Day 1 Recap : Lollapalooza 2014 : Grant Park, Chicago, IL

Written by Ryan Hickey

Back for our second consecutive year together at Lollapalooza, photographer Rachel Rubenstein and I journeyed into the festival in the early afternoon, ready for a big first day. After checking in, we headed to the Samsung Galaxy stage to see our first act of the day: Bombay Bicycle Club. The British indie outfit allowed us to warm up before we hit the hard stuff. Their smooth, poppy music is pleasant, but also offers a world beat influenced percussive quality. The gentle voice of lead singer Jack Steadman at times reminded me of both Gene Ween and The Radio Dept.’s Johan Duncanson.

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After taking cover for a brief rain shower, we walked across the park to the Grove stage to catch Jagwar Ma. Currently touring North America all the way from Australia, these guys pump out spacey, digital, electro-rock/dance music with heavy vocal effects and great stage energy. As the rainstorm had seemingly blown past the city, lead singer Gabriel Winterfield commented, “Did we just scare the weather away? I think we did!” The rain never returned to Grant Park after that, at least not on Friday. These guys seem to be steadily rising so be sure to catch them in your area sometime soon.

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Up next, we caught the infamous and currently pop-chart-dominating Iggy Azalea at Perry’s stage. The area was swarmed with youngsters preparing for the Australian born pop star to hit the stage. Iggy, whose birth name is actually Amethyst, ran onstage in skin-tight exercise gear, accompanied by a handful of backup dancers. She ran through popular hits such as “Bounce” and “Fancy,” keeping the crowd energized and entertained. After a few more songs, we bounced like Iggy and headed to the next show.

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Next on the Lakeshore stage was Chvrches, the electronic band from Scotland. Regardless of a somewhat awkward stage presence from lead singer Lauren Mayberry, their sound and style is jumpy and fun.

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Just a quick turnaround towards the Samsung Galaxy stage and we were on our way to see our next act, Broken Bells. Formed by Danger Mouse and Shins frontman James Mercer, I was excited to see the melodic sounds of this crazy good side project. I had no idea Danger Mouse was so versatile instrumentally, switching from keys to bass to drums throughout the set.

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We continued our back and forth stage game and turned back around to the Lakeshore stage yet again for the Swedish indie pop singer, Lykke Li. While she has not necessarily cited her as an influence, and I had not previously thought this, it seemed like she was projecting a ton of Stevie Nicks both vocally and performance style wise. She ran through material from her new record I Never Learn, including the lead single “No Rest For The Wicked.”

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Our final stop along the musical trail on day one was back at the Grove stage for Phantogram, who describes themselves as “street beat, psych pop.” The New York-based electro rock outfit delivers a fun and upbeat set, but also keeps things spacey and psychedelic with haunting, airy vocals and effects-tweaked instrumentation.

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Recap : Pitchfork Festival | Union Park, Chicago, IL | July 18th – 20th, 2014

After battling car trouble and visiting the best mechanic in Gary, we made it to Union Park just in time to catch Giorgio Moroder, the legendary Italian composer and producer of many disco era hits. He greeted the crowd with a big smile saying, “My name is Giovanni Giorgio, but you can call me Giorgio,” echoing what he says on the track “Giorgio by Moroder” on Daft Punk’s 2013 release Random Access Memories. Moroder carried the enthusiastic Pitchfork audience through a journey of some of the songs he wrote, produced or helped create, from “I Feel Love” to “Take My Breath Away.”

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Those in the crowd who were unfamiliar with his work were overheard commenting during his set:

“I love this guy. He’s so old. It’s amazing.”

“I feel like I’m watching my grandpa.”

“He’s actually not a DJ. He’s a composer, but just like, really famous.”

Giorgio thanked the crowd for their support and we prepared for the Friday headliner: Beck.

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Having never seen Beck, we were excited to see the unique songwriter and performer. The Scientologist rocker did not disappoint, opening up with the classic hit “Devil’s Haircut” followed by a variety of songs from his entire discography. After grabbing his acoustic guitar and playing some of his ‘softer’ material such as “Lost Cause,” Beck brought the energy level back up by paying homage to Giorgio Moroder with a cover of the Donna Summer hit “I Feel Love,” which Moroder had just played during his set.

The next morning, we enjoyed some much needed rest and brunch, and headed to the park early so we could capture the second day in its entirety. Our day of music started by catching the last half of a set by Brooklyn rapper Ka. His lyrics and presence are distinctly different from the ‘turn up’ style of the other hip hop acts who performed at this year’s festival.

Next on our agenda was Wild Beasts, a British band whose music provided an appropriately chill soundtrack to the early part of a warm and sunny Saturday.

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We ventured back to the Red Stage to see Cloud Nothings, which was originally a fake band created by lead singer and songwriter Dylan Baldi. The indie rock outfit from Cleveland rocked the stage with their straightforward, crisp post-punk sound, with drummer Jayson Gerycz acting like Animal from the Muppets.

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In an unprecedented move, rapper Pusha T arrived to the stage over 30 minutes late, but the crowd was quick to forgive him once his DJ started up. While running through his well-known tracks and feature verses, he followed the typical hip hop performance template of performing one-verse versions of tracks and repeatedly reminding everyone to make some noise. The mob of young females in mom jorts illuminated from their fascination with the former Clipse rapper.

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We headed over to see one of our most-anticipated shows of the weekend, tUnE-yArDs, the quirky project led by singer Merrill Garbus. I’m not sure why they use the alternating capital letters in their name, or where she got the hat Marty wore in Back to the Future II, or who did their makeup, but they put on an electric performance that had the crowd in a frenzy. Despite their appearance and sound, the lyrics are deeper than they might first appear. Songs such as Sink-O cover the broad topics such as ‘peace and love,’ though in a way that one would probably not expect. Garbus and the rest of the band delivered an incredibly enthusiastic performance that featured lots of fun, dancing, neon and wacky stage antics.

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We ventured over to the shaded Blue Stage to catch Kelela. Early in her set, she was thanking the crowd and acknowledging her being humbled by their presence and enthusiasm. She then sang original, chilling lyrics over the instrumental to the Jay-Z/Rick Ross track “F&%k With Me You Know I Got It.”

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Next on the Green Stage was Detroit native Danny Brown, the comical, light-hearted yet lyrically talented rapper. His DJ hyped up the crowd with a pre-show mini set of popular trap rap tracks before Danny came out, tongue sticking out and hair dyed green. He led the crowd through an energetic set of favorites such as “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” and “I Will.”

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While waiting to hear the next act, the highly anticipated performance from St. Vincent, we people watched for a bit as everyone shifted from stage to stage. In my opinion, St. Vincent’s Annie Clark was one of the most talent performers at this year’s Pitchfork Festival. She truly has everything a performer wants to have: beauty, dance moves, an incredible stage presence, a great voice and some sick guitar skills. One song featured elements of “Shout,” the pop classic from the 80’s synth pop group Tears For Fears. While our photographer headed to the next photo pit, I chatted with a group of cool folks for a few minutes, discussing our fondness for St. Vincent. The guy with whom I was chatting noticed my press credential and asked who we wrote for. I told him, “My Old Kentucky Blog,” and he responded by telling me that he religiously listens to @MyOldKYBlog Blog Radio show on Sirius XMU radio. Thanks for the conversation and kind words, and keep listening!

To wrap up the day, I headed back to the Blue Stage to meet up with our Ace with the Canon and catch part of FKA Twigs. New to me and fairly new to the scene, the London-based former dancer has a soulful, spacey and mystical style that somewhat resembles trip hop, but is also difficult to perfectly describe. Twigs, aka Tahliah Barnett, has a gorgeous voice and I’m hoping to get the chance to see her again in a smaller, indoor venue. Perhaps we’ll see MOKB bring her to Indy?

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Our third and final day started under a cloud of fatigue while catching the San Francisco-based post-metal group Deafheaven. This band is intense all around, from lead singer George Clarke’s piercing stares to their dynamic sounds that range from shoegazey mellowness to black metal screams.

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Next, we headed over to catch the quirky rapper Earl Sweatshirt. Clearly a part of the younger generation of rappers who have embraced an entirely different style from their hip hop forefathers, Earl instructed the crowd to sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” before beginning his set. He referred to his DJ as his “school shooter” and went into his song “Kill,” perhaps not the classiest of moves but the crowd grew even more hyped. After pointing out an unassuming person in the crowd he jokingly called “Brett,” he went into the song “Molasses” and had the crowd singing along to the hook. I laughed as people even older than me sat and watched Earl’s set.

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Next, we wandered back over to the Blue Stage to catch the pop rock sounds of Dum Dum Girls. They clearly have drawn inspiration from the punk era, as their name borrows from both The Vaselines and Iggy Pop. Their sound had me wondering if they may have some influence from the early work of the B-52s. We caught a few minutes of their set and headed back over to the Red Stage.

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I made my debut in the photo pit for Schoolboy Q, aka the ‘Man of the Year.’ His performance energy was top notch, constantly moving around the stage and keeping the crowd’s attention the entire time.

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We then walked over to wait for Real Estate. It seemed like there were some sound issues at first, as the audio was at a much lower level than the other acts, but they nonetheless sounded great. More on the mellow side of things compared to their co-performers at Pitchfork, Real Estate has recently gained my attention following their 2014 release, Atlas. Their sound is somewhat of a pleasant psychedelic affair, and mildly reminiscent of fellow New Jersey-ans, Yo La Tengo. Their set included a cover of The Nerves’ song, “Paper Dolls.”

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Our Pitchfork 2014 experience concluded with the one and only Grimes. The female crowd at Union Park flocked to the stage to see their indie pop hero, and she performed with non-stop high energy. One can only assume that her pink leg warmers were specifically intended to support the aerobics-like performance that was filled with dancing by Grimes as well as her Jazzercise backup dancers. While she sipped something from a coffee mug on stage, I could only think one thing: she needs more energy? Simply put, Grimes killed it, frantically turning effects knobs on her keyboard synths, rarely pausing for a break.

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Pitchfork 2014 was another one for the books, and we look forward to returning to Chicago for the festival in 2015!

Festival : Fun Fun Fun Fest : November 7th -9th | Auditorium Shores | Austin, TX

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Pound for pound what may be the best festival in the land, Fun Fun Fun Fest, has announced the lineup for this years incarnation. It takes place in Austin, TX from November 7th -9th this year at Auditorium Shores and Butler Park. Just like previous years, the variety is incredible with multiple decades and genres of music covered.

The lineup will include the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel, Nas, Judas Priest, Death From Above 1979, Flying Lotus, Death Cab for Cutie, the New Pornographers, Girl Talk, Death Grips, Sky Ferreira, Sun Kil Moon, Deafheaven, Dinosaur Jr., Madlib and Freddie Gibbs, Run the Jewels, Angel Olsen, Guided By Voices, Yo La Tengo, Ginuwine, Dum Dum Girls, Majical Cloudz, 2 Chainz, Iceage, Foxygen, Courtney Barnett, First Aid Kit, Ryan Hemsworth, Black Lips, Metz, Pallbearer, King Tuff, King Diamond, Julianna Barwick, Tinariwen, J Mascis, Alt-J, Thundercat, Pissed Jeans, the Blood Brothers, Mas Ysa, Gary Numan, Chelsea Wolfe, Lunice, SZA, and so many more.

The festival will also feature a comedy stage with its lineup being announced on July 1st. Tickets go on sale today.

[Win This!] : Two Tickets for The Pains of Being Pure At Heart w/ Fear of Men & Ablebody : Zanzabar | May 16th | Louisville, KY

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For those in and around our old stomping ground of Louisville, Kentucky on May 16th, we highly recommend heading over to Zanzabar for trifecta of great acts performing. Headlining will be New York’s The Pains of Being Pure At Heart who have their new LP, Days of Abandon, hitting shelves a couple of days before. Supporting will be one of our favorite new acts of the past year, Brighton, England’s Fear of Men, who will be performing songs from their newly released debut LP, Loom, and LA’s Ablebody, who share members with The Pains of Being Pure At Heart and former members of The Depreciation Guild. Full concert information along with where to purchase tickets can be found here.

To reward one of our readers, we have a pair of tickets to giveaway. To enter, all you have to do his give us a shout at our Twitter handle @MyOldKYBlog and tell us the album or concert you have enjoyed or are looking forward to this year. Hashtag it #MOKBCONTEST. The winner will be picked at random with not scientific method being used.

Festival : Forecastle : Louisville, KY | July 18th – 20th

It looks like Louisville’s little festival, Forecastle, is all-grown up and ready to make it known that it is more than just a regional festival. They just announced the full lineup that will take place at the beautiful Waterfront Park on July 18th -20th.

To say the lineup is stacked, is an understatement. You will get to see headliners Beck, Jack White, The Replacements all the way down to St. Lucia, Sharon Van Etten, Sun Kil Moon, and so much more. Really, we could keep going on about all of the highlights. You can get the full details here along with your tickets. For all of you who waited until the last minute in years past, we suggest you get them early. This is sure to sell out!

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My Old Kentucky Blog Presents SXSW Day Party with Wind-Up Records, Unrecorded, and Blah Blah Blah Science on March 13th

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After waiting patiently and fine tuning the final details, MOKB is very stoked to announce our SXSW day party in Austin, next week. We are teaming up with some of the very our fine friends at Wind-Up Records and, two of our favorite blogs, Blah Blah Blah Science and Unrecorded on March 14th at La Barbecue (1200 East 6th Street). We are bringing you, in our humble opinion, a pretty fantastic and diverse lineup. You will have the opportunity to put a face with enigmatic synth-pop project Great Good Fine OK, get a mini-Aussie invasion from The Griswolds and Strange Talk, catch the ascending Misun and Little Daylight, more established acts Blondfire and French Horn Rebellion, and so much more.

In addition to the great music, we will be offering free PBR and Lone-Star; free BBQ when you show the Applauze app to your server (while supplies last); along with art and screenprinting from Worst Of All Design / #SELLOUT. We would also be remissed if we didn’t give a shout out to our other sponsors Moniker Guitars, Applauze, Vitacoco, and Mailchimp.

RSVP here (add to My512) for free entry until at capacity. We have the full list of participants below along with a sampler playlist. The madness will begin at Noon. Be sure to look for future updates regarding set times.

Lineup:
Jillette Johnson
Wakey! Wakey!
Crobot
The Revivalists
Zella Day
Strange Talk
Great Good Fine OK
Little Daylight
Blondfire
The Griswolds
French Horn Rebellion
MISUN
Stamps
Rare Monk

New 7″ : The Pass + MOKB Presents Show Tonight

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Louisville’s The Pass plan are starting the year off kicking. For the first four months of this year, the band will be releasing a new 7″ with each coming in different colored vinyl. The eight new songs in total will lead to the full-length follow-up to 2012’s Melt LP. The first of the series features the electro synth-pop cuts “Sunny Day” as the a-side and “Don’t Take It” serving as the b-side. Both offer some blistering heat in what has been an extremely cold month for much of the States. You can find streams of both songs below and purchase the 7″ here.

In addition to the new releasing MOKB Presents will be welcoming the band along with Cincinnati’s Bad Veins to Indianapolis tonight at the Do317 Lounge in Fountain Square. If you are in the area or can make the trip, it sure to be a fantastic show to distract from the weather outside. Full details of that show can be found here.

Recap : Lollapalooza 2013 Day 3 : Grant Park | Chicago, IL

Lollapalooza 2013 – Day 3
Regardless of one’s festival stamina, by the third day, the wear & tear can start to kick in by the third and final day of Lollapalooza 2013. We arrived near the beginning of the lineup once again, albeit sluggish, sleepy and sore. While we missed Palma Violets, we pressed on through the fatigue to see Wild Nothing on the Red Bull Sound Select Stage at 2:00 pm. Jack Tatum’s dream pop band appealed immediately to me, probably because the group’s sound is so clearly and heavily influenced by 80’s pop and new wave, in particular New Order. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tatum’s songwriting has also been influenced by Yo La Tengo, as their distinct indie sound seemed to be evident in some of Wild Nothing’s set. At one point, Tatum acknowledged his excitement for getting to play on the same stage as The Cure (who later headlined the RBSS Stage), and that they are one of his ‘all-time favorite bands.’

Saltlick's Lollapalooza 2013 Day 3 album on Photobucket

Photos by Rachel Rubenstein

As if we did not spend enough time there on Saturday, we walked back across the park to the Grove Stage to see MS MR. However, unlike during most of the sets on Saturday, the Grove Stage was packed for MS MR. The New York City duo, led by vocalist Lizzy Plapinger, were playing as a four-piece outfit with a drummer and guitarist. Plapinger is either strongly influenced by Stevie Nicks or my mind is playing tricks on me. Not only does Plapinger have an eerily similar vocal delivery, her stage presence is also akin to that of the 70’s rock diva. Dressed in a tie-dye outfit, she led the audience through an enchanting set including ‘No Trace,’ hit single ‘Hurricane’ and a cover of the LCD Soundsystem classic ‘Dance Yrself Clean.’ Plapinger swayed back and forth projecting a slightly country voice to a crowd of devoted fans.

We marched back over to the Bud Light Stage for the much-anticipated Two Door Cinema Club. As early as twenty minutes prior to start time, people had filled the area surrounding the stage to see the Northern Ireland trio well-known for its style of up-tempo, crisp pop rock. The band appeared onstage with lead vocalist Alex Trimble donning a suit & tie and drinking a glass of white wine—one of the more gangster moves I’ve seen in some time from a musician. The band wasted no time and went right into ‘Sleeps Alone’ from their latest release, Beacon. In between an array of songs from their two full-length albums, Trimble takes a break to speak to the crowd: “This is our second time here…it’s such a great festival and we’re so happy to be playing for you guys.”

We left Two Door Cinema Club and hiked across the park to Perry’s to catch Dog Blood. One thing was clear about the Perry’s Stage for the majority of the weekend: the only thing that could have made me feel older would have been actually showing up at a high school, or simply one of the frenzied kids just walking up to me and pointing out that I am old. The maniacal crowd eagerly awaited the arrival of Dog Blood, a collaborative effort between dubstep master Skrillex and Boys Noize. Feeling like a chaperone at the prom, I walked close to the stage but stayed to the side of the crowd knowing that I would have been eaten alive had I tried to get into that madness. Our photog Rachel Rubes braved the insanity and went into the photo pit, where she experienced revelations about today’s generation of partiers and bonded with other photographers who were equally amazed at the scene that had developed prior to the show. The stage crew hoisted a large, black banner that covered the entire front of the stage, completely blocking the DJ booth and subsequently, any sight of Dog Blood. The duo came out on stage, and just as the beat was about to drop on the first track, down went the banner, revealing the stage and sending the crowd into an absolute roar over a track with the hook “throw your middle fingers up if you feel me.” The youthful audience was going nuts! We departed from the insanity at Perry’s and headed back north to the Bud Light Stage for the final group of shows for the night.

Vampire Weekend was next on our list, and by the time we arrived at the stage, there had already been a larger crowd than we had seen gather for any act up to this point at the festival. Rachel bolted for the photo pit and I stood back watching the crowd swell by the minute. Following a horn intro that reminded me of the Olympics opening ceremony music, they kicked off the set with ‘Cousins’ and the crowd burst into a dance party. The stage backdrop was elaborate and strange, featuring a floral pattern that looked like the wallpaper in an elderly woman’s bathroom, several large white pillars and a mirror in the middle. The band’s sound is not-so-subtly influenced by the likes of The Beatles and Paul Simon, in particular the ‘Graceland’ era. Lead singer Ezra Koenig took a moment to address the crowd: “It’s good to be back in Chicago…only this time we have a new album out!” The set continued with a mix of older and new material, and we finally pulled away to head back to the Grove Stage.

For the majority of the day, Rachel and I had been trying to anticipate just how ridiculous the 2 Chainz (formerly known as Tity Boi from the Atlanta rap group Playaz Circle) show would be. Twenty minutes before the show started and the crowd was already losing their minds, desperately shoving their way towards the front. His DJ came out on stage ten minutes before the scheduled show start and began hyping up the crowd on the mic, playing a medley of 2 Chainz tracks (this used to always be a total gaffe to play an artist’s songs before said artist took the stage, but times are different now). He cued up ‘Rotation’ and asked the crowd “how many blunts y’all smoked today?” and the crowd responded with cheers. Finally, the 6’5 rapper ran out on stage and the madness began. Actually a decent rapper but certainly heavy on hype and image, he led the crowd through a typical hip hop show that featured first-verse only versions of songs that stopped abruptly. Nonetheless, the ever-growing audience continued their craze as if their childhood hero was onstage and the entire Grove Stage was a twerkin.’

Like most everyone else in the older population at the festival, we headed to the RBSS Stage to see The Cure. It seemed like the entire city of Chicago (minus the under 30 crowd) was there waiting, as people were sprawled all over the area that surrounded the stage. We caught the first part of the show and were treated to an experience we may not get to see again. Robert Smith may look older but he sounds incredible. Always known for great songs but perhaps underappreciated for the quality of musicianship in the band, The Cure played to an enthusiastic audience who sat listening to Smith’s haunting vocals that once inspired an entire generation. Just as I was noting down that Smith’s songs all seem to center around the concept of love, the band broke into the timeless hit, ‘Love Song.’ Also noted during the performance were stickers on Smith’s guitar that included Amnesty International’s logo and a pro-choice sticker that read “My Body, My Rights.”

I reluctantly left in the middle of The Cure’s set to head back across the park to reconvene with Rachel, who had gone to shoot the Phoenix show. I walked into the stage area during ‘Lisztomania’ and enjoyed that and a few more songs from the Parisian pop rock band before we slowly walked our tired bodies out of the festival one last time.

This was my first Lollapalooza experience and overall, it was thoroughly impressive. The lineup was fantastic and perfectly blended today’s relevant artists with a few less current bands such as The Cure and Nine Inch Nails. If I could have changed one aspect of the festival, and this is probably just the old guy in me, it would have been the size and type of the crowd. Certainly just a casual observation and not supported by any data, it seemed that about 75% or more of the crowd was college age or younger. While I have no problem with this in and of itself, it did create a feeling that it was more about the party than the music. Also, there were times it just felt like there were too many people (see: Lana Del Rey at the Grove Stage). To each their own, though. We had a great time and would definitely return for another future Lollapalooza. Hats off to C3 for a superbly produced festival that seemed to have little to no glitches in the operations. Time to sleep this one off for a few days.

-Recap by Ryan Hickey