Fiction Forest Fest—a preview
We are so, so stoked to be sponsoring a festival for the first time ever that isn’t our own! Of course, this event is put on by none other than funk-pop dudes Spirit of the Bear. I reviewed their full length, Fade Into Blue, some time ago, and it’s catchy enough to groove to but also easy-listening enough to sit back and relax to, say, in a camping chair at a music festival.
I strongly believe that smaller, boutique events are the future of destination music festivals. In an age where the big money making festivals are becoming more and more similar, true personality is being found in the smaller events. And, can you really blame the larger events for becoming more homogenous? The pool of headliner-caliber artists capable of leading bills at events attended by 5,000+ folks is slimmer than you would expect, and to break even on revenue, you need to book an artist being routed through the area via other festivals.
This brings us to smaller events like Fiction Forest where there is an element of curation, and you can often count on the event’s “house band” setting the tone. Most famously, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver has created a destination event in Eaux Claires—this year fans packed the grounds with no definitive knowledge of the lineup before showing up.
Fortunately, Spirit of the Bear, and by extension Fiction Forest isn’t that pretentious. That’s probably why last year in their inaugural year over 400 folks showed up to the Youngstown, OH gathering.
“Wait, Youngstown? People in Ohio often make fun of that place. Surely a music festival can’t succeed there,” you may be thinking.
Believe it. Is Spirit of the Bear’s music just that good? Are their curation skills just that on point? Was the marketing just that awesome? All three, I’d venture a guess.
We don’t have time to properly dive into each artist playing in depth (thank you, day job business trips!) but I thought I’d give a quick off the cuff thought on each act playing in a handy little list that will follow:
- The Vindys – Classy rock for your mom and your bros.
- Spirit of the Bear – Read everything I wrote above, silly.
- JD Eicher – Hearthrob music for people who don’t like heart-throb music.
- The Ohio Weather Band – This band has booked by a hotel my day job’s firm manages and they’re playing this festival. That’s like a double endorsement of this funky group, and it has to be fate. You wouldn’t want to tempt fate by skipping them would you?
- Demos Papadimas – Country music that sounds like it’s authentically from Ohio. I can’t really articulate why, that’s just what comes to mind.
- The Labra Bros. – Man, this band would be great at Comfest. Sonically, they’re not that different from the other groups on this list, but they’re the first band on this lineup to take my mind straight to the hippie-music fest in Goodale Park.
- Spy Convention – Mysterious rock for fans of Depeche Mode and INXS.
- Winnow – The new duo format of Watching For Foxes founding members Joey Frendo and Jared Meeuwenberg. Expect these dudes be prolific in the house show and classy lounge venue circuit for years to come. Tuned Up show alums (more reason to see them!).
- Ghost Soul Trio – One of the most hyped up young bands in Columbus by experienced musicians. I hear a bit of Mutemath and Radiohead. I can’t think of any snarky (in a friendly way) comments for this one!
- Northern Whale – These guys reminded me a bunch of Walk the Moon at Fashion Meets Music Festival a few years ago. Their band name is way cooler, though. If you think they’re going to be a rip off of any band this time around though, you’re wrong.
- Funk Worthy – Self explanatory. Also, this is a Columbus band—how have I not heard of them before?
- The Sonder Bombs – Diet Cig-esque vocals + ukelele + big riffs = a fun set, most likely. I keep seeing this band’s name pop up for a good reason, I’m sure.
- East 9th – Groovin’ rock with an extra dose of attitude.
- Vertical 48 – First thought is “Black Keys gone pop.” Fun vibe.
- The Blvd. – Mainstage favorite of last year back for more action.
Fiction Forest takes place at The B&O Station in Youngstown, OH with festivities kicking off at 3PM on Saturday, July 14th. RSVP at the Facebook event here. The full schedule can be seen below: