co-written with Austin Eames
all photo by Jose Valdovinos for Festival Squad
About two weekends ago, Festival Squad attended the second year festival, Bonanza Campout at the River’s Edge in Heber, Utah, 45 minutes into the mountains from Salt Lake City. We trekked through the Rockies Friday afternoon to the festival grounds where snow capped mountains in the distance and lush green trees and shrubs blanketed the scenery. The air was fresh and the vibe of finally making it to the festival sunk in as we set up camp near by a creek that ran through the camp grounds. The location and environment this festival is situated is nothing short of spectacular and with about 7,000 other people attending, the shows were rather intimate on the two stages where the acts played and there was never any crossover. After spending three full days at Bonanza, it is clear that Bonanza is the next West Coast Bonnaroo.
Music genre – Rap, Rock, Indie Electronica
Camping: YES, no car camping available, cabins were available for rent through the festival as well
Capacity: Extra small, about 7k, but growing
Crowd type: Mixed, some chill/family
Water stations: Yes
For The First Timers – As a first timer at Bonanza, it was hard to have any set expectations. Like many West Coast festivals, they days are extremely hot and the nights are extremely cold. Packing accordingly is key to Bonanza. What was especially cool about the campgrounds, was the creek that runs through it. While the water is ice cold, its provides a great refreshing dip when you need a break from the blazing heat – swimsuits are a must! Note also that its tough to find a quiet spot in the camping areas, as the campers love to have fun through all the hours of the night. Be sure to pack ear plugs! As for money: leave your cash at home! All of the food vendors and clothing vendors accepted what was loaded onto your bands. This could be done from your house, or loaded at the festival. This made for short waits on everything and the ability to dance without your wallet.
Standout Food – The food corner at Bonanza was awesome. While small, you still had a nice selection including customized hot dogs, poutine fries (Poutine Your Mouth), an all organic stand, a vegan stand, cold brew coffee and more. There was more food options than one could entertain in three days at this festival which is nice for those who don’t want to pack food.
Musical Highlights – Let us first note that as a festival goer, you had the opportunity to see every single act on this years lineup. Why? Because the festival had two stages, and each stage took turns in having an artist play. This to us, was genius. No sound bleeds, and no missed acts. The energy from this lineup was really where this festival soared in approval. Between Cut Copy, The Knocks, Wacka Flacka Flame, Chet Faker, Bob Moses, and ODESZA, there were dozens of other notable acts that kept this festival bumping and energized. Our favorite moment of this fest was getting some shots backstage and up close during Bob Moses, a group on the come-up with their hit songs Tearing Me Up, Touch and Go and Grace. The cherry on top was running into the lead singer Tom in the Salt Lake City airport and asking him about if they working on new music. His answer to that, Yes!
Things To Do — The center of the festival opened around noon, and those in the campgrounds were limited to the camping area in the morning. The festival made sure there were some fun things to do such as cornhole, an XL version of connect four, and other grass games. Some people even decided to do some fishing at the small pond in the middle of the campground (and they caught some trout!). Inside the festival, there was a hammock land to get out of the shade, live painted art, and a vendor village. The highlight people may seek out this festival is for the after party DJ sets at the Pond Yacht, an old boat set up with a dock for a stage which was situated at the back of the campgrounds. Pond Yacht made a very intimate experience as those artists playing were right next to their fans. Fans would dance on the boat in life jackets and enjoy the fully energized experience. This after party no less than bumped hard each night so we are sure if you were in party mode, it was an eye opener and a thrill. There was a campfire blazing each night at the very top of this area and that made for a really cool vibe to close out the night. While this aspect made it difficult to get a good night’s sleep for the next day, we were appreciative that people seemed to be having fun 24/7 at this festival. We would highly recommend to people wanting to maintain a regular sleep cycle regular to bring a sleep mask, ear plugs, blow up mattress and sleeping bag to this festival or else be cold and annoyed by the all night noise.
VIP or Nah — Bonanza Campout is by far the best festival to attend VIP that we have attended. Our suggestion? Spring for the extra upgrade and go Super VIP. Super VIP gets you access into the artist lounge with a private bar, all VIP viewing areas with private bars when the stages get packed, bathrooms with AC, $30 to spend on food or drinks and a Bonanza sweater (great for the night), and a Bonanza tshirt. Without a doubt, we suggest you go VIP. If you are someone who does not like to camp, we would like to strongly encourage taking advantage of the cabins on site. All of them are right inside the festival, allowing a 2 minute or less walk into the main grounds. There were also cabins situated on the main stage ground, so you could sit on your porch with a beer and enjoy the music. How rad is that?
Overall – Overall, we had a blast at Bonanza. We saw almost every single act on the lineup, we ate some delicious food, and we met some pretty great people in the growing festival scene that lies within the state of Utah. Bonanza is doing it right. They’re bringing diverse headliners to Herber City, providing a great backdrop to fest in and laying out options for those who are on a budget. While the festival is still growing, we see it booming in the next several years. If the festival continues to provide great music, after-parties and food selection, we feel this could be the next best festival for the West Coast. Thanks for having us Bonanza! Until next year.