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By Brian Gilbert, NCIA events coordinator
The National Cannabis Industry Association branched out into the world of live music production this past month with “Cannabis Carnival,” presented by NCIA and O.penVAPE at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom in conjunction with the inaugural Cannabis Business Summit in Denver. A multi-sensory concert and fundraising experience, it was a night that certainly won’t be forgotten soon. NCIA brought together more than 750 people to celebrate the work of cannabis policy reform and the establishment of a legitimate, responsible industry to help fuel the continued fight toward the end of marijuana prohibition. The event buzzed with cannabusiness leaders from around the country, along with local live music fans and cannabis enthusiasts alike.
The musical acts for the evening matched the diversity of the cannabis community as a whole, featuring rock, funk, electronica, and even a percussion-centered, psychedelic electronic marching band. (Hey, why not?) Denver-area musicians were spotlighted throughout the event, with Bear Antler starting the night with their Colorado-flavored brand of unapologetic rock & roll, the premier drug policy reform producer Erothyme laying down gracious melodies, and local favorites SunSquabi carrying the groove late into the night with their high-energy, dance-inducing set featuring flow performances from Surka Noelle.
The highlight for many attendees was the undeniably engaging, objectively terrifying, and supremely entertaining madness that is The Itchy-O Marching Band. Featuring a large drum corps, accompanied by guitars, synthesizers, inventive electronic noisemakers, and a dancing Chinese dragon, Itchy-O’s black-masked performers put on a memorable spectacle.
Austin-based duo The Nadis Warriors, who have been taking the live electronic music world by storm, closed out the evening with a driving electronica-filled headlining slot, accompanied by special guest drummer Allen Aucoin of trance-fusion pioneers The Disco Biscuits. Their special set also featured aerial silk performances from the talented Ariana Airyfairy, topping off a dramatic and celebratory night.
Keeping in the carnival theme, our generous sponsors were able to gain some serious brand exposure while offering attendees fun, cannabis-themed activities to occupy their time. With promotional booths from Good Chemistry & The Farm offering giveaways & prizes, the Cannabis Camera “Bud Booth” sponsored by Surna Inc. snapping away in the VIP area, and the always popular O.penVAPE Bus holding down the sidewalk party out front all night, there were plenty of things for cannabis carnival-goers to engage in. For our VIP guests, Three Tomatoes Catering even came through with a delicious buffet spread.
In addition to our sponsor offerings, a number of local artists joined us to showcase their live painting skills in our “Visionary Arts Gallery”. Designed to inspire and uplift those in attendance and harness their collective energy for positive change, the gallery featured work from Chance Roberts, Molly Gardner, Adam Psybe, and Stephen Kruse. We were honored to have such talented artists join us for this event and hope this trend of combining art, performance, music and reform continues.
The response to NCIA’s first-ever concert event was exciting. In one night we were able to bring together the cannabis industry, the drug policy reform movement, and the live music community to achieve something greater than the sum of its parts. The power of the emerging cannabis industry can amplify the reform movement’s message of a responsible, sensible, and conscious society. With your help we can achieve that goal, so don’t think this is the last you’ve heard from these cannabis carnies! Plans are in the works to spread this event across the country, and we can’t wait to tell you more as things develop.
Thank you again to all our Cannabis Carnival attendees! You can relive the magic with a full photo album from the event here: http://on.fb.me/1m1eF5v
And a final, huge thanks to all our generous sponsors for making this event possible. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Special thanks as well to Kat Rutt Design for her great work on the Carnival poster and promotional materials!