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Tuesday, May 10

Arise Music Festival is making sure they are the Best Colorado Festivalfor years to come not just a weekend in October. An editorial by KevinLong

Arise Music Festival is making sure they are the best Colorado festival for years to come not just a weekend in October. 
An editorial by Kevin Long

Arise Music Festival is redefining what a festival can achieve. There are artists representing a genre for every musical palate. Activities for seemingly every age bracket and physical condition. Arise Music Festival have tossed the playbook away by outlining what this year's festival will offer.  They managed to finally convince me that somebody is listening to the music fans and are changing their whole approach. This year’s event will be a look at what music festivals will become in the near future or more will be taking that awkward summer off. 
     This year's Arise Music Festival is a multimedia event in paradise. Instead of being brain dead and returning to the real world needing a vacation, if you so choose, one could return feeling like they spent the weekend at a spa. They have offered up the first concise vision of what a musical festival will become if it wants to stay profitable. The masses were surprised when a good number of prominent festivals just stopped or took the summer off. Talk about insulting your consumer’s intelligence. They want people to believe that instead of making millions over a week that they decided to skip it. I was not at all surprised when the house of cards fell. When there was only a dozen music festivals that catered to bands that melts faces while also rejuvenating ones soul, it was easy to sell out before most festivals announced a single band. It was basically the same line up with different headliners. And that was more than sufficient. Phish and String Cheese Incident were not touring and the festival circuit took the place of a ten show run with a band. It was a perfect idea at the right time because of a number of factors. It was an affordable way to see many of your favorite acts without gas prices stopping you and once you arrived there was no driving madness after the show. Your only concerns were to feed your soul all night with the magic of community and music. In a few years depending on where you lived you were loyal to a couple of festivals to the point most fans would purchase their tickets up to a year before any bands were announced. But soon music festivals starting popping up faster than pot dispensaries in downtown Denver. It seemed every town that had a Sonic, Walmart and a McDonald's was soon throwing smaller more affordable music excursions. I even covered one in a city that was a few hours away from my house and I had never even heard of the town. It was amazing! No drugs from China, or having to watch a kid throw their life away because they paid good money to see all the bands they love then get busted by some local cop, ignoring the hissing nitrous, and arresting the kid passing a joint. We sacrificed a few headliners gladly to feel safe and dance with family. 
    Meanwhile the wheels were finally coming off the mega festivals. At first, the initial cities or small country towns were satisfied with the economic boon they received for a week in a bad economic climate. Then the penny dropped and the vultures moved in.
     Instead of listening to the music fans that turned them into what became a right of passage that replaced senior trips as a must visit theme park before adulthood, promoters of most of the marquee festivals just replaced headliners with bands that played at noon a few years earlier and booked E.D.M. acts to make sure the illegal drugs came. They actually believed that their name or mountain was the draw along with drugs. It wasn't the locations or marketing skills of the promoters, it was the bands that brought the kind souls that gave each festival its own identity. Instead of reading reviews not fed to them from publicists or even reading comment cards, they did business as usual and for a few years the festivals actually thrived, but I called it the festival bubble. I was still covering Wakarusa and it was my job or I would not consider it. I was dancing with an audience that resembled people waiting at the D.M.V. You can only survive off selling nostalgia and a party for a few years before nobody is there for the right reasons. Then the next year nobody comes because by not knowing your audience you stopped listening to them to add V.I.P level 4 for an extra 100$ so I did not have to wipe my own behind  They managed to turn off the music lovers, who especially in our genre, do not forget. But the cops scared off the thrill seekers and the leeches that feed off youthful trust. All the druggies had witnessed too many friends get busted. Some festivals tried to capture lighting in a bottle twice by booking the very bands that built the magic wishing the money train would return. But you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. The masses know when it's real and it spread to the next small festival until the cycle repeats itself. 
   But we are witnessing the formula that is the future of large music festivals that are not a century old. Arise even is showing a politically risky movie about our president. They are also are providing yoga classes with teachers you can actually Google. Hell, they are even planting a tree for every ticket they sell. Being in Colorado I bet Arise will soon rise to the top. I am sure of two things, Vertex will pick a different weekend next year and Arise Music Festival will be around to see those trees grow and become a small part of the joy you feel returning to a musical memory. Arise is clearly not depending on the same formula that over-saturated the festival circuit over the past two decades. They are reinventing the wheel, adapting to make a festival built to last. 
Words: Kevin Long
Edited by:Greg Heffelfinger