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
It’s a Friday night in Indianapolis and what’s there to do? On normal nights, this inquiry might pose a more serious question. Last weekend, however, the answer was quite simple. One phrase, five words, nothing more. Papadosio and The Main Squeeze. A righteous show, put simply.
For those of you who don’t know, Papadosio and The Main Squeeze are both bands that honed their chops in the Midwest. Papadosio first made their mark in Athens, Ohio before moving out to Asheville, North Carolina. The Main Squeeze are Hoosiers at heart, starting out in Bloomington before picking up and heading up to Chicago, Illinois. Jamtronica and Funk are their styles, respectively, if you could boil it down to one descriptor apiece. An awesome but odd combo for most shows. In this case, epic is the word that first comes to mind. And, on that brisk night, fans made their way to the Old National Centre for their night of festivities and frivolity.
Once inside the venue and two steps down the stairs the temperature change was already noticeable. Hot, humid air that comes to greet you and only means one thing… This sh** is rockin’. Fans showed up early to support both bands, something lost on many of today’s show-goers. It was due to the quality of the music, no doubt.
The Main Squeeze brought it hard and played a noteworthy set, kicking things off with the
fast paced rocker, “Where Do We Go?”, from their self-titled debut album. Moving on to some staple crowd favorites they jammed through two dance-fueling songs that harken back to the good ol’ Bloomington days. After this little funk rollercoaster they dropped a bombshell that nobody was prepared for: Sam Brouse and Rob McConnell of Papadosio sat in with The
Squeeze, cranking out some righteous tunes and keeping the heat wave rolling.
After an interesting interpretation of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, they brought out their cathartic magnum opus of a showstopper, “I’ll Take Another”. The feeling of this song live is indescribable; every soul should experience it, multiple times perhaps. Closing out with one final track, they left behind a boisterous crowd that was sweating, screaming, and wanting more.
Then came time for the main attraction. Papadosio, the infinitely skilled and ever exploring quintet, was set to take the stage. The lights dimmed and mouths erupted into one steady cheer as the crowd drew closer. The dance party, my friends, would soon to be at its peak. Dosio (the go-to name for many) surprised fans by bringing them in gently with a slow and cascading rendition of “Right Now”, a synth laden acousto-electric hybrid off of their newest album, T.E.T.I.O.S. Surprises awaited as Corey Frye of The Main Squeeze stepped onstage for the next performance; bringing the house down with an exquisitely brooding and intense version of “T.V. Song”.
After being released from the dark grip of the T.V., the journey continued onward. With their unique blend of electronically driven harmonium Papadosio had the crowd entranced. The intense harmony of both electric and acoustic vibrations, their signature sound, is nearly impossible to describe except that it feels surprisingly at home in the heart and the bones. This writer is currently trying to figure out how to put it to words. One must find it for themself.
As smiles abounded and hugs were exchanged a crowd favorite, “All I Knew”, took everyone by the shirttails and left for another rollercoaster, destined with more peaks and valleys for all to experience. And then it was on to set break. Goodbye. Au revoir. Auf Wiedersehen. For now…
Picking up right where they left off, Papadosio blasted through the second set with an eclectic mix of tracks spanning their entire career: “We Are Water” and “Oracle Theme” from T.E.T.I.O.S., “By the Light of the Stars” and “Unparalyzer” from the By the Light of the Stars EP, “Night Colors” from Observations, and “Taking Turns” which has yet to be released outside of live recordings. Tired and exhilarated, the crowd watched Dosio leave the stage, soon to return with a feverish abandon that only a “Snorkel” encore can muster. An incendiary drumbeat soon warming up into reverb laced guitar lines and soaring synths, the crowd was immediately transported to another planet. The song ebbed and flowed and brought all of the night’s frivolities to a peak, culminating in one final climax. And, with that, the show was over.
In retrospect it was a night well done but over too soon. Friends were made and good times were had. Smiles were served, and all was well in the world. Indianapolis had its own little bit of magic that night. We came, we saw, and music conquered.
T.V. Song (w/ Corey Frye)
You and Yourself
All I Knew
We Are Water
By the Light of the Stars
The Main Squeeze Setlist:
Where Do We Go?
Funky Good Time (Intro)
Loud (w/ Sam Brouse)
Tank X-ing (w/ Rob McConnel)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
I’ll Take Another
Message to the Lonely
Photos courtesy of