Festival Recap: The Beauty of Bellwether Fest
Bellwether Music and Arts Festival returned to Waynesville, Ohio, inside a Renaissance fairground, where the space was completely utilized to give festival-goers a whole new experience from its previous year. As a first-time attendee, I did not know what to expect but was very pleased with the overall experience. When talking with other people who attended last year, it seemed that Bellwether really stepped up their game with overall usage of the fairgrounds, activities provided, and the late-night shows to keep the party going.
Bellwether took place over just two days, Friday, August 9 and Saturday, August 10, where you had the option of camping, snagging a hotel, or simply just buying a cheap car pass to come and go as you pleased. Camping took place outside of the Renaissance fairgrounds, but once entering you were immediately immersed in quirky medieval-themed shops, mazes, and a stage intertwined with a giant ship. Throughout the weekend and in between music, Rock-n-Roll Jousting took place, the only time and place to witness famous (look-alike) rock stars like ZZ Top and Paul Stanley battle it out during a real live jousting match.
Renaissance Village / Photo by Maria Cardillo
The Music at Bellwether Festival
To kick things off on Friday, one of the first two bands to play was Eldren, on the Shipwreck stage. Their high-energy pop beats mixed with a powerful rock sound was paired with catchy lyrics and goofy spirits that left quite an impression on the crowd, myself included. They immediately set the tone for a great weekend of music and new discoveries, landing themselves on my list of top shows during the weekend.
Edren / Photo by Maria Cardillo
Following that great first set from Eldren, Caroline Rose took the main stage wearing her quirky red athletic gear. As expected, Caroline brought nothing but laughs and smiles to the crowd’s faces as she kept getting tangled up in her microphone while singing. As Caroline sang, her best friend and keyboardist banged away on the keys, thrashing her hair back-n-forth, which really added to the overall fun of the performance.
Caroline Rose / Photo by Maria Cardillo
The last live set on Friday was none other than Cake, with a crowd who were ready to party. The first song was introduced with the famous trumpet, starting off a little slow and then quickly progressing to their more funky songs. Next thing you knew the entire crowd was bopping around and singing along.
Cake / Photo by Maria Cardillo
Spirits were high after Cake’s set, and the night was just getting started for some festival attendees. Following Cake, Tobacco, AKA: Black Moth Super Rainbow, DJed at the Shipwreck stage until midnight. If you were still wanting more, next stop was the silent disco after-party in the Campers Village. The silent disco had an option of three different stations ranging from house music to dubstep, and by 3 a.m. everyone had made some new friends, especially when finding someone listening to the same station as you. Silent disco, again, took place Saturday night after STRFKR’s DJ set.
Day two was filled with even more notable music and experiences, which included my number one set, STRFKR. Overhearing many fest attendees, it seemed STRFKR was the most anticipated set, next to Beach House. With STRFKR‘s name alone, you know it’s going to be a wild time. Immediately the band came out on stage with astronaut backup dancers who eventually dove into the crowd on a giant inflatable goose and had the crowd going nuts. With their punchy dance beats and lyrics, STRFKR was a non-stop dance party. Luckily for fans like me, their outrageous dance party would pick right back up at their DJ set later that night.
Astronaut / Photo by Maria Cardillo
Sego, an alternative indie band currently living in L.A., was next on my list of top new discoveries. Grungy guitars and authentic lyrics created a chill but gritty vibe that made Sego a standout set. Sego is currently touring all over with the band Magic City Hippies and even landed a spot at Austin City Limits Music Festival in October.
Sego / Photo by Maria Cardillo
Beach House was the last to perform Saturday night, and it was undeniably enchanting. Their dreamy sound paired with their moody stage lighting had everyone in an absolute trance and wanting more. For many, Beach House was the driving force of attending the festival, and as someone seeing them for the first time, I quickly understood why. Simple, calming and atmospherical, this set swept me off of my feet.
Beach House / Photo by Maria Cardillo
Overall Bellwether Fest Was…..
Only good times were had at Bellwether, making it one of my top festivals this summer. As a smaller-scale festival in the middle of Ohio, Bellwether successfully provided music lovers a new and unique experience. The crowd was friendly, and everyone seemed to look out for each other, which was a nice reminder of how music can truly bring complete strangers together. Bellwether portrayed the true and simple beauty of what music festivals can be, so I will most definitely be anticipating my return next year.
Roochute / Photo by Maria Cardillo