The Best of Grandoozy Music Festival 2018

With a collection of radiant memories and palpable joy, the anticipation and dreams for a major Denver music festival have been fulfilled in Grandoozy.

Ever since I moved to Colorado I have been impressed by the Denver music scene. Never in Kentucky or Mississippi was I so immersed in live music like I am here in the Rocky Mountain region. From countless bar venues like the Marquis and Larimer Lounge to prestigious outdoor venues like Red Rocks and the Mishawaka, Denver is a hub for live music.


In all of this, I have felt a missing piece: a large Denver music festival. I dreamed of having experiences like Bonnaroo or ACL in my amazing state. We’ve seen the rock music festival Riot Fest, the new, alternative festival Velorama, and heck, even the Christian Music festival Heavenfest, but nothing the scale of Grandoozy.



This year was the first in a five-year contract with the City of Denver to host a music festival run by Superfly (the people who run huge festivals like Outside Lands and Bonnaroo) and although imperfect, I believe Grandoozy was an overall success.

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I remember walking into the grounds the first day with no idea what to expect and honestly the fear in my chest that this was going to be a major flop. The festival was at Overland Park, a golf course outside the City of Denver that was overhauled with booths and three large stages for the weekend. There wasn’t anything special in regards to art or atmosphere but entering the grounds with the sound of Ty Dolla $ign playing Psycho somewhere in the distance and the warmth Colorado September sun caused the fear to leave my chest. All I could think about all the music I was going to see that weekend, and especially for Kendrick Lamar that night.

The first experience I stumbled upon in the festival was the Bud Light Dive Bar stage, a small stage that a selection of artists were playing intimate sets at all day. I walked up in time to catch BAYONNE, a captivating electronic artist looping beautiful melodies and live percussion. You can read an interview I did with Roger of BAYONNE for Head Above Music here.

After that I went to the Paper stage and saw Phoenix play a notably lively set. At this point the sun was beginning to set and this feeling, one of fulfillment and joy, was welling up and causing me to dance and sway to the music like I was at home. After this set I caught a few songs by Miguel and The War On Drugs and proceeded to head to the Rock stage to stake out a good spot for Kendrick.


“Please Note: The upcoming performance involves concussion mortars that create loud booming effects” the screen warned the excited fans. It didn’t take long for me to begin talking to those around me about Kendrick Lamar and his influence in music today until finally… BOOM. What sounds like a bomb creates a plume of smoke on the stage and out comes Kendrick Lamar performing DNA. In all honesty, the crowd was half of what I expected it to be. It was fairly tame and most people were just slightly nodding along. For the most part it seemed that Kendrick kept his attention on the delivery of his words and it felt more like listening to an engaging speech than watching a rapper perform. This allowed the message of Kendrick’s music to come alive more than it ever had which is an experience I will always cherish.

Day 2 was my favorite day and the headliner artist that night was hands down my favorite of the entire weekend. We got to the festival just in time to catch 6LACK’s perform his brand new album East Atlanta Love Letter. Right after that set finished I hurried to the Dive Bar stage to see the indie rock band Wilderado play with the most energy I had seen yet. They had the entire stage bouncing under weight of the jumping crowd, it was a blast. I got to meet the guys in the band and interview them about some of their inspirations which you can read that here! The rest of the evening was comprised of watching Harry Hudson and Young the Giant until the time for that nights headliner, Florence + the Machine.


I was excited to see Florence + the Machine, of course, but I wasn’t expecting very much. I knew their album Ceremonials well but besides that, I was just there to be surprised. Florence came out barefoot wearing a white gown looking absolutely stunning with her large band accompanying. Unexpectedly, the energy of the show was greatly intensified and Florence began running, skipping, and twirling around the stage demanding the captivation of everyone in the audience. It felt like watching the words “beauty” and “purity” dance around personified on stage. Before I could process much I began to move forward in the crowd to get closer, I needed to be closer. Florence took a break between songs to talk about the importance of love here on Earth. This stood in contrast to what I was experiencing from those around me as they yelled at me for being too tall and in their way. I tried my best to duck and not obstruct and was moved to tears as Florence sang South London Forever. Joyful tears continued through the entire song that lead into her playing Dog Days Are Over. Florence told us to put our hands in the air with our hands open, releasing something holding us down. In complete freedom I danced as hard as I could with my hands in the air and tears streaming down my face thinking about forgives and freedom. It was spiritual. I left the show that night feeling light and full of childlike joy.

The final day of Grandoozy began with Kelela’s soaring vocals and powerful stage presence. After her set I finally took the time to walk around the festival grounds and visit some vendor booths. It was cool to see locals businesses like TOPO and Icelantic Skis there selling their merchandise but besides that, there was nothing worth noting. My biggest complaint for the festival was the lack of experiences outside music. Due to this boredom, friends and I went to stake out a spot for a highly anticipated Daniel Caesar set. Right against the barricade we saw Caesar & his amazing band play all the way through Freudian. It was phenomenal. Next was Logic who had a hilarious stage presence that played out in dialog between him and his DJ interacting with the crowd. After Logic, I caught a quick glimpse of the odd St. Vincent & overwhelming Chainsmokers until it came time for Stevie Wonder.

Stevie Wonder by far had the biggest band of the weekend, comprised of world class musicians & vocalists. Seeing a legend like Stevie play was so special and felt like a blessing. His influence in music is larger than I could comprehend but was so easily enjoyable. I found myself doing the electric slide to his songs with strangers in the crowd and making friends with everyone around me. The positivity in Stevie’s performance was tangible. I saw so many younger people in the crowd FaceTiming their parents to show off (including myself). It was such a fun and inspiring way to wrap up a full weekend.


With the obvious marks of its infancy, Grandoozy still impressed me with its lineup and turned out to be an overall success. I can’t wait to see how it grows in these coming years!

Otterbox X Target Photoshoot

This February I had the unreal opportunity to shoot Otterbox’s new exclusive cases that are only sold in Target. It was the largest project I’ve ever been apart of and was honestly a dream come true. I was treated with such respect and encouragement by the entire team and was able to fully unleash my creative vision for the shoot. I was able to choose my beautiful friends to be the stars of the project which was such a joy collaborate and execute this with people I fostered my love for photography with!

Here are some of my favorite shots!

Here is a collection of amazing behind the scenes photos taken by Juneau!

Here is the in-store display in Target! So happy with how it turned out.

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This is an opportunity I’m so so grateful to have been given and so glad I was able to bring my friends along for the ride! Achieve and rejoice together always!

You’ve been wearing what they’ve said about you for far too long

A series of images created to represent shedding the lies we attribute to our identity.

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You’ve been wearing what they’ve said about you for far too long,

Collecting every lie like a makeshift robe to hide behind.

 

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You are loved. 

Child you were born to be loved again and again. 

Let every warm wind remind you Jesus conquered all you’ve been.

The Comfort of Crying

Crying is such an odd thing. To think that our body has a natural response to emotions is so cool and emphasizes the validity of our emotions. It is very normal to cry; our body is prepared to handle whatever you are feeling. Crying is such a beautiful release of built up feelings. It can be an overflow of joy and passion in an intense moment of awe, or a breakdown of sorrow and pain. Either way, tears allow an outpour followed by a satisfied relief. Post-cry exhaustion is so comforting, like an old sweater knit by your Grandma. The sweater can be beautiful, or horribly ugly, but regardless it gives warmth to the cold. People cry for so many different reasons, but I believe it’s the body’s way to comfort its inhabiting soul, by knitting it a sweater of sorts.

 

That’s what I set out to photograph. I don’t believe I am done with this concept. Here is the main image and some outtakes, but don’t be surprise to see more of this yarn in the future. Also, thank you to Marissa for encouraging me to shoot, being a wonderful model, and putting up with me.

House Keeper

This is a series I shot on Saturday at sunrise in an enchanting abandoned house with the coolest people of all time (Mason and Marissa). 

Walking through this house I was so drawn to all the history found in photos and notebooks and started to wonder why this house has come to its current state. Why did the people who lived here leave? Where did they go? Why didn't anyone move in?

Thinking about this I wanted to shoot a series that showed someone who had stayed behind with this abandoned house that never leaves and wants more people to join her. I found a doorknob and key and used them as props, since without them you cannot leave a room. The subject is elusivley showing off these items to tease the viewer who is now trapped inside this house.

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Music

A little over a year ago I stumbled upon the song “Your Son” by from Indian Lakes on Spotify. It is an extremely passionate acoustic song that caught my complete attention. I then began to listen to more music from this band and it wasn’t long until it was my favorite band of all time. The music reaches a long range of acoustic melodies to loud and honest songs. In almost every state of my life: joyful or melancholy, there is a song that relates to the way I am feeling. My 2015 Spotify year in review further confirmed my attached to this music as From Indians Lakes was my topped streamed Artist of the year and without a doubt will be in 2016 as well. From Indian Lake’s music has also inspired my photography in their lyrics and expressive moods.

 

This offers some background to how ecstatic I was when I learned that From Indian Lakes would be come to Denver to play an acoustic set. To know that I would soon hear the songs that have played a large part in my life was hard to comprehend, but little did I know it would turn out to be much more than this.

 

Long story short I was able to go and hang out/interview Joey Vannucchi (From Indian Lakes) and take photos at the show. To talk to the artist I find most inspiration in was literally unreal and I’m so thankful for the experience. He was super cool and was so passionate about his upcoming music it was so fun to be with him. Also when he preformed it was also kinda hard to believe. I own his music on vinyl and to close my eyes at his live show and hear sounds better than any recording I’ve ever heard was something that isn’t always the case at concerts. Each song took me back to different times in the past year so strongly but in an amplified intensity it was, again, super cool.

 

Also, crazy story, 3 years ago I was introduced to a musician, Soren Bryce, through Gavyn Bailey and it turns out SHE WAS THE ONE OPENING FOR FROM INDIAN LAKES. So after following her music for 3 years online I finally got to see her preform and she was SO incredibly talented and it all basically felt like a dream.

 

I just want to thank Joey and Soren for making incredible music and taking the time to hang out with me on Thursday, I will never forget the experience and being around you both had a very large impact on me. Thank you.

 

The interview with Joey will be up soon on cravethesound.com

 

And with this I officially begin a new chapter in my photography: music. Go check out the new tab under Work to see what I’ve been working on!

January 3rd

I’m done with College!

Actually no, not really at all. I just finished my first semester of Freshman year but it has been such a journey and it honestly feels like I’ve been at college for 4 years. College was not what I expected it to be, and I’m extremely thankful for that.

 

I had an image of college built up in my own mind that consisted of adulthood and freedom that would radically improve my life. This proved to be partially true as I learned so much in such a small amount of time, but I also learned that life isn’t that much different than it use to be. I’m still the same person. I like and do all the same things I did in highschool, but just in a different place. I have made amazing new friends, but I still have all the same friends that I love immensely. I expected so much more to happen in my world to enter me into the college life, but I learned that change will only come when I put in effort and work. Almost everyday I objectively look at my life decisions and brainstorm if I want to make the same decisions or whether to make changes in my life. Going to College made me scrutinize myself because I was able to restart as a person where no one knew who I was. This scrutiny was a little unhealthy at first because it effected my self-esteem, but it has also taught me to be the best person I can be, fully accepting my flaws and uniqueness.

 

With the New Year usually comes resolutions, which are always tricky and hard to think of all at once. For me, after a semester of college and constantly reconsidering what I want to do with my life I came up with hardly anything, which I’m really excited about. Having a long list of resolutions and goals are important to push you, but I believe that having a few abstract goals are essential to help guide life, and all the other small resolutions will fall into place. This past year I learned so much about so many people by spending time with them and hearing about what they think and believe. This has pushed me to try and understand as much as possible about people and their interesting lives. My first resolution is to better understand myself and my purpose. My second resolution is to continue to strive to understand people and love them for who they are. My third and final resolution is to other’s stories and miscellaneous concepts through photography and hopefully film. I want to be an instrument that allows others to be heard and understood.

 

College starts back up in about a week and although I’m nervous for another round of classes, I’m pumped to grow as a person with other people and better understand my purpose in the world.

 

Portland

What is it that makes me happy?

This is a question that I’ve been asking myself so much recently. Going to college has shown me so much of the world and I’m ready to find where I feel comfortable, and explore the places I don’t.

 

In that frame of mind, my friends and I decided to road trip from Colorado to Portland.

Gas was cheap, we had a few days off school, and friends to stay with. It was a perfect storm for a road trip. Although, driving through a snow storm through Nebraska almost totally destroyed our trip, we made it through. 19 hours in the car, minimal stops, and plenty of good songs to get us through

 

We arrived in a new place where the air is moist and refreshing, and the people even more so (not so much moist, but refreshing). Davis and Josh were kind enough to let Katie, Tyler and I stay in their apartment, which would become our new home for the next 3 nights. I don’t use the word “home” lightly at all. We knew each other from Instagram, but we had never met in person. This might seem intimidating to some people, but I couldn’t have been more excited. The love and joy we experienced through Davis and Josh was so genuine and made us feel like apart of a family.

 

The next few days were filled with amazing journeys to downtown Portland, several incredible waterfalls, and the western coastline. We were accompanied by equally-incredible humans who would become great friends. Paul, Josh, Paarsa, Savannah, Cole, and Hanna earned a spot in my heart and long term memory. I will never forget these people or places, which shouldn’t be hard because I am confident that I will be back soon.

 

Driving across the country to end up at the apartment of people that I have never met before was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Through Instagram and photography, I was able to make connections that I kept for years. I practically grew up with these people online, and getting to meet them was so natural and rewarding. I am so passionate about these people and it drives me to go out and meet all I’ve come to know through the internet

 

What is it that makes me happy?

Portland, for one.

But also my love for people that God has given me and continues to grow in me.