Written by Alex Weiglein
Photos by Craig Weiglein
Returning for its third year, the Bunbury Music Festival managed to go above and beyond everyone’s expectations. For the weekend of July 11-13, Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove were packed with people eager to see what the well-picked lineup had to offer. Booths for food, artisan goods, and even a beer garden were lining the sidewalk for people to peruse while listening to some of their favorite artists. Temperatures were considerably cooler than they had been in past years, which was a welcome change. Unfortunately, Sunday proved to have some bad weather in the beginning, forcing the Festival to shut down and rework the schedule and cut some bands short. Fingers crossed, the crowd still came out to see the bands, albeit being a noticeably smaller crowd than the day before. The weather is likely to blame, and the World Cup Finals likely had a hand (or perhaps a foot) in the attendance. Nevertheless, people were still eager to come out and hear the music and spend time at one of the best weekends Cincinnati has to offer.
As usual, many local acts were on the lineup, which is a feature most people seem to appreciate. Names like Foxy Shazam, a Bunbury alumnus and Jane Decker were certainly exciting for those involved in the local music scene. Bunbury’s scope is much farther than just Cincinnati, though, pulling in acts like New Politics and Empire of the Sun, coming from Denmark and Australia, respectively.
The layout of the Festival also was changed up some this year, which worked very well. The River Stage returned, having been moved last year due to the Ohio River covering part of the Serpentine Wall, where the stage was originally meant to be placed. The Main Stage was placed where the Rockstar Stage was last year, which helped to cut down the traffic along the sidewalk. This made walking around the Festival much easier and prevented the mobs that proved difficult to navigate.
Like the previous two years, this year’s Bunbury had acts spanning several different musical genres. Groups like Holy Ghost! offered a loud synthpop set, drawing in lots of eager dancers, where groups like Saintseneca provided a more relaxed and calm environment, away from all of the thumping speakers at the big stages. ZZ Ward belted out some powerful blues numbers, drawing a sizeable crowd despite the poor weather and the swarms of bugs that took over the festival for a good chunk of the day. Fitz and the Tantrums drew in a big crowd as well, being highly active with the audience and giving their audience a very soulful performance. Kishi Bashi’s unique and interesting style filled every empty spot on the Serpentine Wall, and everyone who saw Cage the Elephant was raving about their fantastic and high-energy show.
Out of the headliners, there are two that deserve special attention and appreciation from all of those at Bunbury. Friday’s Empire of the Sun show was perhaps the most visually exciting show the Festival had to offer this year, with vividly colorful backdrops that supported the equally interesting outfits of the musicians and dancers on stage. The lawn was more packed than it was for any other show that day, guests elbow to elbow to get a good view of the fantastic performance. Festival planners made an excellent choice for this headliner, which was the last to be released to the public. Sunday brought The Flaming Lips to Bunbury, which was another visually brilliant show. Rainbows greeted the crowd for the first few songs, but it later turned into a darker territory with dark reds flashing, only to return to the rainbows at the end. Several mascot-like outfits were found on stage throughout the show, including a rainbow, some mushrooms, two “almost butterflies,” and the Sun. Frontman Wayne Coyne was found atop a platform holding, and even shaking, a baby doll during part of the show. He also rolled out in the man-sized plastic hamster ball that he is so well known for, singing part of a song while being held up by some eager audience members.
As was expected, Bunbury 2014 was on par with its predecessors. An awesome lineup chock full of talent brought a great weekend for all in attendance, despite the setbacks on Sunday. Guests were dancing, laughing, and smiling all weekend long as they soaked up all that this Festival had to offer them. Many bands were loving the energy as well, often interacting with the crowds in fun and energetic ways, with Coyne’s hamster ball being perhaps the most noticeable. It seems like it would be difficult for planners to create another successful weekend on the same level as this year, but given their track record, Bunbury 2015 should fit right on in with the rest of them.