This year’s Summer Meltdown Festival was nothing short of amazing… and hot. Where do I begin? From the musicians that performed, to the dust-loving, sun-kissed, water-floating attendees, to the deliciously refreshing foods, to the surprises that they had in store for us, to the way that I was treated with a press pass. Regardless of the sweltering 85 degree, sharply sunlit days, it caused me to call my editor and request the festival for every year to come.
The things of Meltdown that rocked:
- A KILLER LINE-UP with such a range of styles and musicians. I seriously loved every band that I saw and heard raves of all of the bands that I missed.
- Two main stages right next to each other with no overlap of bands.
- No real lag between sets.
- Giving the bands an hour to an hour and a half time frame; this created a relaxed flow, and gave the festival-goers the opportunity to actually experience each of these bands without feeling they had to leave so they wouldn’t miss one of the other sets.
- The raddest Media Bus I’ve ever seen.
- Healthy food options on the grounds and the most refreshing menu backstage for the artists…and press.
- Creating a very respectful, creative, and open environment.
- A gorgeous venue and great layout of the grounds. Everything was close together, manageable and well-thought out.
- Village Stage Dinner Theatre near the Food Vendors.
- Late Night Music and Cabaret.
- Sweet and captivating laser shows.
- Scheduling it during the Perseid Meteor Shower.
- A very involved Kid’s Camp near the main stages allowing parents and kids to both be entertained.
FRIDAY’S MUSIC REVIEWS:
Although this festival had a very diverse group of musicians, there was quite an emphasis on the funk and soul bands; so it only made sense to kick off the festival with a little funky fusion from the Bellingham band, Snug Harbor. It was obvious these guys really enjoyed playing together, which is always a must in performances. The only downfall of this set was the temperature and perhaps too early in the festival for a crowd to thrust their hips and shake their hair without feeling like they were going to pass out from heat stroke. However, since the grounds had great acoustics, I am sure that all of the festival-goers setting up their camps were appreciating the gyrating improvs and the brass resonating through the campgrounds.
This band… this band. Sometimes when I go to shows where I don’t know the bands, I highlight the ones that shouldn’t be highlighted, and I pass over the ones that come out and floor me. Current Swell was a band that I highlighted and well deserved. I had high expectations not only in entertainment value, but also comforting me with their happy beachy beats and cozy vocals. They did more than just that; they took me around the world. With influences of different musical styles including Rock, Roots, Reggae, Folk and Blues, they have written songs inspired by their travels, such as a trip to the Taj Mahal the brought on “I Wanna Bird,” and personal songs about life experiences, like “Brad’s Song,” written about a friend that had passed away two years earlier. “It isn’t meant to be a sad song, but it strikes a chord with all of us each time we play it,” said frontman, Scott Stanton, in his introduction to the song Friday evening. With a mellow start crescendo-ing into a passionate nostalgic moment with “Brad’s Song,” into the wild antics of a rock and roll finish, Current Swell set the bar high for the Meltdown Stage.
So I know Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (KDTU) was headlining, but I ashamedly hadn’t heard of him. I have never seemed to find myself digging into the jazz and funk realm although I always had a subtle appreciation for that style of music. The former saxophonist for Lenny Kravitz and The Greyboy Allstars put me in check and absolutely heightened that appreciation. Watching him and his band, with a flooring performance from Hagar Ben Ari who was filling in as the bassist after only an hour and a half rehearsal with the band earlier that day, eating dinner with Karl, and enjoying a long conversation and hang time with saxophonist, Frank Vitolo of Snug Harbor, made me come home to add Karl Denson to my Pandora and Spotify stations to see what other kind of funky jazzy grooves I can open my ears and mind to.
I sat with Karl Denson while he ate his corn on the cob and vegan chili during the first half of their set and they inspired our conversation in fun and insightful ways. Thank you, Five Alarm Funk, for that. Karl had mentioned that, after comically asking if “that one guy is even playing an instrument?” it was very encouraging to him to see these younger musicians incorporating horns into their bands. “There’s not enough of that these days.” They were also the perfect band to close out the main stage Friday night. With crazy costumes, role-playing and incredibly groovy tunes, they handled the crowd’s transition from Karl Denson’s funk-filled set with such ease. Not one fan let up dancing from the time KTDU started to the time 2am Five Alarm Funk finished. Don’t miss this band; after all, they got a big thumbs up from the man, Karl Denson, himself.
Following a steamy cabaret performance from the lusty Scarlett Red, Kimo Muraki took the Late Night Village Stage in a very comically confusing way. Unfortunately, I had put my camera away for the night so I could experience the late night Meltdown and give my neck a little bit of a break, but this set is worth noting. Kimo had a great voice and the instrumentation was lovely; however, I was distracted by the dancing blanket being held up behind him; the giggles from the others on stage; and the girl who had her chair facing Kimo with her back to the audience staring at the completely focused and unphased Kimo Muraki. I couldn’t tell if he had a very sarcastic style, in which case, this could make sense (and I was laughing), but I was so confused. If he didn’t know that they were bouncing around behind him and giggling on stage, I would say that it was quite rude of them all… but something tells me it was planned.
More to come, so stay tuned for the continuation of my Meltdown.