Denver's Inaugural Grandoozy Music Festival an Overall Success

Life at the ‘Dooz.

Life at the ‘Dooz.

Last weekend, Superfly Presents- the brainchild behind events like Bonnaroo and Outside Lands- showcased their first major Denver music festival: Grandoozy. The three-day musical extravaganza featured headliners like Kendrick Lamar, Florence and the Machine, and Stevie Wonder. Hip-hop and indie rock were the mainstay genres for the weekend, with notable performances by De La Soul, Mavis Staples, Miguel, Phoenix, Snow Tha Product, St. Vincent, The War On Drugs, Young The Giant, and more.

From the start, I was very impressed with Grandoozy’s inclusion of Denver businesses, musicians, and artists. Whether you had the chance to pick up some exclusive merch from Topo Designs or Kleen Kanteen, catch Dragondeer or Gasoline Lollipops at one of the main stages, or wander by the live murals by Rum Tum Creations or Dink C, the Mile High was well represented across all areas of the fest. Local vendors made up the food and beverage curation as well- Denver restaurants, food trucks, and breweries were everywhere. Some of my favorite treats from the weekend were from Elysian Brewing (pumpkin beer!), Habit Donut Dispensary, Mac N’ Noodles, and Stoney’s Bar and Grill.

Another fantastic part of the festival were the entrance times. I never waited in line more than 1-2 minutes, which was great! With the clear bag policy in place, security did not seem to be too overwhelmed with bag checks, which made for a smooth entrance inside, and from what a lot of festival attendees mentioned, the feeling of a “safer” festival experience. Exit was equally easy at night.

Grandoozy also delivered on the Colorado mantra, “Pack In, Pack Out.” The grounds were meticulously clean upon arrival, and throughout the fest each day. There were trash, recycling, and compost bins everywhere and even during the headliners, I saw volunteers collecting items around patrons to make for an easy exit. The flushable porta-potties were equally clean, with staff regularly ensuring their sanitation. There were water stations to actually wash your hands at too (not just that Purell life!) which was great.

Speaking of water though, there were not enough well-marked drinking water stations this year. I heard complaints from many attendees that they had given up at times and just bought bottled water when they failed to find the areas to refill. Since this is expensive and not environmentally friendly, it would be awesome to see Grandoozy provide more of these stations in better marked areas next year, especially if we’re once again chasing 94-degree heat.

Shop my “Mermaid Festival Jewels” from Tarte Cosmetics   here  .

Shop my “Mermaid Festival Jewels” from Tarte Cosmetics here.

The transportation piece of Grandoozy was complex. Though there wasn’t any parking at the festival, Grandoozy did provide shuttles from the I-25 Broadway light rail station. I took the light rail to this stop each day and the shuttle time to the festival grounds was 20 minutes or less, even on Friday during rush hour. To get home each night, I then took a walking path out of the Jewell exit over to the Evans Street Station. The first night, my crew and I hopped the wooden fence behind the festival exit and walked through a neighborhood to get to the station. I got a splinter from the fence, it was a poorly lit path, and there was not a lot of security on this route. The second night, the wooden fence had been removed and my group proceeded to walk through the same neighborhood, which was now well-lit with generator lights provided by the festival and security. This route was quick and felt safer with  these additions, but unfortunately, some festival goers disrespected residents’ property in this neighborhood. For this reason, on the third night, all neighborhood access was shut down with a heavier police presence and caution tape. This time, we were directed down a very long walking path, which eventually spit us out on the overpass near the rail station. Because this particular path was so extended compared to the neighborhood route on previous nights, my group almost missed our train. Obviously, transportation issues were being worked on by the festival each night for success, but moving forward, if required exit paths are established, it would be great if Grandoozy’s mobile application provided these directions and instructions with estimated walking times so attendees can plan accordingly. Also to note- the Uber and Lyft rideshare drop-offs were reportedly very complicated, and though I didn’t use them, I’m sure the festival will look at these options very closely to improve for next year.

Finally, Superfly, I have to ask: Paper tickets?! In 2018?! This is the one piece that has got to go. Any music festival I’ve ever attended uses wristbands- they’re easy to put on (especially if they’re mailed in advance), they’re hard to lose (even after a few drinks), and they typically allow one to come and go during a festival (Grandoozy was a no re-entry situation). Best case in my book would be a festival utilizing the blockchain for tickets; otherwise wristbands are a must.

Overall, Grandoozy’s inaugural year was a fantastic start with minor hiccups that are to be expected with a festival of this magnitude as close to 60,000 people attended. It was great to see so much of Denver incorporated, and it will be interesting to see how people and the the festival organizers continue to develop Grandoozy’s culture. Like frontman Thomas Mars said during Phoenix’s Friday evening set, “This is the first year of Grandoozy, right? You can make this festival whatever you want…” So what will you make it Colorado?

See more posts from my Grandoozy experience on my Instagram.


Colorado University Blockchain Club Hosts First Blockchain Hackathon & Conference

CU hackers at work.

CU hackers at work.

Colorado University’s Blockchain Club recently hosted a 24-hour hackathon and conference on campus at Idea Forge. Sponsored by key industry partners like Shape Shift, Keep Key, ConsenSys, and Rebel AI, the weekend featured speakers and panelists on topics like “Blockchain in the Advertising Space,” “Exploring Career Options in the Wild World of Crypto,” and “Cryptocurrency and Taxes.” Along with industry speakers like Manny Puentes (Rebel AI), Buff alum Justin Blinco (Shapeshift), and Ked Hodler (Keep Key), students also put together their own presentations for several of the showcased speaking events.

One of the weekend’s highlights was the “Global Women In Blockchain” panel, which featured Lindsey Gallaway (Rebel AI), Amber Hartley (BurstIQ), and Nina Nichols, Mila Popovich, and Diana Lange of Global Women In Blockchain. As students (men and women) asked the panelists about life in crypto after college, the women explained their own success and failure stories while encouraging individuals to network and seek mentorship in the job space and to “go where you are uncomfortable.” Hartley candidly shared a number of her career highlights and low points saying, “A lot of people in this space will tell you being laid off from one [tech] job in their career ended up being the best thing that happened to them.” Said Popovich to attendees, “Ask yourself, ‘What is a life well shared?’ … That’s how you will begin to unravel your own planetary pathfinder.”

Hackers at the event came up with a number of interesting projects as well, from predictive market dApps, to tech that could simplify the nightmare that is currently figuring out your US taxes when you own crypto, to a decentralized event registry that could change event and concert ticket sales.

Overall, the weekend was a wild success for the CU Blockchain’s first summit gathering. The CU Blockchain club meets weekly with about 200 on their Slack and 50 dedicated in-person members. They encourage anyone interested in the space to attend and have plans for more summits and events for next year. Get more information on their Slack and check out their leadership team coordinating events like this on their website.


SALT's Day 4 Crypto Event Helps Onboard Audience Into Crypto & Blockchain Tech

SALT's CEO Shawn Owen & CD Caleb Slade at d4c.

SALT's CEO Shawn Owen & CD Caleb Slade at d4c.

Anyone involved in blockchain or crypto will tell you that the space needs mass adoption to continue growing and building. And while blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies have seen a huge buzz in the past year, even making the cut for a major feature on John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight,” there is still a long way to go on educating the masses on these pieces of “new” technology. That’s why it’s so important to bring communities together and provide education for entering what many perceive as a daunting space.

Recently, Denver’s blockchain-backed lending firm SALT did just that with their Denver Day 4 Crypto event. The conference featured keynotes by major blockchain players like Peter Vessenes (New Alchemy), Erik Voorhees (Shapeshift), and Shawn Owen (SALT). But instead of focusing on the most emerging pieces of blockchain trends and announcements like many of these conferences do, this day was about onboarding individuals to jump into the crypto space. SALT even gave away some of their own tokens and free Keep Keys to anyone who admitted to not yet having bought any cryptocurrency.

The day had discussions for those just entering the crypto market like “How to Buy and Sell Crypto” and “Value Through Token Economics” but the event still managed to keep those more educated in the space invested with panels on topics like “Charitable Giving in Blockchain” and “The Future of Blockchain.” The day even featured expert discussions on blockchain’s current regulatory environment and the basics of tax reporting. Companies like Polymath, Realblocks, and even meal-delivery blockchain service Nostrum also explored how blockchain is changing their industries.

Overall, SALT did a fantastic job of helping individuals interested in the space learn more, network with key players and companies, and even purchase their first cryptocurrency. The blockchain needs more events like these to connect people to this technology and show them how easy it really can be to setup a crypto wallet and HODL. Cheers to SALT- learn more about their business here.


ETHDenver Proved the Blockchain Community Is a Powerful One

ETHDenver set the stage for one fanstastic hackathon and conference event.

ETHDenver set the stage for one fanstastic hackathon and conference event.

Shortly after writing a piece for VICE News on blockchain in healthcare, I was invited by OPOLIS' John Paller to ETHDenver. The three-day hackathon and conference event was held at Sports Castle and featured panelists like Joseph Lubin, Erik Voorhees, Dmitry Buterin, and Kevin Owacki. The first annual hackathon was Ethereum’s largest to date, and along with the panels and workshops, there were art installations, a dance party, and hackers from 31 states and 21 countries as far away as Cairo! Companies like Blockgeeks, Consensys, Ox Protocol, DAOstack, Cellarius, Maiden, OPOLIS, and many others sponsored the event, which was free for attendees.

Panel topics for the weekend included “Decentralized Governance, “Token Based Business Models,” “Art on the Blockchain,” and more. Workshops were held nightly on various subjects as well, while hackers worked away on several floors of the six-story building piecing together the newest tech and game ideas for the blockchain. The event even boasted its own currency, the Colorado Coin, which users could use to purchase meals outside of the event at local food trucks.

Regulation of crypto and blockchain tech was a main discussion at various panels at the conference this year, whether it was regarding liquidity and compliance, crypto taxation, or current US legislation on how tokens are defined.

Said Erik Voorhees to a sweep of cheers and applause during one panel, “I’m thankful people have built things without regulatory clarity and you should continue to build things.”

Build they did, and by day three of ETHDenver, seven winning teams presented their various projects, which ranged from using the blockchain to turn on a lightbulb (a marriage between blockchain and the internet of things), a cyberpunk cryptocurrency trading game based on Drugwars, a blockchain-based system to record blood donation in healthcare, and a dApp that splits your private key between trusted friends for safekeeping. Apprentio even had a team of all teens from local high-schools who created “Cryptokicks,” a Yeezy-inspired digital tennis shoe collectible similar to CryptoKitties but made for sneakerheads.

Overall, the weekend proved the blockchain community is a powerful one- powerfully supportive of new ideas, powerfully supportive of blockchain technology, and most of all, powerfully supportive of each other.

Said John Paller of the event, “This has been even more than I expected in every way.”

If only for three days, ETHDenver brought key players together with hackers, industry insiders, and even newbies for one fantastic event. Make sure to keep up with ETHDenver and their plans for next year on Slack.


Feature In VICE News For Blockchain In Healthcare

Blockchain could give you better ownership of your medial records and data.

Blockchain could give you better ownership of your medial records and data.

After recently attending the Care Coordination & Technology Congress in Atlanta, I was blown away by all of the possibilities panelists discussed on blockchain technology in healthcare. After interviewing industry professionals like Jack Shaw of the American Blockchain Council, blockchain health app MintHealth co-founder and CEO Samir Damani, co-chair of the Internet of Things (IoT) Committee of the American Bar Association Steven Teppler, and executive steward of the ETHDenver Hackathon John Paller, I wrote a feature on blockchain in healthcare.

Featured in VICE News, read "How to Make Millennials Actually Go to the Doctor."