvious change from the previous festivals which took place in Vail and Avon. This was my first SnowBall experience so it’s hard to compare and contrast from previous years. I imagine there were a handful of locals who wanted nothing to do with the festival, but for the most part Winter Park and Fraser were very welcoming. As my group drove in there were signs welcoming festival goers. I don’t travel to these ski towns much (I know it’s unfortunate), but immediately I was awestruck by the massive surrounding mountain peaks. When entering Fraser the town sign stated “Fraser- Leaving Planet Earth”, which seemed quite appropriate. I really liked the location not only because of the obvious beautiful landscape, but it didn’t take long to drive there, being 2.5 hours from Fort Collins and 1.5 hours from Denver. My group rented a house for the weekend, but both Winter Park and Fraser had lots of accommodations for festival goers. SnowBall even provided shuttles for people up in Granby as well.

When camping on the festival grounds is not an option, shuttle services are very important. SnowBall offered some pay parking lots that were close to the venue, but at $30, It’s best to find your way to one of the many free shuttles SnowBall offers. Luckily for my group there was a free parking lot and shuttle pick up located 2 miles down the road from our house. The shuttles came through pretty regularly and transportation for our group worked without too many problems.

The shuttle would drop us off right at the main entrance, from there we would wait in sometimes ankle deep muddy line to be patted down and have bags checked. SnowBall allowed festival goers to bring in two factory sealed water bottles, I brought a camelbak, but it had to be empty to be allowed in. SnowBall has a no reentry policy after 7pm, my group never had a problem with it but there were some people upset about it.

The music at SnowBall was held on three stages, the SnowBall Stage, the Groove Tent and the Ballroom. The SnowBall Stage was the main stage located outside and had the “Big Air” snowboard/ski jump located right next to it. The Groove Tent was located toward the rear of the festival grounds, which was good because I didn’t notice any sound problems with noise leaking into the other stages. The Groove Tent hosted most the electronic acts throughout the fest, but it wasn’t just limited to that. The Groove Tent was massive though, easily fitting a thousand or more people in it. The Ballroom was a smaller tent located near the entrance.

There was the usual row of vendors located somewhat near the Groove Tent, and a lot of food vendors by the front entrance. In the center of the festival grounds was the Heat Hut/Bar, which provided a much needed refuge from the cold. Also located by the vendors was the Silent Disco, a dance party where everyone puts on headphones and gets down. In general, I loved the set up, walking around proved to be a difficult task on icy uneven frozen ground, but that’s just part of an outdoor winter festival. I thought they could use another water filling station, during peak hours it wasn’t fun waiting 10+ minutes in line to fill water bottles and camelbak, there was only one water filling station on the entire festival grounds.

After my group arrived at our house rental on Friday, we didn’t wait around too long to get to the fest. We arrived around 4 pm and headed to the Groove Tent to check out the hip-hop group, Zion I. The set started with their DJ warming up the crowd with a mix of hip-hop and bass filled electronic beats, then eventually their main emcee, Zumbi, came on stage and got the set going. Zion I always puts on a good show and playing in front of a packed Groove Tent crowd, they didn’t disappoint. I stayed for a while but eventually made my way the the main stage to catch some of Porter Robinson’s set. The 21 year old producer put on a fun energetic set. He makes an electro-house sound but with his own original flavor to it. Porter Robinson got the crowd going and his set was a good way to get the night started. After Porter was Kendrick Lamar on main stage, but I made my way to the Groove Tent to check out The Presets. The Presets are a electronic dance duo from Australia. The duo’s sound consists of a lot of synthesizers with vocals laced in, but were hard to hear. They certainly encompass that dance electro-house sound, but their vocals allow them to create a fuller sound. I stuck around for a bit, but never got to into the set. Soon I made my way to the Heat Hut to take a break from the festivities and sit on a somewhat dry ground. The Heat Hut is set up nicely with tables all around and a full bar, but mostly served as a sitting area for people.

The headliner for Friday night was Colorado’s own Big Gigantic. The set started at 9:30pm, I like how SnowBall has all other sets ending when the main headliner’s set starts. Big G started strong and kept the energy up throughout the set, playing fan favorites like “Sky High” and “Nocturnal”. I love when Dominic Lalli picks up his sax and incorporates it into electro bass arrangements, It creates a fun and unique trancy, dance party. As Big Gigantic’s set came to a close the crowd was rewarded with an epic firework show that flowed great into the end of the set. The first night was a success, and the festival started off with great energy.

After a long night of festivities, I awoke on day 2. It was nice waking up in a bed compared to the normal festival routine of waking up sweating in a tent at dawn. Another activity that SnowBall offers which you won’t find at any other festival, is the access to some fantastic skiing and snowboarding resorts/runs. Unfortunately I didn’t have the funds to partake in any of that fun, but nonetheless how cool is the idea of snowboarding during the day and then going to a music festival all night.

I arrived at the festival in the late afternoon. The area got dumped with a solid amount of snow the night before, and with the snow came a drop in temperature as well. The first set I caught was part of Shlomo in the Ballroom.  I was liking Shlomo a lot, a producer from LA and definitely on the chiller side than a lot of the heavy hitting dubstep I’ve heard thus far. He had the Ballroom packed to capacity. Eventually my group made our way to the Silent Disco, I’ve always heard about these silent disco’s but this was the first one I actually experienced. It was too much fun, it’s fun to dance and then take off your headphones and see everyone dancing in silence, I definitely recommend checking that out.

The next set up was the indie-dance group Rubblebucket in the Ballroom Tent. Personally, this was my most anticipated show of the entire festival. As a huge fan of the group, I knew what kind of energy and force this band brings. Rubblebucket has a very colorful and unique sound with influences ranging from dub reggae, funk, psychedelic rock and afrobeat. The group has tremendous stage presence and are well known for coming into the crowd to get down with their fans and for their onstage antics. During their colorful psychedelic build up jam “Lhomme”, they had 6-8 costumed fans come on stage to chase down band leader Alex Toth and eventually pretending to devour him, it was quite the spectacle. On their last song “Came Out of a Lady”, I even got to carry around Toth on my shoulders as he was ripping off trumpet riffs. Rubblebucket played an intense and euphoric show, they really get the good energy flowing in the tent.

As I exited the Ballroom, I was greeted to the sounds of another favorite band of mine, Portugal. the Man. As I headed to the main stage it was evident a large amount of people were making there way to the groove tent for Datsik. I stayed for a bit and caught Portugal. the Man’s set. I was glad to see the group playing main stage right before the headliner, but thought they deserved a much bigger crowd.  Eventually Saturday’s headliner, Pretty Lights, took the stage. Derek Vincent Smith is the man behind Pretty Lights and he is also a Colorado native. Pretty Lights lays down his own style of electronic music with soul samples mixed with electronic and hip-hop beats. He brings a fun dance party for sure.  A dynamic stage and light setup is the norm for this act, lots of lasers, strobes, and synchronized lights. PL played his well known “Finally Moving” and “I Know the Truth” and ended the second night righteously.

As Sunday rolled on by I made it to the festival late afternoon, I was definitely looking forward to STS9’s headlining set. Once I entered the fest I wandered in the Ballroom tent and caught some of the band Tennis’ set, they are a pop rock duo from Denver.  Eventually I made my way to the main stage to see Grizmatik, a collaboration between the electronic acts Griz and Gramatik. A lot of people were looking forward to this set and I could see why, both artists have a unique style and it was pretty sweet watching them add the saxophone and electric guitar in the mix.

As the night went on the temperature dropped pretty low, getting in close to the crowd at main stage is a must to stay warm. I like how SnowBall had a ski/snowboard ramp located next to the main stage, so in between acts the crowd could watch the athletes do different tricks, it was pretty awesome. The festival provided everyone with all sorts of eye candy, but my favorite was the 100 yard rope floating in the air with lit balloons every few feet or so. The balloon fixture is easily the first thing noticed when entering the festival. The also a bonfire that was fenced off by the main stage and a large flame torch that would go off every few seconds.

After Grizmatik’s set was the festival closing headliner STS9. The jamtronic group is no stranger to Colorado or the music festival scene in general. STS9 brings a big sound with them which ranges from electronic dance to funky jam rock. It took awhile but eventually the band took the stage and kicked off their set. The set started slow with a electronic and synth laden groove and eventually got kicked up a notch when they played their spacey jam “2012”. The group continued to play some familiar jams and killed it. STS9’s set was a high point of the weekend and a great way to end the festival.

SnowBall is a unique festival and I was proud to be covering the event for Gweb. The festival went very smoothly, although I personally would have preferred a bit more of an eclectic lineup, with some more folk/bluegrass or funk/reggae bands. The lineup was leaning heavy on the electronic side, but that is the norm for SnowBall, the festival is certainly a borderline electronic festival.  The other unique aspect of SnowBall is its after parties. With music ending at 11pm each night there’s normally people still hungry for more and SnowBall served up a fat plate of after parties, with 50+ artists performing at local venues. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to any after parties, but it was nice knowing I had the option for late night music.

Overall was a great experience for me and I’d like to thank the organizers of SnowBall and the towns of Winter Park and Fraser for hosting this festival. It’s a truly special feeling to be up in the high mountains celebrating love and music with friends and loved ones.

Check out more photos from SnowBall.