Festival season is upon us once again and what better way to kick it off than to travel 807 miles to the magical place of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida. With over 5,000 music lovers in attendance, the 6th installment of AURA Music Festival was one for the books.
The trip was off to a rocky start as our 12 hour drive was delayed three hours in due to inclimate weather conditions in Tennessee, but we weren’t giving up that easily. As our journey continued, we made it just in time for the last act of Thursday night’s pre-party. Once we got there, however, the car ride quickly became a distant memory. The weekend was nothing short of a good time full of lights, live art, and music.
Kudos to Daryl Wolff and Cameron Ferguson, the creators of the festival, for making such a pleasant atmosphere and providing one helluva a light show. AURA was just big enough to escape yet, small enough to find friends and make new ones. Warm feelings emerged throughout the weekend as friends and families greeted each other with embracing hugs and kisses.
The chilly weather brought people closer together as it dipped into the low 40’s. Fires ignited and groups were found gathered around them making a ruckus throughout the grounds. Yoga was offered each morning to prepare weary bodies for the day ahead, and classes continued throughout the day. For anyone who needed to take a break, hammocks donated by ENO (Eagles Nest Outfitters) could be found pre-installed throughout the campgrounds.
With this being the 6th edition of AURA what better way to give you a glimpse into this magical experience than to countdown the top 6 acts.
Local to the area and the only bluegrass band of the weekend, Uproot Hootenanny took the stage Sunday morning. There was no better way to spend the last day of the music festival than with whiskey and bluegrass. A banjo, stand-up bass, and fiddle were exactly the change up the festival needed. With high energy beaming from the band, waking up became a pleasant experience. As their tunes filled the campgrounds, I wasn’t the only one rushing to the stage for some toe-stomping jams.
5. Turbo Suit
Turbo Suit was in the Music Hall Saturday evening getting the place hot and steamy. Turbo Suit’s unique approach to live electronic music is one you can’t help but groove to. Everyone was enjoying a break from the cold weather by getting down on the dance floor with songs like “Open Mouth Kiss” and their own interpretation of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.”
This funky foursome played at the Amphitheater Stage (Main Stage) Sunday afternoon. It was their second set of the weekend and while I heard their true top performance was Saturday night in the Music Hall between Disco Biscuits sets, they still blew me away on Sunday. Jamming from beginning to end with an all instrumental set, they covered the Beatles “I Want You” and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” – the perfect way to relax on the hottest day of the festival (which was only in the low 80’s).
Dopapod played one of the first sets of the weekend at the Thursday night pre-party. For the last song, all six members of The Motet joined the band on stage for an impromptu performance. As the last cord was strummed, Dopapod’s guitarist Rob Compa turned to the other band members and shrugged as if to say, “Meh, we tried,” as if it wasn’t one of the better collaborations of the weekend.
But the real Dopapod highlight was Saturday night after the Turbo Suit set. They were laying it on thick with songs like “Trapper Keeper” when Compa channeled his inner Gwen Stefani for a No Doubt cover of “I’m just a Girl” leaving the nostalgic crowd hungry for more.
The Biscuits took the stage beginning their set with “The World is Spinning.” As the band played and the light show truly began, the crowd gasped in awe as a fan of colorful lasers covered the night sky. At the start of “Helicopters” a giant Halloween spider web stretched overhead across the crowd, reaching from the front of the stage all the way to the back.
The second set they really brought the heat with a flawless segue into “Crix.” You could feel the crowd’s disappointment as band ended without an encore. Little did anyone know, they would make an appearance at American Babies’ late night set in the Music Hall, joining them on stage for a cover of the Greatful Dead’s “Shakedown Street.”
The Squeeze played on The Porch Stage Saturday evening. As the band played off each other, building in anticipation, lead singer Corey Frye took a long pause before busting into a cover of R Kelley’s “I Believe I Can Fly.”
The band took the stage a second time, Sunday afternoon, for a tribute to Michael Jackson set. Strategically planned out by the group, 20 of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits were packed into an hour and half set. From Black Or White > Beat It > Thriller > Billie Jean > Smooth Criminal it was hands down one of the best performances of the weekend.
While 2015 was one for the books the countdown for AURA 2016 begins…
Want to get the full experience, check out the link below to view images from the whole weekend.
Photos by: Keith Griner
So far, being on the road with twenty-some of the most genuine and talented men that I’ve ever met in my life has been nothing short of a dream come true.
Nevertheless, not all that glitters is gold on tour. Traffic? Expected. Breakdowns? So far so good! (Knock on wood) But people – oh dear, some people. With such an eclectic group of guys it wasn’t long before we had a major mouth off and were threatened by the cops.
Soon after waking up in St. Petersburg, several of the guys informed me that we were conveniently parked right next to a laundromat diagonally opposite from the apartment we crashed at. SANCTUARY! I thought, considering that I hadn’t been able to use my blanket or my pillow in three days (to find out why, read over my first tour check-in here).
Over the course of an hour everyone’s eyes were open, jaws stretched, and arms up to the sky. I went around and collected a few of the other guys’ clothes to rack up a full load. As we were standing outside, killing time and prepping ourselves for the day ahead, an elderly woman (who we later found out is the owner of the laundromat) came out to “greet us”.
Lady: Ahem. “Can you tell me what is going on here?” as she directs her cane to our trail of cars. “Are you guys moving in? What are you doing here?”
Puzzled by her tone of voice, one of us finally speaks out.
Olivia (the only other female on the tour): “We’re on tour!” She says as sweet as can be. “We’re just getting up and putting ourselves together before we head to the beach.”
Lady: “Well you’ve been parked here since yesterday and you’re blocking the street for our customers.”
Despite being a customer ourselves, we hadn’t actually parked there until 4am.
Freddie genuinely inquires: “Isn’t this a public space?”
The laundromat lady became instantly offended and continued passive aggressively with: “Why are you getting a tone? If you don’t want to be friendly we don’t have to be. We’re in Florida, we Floridians are nice people, but you say this is public space. Fine.”
She continues to bad mouth the crew to her other customers and indirectly threatening to call the cops on us and continued to do so until our laundry was done and we left.
Meanwhile in Bored’s caravan…
…they were facing more detrimental issues to the tour. After the first stop in Augusta, GA, Flaco had already lost his voice. Forty-five minutes of ad-libbing, jumping around, and fifteen minutes of his solo set can definitely put a strain on one’s voice, but not like this. After talking to a few of the Bored guys, I learned this has been a reoccurring issue for Flaco since SXSW 2014.
A little fun fact about Flaco is that he truly does everything in his power to take care of his instrument; his voice. In every city, he goes out and runs to get his body used to the air. He practices 10 minutes of vocal stretches before every show. He’s so cautious about his body that he hardly drinks or smokes while he’s out on tour.
Yet, unfortunately for him, he is seemingly more prone to straining his voice than any of the other guys, but that doesn’t stop him. Searching for every avenue to remedy the situation, who better to come through than Ace One with his ‘Magic Elixir’. In addition to the elixir, there was talk about how Flaco damn near chugged an entire bottle of honey over the course of a couple days.
Later on, we come to find that he’s not the only one on Bored who needs the honey. Long days, extensive drives, and little to no sleep- next thing you know, Benny gets an itch in his throat and you hear Tag getting the sniffles. Despite their struggles, they just cough, brush it off, stay on top of their hustle and keep the flow goin’.
On top of that they take such good care of each other and vibe incredibly well as a group, that they simply won’t let sickness get in the way. Eight boys packed in a tiny room with wooden floors and limited blankets and pillows; Tag makes sure sleeping articles are fairly distributed. Sick Benny was looking miserable in bed the next morning then the ‘Beats by Dre Pill’ turns on and all of the sudden I look over and he’s jumping on the bed all hyped up with a few other bodies getting their sway on too.
Poised #GLIYDT A photo posted by Timothy Garza (@boredtag) on
South by South West
This tour was so DIY that despite having a couple shows lined up at designated venues, the crew had also brought a tent and a PA system to set up a renegade stage in the midst of the SXSW madness.
The first day in Austin, the Bored crew took it easy by bringing the ‘Beats by Dre Pill’ to promote their music throughout the street, only to be stopped by a cop who says that anything that is amplified will not only result in confiscation but also arrest.
With the renegade stage being the primary goal for the boys during the festival, Freddie manages to fit the crew into a few time slots for a Saturday set.
By this time we’ve been on the road for seven days and through eight cities. Nostalgia escapes the breath of some of the guys during pillow talk. Some can’t wait for their beds, or their pets to greet them at their front door. Paigedro (pronounced like “Pedro”) of Bored can’t wait to start on new music projects; Niq (aka Sirius Blvck) can’t wait to get back to his precious newborn, Khida. But Niq isn’t the only new-found father on the trip.
Father to be A photo posted by Timothy Garza (@boredtag) on
First thing in the morning on the third day of tour, Tim Garza aka Tag of Bored woke up in St. Augustine to that ‘late-text’ from his love back home with an affirmed picture of the pregnancy test. Inevitable shock strikes the 24 year old at first, later followed with pride. After getting to kick it with him one night, he shares with me that he truly looks forward to being able to shape the mind of his very own child and it’s all the more a plus that it’s with the love of his life.
So despite the nightmares we’ve faced along the road, there is a grand light at the end of this tunnel for all of us, some even more luminous than others. The Good Luck In Your Dreams Tour has been incredible, but Indy – we’re coming for you and we can’t wait to be home!
For more on the Good Luck In Your Dreams Tour, read my first tour check in and watch the video below from Bored:
Editor’s note: If you haven’t yet, check out our preview of the Good Luck in Your Dreams Tour. Below, correspondent Jackie Dee recaps the ups and downs of tour life.
Day 1: Take off
After a two hour delay of the original 9pm departure time, the tour van finally makes its way to my house, so I hop in with Freddie Bunz and tour driver/master chef, Carmen. A pit stop later we find ourselves at Casa de Stamps and greeted by the rest of the anxious crew who had been eagerly ‘celebrating’ the kick off. A few extra bags, two couch cushions, and a foam noodle later the crew finally takes off towards Augusta, GA at 1am.
So far we’re rolling nine deep between a van and a car. Bored’s crew of nine took a jump start earlier that day. “Enjoy this while it lasts,” chuckles Stamps for this was as comfortable as it was going to get for the rest of the trip. We were to add three more people, meeting us in St. Petersburg, FL.
This tour is the fourth runaround for all in the Ghost Gun van except for me. Stories recalling their last experiences start to surface and roll right off of their slurring tongues as they exhale clouds that would later drift us all into slumber land. Lucky for me I found myself cozied up upon Stamp’s couch cushions that smoothed out the four naps I tucked in amidst the 17 hours it took for us to finally arrive to Augusta due to extended rest stops.
First stop: Soul Bar, which just so happens to be the bar where James Brown made his debut performance. The historical dive bar was long and narrow with strategically placed Christmas lights and old concert posters all around. Guests hit the action first thing when they walk in with the stage to the left and with the bar following closely behind.
Pre show jitters get swilled away with open bar access, but one drink in particular was said to set you off right and hold you down through the night. This drink is called Ace One’s Magic Elixir. It consists of whiskey, honey, eucalyptus, lemon, ginger, and Echinacea (an immune boosting vitamin). Boy did that honey and eucalyptus soothe the wash.
Speaking of wash, I didn’t anticipate having to pursue a laundromat after the first stop of the tour. Why, you might ask? Let me answer that with another question: What, or who rather, could possibly go wrong on the first day of tour? Let’s just say some important items were lost and someone pulled a Houdini and made the liquor reappear on the gravel.
Unfortunately my pillow, blanket, and part of my backpack were in the way of the golden stream of one’s slumber. Lucky for me, I was not. But I wasn’t irritated at the least. As much as it sucked I couldn’t help but laugh. I actually should’ve seen this coming, as I watched him stumble and swerve his way into the van. That’s when the couch cushions came in handy, for they were the perfect barrier between us and the soiled seats. Thus concludes day one.
Things I learned from the first day of tour:
- You will never leave on time
- ‘packing light’ does not exist in John Stamps’ vocabulary
- Homemade granola is a traveling staple
- I should have inquired about Indymojo stickers to slap everywhere along the way
- Rest stops take minimum 25 minutes
- Always have a spray bottle of Febreeze handy
Day 2: Portobello Sunrise
After attempting to recall the shenanigans of Day 1, the crew collects themselves and we’re off to Jacksonville. Before long, we ended up at Kona Skate Park where they were hosting a weekend long rollerblading tournament. Kona Skate Park marks two-for-two as the second epic landmark of the tour, for this skate park was featured in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 video game. After exploring the grounds there was no doubt as to why: It was skate paradise.
Coast. #konaskatepark #jacksonville #GLIYDT #GhostGunSummer #IndyMojo A video posted by IndyMojo (@indymojo) on
Bored’s crew took the stage in the tower box for a brief moment. After their performance we stuck around to see the contest for freestyle tricks. Here was one of the most epic tricks that I was luckily able to capture.
Nobby’s venue was a petite, DIY space of a house-turned-dive bar. The stage was only able to fit tour DJ Jason Brown aka DJ Friday the Thirteenth so the rest of the crew had face level interaction with the audience. After closing time, the crew still packs the house for a celebratory shot for Carmen’s (aka Chef’s) birthday. A bottle of Jameson later, we make our way back to the hotel to keep the party going. Shenanigans kick off the hotel party with rowdy and rambunctious boys showing off their man hood with choke holds and clothes lines.
A video posted by IndyMojo (@indymojo) on
(St. Augustine hip-hop native, Wes Seefried aka MF Goon is pushed off the bed by Kenton Caldwell resulting in the clothes lining of Dereck of Cold Sprite)
Shortly after, we were greeted with dehydrated vegetables that would make the 4am trail down to the beach all the more “magical”. We had the whole beach to ourselves. The way the stars and the moonlight kissed the ocean view at the end of the pier was enchanting. For a moment we sat in silence, captivated by breadth of the waves.
As most of us were absorbing the beauty of the night sky, Dereck of Cold Sprite Gang fell into an Atlantic Ocean trust fall with absolutely no f*cks given. Jaws dropped followed by several other bodies and uncontrollable laughter. The commotion carries on throughout the night and we surprisingly received only one single noise complaint from the neighbors upstairs. That only lasted for a good twenty minutes in a sardine packed room of fifteen guys. One by one snoring replaced the sounds of laughter as the sun took place of the moon.
Before I decided to ‘call it a night’ I made my way to greet the Portobello sunrise myself, embracing the cool wind and exhaling a sense of what I call a splendid evening.