Written by Bill Whiting
Photos by Scott Preston
The Bunbury Music Festival entered it’s third consecutive year along the banks of the Ohio river in Cincinnati, Ohio with winning results. Friday, July 11, had many shining moments, including the bump and grind party rock of Bowling Green, Kentucky’s favorite sons, Cage the Elephant. Touring behind the entrancing masterpiece recording, 2013’s Melophobia, Cage the Elephant heated up the stage by slamming into the hardcore jams of “Spiderhead” and “Come a Little Closer.” Lead singer Matthew Shultz crowd surfed across the front of the stage as he encouraged Bunbury’s revelers to “have fun.” Cincinnati and Granville, Ohio’s Black Owls made a lasting impression with their riveting performance on Bunbury’s lawn stage, covering Harry Nilsson’s “Jump into the Fire” for an enthusiastic and sweaty crowd. Los Angeles’ Fitz and the Tantrums won over the main stage following with the peppered pop confections, “Out of My League” and “The Walker” from 2013’s radio friendly project, More Than Just a Dream.
The hard driving sounds of L.A.’s Dead Sara shook the Warsteiner Stage as the ensemble weaved in and out of the atmospheric compositions, “Weatherman” and “Lemon Scent.” Cincinnati’s Psychodots bounced around cheerfully on the amphitheater stage, and their catchy rhythms coalesced on the groundbreaking FM staple, “Fear is Never Boring.” Another Cincinnati jewel, The Heartless Bastards, struck a vibrant connection with Friday’s Bunbury crowd, digging deep into the epic piece, “Down in the Canyon” from 2012’s gem, Arrow. The first night’s headliner, Australia’s Empire of the Sun, put on a glitzy tour de force that was equal parts Vegas ritual and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore played to a packed throng in front of the main stage as they danced about to the addicting chords of the 2008 classic track, “We are the People.” Nini Fabi of Brooklyn, NY’s HAERTS hypnotized the masses on the visually appealing river stage with soaring vocal prowess on the numbers, “All the Days” and “Wings”
On Saturday, July 12. Franklin, Tennessee’s Paramore packed in a large Bunbury crowd on Saturday’s main stage. Lead vocalist Hayley Williams engaged the front rows in sing a longs on “Still Into You” and “Ain’t It Fun” from their 2013 self titled disc, and “The Only Exception” from 2009’s Brand New Eyes release. Cincinnati’s Foxy Shazam entertained the audience on the river stage with songs from their new LP, Gonzo. Lead singer Eric Sean Nally’s outrageous antics during “Holy Touch” and “I Like It” from 2012’s The Church of Rock and Roll were well worth the price of admission. Saturday night’s headliner, Fall Out Boy, focused tightly in on the music from their 2013 comeback album, Save Rock and Roll. Lead singer Patrick Stump had everyone’s arms waving back and forth through the rockers, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” and “Alone Together.”
Sunday, July 13 was hot and steamy as bugs took over the lawn and main stage areas during ZZ Ward’s powerful blues laced burners, “Put the Gun Down” and “Last Love Song.” Robert Delong’s mesmerizing one man show provided relief on the river stage, and Bear Hands’ pure punk adrenaline fed the music hungry twirlers near the Warstiener stage. Irvine, California’s Young the Giant had their fans singing and dancing to the flowing tracks, “Cough Syrup” and “My Body” from 2011’s brilliant self titled recording. Illinois’ punk pranksters, The Orwells closed out Bunbury’s Warsteiner stage with biting musical numbers from their 2014 masterwork, Disgraceland. Bunbury 2014 came to an end with the most beautifully haunting concert of the festival performed by The Flaming Lips. Visually arresting throughout the light rainfall that fell on the main stage, Wayne Coyne and co. created a scintillating backdrop that timed perfectly to the evening’s daily fireworks show. “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton,” “Do You Realize?” and an appropriate cover of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” seemed a perfect way to send Bunbury’s faithful, streaming, happy and dazed patrons towards the exits after experiencing one of the great American rock and roll music festivals of 2014.