This Labor Day weekend the Carl G. Fisher Society threw down in Broad Ripple Park, bringing to the city the first ever WARMfest. The event included a large range of musical styles from EDM, bluegrass, rap and rock, which spanned over 100 acts, 5 stages and 3 days. Inclement weather not withstanding, WARMfest was a much welcomed transition into the fall season. The event was well staffed with very respectable volunteers, security and everybody else that helped make the festival what it was.
Saturday started out smoothly, with very small crowds testing the waters to this new Indianapolis event. Though the first half of the day went off without a hitch, around 4:30 PM the rain came, and it came, and it did not want to stop. In the wake of previous mobile stage tragedies, the festival was forced to evacuate and close the festival down for the rest of the night. As attendees flocked to social media websites looking for somebody to blame, concert promoters assured people who purchased Saturday tickets that they would be honored for the rest of the weekend. Headlining act RJD2 headed to downtown’s BLU Night Club where he closed out the night. On the other side of town local act Magnetic whose set was canceled due to weather was graciously allowed a small set in between Hip Hop/emcee act Rusty Redenbacher and DJ Shy Guy Says, two well know local acts.
Sunday afternoon came with no chance of rain, but rather great music, great festival hospitality and a perfect Indiana day. I got to the festival a little late due to work, but got to catch a number of regional and local acts I had not seen before while catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time. However the best part of the night was getting to see famed musical act JJ Gray & Mofro followed by Big Head Todd & The Monsters. I was skeptical of this style of music, I knew these guys were well known but I did not know their sound, and I was very impressed. The bar service was also worth noting, as Hoaglin Catering took very good care of all the staff and musical guests all night, with help from Sun King Brewery.
As Monday rolled around I got to spend my first full day and night at the festival. We began with lunch in surrounding Broad Ripple then went directly into the park, getting prime parking space just across the street. The festival was offering free shuttle rides all weekend, which I heard were phenomenal at getting guests to and from their cars, though I didn’t find it necessary to use. We started out by seeing the Blue Monkey Side Show, a great local act I remember seeing as a kid. Though the performance was pretty cheesy and predictable, it was a nice change of pace. After that we went to see The Main Squeeze, old friends of mine from my Bloomington days. I had seen these guys before, but never had I seen Max their guitarist kill it like he did then and there. These guys are going places so be sure to keep an ear out.
Next up for Monday was Woodstove Flapjacks, another local act I had never seen, bringing to the stage an old timey bluegrass style of music. Indy’s own Hyryder took the stage after them drawing in a bigger crowd then I had seen all weekend at the Heron Stage, playing sweet Grateful Dead songs their whole set. The highlight of the evening was catching Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, an amazing New Orleans jazz band as well as G Love & Special Sauce, a great band with an unclassifiable sound that just makes you want to groove. Following G Love was Michael Franti & Spearhead, a group of guys that look more like a punk band but play feel good, peace loving reggae tunes. Michael was not scared to get in the crowd, as he ran around hugging anybody he could and spreading his gospel of music.
Overall, WARMfest 2013 was spectacular and definitely something I will go to again if the musical draw is to my liking. It was a very well produced, organized and ran event that was kept clean, family friendly and fun. There was shopping, there was art, they raised awareness to local issues and they played great music from local, regional and national acts. If you missed WARMfest this year be sure to consider attending next year as the atmosphere alone makes it a great way to relax after a long summer of working.
For those that did not get the chance to make it to WARMfest, the Broad Ripple Community will be hosting another festival September 13 & 14 in Opti Park. Wheelhouse, Indy’s first two day electronic music festival will feature acts such as Flosstradamus, Paul Oakenfold, Crystal Method, Key N Krates and Shy Guy Says.