Photos by Dakota Gidley for Festival Squad
As just a brief overview, -for those who aren’t familiar-, The Unified Field Theory in summary states that the various, distinct compositional elements of the universe work together as one cohesive whole for prime influence- Sonic Bloom of Rye, CO was founded as a festival with this theory as a theme, the founders aiming to cultivate a space where connection, creativity, and progress thrives to its full potential through collaboration. Even 13 years later after its initiation, the celebration holds strong in its roots and grows yearly in its aptitude of success with this goal.
This past June 20th-23rd, 2019, Sonic Bloom returned for its 13th run at Hummingbird Ranch, a musical lineup boasting the likes of Gramatik, Opiuo, Kalya Scintilla + Eve Olution, The Russ Liquid Test, and Yheti– just to name a few. The bangin’ lineup of musicians for 2019, countless speakers, instructors, visual artists, performance artists, and other team members gave it their all, all in order to make this Summer Solstice one that will leave us inspired to take on the outside world like never before. Here are just a couple ways that the theme of the “Unified Field” rang strong for the 2019 edition, making Hummingbird Ranch an immensely impactful experience for attendees yet again:
1. The musicians & collaborations between so leave you with your jaw to the floor.
Most notable musical highlights from 2019 include performances by Alya Nereo, Opiuo, Yheti, Kalya Scintilla + Eve Olution, and Drumspyder.
Awards for 2019 go as follows:
- Best Audio Visual Experience: Opiuo
- Most Heartfelt Performance: Alya Nereo
- Most Sets Performed: Yheti
- Most Otherworldly Experience: Kalya Scintilla + Eve Olution
Along with the performances mentioned above, one truly unique element of this festival is the fact that the music goes EXTRA LATE! The Hummingbird Stage was the hub for this formally and the Yoga D’OMe transformed into a late night renegade during the latter parts the day as well. Some of these late night renegades were the best sets of the entire weekend, examples including Yheti b2b Of the Trees, Miraja, kLLsmth, and others. This ties back into the Unified Field Theory because the opportunity of a renegade allows for artists to perform unique and unexpected sets- meaning NEW and UNRELEASED MUSIC! A renegade opportunity also means more sets to fill, which inevitably results in MORE COLLABORATION AND MAGIC! Go Bloom for this one. The use of space and sound was exquisite.
2. The Sonic Bloom Family gives it their ALL!
2019 was no easy feat, even if you were a seasoned festival veteran. It rained. There were windstorms. Canopies and tents were tested. It hailed the size of GOLFBALLS! Thankfully, Colorado natives are quite used to drastic changes in weather and the family pushed through, even with a smile on their face through it all.
Sonic Bloom seems to have one of the most niche crowds at a festival that I’ve ever experienced. The curated lineup of experimental bass, heart & soul melting lyricists, and other forms of electronica & live performance draws in a very specific group every year. I’ve found this collective to be one of my personal favorites in the US festival circuit because of the high level of participation when it comes to attendees. The skilled flow toy manipulation and fashion of the festival is a great example of this. The live performers are festies as well, so you often catch them wandering the crowds in their best and brightest. People brush up on their skills and co-create together in a way that is awe-inspiring on these grounds. You often find flow-artists teaching one another new skills at the stages, and creating routines just for the fun of it.
When you feel the whole family, -the musicians, performers, production team, and even attendees- giving it their all, it feels like the festival is reaching its highest potential, just like the universal theory that drives the theme of the event. And it’s a known fact that passion inspires more passion.
3. The production element is out of this world.
Some of the best and brightest in terms of lighting and visuals come out to Sonic Bloom, making this experience as breathtaking as it could be. The 2019 VJ/ Visual itinerary included Professor Lightwave, Pickles Visuals, Aaron Schilling, and others, the best part being that some of these visual wizards were able to plug in together and co-create during certain live sets, making for a whole ‘nother level of mind-melting audio-visual pairings.
Each element at various stages was powerful and contributed in its own way to the cohesive whole of the festival. The Sonic Bloom Stage, main stage, incorporated a tasteful use of fog to entice attendees with laser shows that make you feel like you just landed on Mars. The Meadow Stage production realm seemed to be more experimental in nature, incorporating the use of cameras and infinite feedback loops such that the artist on stage was the visual itself. One of the coolest things I experienced at this stage was the use of mirrors with lasers, something that is fascinating and addictive to watch during your favorite set. The Hummingbird Stage, AKA the experimental bass heaven, incorporated the use of a uniquely designed & projection mapped stage as the focus.
The way that each stage is different, and the fact that the festival books talent that is distinct in nature in a variety of ways, makes for an experience that is different at every set you catch. The connective field is seen in the fact that even the production team is encouraged to collaborate and create experiences different from years before, which allows for the possibilities to be truly infinite. You can feel the passion in the air.
The art of performance also makes for another level of beauty compared to some other events, where as long as the artists desires it, the specifically curated team of performers create something special for their set. This adds a storytelling element to the stages, and you can feel the excitement felt by the performers that are enticing the crowd. This paired with the lighting and visual teams makes for something very special to this festival specifically. It’s absolutely fabulous.
4. The beautiful location of Hummingbird Ranch, tastefully paired with the Summer Solstice, makes for an inevitably ethereal experience.
Sonic Bloom is held over the course of the Summer Solstice yearly, a planetary transition from Spring to Summer that is characterized by the longest daytime period of the entire calendar year. Traditions in spirituality state that this day brings clarity and a newfound will to chase after your dreams, based upon the fact that the Sun, our “giver of light”, is at its highest point of power, pushing us to our highest power as well.
I can honestly say that I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets of my existence at Hummingbird Ranch. The grounds are a perfect Colorado playground of lush vegetation, creek access, and easy to get to festival amenities.
Experiencing this planetary phenomena is different at a festival because it seems like the effects of such a day are amplified, largely due to the presence of power in numbers. Many studies have been conducted linking nature as a driving factor for creativity and prime human function, and I think that the location of Sonic Bloom truly makes it an addictive gem of a festival. There’s just something about the 360 skies and being nestled in the mountains that brings out the best in everyone involved, and has inspired some of the best performances I’ve ever seen. What a perfect venue to host this “Unified Field”, a dream brought to reality.
5. The level of intimacy allows for maximum personal growth and exploration.
With the attendance held under 10,000 yearly and the large plot of land to adventure on, long lines and crowding are not to be of worry at Sonic Bloom. This makes for smooth transitions from stage to stage and elsewhere, but most importantly- it allows for attendees to get to know other members of the Sonic Bloom Family on a deeper level. This is the kind of festival that you can watch a visionary painter create a masterpiece right in front of your eyes while listening to a set, while all the while having them explain to the the meaning behind the piece. The festival bridges the gap between performer and attendee, where many of the live performance rifts could be some of your closest friends skilled in the art of “flow”. Some of the musicians even wander the crowds and catch other sets, so you truly never know who you’ll encounter and what kind of connections you’ll cultivate at Hummingbird Ranch.
Surrendering to this flow of encounters can lead you to all sorts of new possibilities! The “Unified Field” holds strong in that the festival is capped for reason- and this driving reason allows for the true roots of Sonic Bloom to hold strong for years to come.
2019 has, as an understatement, has left us inspired to bring the creativity out to the world around us.
…And that’s the MAGIC of the “Unified Field”!
See you in 2020, Sonic Bloom!