Review by Alex Weiglein
Photos by Craig Weiglein – http://www.mansionhillstudio.com/
It tends to be the case with most music festivals that there are a few gems that stick out amongst the lineup that make the experience all that more enjoyable. Headliners are often a major talking point for festivals, and often grab people’s attention first. However, there are often plenty of strong acts peppered throughout a lineup that can really make or break a lineup. These acts can sometimes be lost in the crowd, making it hard to discover the truly special artists. This year’s Bunbury Music Festival seemed to largely avoid this problem, either intentionally or otherwise, by having just 3 stages and a smaller lineup than years past. This made it much easier to explore different shows and possibly find the next band that’ll be dominating playlists for the rest of the summer.
Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires certainly fit that description. The “Screaming Eagle of Soul” decided to fly around Bunbury for a while, and people took notice, for good reason. Despite the heat, Bradley and his band drew a sizeable crowd of eager concert-goers. With three large fans pointed straight at him to help cool down, Bradley asked the crowd if they wished to be taken back to “old time church,” and gladly obliged the resounding cries for him to do so. Though it hasn’t been officially been declared, but there seems to be an unwritten law that having brass instruments in a band instantly makes for a better sound. The Extraordinaires weren’t short in the brass department, making for a lively set to accompany Bradley’s powerful, belting voice. Despite getting a late start to his big music career, Bradley shows no signs of stopping, having just released his third album earlier this year. The Screaming Eagle is headed high into the sky and has no plans on landing anytime soon. For anyone who has yet to discover this power-packed group, they’re definitely one to watch out for.
Bunbury alumnus J. Roddy Walston and The Business came back for another eardrum bursting set at the CVG River Stage. It was difficult to find a seat on the Serpentine Wall, testifying to what a spectacle the band is to see live. Bouncing beach balls, waving hands, and puffs of cigarette smoke greeted the band as they took to the stage. A mob of photographers was also present, trying to get a decent shot of the electricity coming from the band. No doubt, they were also trying to get a shot of what Walston looks like underneath his iconic head of hair. It’s a small miracle he’s able to see the piano keys he’s slamming, but that only adds to how impressive their show is. Earplugs are almost mandatory when attending their performances, otherwise you might not be able to hear anything for the rest of the weekend. That would make it impossible to play the rest of their discography on the way home from the festival, which would be an absolute shame.
Cincinnati natives Here Come The Mummies were haunting this year’s festival, which was a more than welcome addition to the lineup. As anyone who has seen them live can say, they are not a band to be missed. Their unique brand of music and performance is a spectacle that leaves you wanting to buy tickets to their next show immediately. There’s just something about seeing an incredibly talented group of musicians dressed up like mummies with smoke machines and colorful lights that isn’t like anything else in the music world right now. They are also reflective of Cincinnati’s music scene – lively, energetic, and unforgettable. That being said, it’s perhaps best to leave the kids at home when going to a Mummies show. Their act is certainly colorful, and that’s not just the light show.
These acts really stood out as some of the best and brightest that Bunbury 2016 had to offer. That isn’t to say that the other acts weren’t impressive, but these had just the right touch to make them extra special. The folks in charge of deciding on the lineup made smart moves picking these three bands, and have proved they know a good act when they see one. This can only mean good things for next year’s lineup, which hopefully will bring equally impressive acts with it to make Bunbury 2017 yet another great success.