Why I Loved LouFest

I’ve been to a few music festivals. The one that is most familiar to me is Wakarusa, since it’s only about 1 hour or so from my house. From every festival I’ve attended, I have a list of things I wished were different, things that would make the festival better. And it was as if someone read my mind and put together a festival out of that… and bam, there was LouFest.

It really was one of the best fests I’ve been to. I’m already on the list to buy early-bird tickets next year.

I had never been to St. Louis before last week, when I made the 5 hour drive to meet @DocMurda and Jenn for LouFest 2013. We had time to go around the city on Friday and were able to find several amazing food spots, in addition to confirming that the Stratosphere in Vegas is a taller than the Gateway Arch. We stopped by LouFest’s home, Forrest Park, which amazed me. It’s so huge. And it’s home to the amazing St. Louis Art Museum (which is free!) But back to LouFest, here are the reasons why I fell in love with it:

1. The lineup: Man, what an awesome lineup. It was the reason why I bought the ticket. The Killers, WALK THE MOON, The National, Local Natives, Alabama Shakes, Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros, Fitz And The Tantrums, Youngblood Hawke, and the rest of the awesome bands that LouFest introduced me to, like The Mowgli’s, Jukebox The Ghost, Desert Noises, Wild Cub, etc.

2. The size: LouFest was the perfect size. I didn’t get any blisters walking from one stage to the other, no one passed out with a heatstroke, the stages were so accessible it was ridiculous. Big shout-out to the organizers, because everything was so well coordinated. It ran so smooth. Even the water station was extra efficient. No big lines for anything, and if there were big lines, they ran quickly.

3. The food: The festival’s food vendors were all local restaurants with super delicious options. No funnel cakes to be found. It was pretty awesome. My faves were the carne asada tacos from Mission Taco Joint and the sweet corn from the Atomic Cowboy. YUM.

Bonus points: No trash, only recycle bins of several kinds and clean portable toilets.

What I didn’t love hated: People smoking everywhere. Seriously, you guys, here are some helpful links for you.

I’m waiting on my film to develop (I’m not kidding) and then I’ll show you the awesomeness and tell you about my favorite music sets. I’ll leave you with a few phone photos.

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LouFest Wrap-Up: Top 10 Favorite Moments from LouFest Part 1

Admittedly, I am still very much in the LouFest honeymoon stage. The festival ended 6 days ago, but it was my first, and I loved every single moment of it. We had heat, humidity, rain downpours and the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen outside of the desert and the mountains of Colorado. I could go on for days about the non-music reasons I enjoyed the festival, but that is not what you are here for. So, without further delay, here are my Top 10 Favorite Moments from LouFest (split up into Top 5 of each day).

Saturday:

On Friday night after a day of sightseeing, @begt and I determined which of the bands we didn’t spend much time researching, that we were going to see. There were a few times we changed our minds, and I don’t think either of us regretted the choices we made.

5) We started off the day and festival completely on the right foot. We had both listened to the two acts opening up the festival before, but only really briefly. One of the bands, Kentucky Knife Fight had appealed to me due to their bluegrass influences. They are a local St. Louis band. The other band with an opening set on Saturday was Jukebox the Ghost from Brooklyn, NY. After listening to a coupe of their songs on Friday night (after a few drinks) we decided to go with Jukebox the Ghost…and I was not disappointed. Their set was high energy from the first note. This 3 piece is a mix of Queen, Ben Folds Five and the Fray with a side of Brooklyn Hipster. From my personal favorite song (after purchasing their newest record Safe Travels) “Adulthood” to the catchy relationship woes filled “Oh, Emily” the band kept the energy through the roof. They even ripped out an amazing version of “Somebody to Love” from Queen. Not many artists can sing that song well, lead singer and keys player Ben, did an incredible job. They ended their set with their most popular song, “Somebody” from Safe Travels. 

4) I didn’t get to catch much of the set of this next band (as I went early to the set mentioned in #2), but we had to take a break from the heat and watched the band Modoc under the trees at the BMI stage. This Nashville based band has a very powerful sound and occasionally breakout a bit of a Southern rock sound. I hope that this band comes out west soon so that I can see a full set.

3) One of the bands that I was excited to see that was unknown to me before the LouFest lineup, is Utah based Desert Noises. These guys played about halfway through the day on the smallest stage of the event. The stage setup was very idyllic with an open back and a beautiful view of the trees of Forest Park. These four guys look to be about 20 years old each, but have a very mature sound. I feel that  their name is very representative of their music as I can think of few bands who would go as well as these guys when driving through the expansive deserts of Utah and Nevada.

About halfway through their set, Kyle, the lead singer looks out into the crowd and says to the audience “This is good…this is good right?”. I hope he realized just how good their set was.

I have a feeling that these guys are just beginning a long career. They just wrapped up a tour across the US, but I am sure they will head back out on the road soon. Check out the haunting “I Won’t See You”.

2) As mentioned in #4, I had to leave the Modoc set early. The reason I left that set early was to head to the main stage to prepare myself for Trampled By Turtles. When finding out about LouFest I was so excited that TBT was playing the festival. I’ve been listening to this band for a couple years, and really wanted to see them live. They don’t travel a lot to the western US, so I was very happy to catch them here. I went to this set alone, as @begt and Jennifer (aka the comedian) needed some more time to lay around…but I met a delightful couple from Peoria, IL who had seen TBT on a couple different occasions. Trampled by Turtles did not disappoint. This Duluth, MN based band keeps  their energy high and makes sure that each member gets to showcase their skill. I was very excited as I’ve not seen a live mandolin player since starting to play one myself. The TBT mandolin player is quite good, and at one point the fiddler brought out a mandolin and the two of them were getting down.

They played many of their hits including “Victory”, “Whisky”, “Wait So Long” and they finished their set with my personal favorite, “Alone”.

1) There is really no contest about the best show of the day on Saturday. I first heard this band when playing around on our Roku  while watching music videos on the one of the many music video channels. Their sound is unlike any other group I’ve heard. I was bummed slightly as they played Las Vegas the day we left for St. Louis, and it would have been great to see them twice in the same week, but I believe that I will have many opportunities to see them. What is the band you ask? None other than Los Angeles  own Fitz & the Tantrums. I was blown away by their performance. They have so much energy and they know exactly how to get the crowd into the show. Other than the National and Wilco, this was the biggest crowd I saw at any performance. FATT is one of those groups that sounds better live. Their recorded stuff is great, and definitely gives a feel for the band, but they should be enjoyed live and in person.

From LouFest (not taken by me) “Out of My League”

And “MoneyGrabber”

Stay tuned from my wrap up from Sunday. I am still processing the amazingness that was Sunday at LouFest.

LouFest Spotlight: The Mowgli’s

Meet The Mowgli’s. One of the bands I have discovered thanks to LouFest‘s awesomeness. Learning about the band is giving me flashbacks to @DocMurda’s description of a hipster band, although I wouldn’t call them that. The Mowgli’s are an eight-piece alternative rock band from southern California. Their sound is easy and the harmonies remind me a lot of Family of the Year.

They have only one album, Waiting For The Dawn, which is very much worth the listen. They play LouFest on Sunday at the same time that The Lonely Biscuits do. Oh, schedule conflicts, what would we do without them. Oh yeah, enjoy all the awesome music! I’m going to try to see these guys and gal.

The will be touring with WALK THE MOON this Fall.

Other songs to check out are “Emily,” “Love is Easy,” “Say It, Just Say It,” and the title track “Waiting For The Dawn.”

LouFest Spotlight: The Killers

I would be remiss if I didn’t include the Killers in our discussion of LouFest. I realize that the Killers are in fact, one of the most well known American bands in the world. From what I’ve been able to gather from other media outlets and European music mags, the Killers may be the biggest American band in the world. This does not stop them from being one of my most favorite bands, and the band I am most looking forward to performing at LouFest. The Killers are the Sunday headliner for LouFest (Saturday is Wilco).

There are very few bands that exist on my “must see live” list and my concert “bucket list”. The Killers are atop both of those lists. I do admit that seeing them live in Las Vegas probably differs from seeing them in other locations, but lead singer Brandon Flowers has a genuine charisma that I’ve not seen from any other lead singer (including the charismatic likes of Rob Thomas and Adam Levine).

I saw them late last year when they returned to their hometown of Las Vegas for a set of shows to close out 2012. In my life their are few times when I’ve been so ill that I could barely walk…their December 29th show was one such day. Unless I was in a hospital, I was not going to miss this show. I had been waiting for years to see them live…and when I did, it was magic.

LouFest will be the second time I see them live, and the third time will come next month when they headline Vegas’ own Life is Beautiful Festival.

The Killers were formed in Las Vegas in 2001. They’ve released four studio albums, with the most recent in 2012, Battle Born.

I am sure their festival set may differ from their set from the most recent “Battle Born” tour. However, I know every song they play will be amazing.

One of my favorite songs from Day and Age, “Spaceman”:

As @begt already has seen, The Killers have on occasion while in the UK performed my most favorite song of all time. Both Flowers and  band co-founder Dave Keuning are admittedly huge Oasis fans… “Don’t Look Back in Anger” performed by the Killers:

When I saw the Killers in December, they started the show with a song not often performed live since the tour of the same name. “Sam’s Town” will always mean Las Vegas to me no matter where I live. For the first three years I lived here, I could see Sam’s Town (a local casino) from my house. When this started playing this song, my sick self started shaking.

I cannot post this without sharing my favorite Killers song (one of my top 5 favorite songs, now you know two), which is also from Sam’s Town, “Read My Mind”.

 

LouFest Spotlight: The Lonely Biscuits

Here at Sandy Beats, we’re super excited for LouFest.

This time next week, two-thirds of Sandy Beats will reunite to enjoy this awesome festival. @DocMurda has done a great job of researching the bands in preparation, but I haven’t. So I decided to do a little YouTube research on some bands today. I present to you, The Lonely Biscuits (I’m not gonna lie, I am a fan of the band’s name)

They’re a fairly new band, forming in 2011 while the guys attended Belmont University in Nashville. Their music is a blend of soul, funk, pop, and rap. Good luck trying to fit them into one genre.


LouFest Spotlight: WALK THE MOON

Cincinnati, OH based WALK THE MOON is the band I am most looking forward to seeing at LouFest who I’ve not seen live before(tied with Trampled by Turtles). I first heard this band in 2010 thanks to the Imagine Dragons radio station on Pandora. Despite being on the same Pandora station, I would not necessarily say that these two bands sound alike. They both have a flair for the poppy synthesizers and energetic performances, but their music sounds very different. Formed in 2008 with their current lineup finalized in 2010, WALK THE MOON scored their first big hit with the anthem “Anna Sun” in 2011. Esquire magazine even named the song the song of the summer in 2011. They didn’t receive much airplay on the song until 2012 and have since had another single chart in the US, “Tightrope”.

I really cannot wait to hear “Anna Sun” live and most likely lose my voice. If you haven’t heard the song before (you’ve been living under a rock). Their videos are pretty “artsy” and this one definitely fits the bill. Apparently, the video is full of friends and family of the band.

I believe that this video was inspired by this scene from the amazingly funny BBC show “The IT Crowd“. Its on Netflix if you’ve not seen it.

Back to WALK THE MOON…last summer the band made 7 music videos in 7 days while on tour. My favorite song of this bunch is “Next in Line”. For having no budget, no time, and few resources, I think they did a pretty good job with these videos.

LouFest cannot come soon enough.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros 8.1.2013

Thanks to @begt I’ve been obsessed with Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros for a little over a year. I was really excited when I saw that they were on the bill for LouFest because I had heard they put on a great show. About a month ago, I saw that they were coming to Las Vegas to perform at the Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan Resort here in Las Vegas. Through a stroke of luck and a bit of magic, I was able to get a free ticket to this show.

photo 5

photo 3 I had not seen a show at this venue before, but had heard that it was fun and intimate. I was not disappointed. This is the pool area for the resort, but they had drained the largest area of pool as this is right in front of the stage. There were smaller pools still available for those individuals who wanted to dip their feet in the water.

Having gotten there a bit later than expected due to an amazing dinner at the Spanish Tapas joint Jaleo . My friend and I settled near  the rear of the pool near the main bar. Despite being closer to the back of the crowd, we still had an incredible view of the stage.

The show started a few minutes late, but it seemed as if it could have been due to the massive size of the band, and perhaps the lead singer, Alex Ebert, appearing to be quite inebriated. I understand and applaud that he is the brainchild between the “cultish” vibe of the band, and perhaps that is why he was a bit out of it when the show started…or it could be because they like their weed. I am not judging. The first few songs included 40 Days Dream and my favorite That’s What’s Up. 

As the 1.5 hour set went on the vibe became distinctly more “jam bad” with songs like “I Don’t Wanna Pray” lasting for almost 10 minutes. The band really seems to enjoy what they are doing, and at least 1/2 of the members sung at some point in the night. The lead singer, Alex, has a great stage presence. He draws from the energy of the crowd, but also lives in his own world. I am not entirely sure he knew where he was last night.

The set ended with much more energy than it started. After the first round of “we have time for only one more”, which happened to be their biggest hit, “Home” where at least 3 people in the crowd were able to tell a story. With two birthdays included in these stories, there was a quick “Happy Birthday” to some of the fans. I was a bit worried at this point because the second song I was most waiting to hear, “Man on Fire”, had not been played yet. Fortunately, they did play this song in lieu of a traditional encore. By far, this was my favorite performance of the night.

The entire set included songs from all three of their releases. Their newest single, “Better Days” was also a highlight of the evening.

The chemistry between singers Alex and Jane is pretty incredible to see. They obviously enjoy what they are doing. It is always great to see a group with this much love of what they do.

I am greatly looking forward to their performance at LouFest as I am ready to use my two dancing feet.