Thursday, July 31, 2014

Moontower: A Young Festival With Potential

There is no greater nightmare for the organizers of an outdoor event than the chance of rain. That’s the situation that the organizers of Moontower Music Festival were in as the day started for the inaugural festival in Midway (just outside of Lexington, Kentucky).

Luckily for them, the clouds went away about 15 minutes into the first band’s set and took over for the rest of the day.

Moontower is the brain child of LexEffect, an event management company in Lexington, making Moontower the first music festival of its size in the city. With neighboring cities Louisville and Cincinnati fully entranced in the music festival scene with Forecastle and Bunbury respectively, Lexington was bound to have their own piece of the pie.

With Moontower was not a big showing comparable to the size of the previously two mentioned festivals (there were only 8 acts), LexEffect representatives stated that this year’s festival was a tester for an expansion to a two day festival next year.

If next year’s festival is successful as this year’s, there will be a bright future in store for Moontower.

As it was a tester year for Moontower, it also turned out to be tester sets for a few of the bands. Buffalo Rodeo, A Lion Named Roar, and Brave Baby all debuts new songs for the Moontower crowd.

Speaking of the crowd, they were interesting to note. At the beginning of the day, Moontower had the feel of a community gathering with people in chairs and on blankets. As the day went on, the crowd got bigger and bigger.

We can place the blame on that bigger crowd with the spot on selection of Moontower final two acts of the day. They were the wisest choices that LexEffect could have made with their size and budget and the crowd reflected that choice as by the end of the day Moontower looked like co-headlining bill for these two bands: country duo Sundy Best who now call Lexington their home and Nashville jam rock group Moon Taxi.

Both bands are very popular in Lexington and Kentucky as a whole, have fans that will travel for them, put on a good live show, and are right at the edge of getting big.

They both were crowd pleasers at Moontower as well. Sundy Best, made up of down home boys who came to Lexington by way of Prestonburg, Kentucky, relished in the fact that they were playing in front of their own people again. They gave shoutouts on stage, played their best songs, and got people dancing to an acoustic guitar and cajon (small drum the musician sits on and hits with his or her hands) that I would have never expected.

Moon Taxi, on the other hand, has played to much bigger crowds than Sundy Best, having a most of the festival circuit like Hangout and Bonnaroo. You could feel them molding their performance to the smaller crowd, but there were about 300 faithful who poured all of themselves into Moon Taxi’s performance.

The day turned out to be beautiful. The stage looked great, especially built just in front of a smaller permanent stage that gave Moontower a mini-Red Rocks feel with the stone background and open back. Logistically, things went smoothly as well. The local food trucks were a success (especially the wonton nachos) and there was a lot of space to move about and dance; some people were throwing a frisbeee or playing with their dogs.

I’ll be back to Moontower. As the rest of you should too. 

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