The site: River’s Edge RV Park in beautiful Heber City, Utah
Despite being amidst an RV park and everyone who’s chosen to live there for the summer, the amenities that came with venue such as a general store and additional buildings that came in handy when camping sold out and were available as bungalows for the duration of the festival. Small and definitely walkable, it would have been nicer to have been in a more outdoorsy setting so to say, but the river alongside the festival was a perk.
Headliners: Nick Murphy, Nas, Lauryn Hill, and Odesza
Nick Murphy and Odesza played more upbeat sets than I’ve seen either of them play, which was nice to see in the festival setting. Murphy put on a much better, more lively show than he did at Red Rocks this year. Odesza and Nas definitely knew what the crowd wanted to hear, and they thrived in a setting like Bonanza where it’s so easy to thrive of the energy of the crowd. Interactive, lively, and beautiful, their sets were highlights of the weekend. It was nice to see big names like Ms. Lauryn Hill on the bill, but a real bummer to see a legend like her struggle through a set that wasn’t cohesive with the rest of the day’s music. Although I’m not denying this woman’s talent, it seemed as though her OCD kicked in, and instead of performing for the crowd that came to see her, she struggled through her performance on account of trying to perfect the intricate sounds she was trying to put forth, in an outdoor venue that wasn’t doing it for her.
The smaller names: Cut Copy, The Airborne Toxic Event, Wale, Duke Dumont, Kongos, Mutemath, Bob Moses, Jai Wolf, Method Man & Redman, Lany, Cherub, Slow Magic, Big Wild, Waka Flocka Flame, Eden, The Knocks, Tokimonsta, Robert Delong, Frienship, Honorss, Harrison Brome, R.Lum.R, Michl, Chet Porter, Kiev, Kyle Bent, Avalon Landing, Secrets, Cale & the Gravity Well, Ocelot
I don’t know about you, but the smaller names on a festival bill are usually the ones to tickle my fancy, and this was no different. Jai Wolf, Slow Magic,The Knocks, and Tokimonsta were some of my favorite sets this weekend. These artists across the board tried hard to put on a good performance for the crowd, and succeeded. Tokimonsta even played a really awesome after party on Saturday, the 24th. The Knocks, an NYC based duo stole my heart with their stage presence and their funky basslines.
/Mutemath, Wale, and Airborne Toxic Event were mildly nostalgic and equally entertaining. Some of the smaller names seemed a little out of place, but were enjoyable and also added to the variety that existed within the lineup.
The good: On account of being so small, it was easy to see and fully experience the festival to its fullest. There was just enough versatility in food vendors, product vendors, and brand ambassadors, in a setting that was very easy to navigate under the disorienting magic effect festivals have on some of us. The people were lively, friendly, and not too rowdy and everyone seemed willing to experience the desert in harmony. Utah native and Denver resident Casey Kawaguchi was one of the artists live painting the festival, and it was definitely nice to have a piece of Denver in Heber City. In addition to Casey, Jon Lang, and Anthony Ortega were also live painting the whole weekend to create some wonderful pieces for crowds to experience. There were even a few sculptures that were worth aweing over, but the imagery when everything came together was what shined over any negativities this weekend.
The bad: It’s apparent that this festival was over budget and under staffed by the way the camping, parking, and entry to the festival was handled, however the people behind it made it better and definitely tried to smooth things over for any unhappy festival goers. They didn’t even check bags upon entry into the festival until Sunday, y’all. Being at an RV park was also pretty terrible at times, and the after party “venue” was kind of a joke. Also, bands like Cherub should never be seen live, and what on Earth does Waka Flocka get paid for doing? Manic hair flips and popping bottles on crowds of rave kids? Some of the artists seemed unessential to the lineup, but essential to the overall feel of the festival.
Overall: For the price and the experience, I would say it’s a decent festival, that I look forward to watching grow and evolve. The kinks that exist shouldn’t be difficult to smooth over, and the Bonanza fam rolls squad deep. 7.5/10
Words: Lina Skrzypczak | Images: Ryan Stephens