Well, we've got another Bunbury Festival done and in the books. To wrap up these many weeks of soundcheck posts, I wanted to take a minute to look at the festival as a whole - all three days of it.
Because this year's Bunbury was different than past ones. It was bigger. In many ways it was better. It was also hotter than heck out there some days and there was not enough Gatorade to make it bearable (and this, friends, is why it's worth springing for VIP, even if it's just a one day VIP ticket: air conditioning).
So, what changes did the Bunbury organizers make this year? The big ones were the official beer: Warsteiner, and the positioning of the main stage. I don't remember what the big official beer was in the past, but this year the sponsoring beer was Warsteiner, with a selection of dark beer and pilsner. This beer variety isn't for me, but they still had PLENTY of craft beers, including Moerlein and Rivertown Brewery, along with the craft beer village, where I was able to get a tasty beer from my hometown: Jackie O's Chomolunga, a dark, nutty beer with lots of flavor.
The main stage at Bunbury was in a different position, too. Now the back of the stage faces the stadiums and arena, instead of the front of the stage. This made it a LOT easier to get around - the stage facing east and farther down meant for a lot less traffic and bottlenecks from people going to and from the main stage, and it opened up quite a bit of space for vendors. There was a bit more room for folks to stand and watch the bands play, and the repositioned merch tent right by the stage made it easier to go from a band to the tent to buy a tee shirt if you wanted to. The decrease in bottle necks after bands played meant it was a LOT faster to go from band-to-band, which was a blessing: the bands often play back-to-back.
There was one other change I forgot to mention: there is now only one entrance into the festival, and that's the one at Yeatman's Cove. I don't know if that will change in 2015, but it was interesting for 2014. At the end of the night there was a side exit toward the main stage, but during the day there really was only one way in and out. Thankfully, though, the folks taking tickets and giving out wristbands were really efficient, so lines were pretty minimal to get in on day one, and once you had your wrist band it was really quick to get in once your bag was checked. We opted to rent a locker for the weekend to stash our ground blanket, water bottle, and sunscreen, so we didn't have to carry it all back and forth.
Then, you had the food, which was pretty epic. Now, you go to a music festival for the music, not for the food, but when you start your day at 1pm and go til 11? You're going to eat at some point. There were so many food trucks I lost count, including one with candied bacon on a stick (delicious), Eli's barbeque from Findlay market (amazing), Island Noodles, and my favorite: Dojo Gelato. There was food for all tastes, and while I wish there was a bit more gluten free options for my gluten free friends, there was still a lot to choose from both meal-wise and snack-wise. Nobody was going to go hungry. The best part: It was all relatively reasonably priced, too, so you weren't going to go broke eating.
Of course, we were all there for the music, and the over eighty bands that Bunbury brought in this year meant you had a LOT of variety. There was, as I wrote in my post before the fest about the Bunbury 2014 headliners, something for any alt rock fan. There was a good mix of alt-pop, alt-blues, alt-rock, experimental music, and punk. It was definitely mixed up across the board, as well, so you didn't have one day of just punk and rock.
The most packed day, in terms of attendance, at least by perception, was Saturday, when Paramore and Fall Out Boy played in the evening, but every day this year was busier than prior festivals, and it definitely felt a lot like any festival you might see on TV - packed and buzzing with excitement. The jam bands and more folksy artists brought some moments of rest and relaxation to the festival, while the opening acts for the main stages amped it up for the evenings to get everyone ready for the headliners. We discovered bands new to us, saw bands we're familiar with, and discussed so much music this weekend that by the time it was done, I was ready to take a break from music for a day.
Bunbury 2014 was pretty darn incredible and a lot of fun. There was something for everyone - food, drink, soda, music, and activities. The camaraderie was intense and made for a festival where it felt like everyone there was a friend, and the music brought tens of thousands of people together for a weekend of alt-music unlike any other. I came away from the festival at the end of every day exhausted from the fun, amped up from the music, and incredibly happy that we decided to go again, for our third year in a row. Bunbury 2015 is already on the horizon, even if it is a year out, and I'm already excited to see who they bring to the area next year. Right now, I'm going to keep enjoying my memories of Bunbury 2014, and continue to look at the bands I discovered during our fun-filled and busy long weekend.