Feature: Fashion Meets Music Festival 2015
By Diana Buchert, Contributor
Fashion and music. Those two worlds don’t often come to mind together when only one is mentioned, but the relationship has always been secretly cohesive. Runway models trot down the catwalk to the beat of a song, and fashion statements such as Michael Jackson’s sequined glove are pop culture icons. For a festival to feature these two things and satisfy both sides of the spectrum is a huge undertaking. Fashion Meets Music Festival, which came to the Arena District in downtown Columbus, OH this past Labor Day weekend for its second year, has the right ideas.
The first year of FMMF proved to be a tricky one; free shows led to ticketing confusion, the stages were apparently too spread out, it ran across four days and controversy with headliner R. Kelly caused some acts to drop out. Even though all of these factors created more bad press than good, FMMF learned from its ways and came back in 2015 with a two-day, three-stage, established cost event.
As Saturday rolled by, the highly anticipated flock of music goers was still yet to appear. I wondered if this was it for FMMF--did last year turn everyone away? But with headliners Young the Giant that day and other promising local acts filling in those spots in between, it was no shock when the rush occurred much later on.
Since the bands on Saturday’s lineup didn’t catch my attention, most of the day was spent checking out the vendors which ranged from a truck that housed a boutique to magazine publications to locally created Ohio-themed wear. The fashion component of the festival was not only affordable, but also fitting for all with plenty of band merchandise to balance out the fancier fashion choices.
A major feature of the fashion aspect that still needs some tweaking would have to be the fashion tent. Designers, both local and world-renowned, displayed their works across the short runway underneath the Fashion Tent, but the appeal of a “fashion runway show” drifted away rather fast. Carry Me Forward, a company that provides bags to the homeless and foster children, featured The Outer Vibe playing live as the models strutted with bags on their backs. Although the anticipation for the ModCloth show was high, it lasted a short time and had bland, non-live band background music. Perhaps featuring a bigger runway and adding better production aspects, such as lights and better music, could make the fashion as big as the music for this festival.
Back at the iHeartRadio stage, Ludacris’ hour-long set was a battle to see “Where the real Ludacris fans were at.” While the rapper and actor of The Fast and the Furious fame held a competition of sorts to see who knew the most throwback hits, he dazzled the rest of us with “Money Maker,” “Yeah!” and “Pimpin’ All Over the World.” Per usual, a hype man was there to assist Luda in getting the crowd excited, who was visibly having a great time.
The headliner for the day was Young the Giant, and though I only know their most popular songs, “My Body” and “Cough Syrup,” the energetic moves from lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia were enough to hold attention throughout. Even better to watch was the group of four or so college men, beers in hand while their free arm was thrown over their friends’ backs as they swayed and yelled to the music.
Chaz French, a rapper hailing from the country’s capital, attempted to shake off any Sunday morning blues with a hype fest typical of any rap show for day two’s opening at the iHeartRadio Stage. Though French and his shirtless, sagged-pants hype man sprang around stage like crickets, encouraged concert-goers to clap along and repeat his raps, the efforts fell short of evoking any more people than the roughly 30 people already there. As French continued on with his energy-packed show, however, the crowd slowly increased, as did the head bobbing and hip shaking.
Even after French’s set was over at 1:30 p.m., the crowds were still incredibly sparse for day two. Luckily, around 5 p.m., the hubbub of the festival began to pick up, and the crowds grew more dense in size just in time for Lights’ set. The Canadian synthpop artist came out beaming her hundred-watt smile to the audience, delivering energy and humor (she admitted she was just a little bit drunk) throughout the set. As was the same with Ludacris’ set, the audience picked up in movement as Lights’ old hits were played, such as “Toes” and “Siberia.” Lights worked the stage, making sure to engage the audience whenever possible.
Then came for the wildcard performance of the day over at the Stella stage: Taking Back Sunday. After seeing them for the first time at the Cincinnati rock venue Bogart’s exactly a year ago today, flashbacks of chaotic shoving before the band even came out, intense mosh pits and crowd surfing came to mind for this festival performance. Much to my tired body’s enjoyment, but also much disappointment to my excited TBS fan, none of that took place. Maybe there weren’t as many TBS fans because of St. Vincent coming afterwards, or perhaps (and most likely) the festival setting proved any kind of rough housing to be a stupid and potentially dangerous idea.
The band’s setlist once again held the perfect balance of throwback songs such as “MakeDamnSure” and “Timberwolves at New Jersey,” and the unexpected hearing of my favorite TBS song, “Spin,” was the best surprise. Lead vocalist Adam Lazzara’s renowned talent with microphone throwing was in full-swing (pun intended), and his commentary ranging from talks of rides in sketchy planes to an “OH-IO” chant were fun for breaks in between the action-packed songs.
An hour later, like the alien goddess of rock that she is, Annie Clark aka St. Vincent beamed down from her home planet of experimental rock/pop stardom and blew everyone on planet Earth away. Bursting off the last set of the night with “Birth in Reverse” from her latest self-titled release, Clark had every move expertly in sync. The robotic arms, quick shuffling of her heels across the stage with backing vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Toko Yasuda and the sharp poses after a song were executed in such a great fashion it was hard to believe Clark isn’t really a robot or an alien.
Clark would then unlock herself from her rigid exterior to allow her guitar riffs to soar off into the night, her body swaying, bobbing, collapsing over itself as she played. The most brilliant part of the set was when Clark began “Your Lips Are Red” from her 2007 release Marry Me, a steady pulse of a song that exploded into a rambunctious, drawn out ending. As she shredded away, Clark crouched next to a stage security guard, plopped his hat down onto her own head, and eased her way onto his shoulders. As the crowd screamed in amazement, the guard moved Clark, still clutching her guitar, towards the front row. Raising the white Ernie Ball Guitar Man Albert Lee HH instrument to the audience, countless hands lunged at it, their fingers and palms covering every inch. After recovering the guitar some minutes afterward, Clark trotted back onto the stage, collapsed, dragged her body up to her microphone and finally finished the song.
Though Fashion Meets Music definitely has some tweaks to be made, sticking to friendly, local bands and Ohio-based vendors will allow them to keep drawing in fans. Establishing a cost this time around was smart, and keeping all of the stages and events outside was a great way for fans to walk about, see shows and enjoy the experience.