While the first day of Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati left a lot of people scratching their heads, thankfully, the music had nothing to do with it (ed. note: You can read about my feelings on a music festival going completely cashless here). The music quickly washed away the frustrations found at the food and beer tents.
Friday night gave the set of the weekend, in my opinion. The Killers opened with “Spaceman” and “Somebody Told Me”, which got the crowd going pretty damn well. Thrown into their 17 song set, were three fantastic covers as well. The first hit home since we were in Cincy when Brandon Flowers and company played the WKRP In Cincinnati Main Theme song. Next up was an awesome cover of Interpol’s “Obstacle 1”. And finally, a solid cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” that was accompanied by post-game fireworks from the Cincinnati Reds. They closed out with “Mr. Brightside” because of course they did. It was really one of the better sets I’ve ever seen at a music festival.
Additionally, not lost in the Friday shuffle were Haim, who’s new album should be lights out, The Mowgli’s, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires (must see) and J Roddy Walston and the Business. All were superb.
On Saturday, the skies opened up and cooled everyone down from a rather warm and sunny Friday. Torrential rain soaked the grounds, but only for a limited time. Those seeking refuge under the bridge or in the random tents didn’t need to stay under cover for long. As far as rain at music festivals goes, it wasn’t bad at all. We got a late start because of the first band of rain, but were able to catch G. Love & Special Sauce before the second band of rain hit. After everyone dried out, it was time for Big Grams. The duo of Phantogram — who is sexier than hell when she starts singing — and Big Boi are something that needs to been seen in addition to being heard. Their energy and music is incredible and it really is a must see if you get the chance. If you’ve ever seen Phantogram, it’s that plus steroids.
After being thoroughly impressed with Big Grams, it was time for Ice Cube. Ice Cube was one of those shows you tell your friends you have to go see because when are you going to be able to see him again? It was supposed to be a show you watch a few songs at, then bounce to something else. Cube was having none of that though. From the minute he stepped on stage, he commanded the attention of everyone and no one could leave. The original member of N.W.A. claimed he hadn’t performed in the city since 1989 — read about that drama here — and they tried to tell them what they could say or sing. You know what came next? That “F— Tha Police” diddy. Cube also brought out his son O’Shea Jackson Jr, who portrayed him in the movie “Straight Outta Compton”.
Deadmau5 was the last stop on the Saturday tour and he didn’t disappoint either. It wasn’t the best show of the weekend, but I wouldn’t even attempt to call it anything less than good. He touched on classics such as “The Veldt” and “Ghosts N Stuff” and it was all around a good show. Even people that had never heard Joel Zimmerman before, or seen his antics, were impressed with his act. True to form, he got on the microphone after his set and before thanking the crowd, ridiculed someone on the sound crew for not properly grounding a piece of equipment, leading to a buzzing sound that I’m fairly certain only Joel heard.
Sunday was a struggle. The threat of rain and the two day hangover stack up, plus knowing Tears for Fears wasn’t playing made it a rough go. Although, the thought of seeing Florence and Nanna rocking the stage that evening made me power through. I’m not joking, though. At one point I made the trek back to the Millennium Hotel to lay down because I thought I was going to pass out. But I digress.
What I did get to see on Sunday I was impressed with. Grimes, Canadian artist Clair Boucher, absolutely rocked out. Her ensemble of back up singers/dancers as well as her ability to play multiple instruments and sound like a total doll on the mic made for an incredible experience. Of Monsters and Men also delivered as per usual (Nanna is my crush). The Poorman and Chan caught up with Elle King while I was back at the hotel and from their explanation, she was equally incredible and at one point sang a mash up of The Weeknd’s “I Can’t Feel My Face” and Nick Jonas’ “Jealous”.
Upon perusing Instagram and other review articles, it appears we dropped the ball by not attending the Here Come The Mummies show at the CVG River Stage. Not only did they all play dressed as mummies, they also entered the stage by playing through the crowd. Another awesome thing I saw was Arlo McKinney & The Lonesome Souls sharing a bottle of Jack Daniels with some front row members.
Florence and The Machine had the task of shutting down Bunbury 2016 and they did so in epic fashion. She came out of the gate hot with her second song being the smash hit “Ship to Wreck” which got everyone moving. She also sang her song with Calvin Harris “Sweet Nothing”. Her pipes were shown off with a great rendition of “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” and also got the crowd to put down their cell phones telling them “Don’t be that guy filming everyone else not on their phones because I can always see you and it bums me out.” We thought we were seeing the end of the show with her cover of The Source’s “You’ve Got The Love” but she came back with a huge performance of “Dog Days Are Over” that sent everyone home questioning if that was the best they saw all weekend…or ever.
The whole weekend was fantastic. Bunbury Music Festival is something everyone should do, especially if you are in driving distance. The passes are cheap, compared to other festivals, and the line up is equally as good. They have had some hiccups in the past years but nothing you can’t look past. The entire crew at Promowest does a great job of handling problems and fixing them. The logistics of the entrances last year and the cashless mishaps of this year were inconvenient, but remedied rather quickly. I’ll definitely be back next year.
Top 5 Shows for me:
- The Killers
- Florence and The Machine
- Big Grams
- Ice Cube