DIY music festivals: go bohemian for a weekend
Within two weeks, three newbie indie music fests have vied for the title as the East Coast’s premier music experience, with Firefly Festival, which debuted last weekend, even billing itself as such, and Catalpa Festival pioneering a music fest with an experimental aesthetic and a whole lot of reggae. Caravan Music Festival, however, put the DIY ethos to practice as local Philly bands road trip to Belgrade Lakes, Maine this past weekend for a music-lover’s-under-the-stars sleepover.
Locally-sourced and -based festivals such as these demonstrate an increasing interest in providing meccas of sunshine and music for those who can’t swing plane tickets to Coachella or Bonnaroo. Philly native Matt Manser had such a goal in creating Caravan as a way to get local bands to play together “away from it all,” swapping dingy basement shows for a quarry and a (free) lakeside campsite. Four years and 20+ bands later, the tradition has strengthened, despite not having the budget or roster as Catalpa or Firefly Fest.
As the unifying themes of this particular mecca are a love of music, bonfires, and using a lake as a communal bathtub, the bands are diverse, ranging from the bluesy rock outfit Penrose to even jazz fusion and hip-hop groups. Firefly offered a similar vibe by setting up The Black Keys and Jack White on stages back-dropped by Dover woodlands, but their big-name corporate sponsors and “glamping” option (n: glamorous camping; camping with luxury amenities) emphasize the chic in “shabby chic.” Likewise, although Catalpa highlights its diverse lineup (rock, hip-hop, electronic) just like Caravan, Girl Talk and Snoop Dogg are pretty high-profile for an inaugural fest. Money and marketing differences aside, these East Coast fests bring music to the music lovers, which should always be the point.