Written by Alex Weiglein
Photos by Craig Weiglein
Anyone who attended Bunbury this year would agree that the lineup was full of bands that were bursting with talent. While all of the bands fit under the Bunbury umbrella, there were several that really stood out as good fits for the Festival. They cover a wide gamut of musical genres, as well as a wide distance from around the country. Whatever their style and origin, these bands had excellent performances and really helped to push the Festival into the success that it was.
Jane Decker played a solid set at the Lawn Stage, attracting a modest crowd. While normally not going the acoustic route, she was determined to play at Bunbury and being forced to play acoustic wasn’t going to stop her. Grabbing a friend to play guitar, Decker sang her heart out to her audience, excited that she won a bet on whether 100 people would show up to her show or not. Listening to this local gem was certainly worth it, and her bubbly, energetic personality made it all the more worthwhile. She showed equal excitement about her upcoming album, which will no doubt be fantastic. Routinely thanking the audience for their applause and attendance, it seems only natural to return the favor and thank her for putting on such a great set.
One of the most popular and well-attended shows was Fitz and the Tantrums. Backed by the iconic heart-shaped logo from their album More Than Just A Dream, they brought a lively energy to Bunbury and easily got many concert-goers off their feet in excitement. Their audience was easily one of the most active and vivacious at the entire festival, and for good reason. Singer Michael Fitzpatrick often talked to the audience, encouraging them to sing along during their superb cover of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Their heartfelt and soulful singing is a good example of how passionate and enthusiastic the music at Bunbury can be, and their audience was representative of how excited the crowds can be. A perfect fit in the lineup, Fitz and the Tantrums were an excellent addition to the Festival this year.
On the opposite end of the Festival, Saintseneca put on a more toned-down and relaxed set. Unjustifiably unattended, the band was unphased by the small crowd. They were still interactive with everyone in attendance, even requesting some funnel cakes from a nearby food stand and sharing them with whoever came up to the stage to grab a bite. With a nice breeze blowing, their comparatively calm set was like taking a breath from all of the heavy and loud acts playing at the Main and River Stages. Armed with a variety of instruments, including a mandolin, dulcimer, and a balalaika, and a singer sporting a great moustache, they provided a nice contrast to many of the other bands on the lineup.
Local favorite Foxy Shazam returned for their second year playing at Bunbury. Drawing an audience that packed the River Stage to its farthest limits, they sported their new GONZO album for the first portion of the show. Their stage was very colorful, with plenty of purple to go along with their new record. Moving around in the smoke, they proved why they are known for their unbelievable stage presence. Their set included tossing the microphone, hopping on top of the drum set, throwing the trumpet into the air, and playing the keyboards while standing on them. Vocalist Eric Nally regularly dropped to his knees during the set as well. The second
portion of the show was made of material from their previous albums, which the crowd was thrilled to hear. Nally is also known to have interesting things to say in between songs and at the end of their set, such as noting how the only difference between himself and a scholar is how much they paid for what they know. He also ended the set by yelling to the crowd, “You’re all pregnant!” Bringing back one of Cincinnati’s most beloved bands was a great decision, and many are certainly hoping they will return sometime in the future.
Kishi Bashi brought Kaoru Ishibashi’s distinctive sound to the Festival’s lineup and was a nice addition. Violin in hand and with the ability to do vocal loops in real time, Ishibashi put on an electric show that was nothing short of entertaining. He was very involved with his audience, handing his red bowtie to one lucky listener right next to the stage, and even crowdsurfing during one song. He performed a variety of songs from his catalogue, including the interestingly titled “The Ballad of Mr. Steak,” which was noted to be very popular in Japan. A cover of “Live and Let Die” was included in his setlist as well, an addition that the crowd was ecstatic about. On-the-spot looping and beatboxing during his “Bright Whites” was an impressive example of his showmanship and talent as a musician. Promising to return later in the year, Ishibashi left his spectators in eager anticipation of seeing his brilliant performance once again.
Bunbury 2014 was, as one might suspect, a great weekend for all who attended. This list is not meant to cast a shadow on the other acts, but rather highlight what a great selection of bands came to Cincinnati this year. All of the bands did a great job and the Festival was sure to have something for everyone. Talent abound, this year’s Festival fits right in with the past two as an awesome weekend full of very talented musicians that left everyone eager to see what next year’s Bunbury will bring.