Picture this: mountains, fresh waters, cool air, genuine people, and good music. This combination does in fact exist, and it’s at Vertex Festival in Buena Vista, Colorado. On August 5th-7th, I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Vertex Festival, and it was everything I wanted and more.
I recently attended Electric Forest, a beautiful, transformational festival in Rothbury, Michigan. Upon hearing that my favorite artists, ODESZA, would be headlining Vertex Festival, a new festival thrown by the same company that runs Electric Forest, I knew I had to make my way out to Colorado. If you’ve ever been to Electric Forest, you know the forest is magical. Between the art installations, the music, and the little surprises scattered throughout the forest, you pretty much feel as though you’ve entered a fairytale. It is for this reason that the festival has gained so much popularity in recent years, resulting in a large number of attendees, musical acts, and unfortunately, some commercialization. The forest has a special place in my heart, but the concept it tries to sell – this authentic, musical hippy environment – is losing it’s authenticity as it becomes increasingly more popular. My hope was that Vertex Festival would provide me with the experience I longed for in the forest, and it did just that.
Every day at Vertex began under the sun with yoga and beach parties on the lagoon. In a beautifully constructed DJ booth, acts such as Goldroom and Imagined Herbal Flows played soft tunes as we all gathered on our floats, surrounded by trees and mountains.
Vertex is, by far, the smallest festival I’ve ever attended, and I loved every second of it. I’ve never experienced such a communal bond among festival goers. With musical acts barely ever conflicting, we would all gather at one stage for a set, then collectively head over to another stage for the next set. Everything was so relaxed.
I think this culture that was created at Vertex originates from the music presented to us. With headliners such as ODESZA, Gramatik, and Alabama Shakes, the festival was inevitably going to host one of the best crowds I’ve ever encountered. Along with these headliners, many artists on ODESZA’s Foreign Family Collective attended the festival including Big Wild, Jai Wolf, and Rüfüs du Sol – all artists who, in my opinion, generally attract like-minded people. Music is subjective, and therefore, people are affected differently by certain sounds, vocals, and harmonies. In all honesty, though, for the first time at a festival, I genuinely felt as though we were all impacted by the music in the same way. There was this mutual appreciation of the music being played that was so prevalent at every single set. I’ve never felt so comfortable in a crowd. We all grooved the same way, and felt what each other felt. The best part is that this connection was not limited to the crowd. I truly felt a bond between the artists and the people. The barrier had been removed, and the artists fed off of the crowd, as we fed off of the artists. United by the music, I had never felt so in my element.
Aside from the musical acts, Vertex hosted a variety of beautiful art installations and activities. Between the Tickle Parlor, The Jive Joint, an on command poet, a house full of balloons, and the Silent Disco, there was always something to discover. Even better, the festival grounds were open 24/7. With sets ending between 1am-2am, we would all head over to the Silent Disco for some late night dancing or hang around in our hammocks surrounding the lagoon, listening to good music and building relationships.
I’m incredibly eager to see how Vertex evolves, and I can only hope that the community and intimacy I encountered will remain in the years to come.
Everything felt so right. The people, the music, the environment – it was all so real, and I am eternally grateful for such a fulfilling experience.
Thank you, Vertex Festival. You were transformational.