Local music that can match any national act, a location so beautiful and comfortable that nobody ever wants to leave and a community of friendly music lovers. That is everything a festival should be. Festy Fest was perfect this year because it had it all. Not too crowded, not too small, with skilled bands playing back to back, sometimes overlapping between the two stages. Ominous weather warnings had some people worried, but the good music and loving vibes of the camp drove the storm clouds away. This weekend was the ultimate music festival experience for lucky Lawrencians.
Camping at Festy Fest was incredibly convenient this year, with some campers pitching tents right across the open field from the main stage, giving them the perfect view of the show while lounging around. Others gathered in the cleared out camping space further away from the stages, which offered at least a change in volume, even if both stages were easily audible.
The entire lineup for Festy Fest consisted of excellent bands, local acts and neighbors who came in to support their friends and enjoy the great scene. The crowd was slow to arrive Friday night, as people were concerned about the rain from a day before, but the weather was clear and cool all night for the folks that came out for the first night. The party music bands like Billy the Squirrel, Blue Martian Tribe, Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy, Mouth and the Cosmopolitics filled the night with a variety of fun, funky songs.
For anyone interested in returning home, the drive was so short and simple it was as convenient as attending any concert in town. Most campers stayed out all night Friday, partying until the early hours of the morning, but a lazy few enjoyed the comforts of home for the night before returning to the festivities Saturday.
Unfortunately leaving the camp site meant risking missing some of the fantastic early sets Saturday. Ashes to Immortality and the Cory Phillips band kicked off the music in the early afternoon. The fun raged on throughout the day, with Old Country Death Band busting out rockabilly at the main stage, while Sequel played the second stage. The party people began finding more energy as the night came on, gathering at the main stage for The Calamity Cubes, Electric England and The Floozies. Between or overlapping during those sets, some music lovers went to the second set to see Dumptruck Butterlips, Tyrannosaurus Chicken, Deadman Flats and Mountain Sprout. The late night shows went on until nearly sunrise.
In the meantime an epic show played at the Bottleneck for Lawrence folks still downtown. 3 Son Green opened with a wild and astounding set of funky, jazzy jams. Sonic Sutra headlined, starting their set with a mind-blowing rendition of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd. The bands’ own jamming styles fit the famous song perfectly, resulting in a beautiful and soulful cover.
Sunday the party went on, with cool weather keeping everything relaxed. Well known local groups like Cowgirl’s Train Set, Fuzz Nasty, Brody Buster, SUNU and the Ben Miller Band took audiences’ breath away. Deadman Flats closed the night with a raucous last set for the hardcore party people still getting down.
Among all these energetic sets of passionate musicians performing at their peak, some band still stood out. Blue Martian Tribe jammed long and strong after sunset. Mouth had a tough act to follow, but their powerful set was so good the speakers could not even handle it. Small technical issues came up for a few sets, but the bands played on with unrelenting enthusiasm. Old Country Death Band was a change of pace from the usual styles and sounds of Festy Fest, their grumbling rock ranged from garage, to surf, to rockabilly. Dumptruck Butterlips outdid their last set at the Granada with a wide range of songs, dancing and singing with precise performance. Electric England was a new band for some of the festy-goers, impressing a lot of listeners. Ben Miller Band took their set to another level as Ben played a variety of instruments and the band even created some psychedellic effects that perfectly reflected the tranquil, trance-like vacation that was Festy Fest.
No matter how big and popular a festival might be, no matter the setting, or the lineup of artists, nothing could compare with the love and joy of the tight-knit community that is Festy Fest. Between the stellar sets from every band there, the ideal location and the heavenly weather, it was the best weekend to start a whole summer of fun.
Now for Previews:
Wednesday night Hot & Ugly, Beach Team and Deaf Zebra will be playing indie rock of the metal variety at the Granada for $3.
Meanwhile The Scandals, The Harmonic O’s and The Alerts will be getting punked out at the Replay Lounge. Both these shows start at 10 p.m.
Thursday Beans and Cornbread will play funky jazz at the Jazzhaus starting at 10 p.m.
Saturday the Jazzhaus will be bringing back ska and reggae with Checkered Beat at 10.
That same night The Jackpot is hosting “Spring into Dumber!” an alternative rock and indie concert featuring the rising stars of Rooftop Vigilantes, returning to their old stomping grounds.