Written by Alex Weiglein
Photos by Craig Weiglein
Following the great success of its inaugural weekend, the Bunbury Music Festival returned to Cincinnati this year from July 12 – 14 and was full of great music, food, and people. It seemed impossible to avoid hearing about the festival’s arrival with the number of ads posted around the area, but the Festival had good reason to boast as the fantastic lineup was well deserving of the attention it received. Bunbury’s reach stretched near and far this year, bringing in several local bands as well as groups from as far away as Scotland.
On the whole, the weekend had great weather for an outdoor festival. An unfortunately hot morning greeted the Festival early in the day on Sunday and caused some glitches with the equipment. Savoir Adore was forced to stop a few times in order to fix various technical issues throughout their entire show due to the heat. The blazing temperatures lingered around until the late afternoon when a sudden storm swept through, cutting several bands short of their original set times and sending masses of people to hide under what cover they could find. Luckily the rain was not very harsh and lasted only a short while meaning everyone could get back to the festivities soon after and in a much cooler environment.
Due to the heavy rainfall the area has been experiencing lately, the Ohio River has risen significantly. Water soon overtook the portion of the Serpentine Wall that the Rockstar Stage was originally going to be located forcing Bunbury overseers to move it to the same lawn as the Main Stage. Thankfully this turned out to be a very successful operation, as concert-goers could simply walk from one stage to the other and immediately see another show without having to fight through the crowds. Another major stage change was that the Redbull Stage from the 2012 Festival was replaced with the Cincinnatus Stage, swapping out DJs for a more acoustic flair.
Musical variety was something Bunbury had in spades this year. There were enough bands to satisfy almost any musical taste. Genres spanned from the calmer and mild-mannered Belle & Sebastian all the way to the ear-bursting bass of Robert DeLong. There were several small-scale local groups like The Harlequins sprinkled throughout the lineup but one of the biggest names in Cincinnati music, Walk the Moon, was also in attendance with their energetic and lively stage presence that made the crowd go nuts. Rock and pop groups, including Tegan and Sara, Vacationer, Youngblood Hawke, and American Authors, brought refreshing sounds to the Festival and kept the overall feeling light, happy, and just plain fun overall. We Are Scientists was
unexpectedly loud on the Rockstar Stage leaving the crowd’s ears ringing, making it a bit tricky to hear all of their witty banter in between songs. Delta Rae attracted a large crowd, forcing people to gather on the sidewalk in order to get a decent look at the stage while listening to a unique sound paired with powerful vocals. Everest was getting really into their music, dancing and swaying about on stage as they played while The Mowgli’s amassed a large group of listeners as its many members danced on stage while singing about how much they love loving others. 21 Pilots was a spectacle to see, as lead singer Tyler Joseph climbed to the highest point of the scaffolding on the Main Stage with no gear and began to sing and do a little dancing to give an added touch of anxiety to the terrified crowd. Atlas Genius saved the best for last as Bunbury was the final date on their tour and was happy to share the night with everyone. Garbed in all white, Savoir Adore played during their first American tour, despite all of the heat-caused technical glitches while several groups of people were tossing Frisbees while listening to the music.
While the whole of the lineup was well worth seeing, the groups that attracted the biggest crowds were, of course, the headliners Fun., MGMT, and The National. Fun. concluded a great first day of shows and attracted perhaps the biggest mass of people in the entire Festival. A sizeable group of folks had camped out since the end of Walk the Moon’s set to make sure that they had a perfect spot to see them come time for the band to play. A lively and enthusiastic stage presence made the crowd go nuts, with a large number of people singing and dancing along throughout the whole set. MGMT brought a close to Saturday with an equally impressive group of attendees. Drones of concert-goers eagerly awaited their arrival which came with the most visually stunning backdrop out of all the bands. Intriguing designs filled with black and white boxes with parasols dancing around captivated the audience as their crowd-pleasing tunes put them in a trance. Finally, The National brought an end to both a great Sunday and a great weekend. The rain caused a minor setback with the schedule and they were forced to come on later than expected which only built up the crowd’s anticipation. Even with the rain and the fact that Monday morning awaited them the next day, the crowd was rather large, though it was notably smaller than the audiences of the other headliners. While the stage was not as intricately decorated as Fun.’s or MGMT’s, it was still well designed with interesting background images, smoke, and multicolored lights, fitting the more mellowed crowd they had attracted.
The Bunbury Music Festival was an undoubtedly great success this year, perhaps even more than last year. Thought the band count was smaller, it was hard to notice as there was always a show going on somewhere. Fantastic acts from all over came together and put together an awesome festival that Cincinnati can be greatly proud of, leaving all in attendance in great anticipation as to what the next year will hold in store for them.