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Monday, August 15

Vertex Music Festival. A day by day review from Samantha Vanwagenen

Vertex Festival: The most scenic festival in CO and a weekend full of great music.

The start of the inaugural Vertex Music Festival kicked off on the beautiful first weekend of August, leaving everyone with happy hearts. The venue itself was absolutely breathtaking, nestled right beneath Buena Vista’s towering 14,000 foot snowcapped Collegiate Peaks, with the Cottonwood creek flowing through the campgrounds and festival itself. Concert-goers seemed beyond thrilled to have the chance to cool off and refresh by the creek to prepare for an evening of music and celebration. The new festival also provided attendees with daytime field trips such as hiking and rafting to soak in all the Colorado natural beauty Buena Vista has to offer. Everything from weather, to camping, to the musical performances, and the venue itself seemed to be a success, leaving enough high energy and positive vibes for everyone to feed off of for the epic weekend. 


The festival kicked off Friday afternoon starting with artists such as Big Wild that gave off a funky fresh party vibe for the weekend to come. The crowd was high energy and filled with a vivacious momentum that was clearly going to last the whole night through.
  Portland’s folk-rock band Fruition took over late afternoon at the main stage, playing an incredible first of their four sets. The collection of their string instruments and mash-ups of bluegrass, rock, and folk brought smiles to attendees’ faces. Their unique style offered a touch of acoustic diversity to the other electronic, rock, and jam based musical performances, bringing together a tasteful crowd of many different interests. This is something that Vertex has that gives it the potential of making its' festival so unique.
Anderson Paak and the Nationalists added to the creative mix of artists with his conscience rap and hip hop at the Cottonwood Parlor stage. Paak was very interactive with the crowd and lively with his performance until the end. Bold undertones of funk and soul delicately sandwiched in his songs geared everyone up for the evening to come. 
Emancipator Ensemble followed, providing a more mellow electronic set accompanied by live violin and psychedelic visuals that carried concertgoers into the early evening. Each song was captivating and intricate and acted as a smooth transition to the upcoming Alabama Shakes
This, shocking, I know, Alabama based blues-rock band blew everyone away on the main stage with the powerful and soulful vocals of lead singer Brittany Howard, commonly referred to as a modern day Aretha Franklin. They've been hitting the festival circuit hard for the last couple of years and know how to stand out amongst many artists and get a festival crowd rocking. 

Electronic funk artist, Gramatik, closed the first night of the festival with a bang, showering everyone with an optimal mix of fresh and classic tracks. Accompanied with live saxophone, trumpets, and electric guitar, Gramatik was a crowd pleaser, providing a mix of jazz, funk, soul, and blues samples in between some serious bass drops. 

After a stunning morning spent rejuvenating within the beautiful campgrounds of Buena Vista, many concertgoers spent their afternoon by the “beach” and the creek that flowed through the festival to escape the powerful rays of the afternoon sun.  
Afternoon performances by alternative country band Houndmouth, American rock/soul band The Revivalists, and the legendary Graham Nash provided lively and soulful jams that made for a lovely afternoon beneath the trees. 
As the sun set and the festival began to light up, alternative/indie dance trio Rufus Du Sol welcomed the night with sing-a-long and dancey tunes that gave the crowd a collective excitement for the night to come. 
Funk band, Lettuce, followed, properly breaking up the electronic performances of the evening.  The collective trumpets, bass, sax, keys, drums and guitar was the equivalent of the perfect and pure funk set that the festival needed. 
The night closed out with an epic 90 minute set brought by electronic duo, Odesza. Odesza is commonly referred to as “electric pop” and quickly became recognized on the electronic music scene. Only having released a handful of albums in their few active years, the duo seemed to play every crowd pleaser that attendees were dying to hear. Accompanied by members of the University of Colorado drumline as well as the Colorado Symphony, Odesza clearly seemed to captivate and control the energy to the crowd for their full 90 minutes. 


Although Sundays's musical explorations did not include former Oysterhead members, Les Claypool and Trey Anastasio reuniting, the final day of the inaugural Vertex Music Festival was one for the books. Fruition played their final set out of four for the weekend alongside YMSB member Allie Kral, captivating the jam-heavy crowd in between The Lennon Claypool Delirium and Trey Anastasio Band's set. Primus's frontman Les Claypool put on a hell of a spectacle alongside John Lennon's son, Sean, during the sunset set to close the evening. Switching between originals, Primus songs, and a killer John Lennon cover of "Tomorrow Never Knows" to close the set. The crowd energy was higher than any point of the weekend before Big Red's arrival, and people had been waiting at the rail since Noon for the TAB set. Trey kicked it off with  "First Tube", starting out swinging hotter than almost any Phish show of the summer. Old school TAB originals, followed up by incredible renditions of "Money Love and Change", "Drifting", and "Burlap Sack and Pumps" had the crowd up and dancing. Speaking of old school, Jeff Cressman, former TAB member, and father of current TAB trombonist, Natalie Cressman, sat in on trombone for the entirety of the show. A well placed Bob Marley cover of "Soul Rebel" showed its face, and the set ended with a high-speed rendition of TAB favorite "Tuesday". 
Photo from Peach Festival 
The second set had a continuation of energy flowing from start to the encore. "Curlew's Call" opened the set followed by monstrous versions of "Gotta Jibboo", 2016's first live "Alaska", "Sand", "Plasma", "Shine", and a closing "Night Speaks to a Woman", with a solo that will have Phish and Trey fans giddy until the next time they see the Vermonter take the stage. "Show of Life" was encored as seen with many Phish shows in recent years, and a rare version of Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" was led by the incredible Jennifer Hartswick on vocals, belting out vocals that could be heard far past the GA camping. TAB was a perfect way to close a perfect weekend in the Southern Colorado mountains of Buena Vista, and we can be sure that Vertex will come back next year with an even more jaw-dropping lineup! 
Photo: Lori Sky Twohy from Peach 

Written by: Samantha Van Wagenen
Edited by: Greg Heffelfinger
Photos By: Joshua Vicary*
*unless noted

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