Grassroots Music Festival experienced more than its fair share of ups and downs this weekend, fighting to run a smooth event as multiple hurdles presented themselves for organizers, fans, performers and media alike.
As HN contributing photographer Teylor Bruno put it, “I shot like I might get kicked out.”
The multi-day music festival is typically a massive undertaking, a logistical puzzle of set times, concessions, venue organization, sound, lighting and countless other concerns.
And in a market flooded in festivals of all kinds, the up and coming ones walk a tight line. Fans have so many options to choose from that one weekend showing can make or break a fledgling production.
Leading up to its second year, Grassroots Music Festival seemed anything but that. Boasting a massive lineup of big name hip-hop, classic rock and reggae/roots rock, it looked to be the premiere festival in a weekend chock-full. Nebraska Folk & Roots Festival, for instance, didn’t seem to aim for massive crowds and overhype, instead opting for laid-back, picturesque locale and surefire entertainment (more on that in our coverage later today).
So, it was disappointing to hear such a mixed bag of reviews coming out of Grassroots. By now the (alleged) faults are well-told: ridiculously long lines stretching back from just a single entry gate; main festival draws Schoolboy Q and Fetty Wap either canceling or never having committed to performing in the first place (depending on the account); phantom meet and greets; keg trucks running dry mid-day; overzealous security; and late or changing start times.
At first read, it seems that festival organizers were simply ill-prepared, overlooking details and going on the defensive as fans killed the festival on social media. Our photographer, Bruno, echoed some of those sentiments in a phone call this morning, explaining that press expectations (and enforcement therein) varied at a moment’s notice, and that all-access passes were so aplenty that it was tough to tell anyone apart.
In the face of all of this, let’s remember why music festivals exist in the first place. Despite the issues, the same breeze through social media and photos also depicts a mass of fans enjoying live music. Bruno says that, from what he could tell, crowds were still getting into it, specifically during a rousing Mac Miller set. Artists connected with fans, even in the shared experience of less than ideal festival conditions.
With that in mind, here’s hoping that this year’s Grassroots Music Festival can serve as a learning experience. Festivals like these provide opportunities for our local artists (in this case, Both, Kris Lager Band and The Talbott Brothers) to play alongside national touring acts, and as far as we’re concerned, the more the merrier. It’s a tall order to run a festival that aspires to be what Grassroots does. Going forward, we hope they can make the necessary improvements and bounce back for a third year.
Below, find photo coverage from three days Grassroots Music Festival, courtesy of HN contributor Teylor Bruno. [Editor’s note: Bruno tried his best to make it to every set, and below is the representative sample. Some acts, like Lynyrd Skynyrd, denied photographs altogether.]
Marshall Tucker Band
Blue Oyster Cult
Creedence Clearwater Revisited
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Friday, Lincoln blues vocalist Emily Bass played at 13th and P for Hear Lincoln. Our Nickolai Hammar grabbed a few photos of the performance in the midday heat. This week, Lincoln folk act Toasted Ponies graces the Tower Square stage. As always, Hear Lincoln is sponsored by the Cooper Foundation, presented by the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and promoted by media sponsor KZUM. photos by Nickolai Hammar
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Saturday night, O’Leaver’s threw a belated celebration of it’s Live At O’Leaver’s series. Omaha bands Criteria (full disclosure: frontman Steve Pederson is an HN board member), Ladyfinger and Eric In Outerspace performed to a packed crowd. HN’s Chris Dinan was on hand to capture the evening in photos.
Eric In Outerspace
photos by Chris Dinan
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It’s Monday, which means it’s add day on HN Radio. This week, we roll with a submission from Memory Mines, the acoustic project of Omaha’s Chris Atkins. “I Don’t Believe You was recorded with a full band at Bailey Recording and 402 Art Collective. Also on the playlist are Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship, Sleep Sinatra, a submission from Kearney pop-punk band This Is Whispering (which we debuted Friday) and live audio of Orion Walsh’s performance on HN FM one week ago.
Speaking of, and as always, tune in to 89.3 KZUM or KZUM.org for HN FM. From 8-10 p.m., I’ll be playing an eclectic mix of all-Nebraska music and mumbling at you between segments (for the latter, sorry in advance).
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Tonight, New Jersey rock trio Screaming Females plays Sweatshop Gallery with Cincinnati punk band Vacation as well as Omaha bands Gordon and The Ridgeways. In it’s tenth year as a band, Screaming Females released its sixth full-length album Rose Mountain in February on Don Giovanni Records. Entry to the 9 p.m. show is $7. RSVP here.
For a complete list of this week’s shows, check out hearnebraska.org/events, which houses our statewide events calendar. If you do not see your show or one you plan to attend, please feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org, or add it yourself via the Contribute button at the top of the home page.