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Feature: Carnivalesque 2015 DIY Music Fest

By Marlena Scott, Features Editor

It is “Fest Season” in Athens, more commonly referred to as spring. As temperatures warm up, winter coats are shed and music festival line ups are announced across the United States and Ohio University students throw loud, obnoxious parties on their lawns and consume dangerous amounts of alcohol to celebrate the end of a long, hard winter.

These lawn parties are praised, glamorized and bragged about to other colleges, putting Ohio University in the running for the “Best Party School Ever” title on credible, riveting sites like BroBible or Total Frat Move.

A few blocks away, while High Fest attendees sleep off overconsumption or call their parents asking to fund an underage drinking citation, another group of students and community members will bop their heads at a thoughtfully planned showcase of diverse bands from around the US and consume art projects from the community. This conglomeration of creativity is Carnivaleqsue 2015.

Bailey Kretz and Mitch Rossiter planned Carnivalesque 2015 loosely in October of last year, talking casually over homework. After reaching out for help throughout the year, it is primarily Kretz and Rossiter who took the time to give rise to the lineup and model which the festival will follow.

“We have Folk Fest, and we have the Mill Street fests and all of that, but we just wanted something that was run on our own,” Kretz said. “Lobsterfest is really cool and we kind of modeled it after that, but [ACRN] has funding from the school, and we wanted something that was without any university involvement.”

Each group has its own distinct style and appeal. Kretz and Rossiter booked about half of the bands each, both bringing their own taste and regional knowledge to the festival, but originality could lie in the basics of the locations of the shows. The four venues are full of character and moody atmospheres only to be enhanced by the music. Thursday’s show will be held at The Bat Lounge, an aesthetically intriguing venue with an open floor plan and artistic features including a white cave-like installment, dim lighting and dark, atmospheric color schemes. Among angry scribbles on the walls, Friday’s lineup will pack the Smiling Skull. On Saturday, attendees will travel from The Pink Mistress, a christmas-lighted space with familiar and friendly faces to The Lodge, a glowing venue with silhouettes smoking on the porch in the middle of the woods.

“I’m really excited to see a big variety of music genres that don’t normally get to come through; I think with the exception of a handful of bands, everyone is new to the city, so I’m excited to see what people think of them and how a three-day festival flow will work in Athens," Kretz said.

Unlike common shows in Athens that can sometimes start an hour after the stated door time due to the amount of attendance or other factors, Carnivalesque’s schedule will be followed closely.

“We’re running this much more strictly than most shows here. When a band says it starts at 7:20, it starts at 7:20,” Kretz said. “We’re trying to keep to the schedule, because like on Saturday we have like eight to 10 bands we need to get through, so we need to keep it tight.”

For access to the shows, Kretz and Rossiter developed a wristband system to provide attendees with a discount: buy one for $15, attend all weekend. With 20 bands spread across four shows, the wristbands offer these groups for less than $1 each. Generally, the cost to see out-of-town groups in Athens is at least $3-$5 depending on popularity and cost of the venue.

“With so many shows, we wanted people to get a deal and we really want everyone to come out to every show or as many shows as possible so we figured we’d give people an incentive to go out to all four,” Kretz said. “It also just makes it easier at the doors, because all you have to do is flash it and you don’t have to worry about bringing money each night.”

Kretz and Rossiter are pairing up with local artists as well as musicians with an art table hosted by Jettison Magazine to showcase local art, including printed zines, handmade crafts, chapbooks and the like. Contributions will be sold for small donations, benefitting local artists and causes, like Kellie Hill’s trip to Edinburgh, Scotland where she will be exploring sustainable living and environmental interactions. The shows will also feature projections and other interesting concepts to break up performances.

Trade police on horses, ignorant behavior or the chance of rain for Carnivalesque 2015, a positive and creatively appealing experience this weekend.

“I don’t want people skipping out on shows just because you don’t know the bands. That’s the point of a festival, you know; it’s a mixture of bands you know and bands you don’t know, and the experience is having fun with your friends while finding new music,” Kretz said.

The flyer with the schedule of bands can be found above.

[Editor's Note: Those interested in purchasing a wristband before Tuesday, March 24 should email]

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