Written by Alex Weiglein
Photo by Craig Weiglein
The whole of the Bunbury Music Festival was a great success this year, much like the year before it. This was mostly thanks to the excellent lineup that was put together, filled to the brim with greatly talented and entertaining acts. While all of the bands did a fantastic job, a handful of groups really brought a life and energy that provided the extra kick that made the Festival so brilliant. These acts come from a variety of genres which reflected the entire lineup and as such gives them even more reason to be considered the gems of Bunbury 2013.
First on the list is Friday act American Authors. Playing at Bunbury was the first time that they had come to Cincinnati and were happy for the opportunity. Attracting a fair-sized crowd, passers-by continued to stop by the stage and listen to the superbly constructed songs. Enthusiastic interaction with the audience just made everyone more excited, particularly when everyone put their hands in the air for a quick Instagram snapshot. They also played the recently-famous song “Best Day Of My Life,” which has been featured in a Lowe’s ad that has boosted their popularity significantly. Taking a more serious tone for a moment, the band informed everyone that due to a death in the family, guitarist James Shelley was unable to attend. However, thanks to the tour manager’s generous decision to step up as the temporary replacement the tour was saved and Bunbury was more than glad to have them.
Next up is Cincinnati-based group Walk the Moon. It’s always great to see when local musicians are playing at festivals like Bunbury and even better when bands with their level of talent are on the lineup. Garbed in colorful outfits and face paint, their stage presence was a sight to behold. Easily one of the most popular shows throughout the Festival, Walk the Moon attracted a huge crowd, even though they were not a headliner. They were also very interactive with the crowd, expressing how happy they were to return to their home city. Audience members were equally as happy for their return, packed shoulder to shoulder while singing and dancing along to their fantastic tunes. While they started off strong and loud, they took some time to calm things down a bit and have a few intimate songs with the crowd which was a nice change of pace. Soon after, though, they were right back to their usual electric stage presence and pumping everyone up all over again.
Belle & Sebastian was also a big hit at the Festival. While their show was calmer, more relaxed, and laid back compared to many of the other acts, they still accrued a large audience eagerly waiting to hear their music. Almost as though it was eager to match the music, the temperature took a slight drop and a much-appreciated cool breeze started to blow from the river. Unfortunately this was a foreboding of some bad weather coming through which forced the band to cancel their show a few minutes early. Even with this slight setback, Belle & Sebastian put on a fantastic set, actively interacted with the audience, and everyone had a blast. Singer Stuart Murdoch decided to take things a step further and bring up nearly a dozen audience members up on stage to dance along with the band. Everyone loved the show, thrilled that they took the time to come all the way from Scotland to play at the Festival.
Vacationer proved to be another impressive act at Bunbury this year. They lived up to their name by taking us away from focusing on the heat and instead aimed our attention at their fantastic songs that would make an instant fan out of anyone walking past the stage. Playing the ever-popular “Trip,” they gave the audience a break from the worry and stress from their everyday lives and put them into a great mood that made the Festival all the more enjoyable. The band continued to play the rest of their only album Gone which everyone loved. Eager to please, the band made sure everyone was enjoying themselves and thanked them for sitting through the heat to hear them play. The plentiful drums and bass got everyone excited while the soothing vocals melted away any anxiety found in the concert-goers making for a fantastic, fresh, and relaxing set that anyone could fall in love with after the first song.
These four acts were amongst the select few that brought a special kind of life and vibrancy to the Bunbury Music Festival this year that made the experience extra special. The Festival wouldn’t have been quite the same if other acts had taken their places but luckily for the audience that wasn’t the case. They have left some rather big shoes to fill for next year’s Festival, and everyone can only hope that next year’s lineup will feature groups that bring the same kind of energy to the Festival that these groups brought this year.