Pretty Lights Live in Telluride – The Very Best of Colorado
Load up the car with all the camping gear, make sure you have water, TP, sunscreen, earplugs and a bunch of really good cannabis. Ok, we’re ready for a festival weekend in Colorado!! This isn’t just any festival though, August 26th & 27th was Pretty Lights Live, hosted by the most beautiful mountain town in Colorado, Telluride. Our adventure begins in Denver driving south-west on 285 for 6 hours, ending in a mineral rich, mining destination. Along the way you pass the Black Canyon, Grand Mesa, a dozen 14ers and end up in “The Switzerland of the United States” Located in a box canyon in the San Juan mountain range, entering Telluride is like stepping back into the 1800’s. Mines, mining equipment and structural ruins spread across the wildflower dense hills, as they lay in the same spot they were left in the 1920’s. Want to escape reality for a little and jam out to some of the best electronic music ever composed?! You’re in Luck, Pretty Lights Live exists.
I know what you are thinking, 6 hours sounds long, but it’s the most gorgeous drive you will ever take so time flies. My co-pilots for this adventure were Magalie, my P.I.C. and our new bestie Valerie, Chris Karns girlfriend, who happens to be a bad ass DJ herself. Serious power couple of awesome musicians, love it. I drive, Mags sleeps, Valerie works on music in the back seat, all while they put up with my non stop “Hey look at that…” This was an “A” squad travel team for sure, next year we’ll have T-Shirts made so people know the 411.
Roll in to town and it’s straight to business. We head to the box office, drop Valerie off then go to the campsite. As soon as we hit Lawson Hill we were met with smiles, high fives and a serious sense of community. Everyone has had those “Festival Vibes” but this was different. The energy from the town + the energy from the festival attendees + Pretty lights = one hell of an electrified weekend. Vibrating on the highest of elevated existential wavelengths.
Saturday morning began in the best way any festival possibly could. Our alarm clock was the sound of the creek, the rustling of campers beginning to stir and the unmistakable symphony of blow torches, breakfast dabs anyone? After a quick breakdown of our camp, we headed into town for a much required coffee fix. On the suggestion of one of the event staff, we headed to Baked in Telluride for sustenance. We were greeted with amazing coffee, breakfast sandwiches and every baked good you could imagine. If you find yourself in Telluride, do not miss this place for breakfast. We even got to puppy sit for 10 mins sitting outside. The laid back relaxed atmosphere of mountain/festival life allows for great happenings. As patrons walked in, they would ask if their dogs could hang with us while they shopped, the answer of course being yes. The sense of community and trust in the high country is real.
After getting the day started in the most ideal way possible, we set out for Bear Creek preserve for a Saturday morning hike in the hills. Finding something beautiful to climb to in the San Juans is like falling out of a tree and hitting the ground, you’ll find something if you just start walking. We went to a hidden little spot that I was lucky to learn about a couple weeks prior, if I say more the locals will have to kill me. The rain had been fairly consistent the days leading up, so a little mud was to be expected. Well a little mud was an understatement. I damn near fell into the river, off a ledge, with my camera… within the first mile of the adventure. Being a photographer I know one thing above all, protect the camera. I did this at the sacrifice of my body, but Pretty Lights Live was tonight, so I took one for the team.
After a day of adventure, an afternoon of typical mountain rain and a much needed nap, we were ready for what would become a night of “extraterrestrial-trippy-magic”. The soundtrack for the night provided by the gracious host who brought us all together, Pretty Lights!! The festival grounds at Telluride Town park are a sight to behold themselves. Saturday’s weather didn’t want to play fair so being prepared for rain was a must. Didn’t matter to anyone walking through the gates, this venue is storybook magical and people were dressed ready for an intense 3 hour Pretty Lights extravaganza.
The smoke machines start blowing, the lights start moving and you hear the crowd start cheering as Alvin Ford Jr, Brian Coogan, Borahm Lee, Chris Karns and the conductor extraordinaire Derek Vincent Smith assume their battle stations.
On the instructions of DVS “Let’s go do some trippy shit” they burst out of the shadows like a thoroughbred racing horse on Derby day. Classic samples we have come to expect like Pink Floyd’s “Time” , Steve Miller Bands “Fly Like an Eagle” were partnered with fast tempo samples courtesy of Chuck D, Rage against the Machine an even Naughty By nature!! This show had something for everyone to move too. All of this partnered with the greatest light show in music, provided by the insanely talented Greg Ellis aka Lazershark. We were gifted with solos from every band mate, an impromptu freestyle by DVS and the most intense alien-like laser light show imaginable. With the natural wonder that the San Juans provide skyrockets Pretty lights Live – Telluride, into a class of it’s own.
After 3 hours of non-stop amazingness one would think they would be done, however, sticking with tradition there must be an encore. Returning to the chants of a full tilt crowd, the boys took stage behind the laser cage to give us a couple more songs. They left it all out on the stage, everything they had and then some. By the end of the show the storm had moved back in and the rain came down, nobody cared. What we had just witnessed was mind blowingly epic and would take some real time to process. I know for me over a week has passed since we left T-Ride, I’m still not over the intense sensations a gathering like this provided.
The drive back to Denver was filled with laughs, “remember this…” and plans being made to “do this again real soon” When you leave Telluride you have this unexplainable need to return, so you can fully grasp the true beauty of it. After this festival, that feeling is almost unbearable. I will be back to climb, snowboard and explore at some point, but you can guarantee i’ll be back for Pretty Lights Live 3.0 in 2017.