By: Cameron Lenard – Junior, Engineering
Bee Here. Bee You. Bee Free.
These six words hung over the entrance to Bunbury Music Festival 2015 and were written on top of every stage at the once-small music festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. The festival, in its fourth year, has grown immensely in its short lifespan, and this was the first year since its recent purchase by Columbus-based PromoWest Live. In previous years, the festival had approximately 8,000 people per day, but this year, that number jumped to 20,000.
After an initially rough start waiting in a lengthy line to get into the main gate, we had made it. A couple of poor excuses to leave work and $154 dollars later, we had entered the world of Bunbury 2015. After a 20-minute delay due to technical difficulties, we saw our first musical performance, Mikky Ekko, at Bunbury’s Scenic River Stage. Although his performance was cut short from the late start, he still played a lot of his set, which included his hit, “Stay.” However, his set did lack some of his other well-known songs such as “Smile” and “Time.” His talent was apparent, but it would have been better if he had the opportunity to perform his entire set. Even with the issues, he still delivered a very strong show.
Upon Mikky Ekko leaving the stage to make way for the crew of the next performance, we left to quickly eat some of the Bunbury staple Island Noodles before returning to see Catfish and the Bottlemen. Their set was high energy and as the person next to me exclaimed, “Wow! These guys shred!” And indeed they did. Their live set seems reminiscent of the days when electric guitar was king, and the iPod had yet to be mass-produced. After the first few songs, frontman Vann Mcann took the mic, and we learned that they were also having the issues Mikky Ekko had encountered previously, so they were “feeling it out.” The on-stage performance would not have led you to believe they were having any difficulties whatsoever, as they played as skillfully as any other band would have without the issues. These guys are definitely not a band to miss if you have the chance.
The festival was in full swing, and, at this point, most people were heading over to see Bleachers at Yeatman’s Cove Stage, the largest stage at the festival. To sum up their set: fantastic. Frontman Jack Antonoff was incredibly engaging with the crowd and they were the perfect performance to kick off an afternoon loaded with incredible bands. Their energy energized those who were just arriving at the festival and permeated the crowd. One of the strangest things about Bleachers, though, is that they have not one but two drummers on stage.
In what was one of the better performances of the weekend, Matt and Kim filled their time on stage with cover songs such as “Remix Ignition,” as well as many of their hits including “Daylight” and “It’s Alright.” In one of the weirder moments, Kim crowd-surfed while twerking above audience members, which only amplified the energy of an already amped crowd. They spent much of the time in between songs interacting with the crowd, passing out balloons or encouraging crowd surfing or even “peacocking” and “strutting [their] stuff for everyone to see.”
When Matt and Kim’s show ended, it was a mad dash to the other side of the festival to see hometown favorites Walk the Moon. The crowds were huge for the band’s homecoming at Bunbury, and they lived up to the hype. For more than an hour, they filled the air with upbeat positive songs from their new album “Talking is Hard” but also performed classics like “Anna Sun” from previous albums. As the sky started to open up and rain started to fall, it only seemed to cool off and energize the crowd. Coming into Bunbury, Walk the Moon was one of the most hyped bands, and, thankfully, they only exceeded the expectations set for them.
In the pouring rain, we made our way back to Sawyer’s point stage to watch Australia-based Tame Impala. Prior to Bunbury, I had only heard a few songs by Tame Impala and thought nothing of them. However, all changed. The songs I initially thought were “too psychedelic” and “spacey” were incredible live. While their sound is very psychedelic, feeding off the day’s energy in the pouring rain, they gave that energy back. “Elephant” and “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” had the crowd bumping. Unfortunately, due to the heavy rain, they had to cut their act short because of all the electrical equipment. However, every minute of dancing and listening to Tame Impala in the pouring rain was almost ethereal.
Since Tame Impala’s set was cut short, we had plenty of time to return to Yeatman’s Cove Stage for the headliners, The Black Keys. By this time, the rain had stopped and excitement had built for the headliners performance. While The Black Keys songs were good live, they lacked the same energy and crowd-involvement many of the previous acts possessed. Musically, The Black Keys killed it, but with a thinning and weary crowd they need a much more interactive and upbeat stage presence than what they presented.
For the next day’s review of Bunbury, click here.