If you're living in the Northern Hemisphere — and, frankly, I'd be pretty surprised if you aren't and you're reading this column — the summer solstice is nearly upon us. Whether you simply view June 20 as the longest day of 2016 or as a semi-mystical excuse to do strange things, the good news is that there are ample opportunities to soak up plenty of music during the extended daylight hours, as well as many opportunities for doing strange things.
I'd wager there will be plenty of freak flags happily flown at the otherwise unassuming Hummingbird Ranch near Rye, Colorado, which hosts the largest annual electronic music festival in the state, Sonic Bloom. In addition to the many visual artists, performance artists and yoga opportunities, attendees can look forward to sets by Tipper, Bonobo, The Opiuo Band, Eoto, Michal Menert & The Pretty Fantastics, Nightmares on Wax, Com Truise, Bass Physics and local hip-hop standouts The ReMINDers, among many others. The Sonic Bloom Festival runs from June 16 to 19.
Meanwhile, the polar opposite of electronic music receives its own stacked showcase from June 16 to 19 at the 43rd Telluride Bluegrass Festival. At what I'd imagine is a largely acoustic affair, the lineup features both traditional and progressive bluegrass heavyweights Chris Thile, Béla Fleck, Yonder Mountain String Band, Sara Watkins and the Sam Bush Band, in addition to revered Americana figures such as Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams, John Prine and even former Split Enz co-frontman Neil Finn.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Red Rocks Amphitheatre in the solstice happenings, as June 16 brings Colorado music luminaries DeVotchKa to the Red Rocks stage along with the Colorado Symphony. Like other successful purveyors of the "Denver sound," such as 16 Horsepower, Tarantella and Slim Cessna's Auto Club, DeVotchKa's roots lie in the still-obscure and criminally underrated bizarro country act the Denver Gentlemen. Like the Gentlemen before them, DeVotchKa's eclectic indie-rock sound draws from folk traditions from across the globe, but unlike the Gentlemen, DeVotchKa can boast some commercial success along with critical acclaim.
Oh, and closer to the actual solstice, Bob Dylan takes the Red Rocks stage June 19, and he's no slouch, either.
Nearer to home, fans of all things grim and brutal will surely enjoy Gutfest 8 at Sunshine Studios, a two-day festival running June 17 and 18 and featuring an array of international death metal and grindcore talent. It's perhaps understandably rare that you can see acts such as Colombian brutal death metal band Goretrade and Peruvian metal band Masacre locally, so the metal faithful shouldn't miss this one.
In addition, here's a look at some other musical offerings for the week.
On Wednesday, June 15, the Flux Capacitor presents some "Humpday Hardcore" to help you through the week, featuring Levels and Regulate from New York, Afflictive Nature and Bloodhound from Texas, and Blind Justice from New Jersey.
Also on June 15, talented local funk-rock stalwarts the Charlie Milo Trio play Jack Quinn's.
Friday, June 17, brings English indie-pop artist Eliot Sumner to the Black Sheep, with lo-fi ensemble Cheerleader opening. Sumner was formerly known as I Blame Coco, and remains inescapably linked in the press to her father, Sting (see interview, p. 32).
If you prefer hip-hop, the Flux Capacitor has you covered on June 17, with a lineup of national acts featuring Scienze, King I Devine, Azon Blaze, Noah Bility, Latasha Alcindor and Eraserfase.
As yet another option for June 17: Rawkus hosts Polish dance artist Sikdope, joined by NDEVR and Isaac Berge.
Finally, on Saturday, June 18, Arizona-based band Authority Zero brings their skatepunk and reggae-hybrid sound to The Black Sheep. The show will also feature California's Brewfish and local favorites Street Priests, who were instrumental in organizing April's highly successful Punk Rock Block Party.