The Weekend of August 5th to the 7th marked an important date In Colorado’s festival scene. Vertex music festival took place in Buena Vista, Colorado for the first of many years to come. Buena Vista is a small town directly south from Eagle-Vail/I-70 about an hour or so. This small rural town isn't used to receiving attention from the music industry, it’s more known for its rafting, tourism, and hiking;This location was quite a surprise to the locals, but Madison House and AEG LIVE could not have chosen a better spot for this festival! Taking in the stunning mountain views while dancing in a cottonwood grove next to the renown Cottonwood Creek was simply magical. Theses combinations of beauty and the mix of artistic talents made for a festival unlike any other. I didn't see a single fight or see anyone having disputes; the entire festival and everyone who was apart of it seemed extremely harmonious. Security, medics, and event staff were always around to help out anyone in need. I really have to stress how much love, relaxation, and healing went on at this festival.
Vertex was set alongside Cottonwood creek split into two different sections. The first, had more entertainment (Tickle house, Balloon Room, and random awesome little things to check out) as well as the first stage. This stage was beautifully built to reflect the old western feel of the town, this stage was for more acoustic sounding bands, bluegrass and folk was mostly played there. Further down the cottonwood path and over the creek the fences open up to a large field with a gorgeous view of the Collegiate Peaks mountain range. They had two main stages set up, this was very efficient for the lighting/stage crews. As soon as one artist would finish music would start on the opposite side of the field and the swarm would transfer. Previously that year a lake was dug in order to create a “beach” area with a gorgeous DJ booth for beach party's. This was a great area to catch some good chill tunes, have a nap, or take a swim. If you brought a hammock, cottonwoods are everywhere and are the perfect tree for your mid day hammock snooze. Vendors could be found throughout Vertex selling their beautiful wears in jewelry, art, clothing, etc. The food was amazing, wholesome, and real. Good healthy food for a reasonable price.
There was a year’s preparation for this event. Tree removal started months before anyone would be anywhere near it, roads were built, bridges were placed. There was a lot of upset old timers not too thrilled with this idea. This situation was very delicate. Thursday the 4th It rained all day in Buena Vista, the day people showed up for camping. Tons and tons of sand and wood chips were brought in. The staff worked day and night trying to alleviate mud and water issues. Considering how much it rained they did an amazing job, the ground was wet but flip flops were good to go!
This years festival only sold around 8,000 tickets, this festival was small. But more of a trial year that went very well. Madison House and AEG Live had to be very careful with decibel levels. People checked them throughout the night and if a level was exceeded, they were fined. Neighborhoods were closed and patrolled for car without neighborhood parking passes. Residents close to the show were given tickets for ten dollars. To say the least Madison House and AEG Live did their best to appease as many people as they could.
The only reason this really matters and I bother bringing it up is if Madison House and AEG Live had made the town mad and put on a poor festival, they would have blown a shot they’ve been waiting for, for over 20 years.
“Don Strasburg Co president of AEG Live believes central Colorado offers the ideal location to create a premier musical experience”. Chaffe County Times, special edition Vertex, page 5.
The Creators of Vertex believe that Colorado is special, and that magic lies within the mountains. They want to share this magic with the world through an escape to a mountain getaway. A place to dance and festival while going rafting in the morning. If the water isn’t your style then others can spend time sightseeing and enjoying the amazing beauty of this town. Vertex isn’t going anywhere and the sky is the limit with how much better it'll get every year.
A side from all of that I’d love to tell you about the amazing artists that played. Vertex’s lineup was very mixed, artists who my mom knew from her day like Gram Nash, to full on electronic acts like Odesza and Gramatik. On the third stage was mostly folk, rock, and bluegrass type bands, this seemed to work pretty well. I don’t know much about these bands because they were leaving my soul hungry, so I went searching for the bass. And I found it, but in mostly chill and housey styles. Tropical/deep house was the majority of EDM heard. There were some amazing sets from Rufus Du Sol, Duke Dumont, Imaginded Herbal Flows, and Robert Delong. Each of these artists brought their unique and amazing sound with them to share. Most of Vertex's EDM performances involved a large amount of live instrument use. For instance Robert Delong uses a very minimalist and looping approach to his interesting EDM sound; Ruffus De Sol is a three-man operation with a vocalist, drummer and mixer/keyboardist. It was impressive watching them do an entire set live.
Chill house was great and all but thank god the bass came out later in night when Jai Wolf Took the stage before Gramatik Friday night. Jai Wolf came out strong with his high energy melodic indie electronic set. He got the crowd going and satisfied their bass needs. But he was just getting everyone warmed up for the Gramatik set. Gramtatik came out strong and funked everyone up. His set was powerful and intense, toward the last thirty minutes he busted out some trap funk dubstep craziness that I had never heard before; truly blew my mind. Looking forward to seeing more Gramatik in the future.
The next day was the best, Robert de Long, Rufus Du Sol, Duke Dumont, and Odesza. More towards the easy listening side of the EDM world, but amazing none the least. Acts like Robert Delong and Rufus Du Sol were inspiring to watch, most every sound was done live. Robert Delong does it all by himself, its very incredible to watch. Duke Dumont got the crowd in the mood to get deep, way deep. His set was a lot more intense than I would have guessed. Sticking mostly to deep and hard house as I assumed it would have been more pop and tropical like. And then there was Odesza, folks if you haven’t seen them live you simply must! Odesza brought along with them the Colorado Symphony and CU drum line. This made for an amazing show. The symphony was amazing, they added such an amazing sound to Odesza’s unique style. The CU drum line added a percussive impact that can’t be matched. Odesza's music is so unique and if you missed them playing at Vertex, be sure to catch them the next time around.
The third day came around and most of the EDM and already been played. But if you decided to stick around all day you could catch Seven Lions closing up the festival. He did a perfect job, being responsible for closing out the weekend. His set rocked everyone still around into the next week, he was encored back on stage twice. He brought the heaviest music of the weekend with his intense melodic dubstep that raged everyone into a frenzy.
This was the first of many, many Vertex’s to come. Pay attention because this one’s going to be big and one that you and all your friends are going to want to go to every year. Vertex, Colorado’s most beautiful festival.