For a festival that lacked any type of promotion (and official website), Friday night drew out surprisingly large crowds to the River North neighborhood. The festival goers ranged from Blue Moon beer enthusiasts, hipsters in no less than 3 inch brimmed hats and eager bros excited to explore a new area of Denver. The ticketing lines were minimal and the entry process was flawless… but that’s about the only fluidity the night saw.
Seeing as this was the first year for RiNo Live and a new location for a festival there were some unexpected obstacles that arose. Running Parallel to the Platt River, cushioned between the new Blue Moon Brewery, the festival was one long rectangle that bottlenecked at the stage. The layout made it difficult for people to spread out and caused a ton of congestion around the stage. In addition to the occluded stage front the beer lines made it nearly impossible to walk freely around in the event space. The beer tents were positioned directly across from each other creating one large human zipper that ran directly through the center of the concert. Resulting in one big Trumpian wall of impatient humans and a ton of frustrated bystanders trying to navigate the festival space.
Aside from a few mistakes that one could expect to see from a freshman festival, RiNo Live got a bunch of things right. The lineup was diverse and unexpected, bridging generational gaps and appealing to a wide array of people. St. Lucia brought a ton of energy and had everyone wishing that Jean-Phillip Grobler was their aerobics instructor. In between air kicks, fist bumps and laps around the stage Grobler would engage and entrance the audience with his energy and charisma. At one point he had all four thousand attendees jumping in house party fashion, chanting and singing along. Next on the bill were the Silversun Pickups, a blast from our angst filled teen years. Despite keeping a low profile for the past decade, they had a slew of die hard SSU followers. The timid duo blessed us with new and old songs in between quirky banter and coy smiles and were a perfect end to the evening.
In addition to a unique lineup RiNo Live boasted a myriad of diverse vendors. From salt inspired jewelry to an interactive painting booth that allowed for you contribute to the art as a collective, the vendor scene was both intriguing and thoughtful. It seemed as through each vendor was meticulously chosen and each reflected the creative nature of Denver’s hippest art district.
Although RiNo Live had its fair share of setbacks they were able to draw four thousand people to their gate all in the name of art and music. We look forward to seeing the festival grow in the coming years. Maybe next year they’ll have a website and hashtag to go along with it… but until then we’re happy to say that we attended the first ever RiNo Live Festival (as we’re sure there will be plenty more to follow).