August 5th, Buena Vista – Friday night at the Vertex Festival was a proud kick-off. The venue was well worth all of the struggles and preparation, and many creative souls put together a magical environment for the weekend. However, the rippling, color-changing cottonwood trees, laser-carved lantern art, giant flaming robot, and brand new pond-side beach with hammocks uniting tree trunks and allowing you to relax and stare up at the canopy above were nearly matched by the creativity of the patrons. We encountered paper jelly fish and alien puppets dancing above the crowd which were the perfect accompaniment for the EDM stylings of Emancipator Ensemble and Gramatik. Two huge stages adorned with enormous video projection backdrops pulled audiences back and forth in front of the big field, dancing like maniacs until very late.

Very late. I was enjoying an amazing set by headliners the Alabama Shakes, fronted by powerful soul diva Brittany Howard. She was bookended by gospely keys and soaring organs, supported from behind by three backup singers and her ground-breaking band. She about brought me to tears with the pleading, “Gimme All Your Love” from the new album Sound and Color. It was then, around 10:30 or so, that I found out about the Silent Disco. From a man named Jamin Fitch who proceeded to tell me that he and 10 of his compatriots had purchased banana suits off Amazon for the occasion of dancing them off, at 2 AM – 3AM, by the pond with headphones on.

And that we did. It was a wonderful idea. Multiple DJ’s and lighted headphones that could select between them, in a little clearing, all clustered together. Exhausted but very, very quiet, until I could not stand any longer.

I heard earlier today how neigbors of the festival were inconvenienced by the noise light and traffic. My heart went out to them. Although three days out of the year is not a lifestyle change, this festival was huge, loud and late. I hope in the future, more events like the Silent Disco will allow festival-goers and residents to coexist more peacefully. Banana suits and all.- Jamie Wolkenbreit