There may be more summer music festivals than ever but let the record show there’s always room for a well thought out addition. That’s the driving premise behind Grandoozy, a new festival launching in Denver this Sept. from the team behind Bonnaroo and Outside Lands. And if the pedigree of its planners doesn’t immediately make it obvious, the details of the inaugural Grandoozy hints its primed to leave its mark.
Grandoozy’s initial lineup is custom-built for modern music fans with history’s entire discography virtually on-demand at their fingertips. It’s a genre-hopping collection of artists spanning the current and classic, local and worldwide household names, and every style of music from rap to country to however you want to label sonic chameleons like St. Vincent or Miguel. Somehow, those two crowd-builders aren’t even in the top row of headliners — hip-hop Pulitzer-winner Kendrick Lamar will handle opening night duties and the beloved Stevie Wonder is closing. And other acts playing throughout the weekend are a veritable who’s-who of modern music: the infectious arena pop of Florence + The Machine, chart-toppers from The Chainsmokers, the sampling pioneers of De La Soul, modern country storyteller Sturgill Simpson, the resurgent indie rockers of Phoenix and more.
Off stage, Grandoozy will borrow heavily from its predecessors, combining Outside Lands’ culinary ethos and Bonnaroo’s adoration of place. A Devour Denver area will highlight local restaurants both old and new (including Bar Dough, led by recent Top Chef: Denver near-winner Carrie Baird); the heralded creators in the Colorado Brewers Guild and the state’s distilleries will provide an equally-hefty bar program called Flight School. And to help distinguish Grandoozy and its Denver-ness from other summer music events, the organizers have also planned a trio of on-site hangout areas. The Backyard will bring a small bit of the Colorado outdoor activities to the festival grounds. And like any good local does after an afternoon outside, attendees can then head to the ‘80s Ski Lodge, a space inspired by a vintage bit of local culture that will “celebrate the iconic ski aesthetic of yore, complete with themed music, food, and drink and more,” according to the festival. Finally, those who want to keep the music coming but need a break from the stage crowds can instead head for the Break Room, an “all-day dance area” that aspires to draw upon everything from Berlin discotheques to Detroit warehouses (with participating Denver DJs, of course).
Summer music festival oversaturation can make it intimidating to find an event that seems worth logistical efforts and ticket prices, let alone one that feels unique among the packed calendar. But starting a new event now evidently brings a few advantages: leveraging festival experience from events that built communities over time, gathering ideas about how to embrace the local culture through programming and luxuries like world-class food and drink offerings. No festival is guaranteed to become a longstanding tradition, but Grandoozy seems like it’s off to a pretty good start.