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[Festival Review + Photo Gallery] Musical Highlights of Arise Music Festival 2015

Ilya Goldberg of Emancipator performing his solo project, Lapa, at Arise 2015. Photo by Tai Carpenter

This year’s Arise Music Festival was one for the books – by far the only festival I’ve experienced with such a solid fusion of music lovers from all backgrounds. Everyone in attendance from young to old were in high spirits and ready to Arise and Shine by making their weekend the best it could be; an infectious attitude that brought out the very best in everyone I had the pleasure of sharing my Arise with. Adding in the vast display of art and workshops available, and you’re looking at my new favorite festival of 2015: Arise.


Ilya Goldberg of Emancipator gave a moving performance of his ambient new side project, Lapa, at The Untz’ Area 51 Stage. providing just the soul food that I’d been yearning for. Later into the night I caught the full Emancipator Ensemble, who had conjured soulful sways from their audience at Eagle stage. I’ve seen the Ensemble more than a few times now, but they never fail to be put on some of the the best live shows out there! My next plan of action involved catching The Congress at Starwater Stage, whom I’d heard about previously but never listened to. They completely blew me away, and to say I was impressed would be putting it lightly. Experiencing them for the very first time in the cozy space at Starwater put the performance in my top acts of Arise. Soon came time to head back to Area 51 stage where Denver local Proper Motion would be taking the stage. Proper Motion’s jazz influenced beats and buttery electro-soul is impossible to keep still to, making it all the more awesome to be treated to a last-minute Proper Motion Live throwdown. Kevin Donohue and Chris Anderson, both of SunSquabi, shared the stage for the entire set and definitely shut the night down proper. 

Proper Motion Live Band performing at Arise 2015. Photo by Tai Carpenter


Magic Beans and Shook Twins were perfect choices for lounging in the midday, and I enjoyed being at the main stage area (both Phoenix and Eagle) overall really. Having the Eagle and Phoenix stage directly next to each other was a strange sight at first but proved to be a truly genius design. As one artist would move into the second half of their performance, the musicians on the other stage would be nearing the end of their set-up. The result? Crowds stayed longer because they didn’t really have the chance to get distracted by wandering off while waiting between sets! Great move, Arise. Skydyed stepped things up back on the area 51 stage, and truly gave what I personally felt was their best performance to date. This marks the band’s return to Arise after debuting their first ever festival performance at last year’s installment, and it was an awesome display of their progression. As night fell it dawned on me that I would need a nap if I was going to stay up for all of the shenanigans at Area 51, and I definitely thanked myself later for it. Denver local Unlimited Gravity kicked my night back into high gear with a load of unreleased new tunes. From his turnt up remix of Bobby Shmurda’s ‘Hot N****’ to his latest original ‘Squish Mode’, I had all the energy I needed to dance my ass off to the rest of the night’s lineup. It’s safe to say that Unlimited Aspect (Unlimited Gravity joined by Project Aspectliterally stole the night at Arise; the combined forces of these producers is something to be reckoned with, and the addition of Steven Kuzma makes it all the more epic.

Arise 2015. Photo by Tai Carpenter


The first sets to start off our last day of Arise were by local artists Moon Frog and Templo, who both weave melodious productions that bring ambient glitch masters such as Tipper to the mind. Magic Giant were another great band we discovered at Arise, and nearly lost it when they whipped out their own rendition of Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya’. Lily Fangz crushed it with her incredibly inspiring hip hop lyricism, and Mikey Thunder had us throwing our hands in the air with his dance floor rockin’ set. Catching Analog Son on the Starwater stage proved to be one of the best choices of the weekend; the All-Star Jam they put on was incredible and had me shaking my booty well past the time I’d planned on going to sleep. You know the music is good when even I won’t turn down for a nap.

The Congress performing at Arise 2015. Photo by Tai Carpenter

Luckily for me, my favorite discoveries of Arise all happen to live in this beautiful backyard of a state that I call home! I foresee tons of catalog cruising in my future, and I couldn’t be more stoked! Thank you to Arise, Tsunami Music Publicity, 5 Carrots, Area 51 and more for providing such great hospitality and being a beacon of excellence in the festival circuit these days. You are what makes such a consciously driven event like Arise great and worth the return year after year!

All photos by Tai Carpenter for Compose Yourself Mag

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