This last weekend, the first-annual Bonanza Campout, hosted by Live Nite Events, brought a true festival experience to Utah in a way that’s never been done before. With headlining acts such as Savoy, Cold War Kids, Louis The Child and Big Gigantic, the event impressed just about every patron during its first year. Located at the Rivers Edge campground in Heber, Utah, lasers projected from the main stage hit the mountainside as a perfect view of the sunset behind Mt. Timpanogos served as a backdrop for the excitement happening on the grounds of the Bonanza Campout.
“Honestly this view is better than Coachella,” I overheard someone in the audience say as the sun went down behind the main stage. The crisp mountain air and quiet location combined with top of the line entertainment was what set Bonanza Campout aside from any other festival in Utah. Day 1 at Bonanza Campout showed immense potential for the festival to become an annual staple in Utah’s summer music scene. One thing that attracted me to this lineup was the presence of artists such as Ryan Hemsworth and Louis The Child, two artists I’ve been dying to see live but never thought I would see come to Utah anytime soon. As Ryan Hemsworth took the Shade Stage Friday evening it became clear to me that there is a place for trap and future in Utah as the crowd went wild for his set. Blending a mix of hip-hop and ambient electronic music, both Hemsworth and Louis The Child created a fun environment for the festival goers before the bigger acts took the main stage on Friday and Saturday nights.
Another highlight came from Big Gigantic, the Colorado-based EDM/jam band hybrid that took the main stage on Friday night to a packed crowd that would soon be dancing wildly throughout the entire show. Having just premiered some new music, the group took the opportunity to show the crowd a blend of their entire discography throughout the night, and it was met with good response. A good booking move from the events organizers, Big Gigantic pleased both the electronic loving and indie-pop/folk loving crowds that the festival attracted. The lasers coming from the stage hit the mountainside behind the venue, and the fog trickled around the valley to create a glowing atmosphere around the campground as the packed crowd jumped around with the band.
Headlining Bonanza Campout on day 2, Savoy took the main stage just before Cold War Kids to perform to a packed crowd that, despite the rain in the afternoon, was still having an amazing time. The festival did an amazing job at keeping patrons entertained from the moment doors opened to when they closed, and the production scale felt top-notch as the quality was as good as it possibly could have been from the staff to the stages to the food trucks that were scattered throughout the grounds while sponsors like Skull Candy and Red Bull provided interactive entertainment. Despite the fact that the venue was about an hour out of Salt Lake, the camping area as well as the cabins that festival attendees could rent for fairly cheap made all the difference as far as making it feel like people were traveling far and wide to share an experience with one another.
Bonanza Campout was the high-profile festival Utah was waiting for, and the production quality, killer lineup, beautiful venue and overall experience is one that many will remember for years to come. Although the festival was in its first year, I saw its potential to become a staple summer festival that grows to become something people travel far and wide for. Live Nite’s next festival, Reggae Rise Up, will take place on August 14 at the Utah State Fairpark and includes headlining acts such as Sublime and Tribal Seeds. –Julia Sachs