Bonanza Campout returned June 22-24 to take over a riverside RV park in the valley below Park City, Utah, and the feeling of a hedonistic summer camp could not have been more on the mark.
Two elements seem to define Bonanza, and that is that while there are some art installations, smaller secondary stages for movement and fire performers, and some interactive displays, the musical lineup is the central piece of the festival. The second is that this three-day long gathering has a boutique feel to it, taking place on smaller stages that are possible to walk between in about two minutes.
The result is a festival that has a small enough atmosphere to encourage everyone to mingle – bands, performers, and audience. Over the three days, you would find yourself running into the same faces in camp, at the stage barricades, or in line for the parking lot shuttles, throwing to the wind any feeling to strangeness. And when DJ sets would take place inside the park’s small Rec Center or in the after parties perched up in the tree-lined dirt roads above the festival grounds, it would be with a large group of now-familiar faces.
The camping, the yellow school bus parking lot shuttles — even the swing sets in what is typically an RV park the rest of the year in Heber City, Utah — all lend the festival a summer camp vibe. Though spotting the returning vets was easy when you see some of the camp setups fully incorporating lights, shade structures, sound systems, full-on kitchens and makeshift bars that rival some of the dives I’m used to visiting in Reno in terms of booze selection.
The music itself took place on two stages, with alternating set times so that it was possible to head from one to the other and not miss any of the music. A lineup featuring artists such as Zhu, Halsey, Wiz Khalifa, The Aces, Local Natives, Max, Snakehips and Phantogram gave the weekend an almost eclectic mix in sound. With a couple of exceptions, each performer was easy to get down to, and the party atmosphere permeated the air from the opener to the headliner each night.
An annual event, Bonanza should fit onto the list of those looking to combine some summer roadtrip and camping action with a weekend-long party and the perks of civilization a quick shuttle ride away. Check out BonanzaCampout.com.
– Shaun Astor