The incipient festival drew around 8,000 attendees in its first year of existence. Although this is considerably less than expected, the size proved to be one of the most enjoyable distinctions throughout the weekend. Clean bathrooms, virtually no lines at the entrance or the vending booths, and plenty of space with a conscious and considerate crowd during the shows; these simple luxuries created a loyal community that will certainly be returning next year. Vertex checked the three most important boxes in order to cement itself as a top tier festival for years to come: world class musicians, awe inspiring setting, and sound logistics.
With regards to setting and logistics a few highlights stand out. “The Beach” area provided both daytime and late-night dance vibes with soft sand and cool water to enjoy. People were seen floating on tubes, stand up paddling, and slack-lining in true Colorado fashion. “The Beach” also supported an aspen grove that became a hammock mecca for people to relax in throughout the day. The relevance to Suwannee Music Park was startling for music fans fortunate enough to be enlightened.
Another faction of “The Beach” area was the Silent Disco. Usually, this is a rather uneventful scene plagued by strung out hippies looking for something to sustain their high. However, this one was special and warrants a mention. The DJ’s both nights were pumping hip-hop and EDM mash-up tunes that kept patrons dancing until the wee hours. And, no one threw up on my friends, or me, so I consider the Silent Disco a wild success. This area had a separate entrance and was BYOB, which we can appreciate considering the cheapest drinks in the venue were nine dollars.
The area was also home to morning yoga classes for hundreds of festival attendees looking to rejuvenate their bodies and minds each day. Yoga and other meditative experiences always add an intangible to the overall ambiance of a festival, and I hope to see Vertex add more of this over the next few years. The campgrounds were spread out generously leaving plenty of space for campers to get comfortable.
The general store was open 24 hours with provisions for campers, and showers could be had for ten dollars. A young entrepreneur by the name of Josh was selling coffee and bumping deep house out of a wagon from about 7AM-11AM each morning. Well played Josh; my crew certainly appreciated and supported your hustle.
The inside of the main venue was the perfect size. It ran parallel to a beautiful creek and had numerous art installations such as a balloon house and The Bazaar.
Super Heady Tacos being strategically placed as the first stand you saw on the way in and the last one on the way out was a considerably heady move. The La Hacienda stage was the first to be encountered, and it provided an open space filled with bluegrass enthusiasts that maxed out at about one thousand people.