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