The Bunbury Music Festival got off to a rollicking start on Friday night. The day started with some logistical issues that festival organizers assured would be taken care of the rest of the weekend. Lines to get in, to use ATMs, and to purchase food and beverages could have overshadowed the mix of artists taking the stage. The popup showers could’ve also put a damper on the evening, but the capacity crowd of almost 20,000 left in much better spirits after seeing a tour de force from a wide array of folk, pop, and rock acts.
Bleachers was one of the first of the “bigger” bands to play, and they set the tone for what was a highly enjoyable night of music. Frontman and Fun guitarist Jack Antoff built a great rapport with the crowd, urging the mass of people to yell and scream. “The more you give it to us, the more we give it to you!” The request was gladly met by the crowd, as the band took off into Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.” They smoothly transitioned into “Rollercoaster” to the delight of all. The band closed their set with their hit anthem “I Wanna Get Better.” Antoff and his mates were gracious to the loud ovations from the crowd, and promised to bring that same energy the next time the group found itself in Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the venue, a dance party had broken out with Matt and Kim. The crowd waved in unison and propelled balloons in the air, and were having a blast. Then the crowd went into a frenzy as Matt explained that Kim loved to dance and shake her ass, but only if the crowd egged her on. The willing audience worked up quite a commotion, and of course did not disappoint.
Just as they concluded their set, Royal Blood entered the stage adjacent to Matt and Kim, and proceeded to melt everyone’s face off. The London duo has flown under the radar, but with the energy and musicianship they bring to the table, that won’t be the case for long. With an intense, high energy version of “Figure It Out,” it was time to bounce back to the other side of Sawyer Point to see one of the local bands.
This local band just happened to be Walk the Moon. The local quartet has been climbing charts and receiving their share of press for songs like “Anna Sun” and the hit of this summer, “Shut Up and Dance,” the obvious choice for the set finale. The crowd roared, and you could feel the energy building from all parts of the park.
The penultimate act of the night, Tame Impala, looked to keep the momentum going, but Mother Nature had other plans. A steady drizzle built into an absolute deluge, to which lead singer Kevin Parker quipped, “we’re getting just as wet as you are, and we have a much higher risk of electrocution!” They played “Elephant” and “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” and had the rain soaked crowd completely into the music and not letting the weather stop the singing and dancing. Unfortunately his words were somewhat prescient, as the rain and lightning cut short what was shaping up to be the set of the night. The band abruptly left the stage, leaving the crowd in a minor state of shock.
The shortened set left the audiene enough time to either seek shelter or get as close as possible to see the headlining Black Keys. The Akron duo played their Ohio card and fell into favor with the local crowd. But honestly, the music stood up on its own. The setlist featured a great balance of blues and rock, new and old. The group touched on all the crowd favorites, blazing through “Fever,” “Lonely Boy” and so many more. The crowd gleefully chanted along with “Howlin’ for You.” The highlight was the conclusion, though. The stage went mostly dark and a single spotlight shone on singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach. The first few riffs from the acoustic guitar gave the crowd in idea of what was coming. The delicate guitar strum and soft singing was in stark contrast to the rest of the night, and the crowd wasn’t falling for it. Everyone knew it was “Little Black Submarine” and everyone was ready for the acoustic to transition to the well-known electric riff that turns that song on its head. When Auerbach was satisfied with the palpable anticipation from the crowd, the lights strobed, the crowd roared, and what followed was a raucous, high-energy finish to what turned out to be a microcosm of the night.
Stay tuned for what will be an equally entertaining Round 2 on Saturday!