This past weekend I attended the inaugural Bonanza Campout, a two-day music festival outside of Park City. This was my first music festival campout experience, and it was unforgettable. Props to the Bonanza team for securing a perfect setting for the weekend. The secluded River’s Edge Resort just outside of Park City was nestled in the mountains with gorgeous surrounding views.
After setting up our campsite on Friday afternoon, we headed toward the main Bonanza stage to catch the last couple songs of a set by JR JR. This group, which boasts mainstream radio hits like “Gone”, played with a contagious energy that started off the weekend just right. The group also has a lead guitarist that looks like a Rocker Jesus. Blasphemous, perhaps. But true.
The campout hosted several sponsor booths and some amazing food trucks. I tried the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich from Lola’s. The citrus aioli – unbelievable. I know, I know, this weekend was about the music, but I will always find the food.
I had found myself in the days leading up to the festival weekend wondering about the crowds that Bonanza would draw. This is a music festival, after all. But, then again, it is Utah. The resulting crowd was an eclectic mix of veteran festival goers who sport beads, feathers, face paint, and gold flash tattoos, and music lovers who were present solely for the great lineup.
Even though a lot of Bonanza attendees were drunker than a sailor on leave and higher than the state of Colorado, everyone was pretty friendly and considerate. This was a weekend for people who wanted to relax and listen to great music in a beautiful place.
One of my favorite sets was on the smaller Shade Stage with DJ Ryan Hemsworth. The Coachella veteran really put on a show. He didn’t say a word, but he spun sick beats on his turntables with an energy that really got people dancing (including me, the queen of stationary hips).
Friday night closed out with a performance by headliner Big Gigantic, a duo that pumps out electronic music, but makes it interesting and unique with live drum and saxophone solos.
I was introduced to another tenet of the festival lifestyle when I realized that sleeping wasn’t really an option. Most campers stayed up until at least 5 a.m., or never went to bed at all. These people are pros – party weekends are a serious commitment.
Saturday afternoon’s lineup was put on hold a couple times because of rainstorms, but once the weather began to cooperate again, the music kept going. High Octane LA rocked out with strong vocals killer guitar riffs, Le Voir brought back the 80s big hair rock-band style and Vacationer showed off a variety of reggae and rock. Shows like Joshua James and Kyle Bent had to be moved around because of the weather, but all the artists and attendees were still in a good mood. Crowd favorite Parade of Lights made sure to thank everyone for sticking it out in the rain when they closed their set with the dance-worthy “Everybody get Golden.” Rain couldn’t kill this party.
It was pretty impressive that Bonanza, a first year festival, closed the weekend with well-known acts like the Cold War Kids and Louis the Child. Bonanza was a well-planned weekend that introduced me to great new music and new people. I hope the festival comes back to Park City next year, because Bonanza was a party to remember.