Summer music festivals stun students


With popular artists, accessible venues, and other attractions, music festivals and concerts such as Bonnaroo, the Warped Tour, and country music concerts in Atlanta proved to be an exciting addition to summer 2014.  While some Westminster students decided to venture out to Tennessee for Bonnaroo, others stayed in Atlanta and enjoyed the concerts held here at Lakewood Amphitheater.

The Warped Tour is a touring music festival that plays all over the country.  It is frequently called the Vans Warped Tour, as Vans is one of its biggest sponsors.  The Warped Tour’s claim to fame when it was started in 1995 was its cultivation of punk rock, but now the tour features a more varied array of bands.  Atlanta was among the Warped Tour’s many destinations this year, visiting Atlanta’s Lakewood Amphitheatre.

“A lot of the bands that I like are there [at the Warped Tour] and it’s a tradition with me and some other friends,” said junior Sarah Lock. “Also I like music festivals a lot; it’s just the vibe and energy there – you meet a lot of cool people.  I was most excited to see The Story So Far and Mayday Parade, but my favorite act was Vanna, they just had such a good mosh pit, it was really fun.  It was also more fun [this year] because I knew more of the bands that were going and I got to stay the whole day.  I was also a lot closer with the people that I went with and I made new friends, which was really fun.”

Lakewood Amphitheater also hosted many country music artists this summer such as the Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan, and Tim McGraw.  Many Westminster students attended these country concerts.

“I love country music and it’s fun to be with your friends [at the concert],” said junior Morgan Brister. “Lakewood Amphitheatre is also a great venue.”

Other Westminster students decided to travel out of Georgia and went to Bonnaroo this summer, joining many of the other thousands of people excited by the star-studded lineup.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Bonnaroo because I had heard it was the ‘happiest place on earth’,” said junior Sabrina Sparkes. “And why wouldn’t I want to spend the night with all my favorite bands in the same place?”

Bonnaroo, a four-day music festival, was held on a farm in Manchester, Tennessee in June.  It featured a variety of acts such as Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White, Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys, The Avett Brothers, and many others.  With the different types of artists that headlined Bonnaroo there were differing opinions on which act was best.

“[Jack White] was definitely my favorite act,” said junior Miranda Tomaras. “The Head and the Heart were really good too, but he just kind of gets a crowd going really well and plays great music and is really pumped up.”

While the headlining musicians, such as Kanye West and Jack White, were the main attractions for most people, some of the more indie or alternative bands proved to be just as entertaining and popular.

“Neutral Milk Hotel was my favorite because I waited for three hours and I got in the front row, right in front of the lead singer, and it was magical,” said junior Juliana Freschi. “It was the best night of my life.”

Other Westminster students were surprised by which act was their favorite as some bands turned out to have great live performances.

“My favorite act surprisingly turned out to be Phoenix because of their stage presence and they had this constantly changing colorful background behind them and they were just really great to see live even though they’re not my favorite band,” said Sparkes. “Also, Jack White stayed 45 minutes longer than he should have on stage and it was one of the greatest performances of my life.  He was amazing.”

People coming from out of town to attend Bonaroo had limited living accommodations.  The choices were camping out in tents, renting RVs, or staying in a hotel for the lucky few that booked a reservation ahead of everyone else.  These minimal living conditions proved to only be a slight deterrent from the rest of the music festival.

“We were in a big group of people, about 30 of us, so we did ‘Groop’ camping,” said Tomaras. “We brought our moms with us, which was kind of fun, so we shared a tent with our mom.  What I did every morning was go into our car and put on makeup and brush my teeth.  There were no showers, which sucked, so everybody smelled bad.”

The “Groop Camping” as it was called seemed to be extremely popular because it came with lots of little perks.  “Groop” campers had access to their cars from their campsite and the knowledge that they would have a guaranteed place to sleep at night.  There is one central location at Bonnaroo called “Centeroo”, as explained by Evan Dhillon.  This is where all the stages were placed and the rest of the attractions were located around this area.  Campsites, RV parking, and day parking surrounded Centeroo and people sometimes walked from their campsite to Centeroo up to four times a day.   These walks could even be more than a mile, which is why many people wanted their campsite to be as close to Centeroo as possible.

“This year we went with a group of Westminster students and registered for ‘Groop’ camping where they have a specific area for people who are ‘Groop’ camping with groups of 25 people or more,” said junior Evan Dhillon, “In this ‘Groop’ area the advantages are that you can camp with your group whereas general admission you can get completely separated and that instead of having to do one uniform arrangement of cars and tents in a line you can do whatever arrangement you want since you are allotted a large space for your whole group.  We essentially put all the cars around the outside of our campsite and put all the tents and a common space in the middle.”

An RV was also a great option for people who preferred sleeping indoors; however, it cost extra to buy the RV parking pass for Bonnaroo.  There were also limited RV parking spaces, reserved for an exclusive amount of people.

“I stayed with my friend and her dad so we were in VIP in his friends’ camper,” said Sparkes. “It was really nice compared to everyone’s tents.”

Bonnaroo, along with over 130 bands, boasted a culinary experience with food trucks catering to all types of people, whether they were vegetarian, vegan, or craving something wrapped in bacon.

“They had a bacon food truck that just had all kinds of food with bacon and I had a bacon grilled cheese from them,” said Freschi. “They also had Thai food, vegan, ice cream, everything.”

The festival also supported local restaurants, allowing for more business and an experience many customers cannot get anywhere else.

“All the little restaurants from Tennessee came,” said Tomaras. “My favorite place was a place called ‘Spicy Pie’, which is a pizza place and they had these huge pieces of pizza with jalapenos on them, which was amazing.”

There were also many other attractions and activities to do on the farm, such as a Ferris wheel and even huts where people could play Xbox or watch new independent movies that had not yet been released.

“They have these rows of little shops, like tents with shops in them and I bought some t-shirts,” said Freschi. “You can buy little crafts, you can make crafts, just all kinds of stuff to do.”

Some other interesting attractions at Bonnaroo were the comedians that it featured, along with all of the musicians.  In the “Bonnaroo Comedy Theatre” this year you could have seen comedians such as Craig Robinson and the Nasty Delicious, Taran Killan, and Hannibal Burress.

“Bonnaroo is also pretty famous for its comedy acts as well which aren’t as well known, but are pretty cool and have a lot of famous comedians in the lineup,” said Dhillon.

While Bonnaroo may have seemed intimidating at first, attracting large crowds and providing a plentiful amount of food, music, and other entertainment, many of the Westminster students that attended found it was a really manageable and safe experience.

“I expected it to be a lot scarier and I was surprised at how easy it was not to have a sketchy experience,” said Freschi. “I had a really good time, it just felt really safe all the time actually – even at night.”

An extremely popular music festival, Bonnaroo provided Westminster students with an all around fulfilling experience that made them want to go back next year.

“I liked this summer a lot more than the previous because for me this lineup topped the amazing one last year and having experience with navigating and camping made things a lot easier,” said Dhillon. “Just knowing the little things the second year really made things a lot easier and more enjoyable.  I definitely would go back to Bonnaroo,it’s just such a special place and there is really nothing else in the world like it and it is just an awesome experience each year regardless of the lineup.”

On Sept. 19th through the 20th, Atlanta will have its annual music festival: Music Midtown.  In the past, Music Midtown has featured acts such as Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Pearl Jam.  This year the headliners at Music Midtown are the Zac Brown Band, Eminem, John Mayer, and Jack White.  Other artists performing include Iggy Azeala, Bastille, Twenty One Pilots, Lana del Ray, and Lorde.

“I’m so excited I don’t have to camp [for Music Midtown],” said Tomaras. “Jack White’s coming again so it’ll be good to see him again.  I want to see Lana del Rey too – she’s good – and Twenty One Pilots.”

Westminster students, however, seemed to have a mixed opinion about the lineup this year, especially with some of the headliners.  However, the allure of the music festival itself may convince people to go anyway.

“I’m not as crazy about the lineup as I was last year but I like the vibe and energy of music festivals so I might go just because of that,” said Lock.

Music Midtown is a two-day festival, occurring on both Friday and Saturday, and this year Westminster’s Pigskin Picnic occurs on that Friday night.  This limits students’ abilities to attend Music Midtown and see their favorite bands.

“I can only go [to Music Midtown] on Saturday because I’m cheering for the Friday night football game,” said Sparkes. “I was most excited to see Jack White again, but sadly he’s performing on Friday.  I’m kind of upset with the lineup this year because all of the bands I wanted to see are performing Friday.”

The music festival, however, brings popular artists to Atlanta every year.  After taking a six-year hiatus in 2006, Music Midtown returned in 2011 and with increased ticket sales, Peter Conlon, one of Music Midtown’s creators, decided the festival would reoccur the next year.  It has been quite successful every year since 2011.

“You don’t even have to go for the ‘Music Midtown experience’,” said junior Virginia Kuester. “Just getting to listen to the bands is great enough because I went after the hiatus when Coldplay performed and just listening to Coldplay live was amazing enough.  That’s what music festivals are all about for me.”