For a few days during the blissful Colorado summertime, Sunrise Ranch becomes home to thousands of creative souls. Just an hour outside of Denver, this gorgeous 350-acre organic farm and retreat center transforms into a utopian playground for young, old and everyone in between. Providing epic mountain views and a community unlike any other, Arise excels in all areas of creativity, from the arts to music to movement and healing; it continues to stand as a respectable example of sustainability and mindfulness within festival culture.
Arise has brought more and more to the table with it’s music – each year seemingly outdoing the last. Headline artists, live performance bands, conscious rappers, and plenty of our beloved local musicians. This year was a vibe-a-licious experience unlike any other. The juxtaposition of completely different genres created a beautifully diverse spectrum of music choices for all of us at Arise. And isn’t that what we love about Colorado? From highly respected hip-hop legends like Atmosphere and Brother Ali to drippy, trippy Dave Tipper, it was all truly a sight to see. A sea of synchronized hands in the air, bouncing to the beat, dancing in a dream of lights and sounds. The Arise family had a chance to experience everything from the Reggae/Rock sounds of the Expendables to the funky as funk Lettuce performance, as well as the smooth, electronic musings of SunSquabi.
On top of these headliners, we had the opportunity to see some highly revered, one-of-a-kind live performance bands that merge dance, visual art and music so very well. Beats Antique really needs no introduction for their hypnotic, entrancing sets. In the same vein as Desert Dwellers, they blend traditional world music so effortlessly with modern electronic beats. Live instruments, heavy percussion and powerful vocals give depth to their sound, while various exquisite performance artists really draw the audience in. Zoe Jakes so perfectly embodies the divine energy of Kali, the goddess of destruction, with her fierce presence, captivating gaze and immaculate belly undulations. The transformative and inspiring power of witnessing humans in their element, pouring heart and soul into their art should never be underestimated. These festivals are often sacred spaces that awaken the slumbering fires within us, against a stunning backdrop of lasers and night sky.
A band less known and on the rise this year, but nevertheless spectacular to watch was Wookiefoot. Decked out in fluorescent paint and illuminated by blacklight, this vibrant ten-member band resonates with us through their light, uplifting message and psychedelic/reggae/jam-band vibe. Other acts included Rising Appalachia, who are no strangers to the Arise community. This group has really shown us what it means to be involved as artists and inspire growth in our communities. Arise attendees have the opportunity to join the band for a day of Permaculture before the festival begins. It’s always been more than just a party here at Arise. Each year it proves to be a sanctuary saturated with rich experiences, providing knowledge and inspiration for us to take home, long after the bass stops thumping.
The platform for local artists at Arise is always very appreciated. Denver’s own Mikey Thunder had us hitting the dance floor hard, fueled by his dirty drops and heavy beats. Wild Faith and Evanoff were also loved by many Coloradans. Along with musicians, we had a handful of Colorado speakers and presenters that opened our hearts and expanded our perspective. Brigitte Mars joined us from Boulder, merging astrology and the healing power of herbs.
We had the pleasure of sitting in on a couple artist panels this year. The intimate songwriters panel with Chloe Smith and Dustin Thomas was lovely and inspiring as was the hip-hop panel that featured DJ Kavem (Ietef) and Xiuhtezcatl Martinez among others. So refreshing to hear young hip-hop artists share the greater vision behind their music and how they are making a difference in our suffering society. When we are blessed enough to speak to crowds, it’s important to say something meaningful and address the important issues. We had so much fun participating in these dialogues and being treated to a brilliant freestyle cypher at the end, beatboxing and elevated lyrics like “..Control your temper, made from mother nature. Got to get grounded, fresh like water. Love is all around you, I learn from my daughters…” -Ietef
With so many music festivals popping up across the globe, it’s unfortunately common to witness a desolate land of trash and destruction left behind once the crowds leave. However, at Arise, sustainability is clearly a core value. The Permaculture Hub offered interactive opportunities to learn more about how to be stewards of the earth, the Farmer’s Market provided fresh organic produce from the very land we stayed on and the abundance of workshops peaked our many intellectual and spiritual interests.
There’s something truly special about these smaller, intimate music festivals that are built on commUNITY. Arise is a Colorado favorite that welcomes all. Stilt walkers dressed as flowers sprinkle the grounds. Aerialists kiss the sky. Kids playing together and creating in their very own space while embracing self-expression at the Children’s talent show. The sacred fire burns in the center of the Wisdom Village inviting peaceful moments between hours of wild dancing. Ceremony and ritual are reintroduced. Tea time is all the time at the tea lounge. New and old friends gather to learn together and rise in love and vulnerability at the Men’s Tent while women come together to heal ancient wounds at the Red Tent. Sound healing is offered all day to recenter and ground us. Yoga to live music on top of the hill nourishes our bodies and revitalizes us in preparation for the long nights ahead.
The most distinguishing aspect of this festival has been the beautiful Arise family and the warm sense of community that one feels wherever their path takes them. It was a lovely time as expected. See you next year!