4th Annual LouFest Music Festival Comes To A Close – Day 1 Recap

Words and Pictures By Bradley Darby

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LouFest 2013 - Main Stage TBT

The Fourth Annual LouFest Music Festival has come to an end. This year’s installment featured the addition of a third stage and expanded festival grounds in the beautiful and seemingly never ending Forest Park in St. Louis. The stacked lineup mixed some of the hottest up and comers with some grizzled veterans that have many large shows already under their belts. This was my third experience at a LouFest Music Festival… and I could tell it was certainly larger in scale and attendance than previous years. Early reports were that the organizers were expecting as many as 15K people each day. Previous LouFest’s averaged around 8K over the two day span! The first thing I noticed upon arriving was that the parking situation was starting to get out of hand. Luckily we arrived a bit earlier on Saturday than we did on Sunday, so we lucked out and found a spot. More on that later…

 LouFest 2013 - Gate

Upon arriving we exchanged our paper tickets for wristbands and we were in the gates within minutes! Security was very friendly and rather quick with their searches, which I certainly appreciated. Right as we entered, Jukebox the Ghost and Kentucky Knife Fight both began playing at opposite ends of the festival. We decided to make a lap and see where everything was… we ended up at the Schlafly Beer booth. From there we could hear Kentucky Knife Fight on the smallest of the stages, the BMI Stage. After indulging in a few beverages we went to set up shop for the first band on our list, J Roddy Walston & the Business.

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Originally from Tennessee, J Roddy Walston & the Business play straight forward rock and roll music. Their live show was incredibly energetic and transferred well from the few songs I had listened to pre festival. Their new album, Essential Tremors, is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, but they were selling advance copies at the festival which I found to be pretty cool.

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 LouFest 2013 - Trampled by Turtles

After aimlessly wandering around a bit more and meeting up with some friends, we headed back to the Bud Light Mainstage for our second featured show of the afternoon, Trampled by Turtles. Straight outta Minnesota, Trampled by Turtles is a band that I really should enjoy, they are about as in my music wheelhouse as it gets… but for some reason I have now watched them three times and I just can’t seem to get into them. I’m not saying the show wasn’t good, they sounded great and the majority of the crowd seemed to really be digging their modernized bluegrass sound. The rapid fire banjo and fiddle both played at machine gun speed were definitely  standouts… but I can’t pinpoint what it is about TBT that doesn’t allow me to get sucked in. Don’t let that stop you from checking them out. The crowd went absolutely bonkers when they broke out “Wait So Long” from 2010’s Palomino.

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 LouFest 2013 - Space Capone

It was now time for us to check out the band who wins my award for Best Band Name of LouFest… Nashville’s soulful funky 8 piece Space Capone. Invading the smallest of the three stages and playing against the very popular Ra Ra Riot, we chose to check this new group out and see what the Chipotle VIP lounge was all about at the same time. What it was about was some FREE tacos and bottled water! We sat in the shade while enjoying the music of Space Capone while catching a few minutes of the Mizzou game and eating free lunch before venturing stage front for a handful of songs. Space Capone is apparently the stage name of the lead singer, who can get down while working the crowd. Behind him you find seven other band members playing drums, horns, tambourines, keys, guitar and bass. Capone had a unique voice, one that took me a few songs to really accept. But by the end of his set I was feeling the soul/R&B/funkiness. They definitely had an Earth, Wind & Fire / George Clinton thing going on. Be sure to check out Space Capone, my pick for hidden gem of Day 1. Watch this video, it has a Michael Jackson vibe to it.

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 LouFest 2013 - Fitz and the Tantrums

After the 70’s dance party ended, we kept the funkiness going with Fitz & the Tantrums back on the main stage.  Another band that I had previously watched and found myself less than impressed with, Fitz & the Tantrums call the City of Angels home and play a modern brand of pop-soul music. A few years back they headlined one night of the Taste of St. Louis and I was not a fan. I still tease my girlfriend about making me watch them. Going into this one I was less than thrilled, but in all honestly they sounded a lot better this time around. The two part harmonies provided by Fitz and the strong winded Noelle Scaggs worked really well and everyone in the field was dancing or swaying around to the grooves.

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Next on our lineup card was Jim James, but with a bit of time to kill we decided to spend some time venturing around. LouFest featured a great selection of food vendors from a cast of mostly local establishments including Atomic Cowboy, Local Harvest and Mission Taco Joint. There was a rather small grouping of vendors set up and drinks were incredibly easy to find from any stage. The only downfall was that Schalfy Beer was only available at one stand, the Schlafly Brewtopia, and was on the far side of the grounds from the Forest Park Stage. Euclid Records had a tent set up to sell the artists CDs and vinyl while there was a separate merch booth for your LouFest branded merchandise as well as posters and t-shirts. You could also wait in line to meet certain artists and get your albums signed at the Euclid Tent.

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 LouFest 2013 - The National

We wandered over to check out some of The National, a band that no one in our group was excited to see, but we were all at least a little intrigued to see what we were missing. At this point you couldn’t get anywhere near the stages, so we just hung out towards the back of the crowd. The National featured what I would call the best stage design thus far with a large LED screen in the background that had been teasing us all day finally being utilized. I am not at all familiar with The National, and I won’t even pretend to know any of their songs… but I will say they sounded a lot better than I would have imagined. It was now time to go claim our spot for Jim James.

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 LouFest 2013 - Jim James 2

Best known as the front man of My Morning Jacket, Jim James is on his own for this tour promoting his first full length solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God. Prior to James taking the stage his signature flying V guitar was mounted center stage… right at 7:30 the lights dimmed and out came Jim James in a suit with his long curly hair bouncing around as he prowled around the front of the stage to the opening notes of “State of the Art.” Finally the lonely guitar was played, while still on its stand. The set featured most of James’ newest album and also a peek at Jim James playing the saxophone during one song. This one wins the award for Best Show of LouFest in my opinion. The only downfall was that the set was limited to only an hour, but this was consistent with most of the lineup as only headliners received more than an hour and a few bands early each day received 45 minute sets.

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Day One ended in style as 2010 LouFest headliner, and Belleville born and raised, Jeff Tweedy came back to Forest Park and brought along his buddies that make up Wilco. If you have yet to see Wilco, I truly am sorry. A lot of people give Tweedy a lot of flack, but the man can straight up write songs and watching the live execution is a thing of beauty. The set opened with a pair of songs from 1996’s Being There, “Misunderstood” and “Forget the Flowers.” Other highlights of the set included an Uncle Tupelo song, “Give Back the Key to My Heart”, “I Might”, “Handshake Drugs”, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and “Heavy Metal Drummer.” In typical Wilco fashion, “Casino Queen” was featured near the end of the night before closing down LouFest Day One with “Hoodoo Voodoo.” Wilco proved yet again why they are one of the best live bands out there today. Make it a point to catch them at a more intimate venue next time you are given the chance. (Note: I didn’t get a decent picture of Wilco as we just posted up in the field… so instead of Wilco please enjoy this picture of some random dude that was in the zone rocking out on his keyboard while bands played on the stages in front of him. Rock on brother!)

This was yet another great LouFest and I look forward to the 2014 edition! They have found a truly beautiful place to hold the festival, but to come back to the parking dilemma I briefly discussed earlier, that is something that needs to be addressed. The Muny parking lot was being used and people were making their own spots wherever they damn well pleased. This led to an incredibly tight parking lot that was impossible to navigate with cars going every which direction and fighting over spots. Outside of that lot, there were numerous cars being ticketed all over the park for various reasons including creating their own spots, having 2” of their car over the yellow line, parking in wide open streets that were marked no parking for no apparent reason. If you want to draw 15,000 people a day there needs to be parking to accommodate those people. It took us an hour to find a legal parking spot on Sunday.  There were shuttle signs randomly around the park but I couldn’t find any other info on the shuttle service in the program that was passed out or near the signs stating it was a shuttle zone. I also never once saw a shuttle running.

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 LouFest 2013 - Jim James

JIM JAMES

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LouFest 2013 - Alabama Shakes

ALABAMA SHAKES (Played Sunday)

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Fitz and the Tantrums - LoUFest 2013 2

FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS

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LouFest 2013 - Space Capone 2

SPACE CAPONE

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LouFest 2013 - Forest Park Stage Lit Up

FOREST PARK STAGE ILLUMINATED FOR JIM JAMES

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LouFest 2013 - The Killers

THE KILLERS (Played Sunday)

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Monday, September 9th, 2013 at 6:48 pm.
Categories: Festivals, News, Reviews.

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