Festival

Atlanta Gets Shaky: Shaky Beats 2018

 The Shaky Beats sign at Shaky Beats Music Festival 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Shaky Beats sign at Shaky Beats Music Festival 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Shaky Beats Music Festival at Central Park in Atlanta, Georgia just concluded its third run and it’s hard to put into words the mayhem that occurred over the weekend of May 11th through May 13th of 2018. This year’s lineup was stacked from top to bottom with some of the best names in the EDM genre. Throughout the weekend, Atlanta gave welcome to G Jones, Ludacris, Borgore, Ookay (LIVE), and Kayzo. And that’s only naming a few!

Friday kicked the weekend off with a bang with G Jones on the Peachtree stage. G Jones brought the heavy bass to Atlanta and kicked off the weekend with some wicked wubs. G Jones payed homage to his buddy Bassnectar several times throughout his set by touching on hits like “Mind Tricks” and “Underground”. His set kicked off the weekend with heavy bass that brought the head bangers out bright and early that day. It was the perfect way to kick off the festival for this year.

One set on Friday that brought all of Atlanta out to Central Park to get down and boogie was Ludacris. His set was an absolute dance party from start to finish. Ludacris came on roughly ten to fifteen minutes late, but pushed past his set time by about twenty minutes. As he opened his set, he let everyone know that he was ready and willing to play his whole discography. He pretty much went through all his number one hits during his time on the Peachtree stage. The crowd got to boogie to “Number One Spot”, “Stand Up”, and “What’s Your Fantasy”. And that’s not even scratching the surface on his set. Speaking of scratching, Ludacris had support from DJ Infamous. DJ Infamous is a force to be reckoned with at Shaky Beats.  He definitely know how to hype up a crowd and get everyone groovin’.

 And of course, we can’t forget the closing act from Friday night. The masked Marshmello himself came out to Shaky Beats to throw down a face melting set. Marshmello helped kick off the very, first ever Shaky Beats. Seeing him progress from one of the smaller stages to the main stage in just two years is an indicator of how rapidly the Mellogang is growing. His fans, known as the Mellogang, came out to Shaky Beats in full force sporting their DIY Mello-heads. Marshmello’s set threw down some groovy tunes that payed his respects to other well-known DJ’s in the industry while sprinkling in some of his heavy hitters like “LoVe U” and “BLocKs”.

Even though Friday kicked things off full force, Saturday came in for the kill and showed Shaky Beats had no intentions of taking it easy after the first day. The day had a killer lineup featuring Ookay (LIVE), Borgore, Excision, San Holo, and Shiba San. The day got super groovy when Ookay (LIVE) took the stage and we had a guest appearance from Roochute Ron at Central Park. Roochute Ron and the Festival Squad came to boogie with their Roochute and they conquered the whole festival set by set. People were thrilled to see the Roochute make an appearance at Shaky Beats. It’s literally the feeling you would get when you would walk into gym class as a kid and the teacher would pull out the parachute and the little scooter boards. The feeling of utter excitement and wonder washes over you when you see Roochute Ron and his squad show up. Things got super funky under the chute as Ookay cranked out his live version of “Next 2 Me”. We hope you were able to catch our live stream of that moment on Instagram. Concert Hopper would like to thank Roochute Ron, The Festival Squad and Ookay (LIVE) for the super groovy hour of dancing we got to enjoy on Saturday at Shaky Beats.

To take things from groovy and funky tunes to heavy bass in your face, Borgore conquered the Peachtree Stage after Ookay (LIVE). Borgore came through with a killer set list featuring songs like “Daddy”, “CoCo Puffs”, and his infamous hit “Nympho”. His set had everyone rocking the rail and I am surprised the rail didn’t shatter. Borgore is a classically trained musician who plays Saxophone and Piano and who is also able to produce some of the most filthy dubstep drops in the industry. He is also lined up to be working with artists like Gucci Mane later this year. Concert Hopper had the pleasure of sitting down with Borgore after his face melting set and chatting with him about his new releases and what he could possibly have planned for the future. You can read more about the opportunity we had to sit down with him here.

Sunday brought some big names to Central Park such as; Ofenbach, Medasin, Troyboi, Kayzo and Seven Lions. One set that was absolute mayhem from start to finish was Kayzo. Kayzo brought the Piedmont stage to its knees with a set riddled with bangers. From dropping a tribute to the late and great Chester Bennington from Linkin Park to getting all the head bangers riled up with a remix of Papa Roach’s “Last Resort”, Kayzo is definitely a former punk kid gone EDM. Kayzo is the place to be if you’re into some punk rock remixed with face melting, thrashing drops. He wasn’t the only artist throwing down on the last day, but he was definitely one of the highlight artists of that day.

Shaky Beats 2018 was an amazing follow up to Shaky Knees the previous weekend. This festival has bloomed into a wonderful place for people in the South to connect through the EDM genre. The community is growing and this year the festival took place at Central Park instead of Centennial Park like previous years. We here at Concert Hopper have loved watching the Shaky festivals in Atlanta evolve into what they are today. We certainly hope that this festival stays at Central Park. 

It's a Wrap: Shaky Beats (2018)

 Shaky Beats Music Festival 2018: Central Park (Atlanta, Ga.)

Shaky Beats Music Festival 2018: Central Park (Atlanta, Ga.)

What started out as the new kid on the festival block back in 2016, the Shaky Beats Music Festival has quickly become one of the premiere EDM/Hip-hop festivals in the Southeast region. Being a part of this festival since the beginning, I am very happy to see that this year’s event was held at Central Park while the old location, Centennial Olympic Park, is under some renovations. The move gave this festival new life by adding much, more space and an extra stage, Criminal Records Stage, across from the Ponce De Leon stage.

I want to first start off this review with a few of my favorite performances over the weekend: Marvel Years, Manic Focus, and Autograf. There were so many artists to watch over the weekend but I made sure that these three performances were not missed. 

Marvel Years (a.k.a. Cory Wythe) has taken the EDM world by storm with his exceptional blending of blues, classic rock, EDM, retro-funk, soul, jazz, and hip-hop into a groovy, funky sound that keeps the dance floor very busy. I was really excited to see what Marvel Years brought to the crowd at Shaky Beats and man did he play his heart out! I recommend checking out Marvel Years if he coming to your town via a festival or just a standalone show. Want to check out some of Marvel Years? Then follow this link to the official Soundcloud page for Marvel Years today and see what you think.

Manic Focus - John “JmaC” McCarten a.k.a. Manic Focus (MF) was also one of the best sets of the weekend and he played the Criminal Records stage, which is the smallest of the four. MF’s set would have definitely blown the lid off the main stage as a performer. He even had a special guest show up, Marvel Years, and perform with him during his set. After seeing MF a few times, I really think he will blow up after doing the festival circuit this year. Check out MF’s Official Soundcloud Page and see what you think.

Autograf – First off, I want to give special thanks to Roochute Ron for recommending this band to my crew and myself. When I walked up and saw some instruments on stage, I knew I came to the right place. The band consists of Adam Hirsch, Benito Lugo, and Mikul Wing. Their bio states, “It’s about leaving your mark on the world. It’s about leaving your Autograf.” Well this trio left a huge impression with me based on their performance and energetic, stage presence. Hope you enjoy this link to Autograf’s Official Soundcloud Page and dance all night like we all did.

By the way, did you know Atlanta's own Ludacris played this year? You can guess that was a packed house as almost everyone showed up for this incredible set by Ludacris. This was a bucket list item for me... so thanks Shaky Beats! 

So if you watched the Concerthopper live streams or story on Instagram then you might have saw that Shaky Beats had a special guest: Roochute. It was awesome to hang with Roochute Ron and his Ohio crew during the weekend. Ron is basically family and you always welcome family into your home town. It was great to see the festival goers open up and have fun with the Roochute during Ookay’s set on Saturday. Hope you enjoy these shots.

I mentioned earlier that the festival was held at a new location, Central Park, in Atlanta. This move gave the festival more space for activities, stages, vendors, and bathrooms. And we cannot leave out one of the most important things to have during May in Atlanta: shade. This is something you cannot get while roaming Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. Sorry, I said it. So adding these aspects to an already well run and organized festival you get one hell of a time with your festival squad. I only hope that Shaky Beats can continue to stay at Central Park for years to come because I heard nothing but positive things coming from festival goers all weekend.

Watching this festival grow over the last few years makes me really excited to see what next year has in store for us. I know I would like to see added to next year’s lineup: STS9, The Floozies, Pretty Lights (Live), Breakbot, The Polish Ambassador, Odesza, Chromeo, and Cherub to name a few. Even though Odesza, Chromeo, and Cherub all played the first year it is time for their triumphant return to Shaky Beats! So congratulations to Shaky Beats for another successful year in the books. Concerthopper, Kade and myself are very, honored to have been a part of this festival and we look forward to speculating to who is actually going to be on the lineup for next year’s event. Too soon?

Stay tuned to Concerthopper this week for Kade’s exclusive interview with Borgore right after his fire set on Saturday. Don’t forget to check out our BRAND NEW, redesigned website over at www.concerthopper.com and tell us what you think! We would love to get some feedback from our readers. ‘Like’ our page on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and stay up to date in 2018 on all music related events/festivals such as: Primus + Mastodon with All Them Witches: Live at the Fox Theatre, Underoath: Live at The Rapids Theatre, Papa Joe’s BanjoBQue Music Festival, Sloss Music & Arts Festival, Slayer: The Final TourMuddy Roots Music Festival by following us on all social media formats: Concerthopper on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.  Also, you can follow my personal concert hopping on Facebook and Instagram for even more photos not available on Concerthopper.com.

Remember don’t think about it, just buy the damn ticket! As always, hope to see you at a show or festival soon!

 

 

Rhythm N' Blooms 2018 Recap

DSC_0070 This was my first time returning to the festival since 2015 headliners The Decemberists brought me to the festival for one day. I was excited to return not just to cover the event as press, but because this would be my first time going for all 3 days to Rhythm N’ Blooms! Thus I knew I’d have more time to explore the various stages, and catch not just the main acts, but many of the smaller acts as well as the secret shows.

Friday

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As any attendee will tell you Friday started out rather wet and cold, but I was too enthused to pay attention to that (except where my camera equipment was concerned). I started out by catching The Young Fables set in Jackson Terminal. I had become quite a fan of The Young Fables as I prepped for the festival (thanks Spotify playlist!), and they did not disappoint! Laurel and Wesley are both supremely talented, and you can tell they have not just the musical chops but also the drive to succeed that I think, quite deservedly, will get them national attention! I had the pleasure to talk with them during the festival too, so look for an interview with them later in the month on ConcertHopper.com.

 

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Following their set I rushed over to catch the venerable rocker Booker T. Jones. Even if you only know “Green Onions” you undoubtedly knew this was a show to see. Booker was all smiles coming on stage, but behind that you could tell he and his band came to rock! I planned a tight schedule for myself so perhaps regrettably I didn’t hang around for long, just half the set, but I loved every second. And as Booker introduced each song, and often the history of the tracks, I got an even fuller grasp of his and the Booker T & the MG’s reach into the annals of rock fame. I’ll remember this performance for some time to come.

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As I left Booker’s set I hopped on over to the Pilot Light – an odd venue I’d fallen in love with upon my first visit to the festival. Perhaps odd isn’t the word, but compared to many venues this was perhaps the dive-iest. In 2015 everytime I walked by I loved all the music I heard coming through the door. Regrettably it’s also the most packed venue I’ve found at Rhythm N’ Blooms, and in 2015 when the heat was out I couldn’t stay in for long without feeling overwhelmingly oppressed by the heat of the crowds. Enter 2018, a day when we dipped to near freezing temps, and as I realized the perfect weather for me to handle the Pilot Light. I was quite thankful as I saw many fantastic acts at this venue, starting with Daniel Donato!

Daniel Donato and his backing band look like what I imagine Led Zeppelin’s kids would look like, with their rock star style and hair. His music style is often referred to as “cosmic country”, also the name of his CD, and I can see what that all fits as it was pretty out of this world! Daniel’s known as a prodigious guitarist, and we certainly saw that on display, but what was perhaps most memorable to me was his cover of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” performed with his girlfriend. Goose bumps galore broke out with their beautiful rendition of this classic song.

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Next I checked out singer songwriter Max Gomez, who perfectly segued Daniel's show for me, as Daniel played Prine, while Max clearly came from the singer songwriter world Prine inhabits. This was a more stripped down show compared to many I heard during the festival, but even with just two guitarists his sound filled the room as the audience was captivated by his softer, albeit strong sound. I discovered afterward he only has one full record, and an EP, but after that show I'll be giving both a good listen.

 

Following Max's performance, I headed back to the main stage to hear Deer Tick! Deer Tick’s style of music is right up my alley, as it’s reminiscent at times of the gone too soon Tom Petty, if he were partnered with artists such as “Wilco” and “Modest Mouse”. As they recently released not just one (1) but two (2) albums, after a four year absence, there was a sense of anticipation within the crowd, that I think that was met resoundingly with a very energetic set from the band. I had to call it an early night Friday, so I was quite happy to end my first day listening to a band not only that I enjoy but in so many ways encapsulates that Rhythm N’ Blooms vibe.

Saturday

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Rhythm N’ Blooms offered a number of workshops on Saturday, including “Get Your Music Heard (Radio + Streaming 101), Meet the Press: The Nuts & Bolts of Getting Great Media Coverage”, and the one I dropped into “Time’s Up in the Music Industry”. I thought this was an especially prescient panel for me to attend, and I’m certainly glad I did. Among the panelists there were representatives for radio stations, artists, festivals, including Chyna, the host of Rhythm N’ Blooms and Attack Monkey Productions, and they hoped to have an artist on however she had to back out. While the panel gave me hope with such aspirations as the 2020 movement, where festivals have a gender equitable line-up by 2020, so many stories of day to day abuse and harassment just made me recognize how much further we have to come.

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Following that inspiring panel I was excited to attend my first Secret Show at Rhythm N’ Blooms! These shows are on the schedule, but the bands aren’t announced till shortly before on social media. I actually did not have a chance to check my Facebook prior, so I was pleasantly surprised to see Penny & Sparrow, a band I wanted to see but didn’t know if I could with my schedule, take the stage. Their set felt like a perfect start musically to the morning, as their sound belies a soft power that’s awe inspiring, but not too racous either for the “just now sipping our first coffee crowd”. I absolutely loved the power of their vocals especially!

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On the flip side there’s The War & Treaty, whom I saw immediately following at the Pilot Light! The War & Treaty made my “9 Acts to See” list and for good reason. Their gospel inspired music is powerful on all fronts, and I can see that regardless of the size of the room this husband and wife duo would fill it. Seeing as how this was a dive bar it was packed, but the energy was incredible! I loved the show so much, but probably my greatest regret is that I didn’t see this act when they played again at the festival.

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I hopped on over for my first time to the Love Shack (no jukebox money required) following the War & Treaty show to catch Carly Burruss. Little did I know how appropriate this transition would be, as Carly’s songs do fit the country mold, but often bring a little extra gospel to bear too as she does in her track “Devil Can’t Steal My Joy”. While songs like “Good Enough for Me” have a more retro-country sound, and a message about the struggles of love that no doubt resonates with anyone who’s had a bad streak looking for love. I admit I came in with an unfamiliarity of her music, but I came away a fan.

 

At this point the afternoon sun was high in the sky, and the main stage was starting to come alive with activity. So I headed down to catch The Accidentals, one of my favorite discoveries in prepping for Rhythm N’ Blooms. Thinking back to the Time’s Up panel from earlier, it was quite refreshing to see a female fronted band take the main stage (something Rhythm N’ Blooms wants to do even more!). But as was discussed that morning in the panel it’s not just their womanhood getting them on stage, oh no, but their incredible talent that earned them this place. I loved the unique harmonies, and folksy rock, bringing together the harmonies and edge of Meg & Dia, while using instrumentation fitting for country and folk acts.

 

 

Before taking a break for the evening to get dinner I checked out one last act I was supremely looking forward to – Brother Sundance! Brother Sundance, the moniker of Rylan Talerico, is an artist whose sound heavily relies on electronics and his own unique production. So I was expecting an electro heavy set, but apparently do to tech issues the show suddenly became acoustic. Now this had Brother Sundance quite nervous for the whole show, which he joked about a few times, but for the audience I think we were presented with a rare treat as the show suddenly became what I imagine to be a rare acoustic performance from the artist. What I gleaned in listening to them acoustically, and to listening to his self-produced records prior to the festival, is that the talent and power of the music shines through either way so he had no reason to worry.

 

After a break for dinner I returned to catch the headliner for the evening Dr. Dog, where a large crowd had already gathered. Dr. Dog of course did not disappoint! Though why should they as they’ve honed their live act as a band over nearly 20 year run. Of note for me in particular was getting to hear tracks I’d heard on their 2015 “Live at a Flamingo Hotel” release played in person, so when I heard songs like “That Old Black Hole” it just felt all the more powerful hearing it live actually in person! Of course they played some new tracks as well such as their new single “Go Out Fighting” and my personal favorite track thus far “Listening In”. Both songs will be on their forthcoming album “Critical Equation”.

 

You’d have thought that’d be the end cap for the night, but the night was long and I still had LUTHI to see! LUTHI made my “9 Acts Not to Miss” list, so I was super hyped to see them already, but minutes before their show I also had the chance to interview founding member and bassist Taylor Craft. (Interview to be released at the end of the month!)

LUTHI performed in the 2nd biggest venue, the Jackson Terminal, and you’d have thought they had top billing as packed as the crowds were for their show. I even overheard one audience member say they’d been told by a friend “if you see only one band at the festival see LUTH”. Well they earned their crowd with a high energy set featuring all 9 members, that’s right 9, giving their funky best! They’ve really adopted the label of being a “Boogie Circus”, and it’s true that if they’re a circus you definitely got your money’s worth that night.

Regrettably after going nearly non-stop I had to call it a night immediately following the LUTHI show.

Sunday

I woke up with a bit of a festival hangover (condition of seeing so many great acts in such a short time), but continued forth to start the day with one of the Battle of the Band qualifiers. As I’m not based in Knoxville I missed the actual battle, but I wanted to catch the sets of either the winner or one of the qualifiers, and I got my chance with The Sedonas set on Sunday.

 

Upon seeing The Sedonas play I thought if this was just the qualifier how good was the winning band, because I was quite impressed by their sound! First of all they had probably the best guitarist at the festival in Ryan Sise, proven for me when they played one of the best Bob Dylan covers I’ve heard since Hendrix performed the song (“All Along the Watchtower” if you didn’t get that) and he nailed it! Fitting track to cover considering their original song “’Til I Say Amen” sounds like an ode to that era of rock, albeit perhaps more Steppenwolf style than Hendrix. James Connor Wike’s energy seems to harken from the 90s grunge era, and he used those strong vocals to add that extra power and oomph to the band’s sound. All while their bassist and drummer did an excellent job too driving the music.

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Following their show I came in late to the Secret Show at Pretentious Beer Co., only to learn why you don’t come in late to Secret Shows, as I couldn’t barely make it in with the impressive crowd that showed up. I learned very soon why as the artist was in fact Sunday’s headliner to come Paul Thorn! Paul’s music really reminded me of what it’d be like to hear Randy Newman play John Prine songs, cause he had that songwriting craft they both have but with the bite and wit of Prine’s greats. I was only sad I couldn’t catch more of the show.

 

I then stepped in to catch one of the shows that caught my eye on the program: The Brother Brothers. I found out 2 things right off 1) they are indeed brothers and 2) they are more than just a clever band name. In fact their traditionally inspired folk is downright haunting in the best of ways. Despite being in the largest interior venue at the festial, when they sang their harmonies I felt I'd hear a pin drop, as everyone was so still and silent so as to not miss a moment of their beautiful music. I'd say if you like classic soothing folks songs, be sure to check their music out.

 

Lastly, as that concert weariness was turning into full blown exhaustion, I had to cut my Sunday short. So I decided to wrap up my festival experience with the band Art Smashes Records. Very quickly I could tell the band’s sound fit the mold of what my listening habits generally include, which is 1990’s/2000’s era pop rock/indie artists. I would not be surprised if we have some of the same favorite bands in common. I was definitely digging their set, and kept thinking this is a band going places. In fact I would not be surprised if their music starts playing on the local alternative rock stations, cause songs like “Old Dreams” and their latest “Disagreements” are tailor made for radio play. I loved getting the chance to see them as I wrapped up the festival, and I'm excited to see where they go next.

Conclusion

Overall Rhythm N' Blooms was pretty much everything I loved about festivals, except maybe the cold and the rain. This weekend was a chance to see a myriad of fantastic artists really doing what they do best, along with passionate music fans such as myself. Thanks to Rhythm N' Blooms care with their line-up too even among the artists I did not know, I found several quality acts that will now be in my playlists for years to come. I am now ready for that long nap I've yet to take, and I look forward to all the excitement to come for 2019's festival!

Mo Pop is a Detroit Gem!

  I love Detroit and I'm proud it's my home. There is so much to love about this city. One of the things I love the most is the Mo Pop Festival which returns to West Riverfront Park on July 28th-29th. This is the 6th edition of the festival and there hasn't been a repeat act. In the current festival world we live in that's a rare and impressive feat!

The 2018 lineup is stellar. Bon Iver will play Detroit for the first time in 10 years. The excitement level is very high for that set alone. Anyone else play the song "Holocene" on repeat? Highly Suspect is a band that I got into over the last year and I was able to see them play at a small venue in the Detroit suburbs. The show was great and they will not disappoint the Mo Pop crowd. I've heard the name Billie Eilish a lot as of late and I had to hear what all the fuss is about. I was stunned to learn she is so young.  Her set is a can't miss set at Mo Pop.

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I lost my mind when I found out The National is also playing Mo Pop. The National is one of my all time favorite bands and each time I see their show I'm blown away. They just keep getting better and they give the crowd so much emotion. The Polyphonic Spree is a group that I've enjoyed for years and St Vincent was a part of that ensemble. Since going out on her own she has proved time and time again that she will be successful on her own terms. As I write this I'm listening to her song "New York". Take a listen when you have finished reading this. You will be glad you did.

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Mo Pop Festival has such much to offer. Are you feeling nostalgia for the days you spent quarters at the arcade? Welll you are in luck!  Just step into the air-conditioned Mo Arcade and go back in time to the days when you spent all day trying to beat the high score just so you can leave your initials as the highest score. Detroit is a city filled with creative people and that creativity will be on display in the Craft Bazaar. Take some time and walk around. I know you will find something fun, classy, cool, or quirky. Feeling thirsty and hungry? Don't worry. There is a beer tent and a great selection of food trucks. More info on both of those later in my series on Mo Pop.

There are so many great acts that make up the 2018 Mo Pop Festival lineup and I will highlight them between now and the festival. So stay tuned to Concerthopper!

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Check out MoPopFestival.com for more info.

Mo Pop is amazing. Detroit is great. The experience will leave you will memories that will stay with you forever. Now go buy a ticket and I will see you there.

Sloss is BOSS: Sloss Music & Arts Festival (2018)

Just when I thought that all of these festival lineups could not get any better, Sloss Music & Arts Festival (July 14-15th, 2018 Birmingham, Alabama) just unloaded some hot fire onto the festival landscape. With a Big 4 that consists of Chris Stapleton, Arcade Fire, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, & GRiZ… I am so ready for July to roll around! And we cannot forget about the next few lines of this unbelievable lineup: St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Vance Joy, The War on Drugs, Moon Taxi, Louis the Child, Vic Mensa, Lany, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Margo Price, Hippie Sabotage, Jai Wolf, Pvris, Big Freedia, and White Reaper to name a few.

Sloss Music & Arts Festival also offers many other experiences such as; a Silent Disco, Beer Garden, The Copper Lounge, BBVA Compass Lounge, Sloss Metal Arts Live Iron Pouring, “The Outdoors” Presented by Alabama Outdoors, Seasick Records, American Poster Institute, and various Art vendors (apply to be a vendor here) from across the Southeast. Tickets for the two (2) day event are available online and really affordable with Level 1 at $130 and capping out at Level 3 at $160. Now if you are into the V.I.P. thing, do not worry because there are three (3) different levels of their V.I.P. packages ranging from $210.00 all the way to $850.00. Payment plans are also available through their website. So don’t fret, you do not have to put down all of the cash for your tickets at your time of purchase.

If you are from out of town and need a place to crash then I suggest www.airbnb.com or www.booking.com. As an added bonus, use this link and get $40 off your first stay with Airbnb.com & use this promo link https://www.booking.com/s/43_8/tzolis90 for $25 cash back on Booking.com. Need a ride while in Birmingham? No sweat! First time users can use the following codes for discounts on local ride shares: Lyft – TARYN273 or Uber – hristost3ue. Got any questions about the festival, check out this link to their information webpage to get that curiosity satisfied.

‘Like’ our page on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and stay up to date in 2018 on all music related events/festivals such as: Corrosion of Conformity and EHG: Live at The Masquerade, Red Fang: Live at The EARL, The Floozies: Funk Jesus – The Second Coming at Variety Playhouse, Okeechobee Music + Arts Festival, SweetWater 420 Festival, Hippie Sabotage: Path of Righteousness Tour, Shaky Knees, Shaky Beats, Sloss Music & Arts Festival, & Muddy Roots Music Festival by following us on all social media formats: Concerthopper on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.  Also, you can follow my personal concert hopping on Facebook and Instagram for even more photos not available on Concerthopper.com.

Remember don’t think about it, just buy the damn ticket! As always, hope to see you at a show or festival soon!

Shaky Beats Music Festival 2018

Shaky Beats Music Festival in Atlanta, Georgia just released their 2018 line up and it’s coming in as one of the best EDM festivals of the year so far. This line up is stacked from top to bottom with names that have been taking the EDM genre by storm for the past few years.  The three main headliners leading this festival line-up are Kygo, Marshmello and Zedd. This festival is only going on its 3rd full year and its starting to gain some traction as Atlanta’s #1 EDM festival as it pulls names that have been on the main stages of Bonnaroo, EDC, and Okeechobee.

Shaky Beats had its inaugural year in 2016 and took the nation by storm with a break out line up that featured Odeza, Big Gigantic, Cherub and Marshmello. This festival is almost like the millennial younger brother to Shaky Knees, an annual festival in the same location with a more alternative/indie rock vibe. Both festivals have virtually the same production companies behind them, which means Shaky Beats has the creative minds behind it to help it grow in the best ways possible.

This year Shaky Beats is coming in with one of the best, must-see line ups with big names like Excision, Dillon Francis, SevenLions, Borgore, G Jones and Kayzo. Then the undercard is even overflowing with talent with names like Buku, Bleep Bloop, Thriftworks, Manic Focus, Space Jesus and Ookay Live. Shaky Beats has done an amazing job of meshing all the sub-genres of EDM into one lineup that pulls some of the biggest names that are currently touring the EDM festival circuit.

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Shaky Beats is shaping up to be the #1 EDM festival in the Atlanta area, with its only contender being the Imagine festival. Even though Imagine has a much heftier line-up, you have to also consider the fact it is a camping festival which requires having the ability to camp for 3 days in Atlanta. For those who live in the Atlanta area and don’t have the interest or ability to get away to a camping festival for a weekend, Shaky Beats is the place to be. During Shaky Beats, each ticket holder can leave and re-enter the festival up to 3 times per day throughout the weekend. The doors open at 3:00pm on Friday, 2:00pm on Saturday, and 1:30pm on Sunday. This gives everyone ample amount of time to get to the park every day without worry about missing some of your favorite artists who may end up being the opening act one day.

Even if you're not from the Atlanta area and you want to stay somewhere in the city for the weekend, the luxury of being able to leave and re-enter is awesome because you will still get to explore the city. If you've never been to Atlanta and you're coming in for the weekend, some must-see areas would be Piedmont Park, The Beltline, and Centennial Olympic Park. Airbnb is definitely worth looking at if you're not from the area and looking for a place to stay that isn't going to break your bank account.

Shaky Beats 2018 is gearing up to be the hottest festival in Atlanta with a completely electronic vibe. Tickets are on sale now for only $169 plus taxes and sales fees. You definitely don't want to miss your chance of seeing Marshmello crush his headlining set!

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The Jewel of the South: Sweetwater 420 Fest (2018)

sweetwater-420-fest-glory-2018 Every year, I try to find at least one new festival that has an outstanding lineup to attend. This year is no exception with the insane announcement for this year’s stacked lineup for the Sweetwater 420 Fest in downtown Atlanta. Sweetwater 420 Fest will kick off the festival season for me and I cannot think of better way to do so than in the middle of beautiful, downtown Atlanta. I am still a little surprised that I have not attended this festival before this year, but it is never too late to start. Last year’s lineup did boast the likes of Widespread Panic (4 sets over 2 days), Trey Anastasio Band (2x sets), Ween, Slightly Stoopid, Moe., and Dirty Heads to name a few. This year, Sweetwater 420 came out with their guns blazing with their initial lineup announcement of Umphrey’s McGee (2x sets), Tedeschi Trucks Band, Sturgill Simpson, Vulfpeck, and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (2x sets)!

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Wait that was just the beginning too! Just recently, Sweetwater 420 Fest came out with their last wave of artists and look who just joined the party: The String Cheese Incident (2x sets), Greensky Bluegrass, Soja, Ghostland Observatory, The Infamous Stringdusters, The Motet, and Brandon “Taz” Niederauer – “artist at large”. Now ponder this: The String Cheese Incident + Umphrey’s McGee = “Cheesy McGee” a jam session that could possibly take place during this weekend at any of the sets that each band performs at the festival. I will give you a few moments to let that sink in before going further… I know it’s a lot to take in. I’ll wait. Well enough of the big names on this year’s lineup, let us dive into some of the lower lines of artists/bands: Marco Benevento, Funk You, The Mantras (Beastie Boys Tribute Set), Bird Dog Jubilee, Dr. Stranglove, and Southern Avenue to name a few worthy of checking out. Plus in addition to sick lineup, 420 features a 5K run, the Planet 420 Eco-Village, the 420 Disco, the 420 Lyrics & Laughter (a platform for comedians and up-and-coming local acts), an Artist Market, and a Food Village for all patrons to enjoy once inside the festival grounds.

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Late night shows will be announced at a later date and will be held at various venues located within the city of Atlanta. So keep checking back with Concerthopper.com on Facebook/Instagram to see who is playing and where they end up doing so during the 420 festival weekend! One that we know of, the Pre-Party Kick Off with The String Cheese Incident performing at the Variety Playhouse sold out within seconds after tickets went on sale. So do not sleep when these shows are announced online and get your ticket A.S.A.P. You can still grab a 3 day pass for either General Admission or the 3 day Big Fish V.I.P. wristband for this incredible, weekend through the Sweetwater 420 Fest page. I am very excited to partake in my very first Sweetwater 420 Fest and I hope that you can join us at Centennial Olympic Park too!

If you are from out of town and need a place to crash then I suggest www.airbnb.com or www.booking.com. As an added bonus, use this link and get $40 off your first stay with Airbnb.com & use this promo link https://www.booking.com/s/43_8/tzolis90 for $25 cash back on Booking.com. Need a ride while in Atlanta? No sweat! First time users can use the following codes for discounts on local ride shares: Lyft – TARYN273 or Uber – hristost3ue. Got any questions about the festival, check out this link to their information webpage to get that curiosity satisfied.

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‘Like’ our page on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and stay up to date in 2018 on all music related events/festivals such as: Corrosion of Conformity and EHG: Live at The Masquerade, Red Fang: Live at The EARL, The Floozies: Funk Jesus – The Second Coming at Variety Playhouse, Okeechobee Music + Arts Festival, SweetWater 420 Festival, Hippie Sabotage: Path of Righteousness Tour, Shaky Knees, Shaky Beats & Muddy Roots Music Festival by following us on all social media formats: Concerthopper on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.  Also, you can follow my personal concert hopping on Facebook and Instagram for even more photos not available on Concerthopper.com.

Remember don’t think about it, just buy the damn ticket! As always, hope to see you at a show or festival soon!

Hop on to FestEvo Before Everyone Else

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FestEvo has relaunched as an easy to use app and website designed to help you #FestivalBetter. Festival newbies can get all the info they need to get the most out of their festival experience in one spot without having to scour the internet. The home page has just about every festival you could think of listed and easily searchable based on criteria such as artist, dates, location or genre. Each festival's page includes basic information, links to the festival's website and social media accounts. There's space for attendees to post about their festival experience and you can listen to the current and past lineups as well.

Become a member by clicking here. Membership is free, but you can receive some useful extras at the rate of $10, $25, $50, & $100 a year. Reap the benefits of being an early member and earn Props by inviting your friends to join the community. Props are like flyer miles and can be used on things such as exclusive members-only raffles!

Parts of the Website

Education is the main goal of the FestEvo community.The FestivalGoer's Guide is a quick and easy read. It's multi-authored guide with contributions by long-time festies who are experts in the topic they cover. It's a great refresher course for even the most seasoned FestivalGoer. It covers a variety of topics related to helping you #FestivalBetter. Such as, but limited to: Leave No Trace +1, Personal Festival Gear (PFG), Making Friends, Group Tips, Bringing Kids, Keeping your Tent Cool, Nutrition and controversial, but necessary topics such as Safe Drug Use, Hooking Up, and Scalpers.

The Gear page gives you an idea what to bring and what to leave at home. I would suggest scrolling through it before shopping for your next festival. The listed items range from fun (costumes, lights, wigs) to practical (tents, coolers, fans).  

Raffles are the most unique perks available to FestEvo members. You can use the Props you earn to easily enter raffles for festival/concert tickets, apparel, gear and more.

Not sure how to get a festival or where to stay while there? Let the Travel page help you out.

And of course all these handy dandy features and more are available in App form, in the App Store or Google Play.

We hope that FestEvo helps you #FestivalBetter. If you know of any other resources we should be sharing with Concert Hoppers, feel free to contact us via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @concerthopper.

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Keeping Rock Alive in the South: Shaky Knees 2018

sk18-savethedate-1200x628-2 Well it is that time of the year when festival season starts to kick in to high gear while many lineups are announced across the festival landscape. And one of my personal favorite music festivals, Shaky Knees Music Festival, came out with one of the best lineups yet for the 2018 festival season. Don’t believe me? Then let’s talk some more about this beautifully curated music festival taking place during May 4-6, 2018 at Central Park in Atlanta, Georgia. Now keep in mind this year they moved back to Central Park which hosted Shaky Knees 2015. There are pros and cons to this move to be fair. Major pro is that you are not smack dab in the middle of downtown Atlanta and there is more room for stages. One big con is some of the stages were in direct sunlight and it was a hot year in 2015. It was very hot and little to no shade at the time of the festival. Let’s hope that they get some better positioning for the stages to help ease direct sunlight bearing down on everyone. Either way, you will find me strolling Central Park during the first weekend in May for this incredible music festival.

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Shaky Knees boasts a Big 3 featuring Jack White (He’s Baaaaack!), Queens of the Stone Age, & The National. I will let that sink in for a moment before telling you that David Byrne (Yes that guy who sang in Talking Heads!), Tenacious D, Fleet Foxes, The War on Drugs, Vance Joy, Cake, Courtney Barnett (Been wanting to see her again!), Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats (One of my personal favorites!), Lord Huron, and Manchester Orchestra are also playing this year's Shaky Knees. Since this undercard is staked full of some amazing artists/bands like Greta Van Fleet (Led Zeppelin much?!), The Voidz (Mr. Julian Casablancas himself), Parquet Courts, The Brian Jonestown Massacre (Yep they are still around), Broncho, Waxahatchee, Teenage Wrist, Stop Light Observations (Major Rager 2017 alums!), L.A. Witch, & The Mezingers we have to hand pick some of the most notable names in the lower lines. And I’ll be honest, there are another 6 artists/bands that I could mention as worthy of digging into their discography. But let’s be real, you are already getting really excited about this lineup and doing some research on your own.

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If you are from out of town and need a place to crash then I suggest Airbnb over a hotel based on location if possible. Use this link and get $40 off your first stay with Airbnb.com. If your preference is more in line with a hotel, then check out www.kayak.com or www.booking.com (use promo link https://www.booking.com/s/43_8/tzolis90 for $25 cash back) for some great deals on hotels that are close to the area. Need a ride while in Atlanta? No sweat! First time users can use the following codes for discounts on local ride shares: Lyft – TARYN273 or Uber – hristost3ue. Got any questions about the festival, check out this link to their information webpage to get that curiosity satisfied. Never too early to start planning one of the best weekends you will have in 2018!

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‘Like’ our page on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and stay up to date in 2018 on all music related events/festivals such as: Corrosion of Conformity and EHG: Live at The Masquerade, Red Fang: Live at The EARL, The Floozies: Funk Jesus – The Second Coming at Variety Playhouse, Okeechobee Music + Arts Festival, SweetWater 420 Festival, Hippie Sabotage: Path of Righteousness Tour, Shaky Knees, Shaky Beats & Muddy Roots Music Festival by following us on all social media formats: Concerthopper on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.  Also, you can follow my personal concert hopping on Facebook and Instagram for even more photos not available on Concerthopper.com.

Remember don’t think about it, just buy the damn ticket! As always, hope to see you at a show or festival soon!

Project Pabst : Atlanta

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Project-Pabst-ATL-2017 (1)      Project Pabst is a touring music festival in the United States that started on September 26,  2014. After two phenomenal years of keeping the festival in its home city of Portland, Oregon, Project Pabst decided it was time to pack up shop and hit the road! This year Project Pabst is hitting four major cities across the U.S. spanning from Spring to Fall. The tour plans to hit Denver, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Atlanta, Georgia.

     Each stop on the tour features it’s own eclectic line-up of artists. On October 7, 2017 the tour will be making it’s stop in Atlanta, Georgia and will be featuring big names such as Peaches, Iggy Pop and Dinosaur Jr. But besides the big names on this line-up, Project Pabst features several undercard artists whose names may not be emblazoned across the top of the list, but they pack a huge musical punch.

     Of course, everyone is on their toes anticipating the Godfather of Punk’s shirtless on-stage antics, but what about The Coathangers? Are you guys ready to get your socks rocked off by an all-female Atlanta based punk band? Or how about another Atlanta based punk band, known as Illegal Drugs? Are you guys ready to have your faces melted by some of their punk rock power chord progressions and sick guitar riffs? Project Pabst is one of the few touring festivals that features a hefty amount of local talent on each stop of its tour. 

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     The only way to really prepare yourself for the amount of eclectic talent on Project Pabst’s Atlanta lineup is to start digging past the big names illustrated across the top of the list. Now, I’m not saying we aren’t excited about Peaches, Iggy Pop, Dinosaur Jr. and The Internet. What I am saying is once you get past the first couple lines of artist, the talent doesn’t dwindle away just because their names get smaller on the line-up. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that A Drug Called Tradition could compete with Iggy Pop for the headlining spot. Their song “Depression Stone” is a freakin’ bop, let me tell you.

     Pabst Project is definitely one of those festivals where immersing yourself into the festival is the only way to truly experience it. Just get lost in the East Atlanta Village, see every artist that hits the stage while enjoying some amazing food and beer at reasonable prices, and get interactive with some of the hands-on art that the festival provides. For example, there's the PBR Vandalism which is an interactive art experience that utilizes a van as a canvas. There’s also a PBRcade: a fully functioning old school arcade and PBR Wax: which is a fully mobile studio where fans can record their own demos and take home a vinyl 45. Can you imagine laying a needle down on a 45 and hearing yourself? You can also take home a limited edition 16oz. can of Pabst Blue Ribbon that will feature a local artist from the festival.

With tickets sitting at $45, I strongly encourage everyone to grab their tickets to one of the most interactive and diverse festivals that's going to hit Atlanta this fall. It's less than a month away before Project Pabst invades Atlanta. That's plenty of time to gather up your squad, get a playlist of all the artists on the lineup, and get yourselves pumped for a fun filled day of interactive art and music in the East Atlanta Village all thanks to Project Pabst presented by Pabst Blue Ribbon.

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Okeechobee: Let's Take Two

Back in March I wrote a piece about my experience at the inaugural Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival where I waxed poetic about "good vibes" and the overall "chill-ness" of the situation. Well, I'm about to do the same thing but with five new reasons that you should join me for the 2017 edition of Okee so that we can get all heart eyed about it together. Reason #1: Okeechobee Gospel Soul Experience!

As of right now only the Blind Boys of Alabama and Allen Stone have been announced and that would be an awesome mash up on its own but there will be more collaborators announced later and I cannot wait to check this set out! Yes, there will be another PowWow (like a Bonnaroo SuperJam) but this is the jam that could be the most memorable. With his ability to melt into the veins of any soul lover, Allen Stone will be sure to make our knees week and with a history of performing together for longer than I have been alive, the Blind Boys of Alabama will most definitely show up with that legendary sound that you can brag to your mama (even your grandma) about. In the swamps and meadows of south Florida with the Spanish moss swinging gently in the breeze, I can image the gospel soul experience will be a big part of what fills my cup with goodness that will last long after the portal closes.

Reason #2: The trees! The trees!

Like I mentioned above and in other pieces about Florida festivals, Florida is home to lots and lots of Spanish moss. Our sturdy old pines and giant live oak trees are covered in it and the horse ranch where the Okeechobee portal opens is no exception. During the day these moss covered beauties provide shade and space to hang your hammock and even an arena for slack lining, if that's your fancy. At night the trees become part of the artistic scenery of the portal by becoming a canvas for brilliant light design and lending open groves like Jungle 51 to the all night party set.

Reason #3: Camping included in ticket prices!

You don't see much of this anymore as festivals scramble to tack on every fee they can dream up. When you purchase any three or four day Okee ticket, camping is part of that price which is part of why I think Okeechobee is one of the best values in the festival scene right now. And the campgrounds are gorgeous! You shouldn't have to pay extra for Mother Nature and Okee ensures that at least while you're in the portal you won't have to do that. Just take care of her and keep it clean, okay?

Reason #4: The wild art!

From shrines and statues to body art and light shows, Okeechobee is really spectacular to take in. And I don't mean to nag on the value thing but the art in the portal is yet another reason that Okee is a best value pick. Where other festivals use the title of "music and arts festival" Okeechobee really delivers. And it's not just to look at! This year, guests could interact with many of the art pieces and even have art created on their own body. It's a huge part of the magic and adds to the beautiful culture that is Okeechobee Music & Arts festival.

Reason #5: THIS is just the first wave of artists!

No seriously, there's more to come and it's almost too much to handle. Almost.

The best part of any festival is all of the beautiful people who create and spread goodness in the temporary society that disappears all too quickly. Let's meet up and take some #ConcertHopper selfies!

Prepare to Make the Pilgrimage!

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The Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival is upon us! This coming weekend we’re heading back to the Park At Harlinsdale in Franklin, TN for great music, good food, and loads of fun. This year will be the festival’s second year and it’s going down on Saturday September 24th and Sunday September 25th. I talked last year about how much I enjoyed it the first time around, and I wrote earlier this summer about how excited I was for it this year. Today I’m here to give readers a last minute prep guide to what they should expect. First things, first: tickets. General admission for the whole weekend has already sold out (which is incredible! I think word got out about how great it was last year, so a lot of people got the jump early on it). BUT all hope is not lost. Single day tickets can still be purchased, so hurry before they sell out too! It’s $69 per day. Think of this as convenient for those of you who can only make it for one day and are unable to commit to the whole weekend. Also, bear in mind that this year there’s a separate parking pass available for sale for $30 that can be purchased alongside your ticket. If you forgot about it or didn’t realize it, it’s ok, they will be selling parking passes onsite.

More ticket information can be found here and further parking/traveling information here. (You can also travel to the festival via canoe! I’d love to hear feedback from anyone who does this, it sounds like it’d be pretty cool!)

Next important thing to discuss: the lineup!! This can either be a great opportunity for fun stage hopping or for a heartbreaking headache as you are forced to decide between beloved acts. The full day to day lineup can be found here. Music starts as early as 10:30am, but it ends at 8pm. The main act for Saturday is Beck (which I’m probably most excited to see since he blew me away at the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, KY two years ago) and for Sunday is Hall & Oates. There’s so many fantastic people there this year, not just the two main headliners. Last year the stages weren’t too far away from each other and the terrain wasn’t too bumpy at all, so Taryn and I were able to access each one in a good amount of time. There aren’t too many conflicts on this lineup, so hopefully we can repeat last year and make it to all the acts we want to see with time to spare. There’s three main stages this year, a specially curated stage from ASCAP Publishing, and a stage specifically aimed at those ‘Lil Pilgrims’ that will be joining you (remember this is a family friendly festival, so there’s something for all ages!). Speaking of the children, this year they’ll be able to participate in all sorts of fun activities including building their own puppets and even writing their own songs (how cool is that? Almost makes me wish to be a kid again).

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Two more things of note, first your wristband is more than just your entry into the festival. This year your Pilgrimage wristband is also your means of getting in on some sweet deals in the local shops and restaurants around Franklin, TN. It’s called Pilgrimage After Dark and if you’re wearing your wristband out and about town while not at the festival, certain stores will grant you various discounts on items and food.

This year the festival also has an app that you can download. From what I can tell it’s only available on iTunes (maybe us Android users can join in next year?), but it’s a great way to keep you up to date with the schedule, map of the festival, and plus it’s free. So download it before you get there so you’re all prepped and ready once you arrive.

Last thing I’d like to mention before I go and get packing, is that this year we here at Concert Hopper were fortunate enough to hold a contest to give away two full weekend passes. Participants had to share our Facebook post or Tweet about the contest for a chance to win. Our luck winner was Jared Brewster and we’d like to congratulate him and also thank everyone who participated! Concert Hopper is grateful for all it’s contributors and readers, we couldn’t do any of this without ya’ll!

I can’t wait to be in Franklin this weekend and to see everyone (including you, Mr. Timberlake ;-) ). I have a feeling it’s going to be a fantastic festival experience!

Vans Warped Tour 2016: Punk Rock 101

3 Vans Warped tour is one of the most iconic, annual traveling rock festivals in the world. Founded in the summer of 1995 by Kevin Lyman, this festival never ceases to bring out crowds as far as the eye can see. This powerhouse festival features almost a hundred bands between eight stages throughout the summer months, and for anyone who hasn’t been before, this makes seeing every band on your wish list is no easy feat.

The tour utilizes the stages that are present at the venue, but they also bring their own traveling stages. The set up for Warped Tour 2016 at Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta, Georgia made seeing all the bands on your wish list simple, yet difficult at the same time. The Lakewood Amphitheater stage was split into two stages, known as the Poseidon and Cyclops stages. Besides these two, Warped Tour had utilized one of the parking lots to set up six more stages that were surrounded by a sea of vendors and merchandise tents.

Two stages that were jam packed with big names were the Journey’s Left and Right foot stages. These stages were graced by the performances of Falling in Reverse, Less than Jake, New Found Glory, Pepper, Sum 41, Yellow Card, We the Kings, and Mayday Parade. And that’s just barely scratching the surface of the performances in Atlanta. There were also three other stages known as Monster Energy North, Monster Energy South, and Full Sail University Stage. These stages saw names such as Crown the Empire, Ice Nine Kills, The Word Alive, Vanna, Chelsea Grin, and Gideon.

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Vans Warped Tour is very different from other festivals due to the fact it is a traveling rock festival and it’s only in town for a day. For Warped Tour at Lakewood Amphitheater, the gates opened at 11am and things started winding down around 8pm. That’s roughly 9 hours of non-stop rock n’ roll pumping through your veins in the blistering heat as you thrash about with your friends in a mosh pit. With that being said, becoming a Warped Tour Veteran is no easy feat; these individuals deserve the purple heart of concert hopping.

Between constantly switching mosh pits since everyone’s set only lasts about thirty minutes, navigating between lines for meet and greets, lines for the bathroom, lines for water refill, and more lines for games that have free merch as prizes, I am here to give everyone a little Punk Rock 101 in hopes of preparing you lovely concert hoppers for next year’s tour.

Punk Rock 101 consists of five simple lessons. Lesson number one is make sure you get a full night’s sleep the night before. The sweltering heat that you’ll endure all day on top of moshing is going to drain your batteries quicker than you would think. Lesson two, you can never drink enough water. There are free water filling stations throughout the festival and camelbaks are allowed inside as well as a factory sealed water bottle.

The third lesson of Punk Rock 101 goes hand-in-hand with lesson two, and that’s food. The vendors inside the venue were, as always, expensive. In my opinion, eating a big breakfast before going is a good idea. Some people advise against this, due to the heat and possible nausea, but it’s going to save you a couple bucks. Just don’t eat so much that you feel weighed down. Lesson four is a hard one for most concert hoppers to take but, here it goes…You won’t be able to see all the bands you want to, and that’s okay. This is partially due to Vans Warped Tour scheduling, some bands won’t be joining the lineup until half-way through the summer due to scheduling conflicts. This was the case for myself wanting to see Good Charlotte and 3OH!3, but after it was all said and done I was more than happy moshing my heart out to everyone else’s performances that day.

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There were three performances that were the highlight of the entire day, and those were Pepper, Yellow Card and We The Kings. I had never heard of Pepper until I found myself front and center in their mosh pit at the Journey’s Left Foot stage, and this is definitely a band to check out if you have never heard of them. This pop punk trio from Hawaii really knows how to throw down a sick performance and get everyone singing along with their punk island vibes.

We The Kings brought everyone to their feet when they took to the Journey’s Left Foot stage as they announced they were recording the performance to be used in a tour recap video with their brand new single, “Sad Song”, that can be found on their Instagram. As they started performing “Check Yes, Juliet”, it was almost like everyone at Warped Tour stopped what they were doing to rush the stage and start singing along. They are without a doubt a group of pop punk icons that always put on one hell of a performance.

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Yellow Card’s performance was nonetheless bittersweet and marked a milestone for the band, and also Warped Tour as a whole. Yellow Card recently announced the band will be saying farewell as they make a final world tour after Vans Warped Tour comes to an end. Yellow Card is without a doubt one of the most iconic pop-punk names out there, as their 2003 hit single “Ocean Avenue” took the world by storm and still remains in almost everyone’s playlists to this day. Yellow Card toured the world for almost two decades, and spent almost a decade touring with Vans Warped Tour. It is sad to see such an amazing band, a band that can bring any crowd to their feet, close their guitar cases for the last time, but they have definitely left their mark on Vans Warped Tour. Not only that, they’ve left their mark on the punk scene as a whole. I know I wasn’t the only one shedding tears as they left the stage after absolutely shredding “Ocean Avenue” for one final Warped Tour in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Vans Warped Tour 2016 came to a close on August 13th and put yet another historical summer in the books. Though we have said farewell to Yellow Card, this now leaves us wondering who could be on the line up for the summer of 2017. As we all study up on our Punk Rock 101, we anxiously wait to see what next year’s tour has in store for us.

Ready to Hula?

BRIAN-HENSLEY-PHOTOGRAPHY-MusicFestnews.com-Hulaween-2015-172 Over the last several years, I have heard some wonderful stories from friends who have attended various festivals at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (SSMP) in Live Oak, FL. Sadly, I have yet to attend a festival on these otherwise magical grounds. This year, I will break my SSMP festival cherry with the fourth annual Suwannee Hulaween taking place over Halloween weekend (Oct. 28-30) and featuring: The String Cheese Incident (3 nights/ 7 sets which will include a themed Halloween set, featuring cover debuts, costumes, and other unexpected surprises), My Morning Jacket, Disclosure (DJ set), Umphrey’s McGee, STS9, Big Gigantic (featuring The Motet), The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Gramatik, and Lettuce to name a few. I wholeheartedly believe that this lineup is possibly one of the best lineups for a North American festival this year-to-date. And to make this an even better weekend, my good friend Todd and his soon to be bride, Erin, will spend the weekend here with a V.I.P. package for their honeymoon. I am really excited for them and cannot wait to get to the end of October so we can all enjoy so many great musicians gathering in such a lovely venue during the fall.

In other good Hulaween related news, it was recently announced that the addition of a brand new stage will be added near the horse stable camping area. This stage was added to help ease the congestion at the Amphitheater Stage (AS) and incidentally will mirror the AS in size and capacity. So if you are attending Hulaween this October, join us as we discuss some artists/acts that I am most excited to see this weekend. Unlike most of my previous festival articles, this one I am going into totally blind. I will be relying on my friends who have been to the grounds before for assistance. So consider this a part introduction to SSMP and who I am excited to see at this year’s event. We can first discuss the latest wave of artists and then the artists that I am most excited for on this year’s lineup.

Hulaween announced their highly anticipated Wave 2 of artists during a scorching mid-July. So now Claude VonStroke, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Washed Out, Brodinski, Louis the Child, The Travelin’ McCourys, Bondax, Larry Keel & Drew Emmitt, Twiddle, Quixotic, Too Many Zooz, Thriftworks, SunSquabi, and Louis Futon were joining this year’s event. In addition, they also announced a jam packed Thursday Pre-Party that would feature an impressive lineup just in itself: Umphrey’s McGee (two sets), Greensky Bluegrass, EOTO & Friends, Kyle Hollingsworth Band (SCI keyboardist side project), Marco Benevento, Fruition, The Werks, Ganja White Night, Late Night Radio, The Heavy Pets, Con Brio, and much more. Keep in mind that this is just the beginning of the festival and we still have three more days of music to enjoy!

Now this festival is packed full of big names from across the board and some of these names have graced some of my previous articles this year such as; Charles Bradley, Gramatik, Lettuce, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Umphrey’s McGee, The Revivalists, Big Gigantic, and My Morning Jacket. We can add these names to the list based on prior excitement. But just know that these names are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to do not miss acts on this year’s jam packed Hulaween lineup. Now let us get to the actual artists that we are going to discuss openly: Thriftworks, The Motet, The Travelin’ McCourys, Washed Out, and Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals.

Jake Atlas, a.k.a. Thriftworks, is best known for his experimental, sonic electro sound mixed with dubstep and hip hop beats. Originally, a native Pennsylvanian but now based out of Berkeley, California, Thriftworks has toured with both Bassnectar and STS9. Plus, he has also played such major festivals as Electric Forest, Coachella, Lightning in a Bottle, and Wakarusa in the past. Thriftworks is best known for his unique and creative sound that may not sit well with some die-hard EDM fans. But I think this is the exact reason why Thriftwork is worth experiencing at this year’s Hulaween; to experience something apart from the status quo of EDM. Check out his track, Swamp Gods, off his LP entitled Rainmaker (2012) and judge for yourself.

Fresh off their amazing Red Rocks performance with Medeski, Martin & Wood and Vulfpeck, The Motet is very high on my must see list. Best known for their combination of funk, afrobeat, and jazz, The Motet always delivers a spirited and enthusiastic performance no matter where they are performing. Their latest LP, entitled Totem, was produced by Eric Krasno (of Soulive and Lettuce fame) and was written jointly by all seven members of the band. If you have not listened to this new album from The Motet or any of their material, then do yourself a favor and get acquainted with their signature funk sound before Hulaween.

Now to switch it up a bit, let us talk about a bluegrass jam band named The Travelin’ McCourys and why you should not miss them at Hulaween. If the last name McCoury rings a bell, it might be because of the Del McCoury Band. The McCoury family has been active in the music scene since 1967 and there are no signs to let off the gas anytime soon. Unfortunately, The Travelin’ McCourys will not feature Del as he is replaced with Cody Kilby (guitar) for touring purposes. But Ronnie (mandolin) and Rob McCoury (banjo) will make their father Del proud with each lively performance. They are also joined onstage with fellow musicians Jason Carter (fiddler) and Alan Bartram (bass). So change it up some at Hulaween and catch The Travelin’ McCourys for a great, dynamic bluegrass band that loves to jam!

Next up we have Georgia native Ernest Greene a.k.a. Washed Out (WO) who is bringing his inimitable dreamy, synthpop sound mixed with trip hop beats and chillwave electronica to Hulaween. I am very excited that WO made Hulaween’s wave 2 of artists and also very eager to add him to my article of must see artists. You might be thinking to yourself… ‘Why does the name WO seem familiar?’ Well if you are a fan of IFC’s Portlandia, then you hear WO’s track “Feel it All Around” as the opening theme for this hilarious show staring SNL alum Fred Armisten and Carrie Brownstein. WO’s blend of music will definitely be something to witness at Hulaween and I employ you all to at least try to make half of his set if scheduling produces a conflict.

Finally on my list, there is Brandon Paak Anderson a.k.a. Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals (APATFN) who will impress the crowds this October with their eclectic blend of soul/hip hop/funk mix. Throwing a little good vibes and some dance music into an otherwise perfect weekend does not hurt anything at all. So why not choose Anderson .Paak? In such a short time .Paak has worked with Dr. Dre, The Game, Schoolboy Q, 9th Wonder, Flying Lotus, and T.I. on some incredible collaborations. This performance will definitely be a non-stop dance party full of some great people enjoying APATFN throw down a killer set all the way to the last note.

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Thank you for letting me into your Hulaween planning and I hope that you enjoy everyone you see this year. Still need to get your ticket to Hulaween? Pre-sale tickets were moderately priced at $189.00 when they announced the Early Bird sale. Tickets are currently priced at $259.00 (at the time of publishing) and are available on their website. Keep in mind that the price will increase soon ($279.00 for Tier 3), so act fast when you start planning your festival weekend. Tickets at the gate will rise to $295.00, so you better get on the ball and secure your tickets now! General admission includes admission to the festival and ‘Primitive Camping’ during your weekend at SSMP. Pre-Party tickets ($89.00) are available for a separate purchase. If you plan on arriving earlier than Friday to the festival, you will need one of these for admission. Even VIP tickers holders and those in cabins/hotels will need to purchase something in order to join in the festivities. Speaking of VIP tickets, guess what? They are all sold out! Better luck next year!

Single day tickets ($105.00 tax included) will be available but only to purchase at the gate, and will not include any camping. SSMP offers RV hook ups (power and water) for those who want to take their personal camper to the event. To bring your RV to the festival, you will need to purchase a Car Camping pass. The Car Camping pass is priced at $20.00 per vehicle, but is not required because you can always park for free in the outer lots and ride an extensive shuttle service system to the campgrounds.

The exact physical address for SSMP is 9379 Co Rd. 132 Live Oak, FL 32060 and can be used for all GPS purposes. The festival will officially open Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at 12:00 PM. If you plan to arrive uber early to set up camp, know that will also need to purchase additional tickets on their page. This extra fee is for those arriving as early as Sunday, October 23, Monday, October 24, and/or Tuesday, October 25, 2016. Still have some unanswered questions? Check out their FAQ page and see if it helps you out.

All this talk about Hulaween makes me wonder if I can make it all the way until the end of October? This is definitely a weekend that you do not want to miss. We hope you can join us down at SSMP for Hulaween this October and bring a friend or three with you. This unbelievable lineup is on pace to create one of the most memorable weekends this year with some extraordinary sets that will make the history books for sure.

Stay tuned for our coverage of Hulaween and other festivals (including Project PBR, Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival, and Music Midtown)  in the coming months by following us on all social media formats: Concerthopper on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.  And follow my personal concert hopping on Instagram also. Remember don’t think about it, just buy the damn ticket! As always, hope to see you at a show or festival soon!

 

Twelve Days of Roo Clues: Part 2 (Clues 7-12)

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Bonnaroo Welcome back folks! Now that Christmas is over, and we have all of our #RooClues in order, let's go over the last 6 and try to figure them out. If you haven't already, read Part 1 here. The last batch had some of the easiest I've seen this year. However, a few still have me quite stumped. Others say they have them all solved, but I beg to differ. You will have to decide for yourself.

Clue 7-

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Audio:  "Watch out at midnight."

This one is undoubtedly Trampled By Turtles. One of their newer songs is titled "Midnight on the Interstate." Could it get much easier than this? No others came close. Clue 7 solved.

Clue 8-  

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Audio:  "Getting back to our Roots"

Many people have just up and decided this is Flume. I beg to differ. While this may be right, my argument here is this: Bon Iver! The "root" of the word Bonnaroo= Bon. "Flume" is a Bon Iver song. I mean come on people. Anyways, how is Flume "getting back to our roots"? Makes no sense. Others have suggested it being The Dead, but I'm calling this one to be Bon Iver. Say Flume all you want, we'll see who was right in a couple months. The play on words is classic Bonnaroo.

Clue 9- 

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Audio: "Don't be afraid to see what you see."  Ronald Reagan quote from his farewell address.

This one is almost as cut and dry as the Clue 7.  Reagan quote, Mrs. Regan, The War On Drugs.  Others have suggested Cold War Kids, but I think The War On Drugs is the answer here.

Clue 10-

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Audio:  "Someone needs a bath."

This was one of the most debated clues of the last batch.  The consensus seems to be Death Cab for Cutie.  Close runner ups were Cradle of Filth and Bombay Bicycle Club.  Personally I'm hoping for Death Cab.  Everyone is beginning to list them as the answer but I'm still not 100%.  Here is a snippet of superfurryanimal's post on inforoo concerning it:

Somewhat Logical Guesses So Far: Death Cab for Cutie: - Cars R Coffins T-shirt clearly ties to the band name - Babies are cuties. Sometimes? - Radio clue might lead to lyrics in two songs. "No Sunlight" and "When Soul Meets Body." - The baby appears to have a rash/measles with could lead to his song "Summer Skin." - Talk of a new album and tour in 2015 Bombay Bicycle Club - T-shirt is from a popular biking company. - Radio clue could tie into the song "Rinse Me Down." Cradle of Filth - Strait forward connection to picture and clue. - Playing a few fest this Summer already.

Most fingers point to Death Cab.

Clue 11- 

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Audio:  "Ariel's Trusty Advisor"

Bonnaroo must have decided we were getting too confused on the first batch because they seemed to have made these way easier.  Consensus for this one was Belle & Sebastian.  Once again I quote superfurryanimal:  

 Reasoning: - Belle and Sebastian have a song called "Enter Sylvia Plath." - Plath has stories called Bell Jar & Ariel. - Ariel's trusty adviser in The Little Mermaid is Sebastian.

Case closed.

Clue 12-

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Audio:  "One of our favorite co-workers, he's spent some time in the garden."

The consensus here is Robert Plant, for obvious reasons. For me, this was another open and shut case. Seems the biggest brain-busters were in the first batch of clues. What do you think?

With that, RooClue season is officially over as well as 2014 campers! You know what that means right? We are only a couple months away from knowing the official lineup for Bonnaroo 2015! Combine the RooClues and all the other general confirmations/rumors and we are looking to have quite the line up. Keep it on ConcertHopper.com, Facebook.com/ForeverBonnaroo and Inforoo.com for the latest in all things Bonnaroo!

Happy New Year!

-Zach

Twelve Days of Roo Clues: Part 1 (Clues 1-6)

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Well folks, it's that time of year again! Rumor season is in full swing for Bonnaroo 2015 and the Roo Gods threw us a real curve ball this year, Roo Clues way earlier than usual! Dubbed "12 Days of #RooClue", the new approach corresponds closely with "The Twelve Days of Christmas", ending on December 23rd with the 12th clue. Bonnaroo is currently posting them around Noon (EST) over on SnapChat @BonnarooSnaps and Instagram, with an audio addition to each clue over Roo Radio. We've had six so far, so let's go over each one and hopefully narrow down the possibilities of who they could be. A few were pretty easy, others not so much...

Clue 1-

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For yours truly, this had to have been the easiest one by far. By the end of the day, there was a consensus on this one that it was Glass Animals, an up-and-coming band from England, their debut album was released this past summer and they are currently on a world tour. If it is them, expect some heavy psychedelic and groovy vibes coming from their set. You could compare them to a post Amnesiac Radiohead, but more accessible and laid back. Look for them to be at a Tent during late-night.

Other contenders for this clue were Kid Koala and Iggy Azaela.

Clue 2-

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This one people are still divided over. The audio clue was "Welcome to Springfield". The Instagram picture and Snapchat picture were different, with one having the 2014 lunchbox in it, causing a lot of confusion as to if it was even part of the clue or not. Some of the first guesses were Childish Gambino, because of his new album STN MTN (stone mountain). However this did not take into account the audio clue. A similar guess, with a little more pull was Modest Mouse, because the mountain is part of the Teton Mountain Range, hinting at Blame it on the Tetons, a Modest Mouse song. This still did not take the audio clue into account. The final 2 that we narrowed it down to however were Yonder Mountain String Band and Fleet Foxes. For YMSB, it all fit, Springfield related to the festival they host near Springfield Missouri, the lunchbox hinted that it was someone who was there in 2014 (YMSB was one), and the mountain picture, well, over yonder there's a mountain. I had a dissenting opinion though and here was my theory- There was a song written way back in the late 1950's by a man named Walter Vaughn. He lived in Springfield, Missouri. The song was entitled "Blue Ridge Mountain". Blue Ridge Mountain could possibly refer to Blue Ridge Mountains by Fleet Foxes. Hence the mountain picture. The lunchbox could have referred to a line from Blue Ridge Mountains where they "Over near Tennessee". Yeah, typing all that back now I may have been reaching a little far, but a guy can dream. All in all, the consensus after days of debate was Yonder Mountain String Band, although many will still disagree.

Clue 3-

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Clue 3: harder than 1, easier than 2. Only a couple artists made the final cut with this one after hearing the audio clue "race car", as well as hearing the "little drummer boy" song playing in the background. While "little drummer boy" may have not been part of the actual clue, many still took it as so. The lead contender was Blink 182, with the explanation as to why here:

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Many also looked at Ringo Starr being a possibility. Others included Dopapod and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. The latter I could see as the most likely contender with Blink because Dale Earnhardt drove the #8 car, and octopus has 8 legs. Also out of nowhere it was also mentioned that Deadmau5 owns racecars, has a song entitled Cthulu (octopus creature), and a recent song entitled Infra Turbo Pigcart Racer. Time will tell who was right.

Clue 4-

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Audio Clue: "Open Wide". So, dog mouth/nose picture with a doctor reference. That narrows it down quite a bit. Top contenders for this one were: Houndmouth, Sick Puppies, and Dr. Dog. I would rule out Dr. Dog because they were just there last year. (which is why I was skeptical of YMSB from the 2nd clue) Taking into consideration the sound of both Houndmouth and Sick Puppies, I'd have to say the winner for this one is Houndmouth. Once again we shall see.

Clue 5-

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The audio clue was "Billy Mays Approves". Alllllrighty. Well clearly these are bottles of bleach. The band most have agreed on here was Bleachers. But does Bill Mays approve? How about The Chemical Brothers or Tool? One poster on the Bonnaroo Facebook page mentioned Tool because Billy Mays sold an item called a Tool Band-It. But then where do the jugs of bleach come in? Other than Bleachers, I don't see a real fit here.

Clue 6-

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Audio clue: "Bucket List". This one's most likely contender seems to be John Mayer Trio. They did a song on the movie The Bucket List, 3 straws for the trio, however that is about as far as it goes besides John Mayer having done Christmas songs and Felis Navidad playing in the background during the Snap. It doesn't address the ice, the liquid in the bucket, or the beer. Ice T was another guess but that doesn't address the audio clue! Rubblebucket was another name thrown out there. This one just came out the day this article was written so maybe we are still missing something here...

No matter what any of these turn out to be, we are looking at quite a year for Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Ticket prices are up, Roo Clues are early, and this rumor season has been the craziest I've seen since covering the festival. Who knows who will headline?! Why are the prices higher? Why all the extra hype this year? Time will certainly tell campers! Head back here on December 23rd for my second installment of "Twelve Days of Roo Clues!", where yours truly will sit down again and try to decipher the last half of these brain busters. Until then stay tuned to ConcertHopper.com and go like Forever Bonnaroo for the latest on all things Bonnaroo!

-Zach

Support the Freedom Chair: the Festival Wheelchair of my Dreams

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I was scrolling through Facebook, Saturday morning while procrastinating when I stumbled upon an article about the Kickstarter for the Freedom Chair: the Adaptive All-Terrain Mobility Machine. [embed]https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gogrit/freedom-chair-the-adaptive-all-terrain-mobility-ma[/embed]

My first thought,“Holy shit. These people are building the festival wheelchair.”

As I looked at this wheelchair, I daydreamed about pushing myself with ease through the grass, gravel, sand and mud that is inevitable at music festivals. The Freedom Chair would have been such a blessing in the mud at Fly Free Fest this year. As much as I hate to admit it, being covered in mud did put a damper on my Fly Free experience this year. Having the Freedom Chair would have made maneuvering easier and would have kept the mud off my arms.

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I ugly cried, for multiple reasons as, I watched the videos and read more about this project.

I’m very emotional person; I cry when stuff makes me feel sad, happy or angry. I cried because that guy can work as a tailor again; this product is going to help so many get around so much easier and the part about getting off the pavement. Yes, yes, yes… All of us wheelchair users have had that “nah, it’s cool. I’ll watch you guys have fun without me from the sidewalk” moments.

I cried mostly for my selfish reasons. Getting a new wheelchair was a more difficult process than I anticipated. Last November I set out to get a new festival-friendly chair before the start of festival season in May.

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I have Cerebral Palsy, and I’ve been unable to walk my whole life. I haven’t had a new chair since I was about 15 or 16 years old. I have insurance through my employer. So I assumed this would be pretty cut and dry and wouldn’t cost me much since a wheelchair is a medical necessity and my family never paid out of pocket in the past.

In August, after nine months and two different wheelchair companies I was finally sitting in my new wheelchair with a $3,040.77 bill for the out-of-pocket expense. After insurance, I still have to pay $253.40 for 12 months for a chair that isn’t even the everyday/festival chair of my dreams. So imagine my heartbreak when I see the chair that I not only want, but need would have cost me less. I shared my story, because the only negative reactions I read while researching this project have been the price and in comparison the price isn’t bad. Had the Freedom Chair been out in November I would have gladly forked over the money and not even bothered with the insurance company or other wheelchair companies.

I hope you will join me in supporting this Kickstarter. You will see me happily festival hopping in this chair or something similar one day.

Oh, The Woes of Cutting off the Wristbands

You guys, I cut off my wristband shortly after snapping this picture this morning. I considered keeping them on, but four was getting a little excessive.

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Afterwards, I had remembered this picture of Allen Stone’s and my wrist, and I began regretting it. Christine and I had a chance to meet Allen Stone after his Nightfall performance. He had just performed at Bonnaroo 2013 a month prior. Spotting his Bonnaroo wristband had sparked a conversion about the beauty of music festivals. Christine and he even compared Bonnaroo to church.

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I usually keep my wristbands on until they wear off or until a grown-up activity comes up that requires me to be formal. My sister, Sarah took this picture after an afternoon of tie-dying during Thanksgiving break last year.

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I gathered up all my wristbands and put them in my Bonnaroo lunchbox for safekeeping until I decide what to do with them.

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One more story. A while back my nieces, Ryleigh and Hannabeth, four years old at the time, were complementing me on my wristbands. They're sweet like that. I was telling them how I got them. When I mentioned Forecastle, Ryleigh asked, "were there dragons there?" Dragons? Oh... Forecastle.

I’m seriously considering getting some Festiclips. My wrist feels naked.

Now I’m looking at my favorite wrist selfies and sighing.

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All My Life...

Kicking things off with 'All My Life'. I've waited all my life for this moment. This past June, Taryn alerted me to, what was at the time, the only officially announced Foo Fighters concert of the year: they’d be the closing headliners of the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in New Orleans on November 2, 2014. I’ve dreamed of seeing the Foo Fighters in concert since I was at least 14 years old. I had even recently told Taryn that after having seen the great Sir Paul McCartney the previous summer at Bonnaroo, that left the Foo Fighters and Fleetwood Mac as my next big ‘dream concerts’. So when she told me about Voodoo, and I looked up how cheap tickets were, I immediately jumped on it. Nothing was standing between me and my man Dave Grohl.

Like all important moments in my life, I need to place this in context. The Foo Fighters hold a very special place in my heart. For one, they were the first band that was really ‘mine’. I can barely play an instrument (the recorder and the dulcimer for those who care) and I suck at reading music, but I was raised to be a passionate music fan from birth. My parents and my older sister were all music lovers and they in turn passed that on to me. I got my knowledge of classic rock and oldies from my hippie parents. I kept up with pop music via my big sister (seven years my senior –so thanks to her I was hip to the likes of Smashing Pumpkins and Ace of Base while my peers were still singing along to the Barney theme song). For most of my life, I was exposed to some great music, but mainly music that was from others. I hadn’t really discovered anything on my own yet.

Very appropriately, it was back in November 1999 when I was watching Saturday Night Live that I first saw the Foo Fighters. Their third album There Is Nothing Left to Lose had just come out, and I remember this was the first time I heard “Learn to Fly”. I sort of recognized Dave as the drummer from Nirvana (though I was 11 years old at the time and hadn’t really ‘gotten’ Nirvana yet, so this was inconsequential to me at the time), but beyond that I was pretty unaware of the Foo Fighters. I was immediately intrigued and can remember how excited I use to get whenever I’d catch them on the radio. You see kids, back in ‘the day’ there was no iTunes or mp3’s and while there were these cheap things called cassettes that a lot of us got our music on, they were being phased out by these things called CDs that were expensive as fuck –so my primary source of music was the radio. Thanks to the Foo Fighters I discovered the contemporary rock station in town. Which in turn helped spark my continuing love of radio in general, because radio is always free ya’ll!

So the Foo’s were my first musical discovery outside of my family or even friends and classmates at school (this was 1999, and so the late 90s as some of you older peeps might recall was dominated by pop acts like the Spice Girls, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, etc –so again, I was aware of those groups because I went to public school, lol), and given that they were the first sign of me branching out, opening my mind, growing up, and so on, that alone warrants the place they hold in my heart. They symbolize my first step into the larger world.

Fast forward to spring 2004, and by this time I’d discovered Nirvana. Now, for anyone who loves music as we do, we all know how you go through a ‘Led Zeppelin phase’ at some point in your life. Even if it only lasted a hot second or for a decade, everyone has had a Led Zep phase, so don’t deny it or act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. [For those who need a more in-depth explanation of what the ‘Led Zeppelin phase' is go pick up and read Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by the brilliant Chuck Klosterman.] 

Dave rocking out on guitar. He, like all of us, had his own Led Zeppelin phase.{pic from Kayla of Roam Free Collective}

Well, I’d also argue, based on personal experience, that for a lot of music fans who were too young for Nirvana during their heyday in the early 90s or were maybe even born afterwards, they have a ‘Nirvana phase’. I seriously knew kids in middle and high school, and even college, who discovered Nirvana for the first time and much like the Led Zep phase, this could last for a short period or a long period in which it was all Nirvana all the time. For me, this phase hit exactly at the tenth anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death in April of 2004.

Today I still like Nirvana, but I won’t pretend it’s at the same level it was a decade ago. And unlike some people who aren’t really going through a Nirvana phase, but a Kurt Cobain phase masked as a Nirvana phase; I was seriously in a Nirvana phase. I simply loved the band and their music. Obviously Kurt was the center of it, but I genuinely loved Krist and Dave too. In fact, I already liked Dave before liking Nirvana, so I can say my Foo Fighters love isn’t born out of trying to keep that Nirvana love alive. If anything, discovering Nirvana actually just made me love the Foo Fighters more, because it made me happy to see that Dave Grohl wasn’t content with having only been the drummer (in an admittedly long list of drummers) for a band that had had its moment in the spotlight and had since passed on.

My Nirvana phase lasted roughly from spring 2004 until the winter of 2007 and in that time the Foo Fighters were probably the only contemporary band I really loved. In this time frame, the Foo’s released two albums and put out some of their most popular singles (I can still remember being excited when they released the music videos for their songs “The Pretender” and “Long Road to Ruin” –in this day and age, who actually gets excited about music videos anymore?!). I can remember a friend making me a mix cd around the time I was first learning to drive, and it was dominated by ‘80s and ‘90s bands except for the Foo Fighters. Learning to drive was a nerve racking experience for me at the time, so having Dave sing me through it was pretty comforting! Actually, high school in general sort of sucked, so just having Dave Grohl to serenade me through those boring, awkward years was a much-needed blessing.

So far, it probably reads like the Foo Fighters are simply loved because of their nostalgic value to me. And yes, there is a heavy dose of nostalgia going on here. They remind me of important milestones in my life and helped me through my teenage years. But I’m about to wax poetic here and explain why they still matter, so hang in there!

I’m going to get honest here and admit that until this most recent decade, I pretty much avoided and hated on most forms of contemporary music. That probably places me in a special Hipster category of some kind (the annoying kind that is adamant that good music died before my time). Ask Taryn, I would go on rants in high school about how rock music pretty much died somewhere in the 90s, probably with Kurt Cobain, and beyond the Foo Fighters (because Dave is just that awesome), there just weren’t any bands taking up the mantle and trying to go forward.

Now my opinions weren’t based in pretension alone. I did genuinely attempt to try to listen to contemporary rock music. I tried and failed at liking Green Day, Interpol, Nine Inch Nails, The Killers, Coldplay, and even U2 (only The Killers and Coldplay got reevaluated over the years) amongst others. If this reads as ‘too mainstream’ for you Hipsters out there, um do you remember the last decade? The era before smart phones and high-speed internet? For those of us not rolling in money CDs were ludicrously overpriced, I was growing up in a small hick town in southeast Tennessee, and I had dial-up internet until 2007, so my means of hearing music were much more limited than they are these days. By the time I had internet faster than dial-up (but not as fast as what we have now) the first musical thing I did with it was bootleg the Pixies catalog and then scrounge around for old David Bowie concerts from his Thin White Duke era. When technology finally caught up with me, I was over trying to ‘get’ contemporary rock music. It was obvious to me that the fun stuff had already passed me by. While I might feel different about that today, I will still argue that last decade was a low point for rock music. I might not have had the means to seek out good music, but looking back it’s not like there was a lot of it I missed.

I bring all of that up because while rock music has arguably had a creative resurgence in the last five or so years, as has my fandom for it (there is sooo much great music in general out there right now), the Foo Fighters weren’t just my water in the desert years, they also helped me transition from being snobby about classic rock, to being more enthusiastic for music in general. Our idols and heroes are a reflection of us in a lot of ways. We admire people for the qualities we feel they represent.

Dave Grohl is one of my musical heroes and has been for what seems like most of my life. And one of the reasons why I love him and continue love him is probably best exemplified in the Foo Fighters latest album and documentary project, Sonic Highways. Dave Grohl for all his guitar and drummer god awesomeness is first and foremost a student. Even after two successful bands, dozens of hit albums and singles, more than one concert film, and even now a tv documentary program –he isn’t just out there trying to preach to the masses or teach his fans anything, he’s out there still taking it in, still learning, still trying to do better. To most people it looks like he knows it all, has seen it all, done it all –but he hasn’t, and he knows this.

Dave getting schooled, this time from Trombone Shorty

I’m going to be bold and compare him to probably one of the few artists I love more than him, and that’s Sir Paul McCartney. Not because they’ve collaborated together, played together, or even covered each other’s songs, but because they both share essential qualities that I admire them for. They both could easily be out there doing what a lot of other artists do, and are encouraged to do, puffing themselves up, glorifying themselves and their art, but they’re not. Through the years, despite the criticisms, they’ve in their individual ways, kept open minds and have always strived to do something different.

After over 50 years in the music industry, people are only now starting to realize how much of a trendsetter Paul McCartney was in his day. Maybe he wasn’t hitting the top of Billboard charts, but look back at that man’s catalog and you can see how innovative he was (and not just in The Beatles or Wings, but even as a solo artist), how he’d be experimenting with reggae and electronic music before either was even popular. Maybe he didn’t always do it successfully, but he at least was open to hearing different kinds of music and trying to incorporate it. He’s 72 years old, and he’s still putting out music and doing his thing.

Dave Grohl, while much younger, is similar in this regard. Even if it’s not successful, he at least has proven that he’s capable of getting out there and experimenting with how he makes music. Maybe only Jack White and Radiohead can say the same things these days, but neither of them are as popular and successful as Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters (not arguing their musical merits here, just stating the obvious: the average person on the street knows the Foo Fighters, they might have only heard of Jack White and Radiohead).

Over the years, we have all seen various pop, rock, and even indie acts come off as arrogant fucks who think too highly of themselves in one way, or another. They all come off as distant, out of touch, the sort of people that you might like singing along to their hit single on the radio, but you probably wouldn’t ever want to have a beer with them and chill. But in this day and age of ostentatious and grandiose celebrity, Dave Grohl has continued to stick out as the one guy you could hang out with, and have a cool time doing so.

I don’t care how cheesy it might sound, but of all the various musicians out there, he still comes off as one the humblest, nicest, most relaxed guys in the business. For years, he’s been proclaimed as the ‘nicest man in rock and roll’, and for good reason. I’ve been to my fair share of concerts and to see a huge band like the Foo Fighters and a big time artist like Dave Grohl come out on stage and talk to the audience like he’s your bro and he’s one of you is rather cool. If you watch any interview with him or see any concert footage where he’s talking to the audience, he comes off as genuine and sincere (and has a great sense of humor), never pretentious or uptight. With Dave Grohl, what you see is what you get.

Living in this manufactured celebrity culture of ours, it was easy for a guy like Dave Grohl to become very important to me. He showed me that fame didn’t always destroy you or give you a big head. Dave has always kept it real. There’s no fakery, hypocrisy, or media machine spinning with him, which is refreshing. When I was young and impressionable, looking for someone to admire, I’m glad there was a genuine guy like him around.

My love of Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters is more than just nostalgic based. I’ve been in love since 1999 and over the years I’ve more than once attempted to see them live. Every time they came to Nashville or Atlanta, even if it wasn’t feasible that I could go, I always checked out ticket prices and availability. Somewhere way back in high school, I made a list of the top five currently active and touring artists I’d love to see live in concert, and the Foo Fighters were number two…right behind Paul McCartney. My hope at seeing them live was rekindled after having the good fortune of seeing Macca at Bonnaroo in 2013. Dreams did come true, and if I was lucky enough to see a Beatle in concert, there was still hope for Dave.

When the means and opportunity finally presented themselves this year to make it happen, I jumped on the chance in a heartbeat. Seeing the Foo Fighters live would be a dream come true! To be able to see them up close, would be another dream. I can’t begin to thank our good friend Kayla, of Roam Free Collective, enough for convincing me to get down there into the pit and try to get as close as possible to them. She told me afterward that she knew I’d regret it if I didn’t go down there and try, and she was right. I was scared to do it, but she convinced me to take that risk and go for it. Sometimes life’s greatest moments only happen because we take a chance, and this was definitely one of those moments for me.

There is where it all began at Voodoo. Can you spot the Foo Fighters road cases hiding there?

To back track one last time, I’m going to tie in a concert going legend in my family that makes all of this even more significant for me. Growing up, my parents were huge classic rock fans, and they gave me my introduction to most of the bands of their youth, except for The Beatles. My mom gave me my middle name from a Beatles song, and they were her favorite band in the ’60s, but my dad only liked The White Album, and could care less about them otherwise. Somehow my father’s indifference and my mom’s waning enthusiasm meant that I was never raised on them or their music. But I was raised on the story of the one time my mom saw them in concert.

It was August of 1965, Houston, Texas. She was barely fourteen years old, and it was her first concert experience. She went with my aunt and one of their friends, and had always told me about how they had seats close to the stage. So close, in fact, that she could remember seeing Ring Starr’s blue eyes. That left an extraordinary impression on me as a kid growing up. I mean, my mom was up close for living history! Ringo was the drummer, so you know he was sitting behind John, Paul, and George. My mom was practically in the front row!

Later, after my mom passed away, my aunt and I were swapping stories about her, and the Beatles concert came up. I remarked how amazing it must have been to be so close to the greatest band in history. My aunt corrected me and said that they weren’t that close at all. The real story was that they were short, teenage girls, so they had to stand on their seats (which were considerably farther back then my mom had let on) to even see the band, not to mention they couldn’t hear the music for all the screaming girls around them. At one point, my aunt had to borrow the binoculars of the guy sitting next to her so she could see the stage.

I told her my mom’s version of events and asked her if she just had an overactive imagination about seeing Ringo’s eyes. She said no, what had happened was my mother was frustrated at being so far from the band that she kept getting up and going to the front of the stage over and over again. The police officers who were there for crowd control had to keep dragging my teenage mother back to her seat. Apparently this went on the entire concert, so my mother did virtually spend half of it up close at the stage!

I couldn’t help but think of my mom and that story when Kayla insanely convinced me to go down into the pit for the Foo Fighters set at the Voodoo festival in New Orleans two weeks ago. I didn’t get to see Taylor Hawkins eyes, but I did get to see the beautiful whites of Dave Grohl’s teeth! So it worked out.

The (blurry) whites of his teeth!

This concert is one of the best I’ve ever been to, and it’s one that I’ll never forget. By the end, I was both high on life and exhausted. I lost my voice after singing along to nearly every song. I not only got up close to one of my favorite bands, I got to see the mighty Dave Grohl and company rock their hearts out for us as we screamed our heads off in appreciation. This was real life; this was actually happening to me! From the beginning chords of “All My Life” to the last note of “Everlong”, I was living the dream.

Everlong

All images provided by the author unless otherwise noted. To see more from this Foo Fighters performance, view Kayla's images on Roam Free Collective's Photo Essay, "The Grace of (A Rock) God."

 

Worship the Music at Voodoo Music and Arts Experience

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Long before Foo Fighters played the last note of Everlong. My tribe and I were already planning our return to Voodoo Music and Arts Experience. Pack weather appropriate attire. We were cold.

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Live music. New Orleans. Halloween weekend. Enough said. But if you need further convincing…

The Performances

The Foo Fighters and Trombone Shorty treated us to a surprise collaboration.

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Jared Leto's stage antics kept the safety team on their toes during 30 Seconds to Mars' performance.

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Outkast ended their 40 Festival Tour with a bang.

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And more greatest was happening all around during the whole experience.

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The art was beautiful and interactive.

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The People

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The City

I need a beignet in my mouth right meow.

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The Water

The festival water actually tasted good.

Anyone who has drank Bonnaroo water on Sunday knows this is worth mentioning.

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The Cuddle Puddles

Cuddling for warmth is not common at other festivals.

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The Man Crushes

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The Memories

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The Ticket Price

Tickets are only $99, for a limited time.

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Thank you, Instagramers for sharing your Voodoo Experience with us!