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Live Review: Eric Goes To IndieFest

By Eric Perzanowski, Staff Writer

On Saturday March 28th, while hordes of students took to Palmer Street to engage in various “fest season activities,” the Independent Fest put on by S.W.I.M. Team was taking place at Lake Snowden, just a short bus ride from campus.

After searching around, asking several passerby and texting friends, I finally found a shuttle to the venue. Though I did not attend any of the Palmer Fest activities, I did get to witness some of it from the safety of the shuttle. Navigating Palmer street took more time than the rest of the ride to Lake Snowden. As cops herded the crowds of people while chaos ensued on the lawns of many of the houses, the bus slowly trudged on.

I got to Lake Snowden around 2:30 p.m. Immediately I realized that my thin Celtics hoodie was not the optimal choice of wardrobe to keep me warm. I’ve been through colder and thought it wouldn't be an issue--this turned out to be false. When I arrived, many of the bands were still loading in.

The first act I witnessed was Kofi Hill. Despite the sparse crowd and early time slot, the set was full of enthusiasm and energy. Had the crowds arrived a little earlier, they would have undoubtedly enjoyed the performance. Throughout the set, several people joined Hill on stage, either to perform or excite the crowd. By the end of the set, the stage was soaked with assorted alcoholic beverages that had been shaken or sprayed throughout several songs.

Sweet Lil’ and Blond followed. I’ve seen both groups at various venues around Athens, and it was cool to see both up on the big stage. A sizable crowd had arrived by the time Blond went on, and I was pleasantly surprised by how receptive the crowd was.

One of my highlights of the day was Uptowne Buddha. Uptowne Buddha has played in Athens on several occasions during my time at Ohio University, but I’d never seen a show until Saturday. What I learned right off the bat is I've been missing out. All seven members on stage seemed to be having a great time, which rubbed off on the crowd.

One moment from the set that stood out was a rendition of O.T. Genasis’ “CoCo.” This song was played several more times that evening, but none got me more personally hyped than Uptowne’s cover, although I liked DJ Barticus’s remix. Whenever “the coco” was said, it was replaced by a soundbite saying “Athens, Ohio.” The show ended with several fans with arms outstretched, clamoring for jars of applesauce being handed out from the group.

One performance I was anticipating was Atari Jones (whom ACRN recently spoke to). He had a weirdly truncated set and was on and off the stage in about 10 minutes. I couldn’t help but laugh at one point when Jones said to the crowd, “When I say ‘smoke weed,’ y’all say ‘get high,’” and as he was saying this, two cops were navigating through the crowd, presumably to question the contents of the beverage an attendee brought in. The cops seemed bewildered as hundreds of crowdgoers chanted along, “Get high.”

The general atmosphere of most of IndieFest can only be described as “turned up.” People were dancing wildly to many of the artists; one couldn’t go a minute without a cloud of smoke hitting you in the face. The next day my sinuses were still in hell, and everything I tasted had a nauseating hint of shitty cigarettes or marijuana.

Another highlight of the evening was MoJoFlo. Between the charisma of the group's members and their fun funky sound, there was a lot to like about MoJoFlo. On top of that, the trumpeter of the group was wearing a hoodie that bore the logo of The Acacia Strain, so that’s a plus. Unfortunately I was unable to express my appreciation, due to my body becoming rigid and numb from the cold. Their set covered several original pieces, a cover of “Uptown Funk." We were even taught the MoJoFlo Two-Step, and several variations of the move. Unfortunately, this seemed to be the point when the crowd began to spiral slowly down from anticipatory glee to restless demands for Juicy J’s presence.

11 o’clock had rolled around, and I was told--by a source of uncertain reliability--that was the time Juicy J was supposed to go on. As each minute passed, the crowd seemed to grow more and more irritable. I don’t remember who exactly was on stage, but there was a group of about four or five people dancing along to the DJ; they were booed to the point that when they left the stage, many applauded. This attitude had been expressed towards several other earlier performers and overall, it was disheartening. We get it, y’all want to see Juicy J really badly, but trying to boo those who went on before him isn’t going to make him go on any earlier.

Juicy J took the stage at 11:28 p.m. to raucous applause. I honestly have no idea what songs he played, but from an outsider’s perspective, it was fascinating to see the amount of love people have for Juicy J, as well as his ability to just get everyone in the crowd to go wild.

Overall, Independent Fest was a concert experience that I have never had before, which is both good and bad. One thing I love about day-long festivals is just seeing the day progress, observing the changes as they occur. For example, the huge contrasts between seeing Sweet Lil’ in a crowd of about 20 or 30 on a sunny afternoon, to seeing Juicy J perform on a bitterly cold evening in a crowd of about several hundred to a thousand (I’m not so good with estimating crowd numbers).

In hindsight, I probably should have planned better for the weather, but this will certainly be an experience I won’t forget.

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