Nelson Ledges Quarry Park has always been a draw to me; for mixing the serenity of nature and beautiful melodies that move my soul are two things that I, along with many appreciate most in life. When I first heard of this venue it was a curious dream it seemed, for the eastern portion of Ohio truly hits your soul with the scenery as you enter the foothills of the Appalachian mountain range. To be able to listen to music from a beach surrounded by mother natures glory truly makes this venue unique from any other.
SummerDance II proved to be a great weekend overall even though the skies cried upon us for an intense end of August. This experience showed how tough and true Lotus fans actually are, with Lotus headlining for two nights. EoTo and Telepath by the side of great vibes and the alluring settings of Nelson Ledges Quarry Park proved to be pure electronica bliss and a trying weekend for those wanting to stay warm and dry.
Friday August 28th We arrived quite early on Friday morning after driving through the night as well as cruising with torrential down pores blasted the windshield most of the way. Ohio had yet to experience the storm we drove through which caused concern for what the weather gods would throw at us. Setting up camp in the shaded campsites very alluring to most festival attendees; serene, peacefully and secluded campsites occupied the surrounding areas of the quarry and staging area . We gathered some gear after a nap from the long drive, taking a look around the enchanted scenery of Nelson Ledges Quarry Park. This picturesque venue had a beach surrounding a clean blue quarry lake that was lined with quartz that sparkled on the beach and many say that the energy derived from this quarry is surreal as well as embraced with continuous positive vibes which are spread here. Not only does Nelson Ledges have a large clean body of water and a beach, but it also gives you the opportunity to cliff dive and scuba into the deeps of the quarry!
Music started at 6:30 on Friday evening giving ample time to spend the day enjoying nature and all the park had to offer. To start of the weekend musically was The Motet Trio which is a smaller more electronic version of The Motet busting out moog’d out 80’s style grooves accompanied by the soulful saxophone playing of Dominic Lali, it was fun for me to watch the co-founder of The Big Gigantic play improvisational with a different crew of people than I have seen him play with over the summer, it felt like he had a true connection tho with his long time band mates; drummer Dave Watts and Moog/Keyboardist Joey Porter of The Motet Trio.
With anticipation from the crowd, Lotus came on stage at 8:15 as the clear sky started to cloud up and the fear of rain was immanent. As most Lotus shows Ive attended they came out with a howling entrance opening with "Bubonic" into the song "Greyrigg". This band seemed to capture the crowd with soothing instrumental melodies that echoed throughout the quarry. The first set was filled with foresight as the sky lite up and rumbed, though people still moved to the upbeat throbbing funky sounds which continued in the set with "Golden Ghost" and "Bellwether". The set concluded with a stream line of instrumentally charged electronic beats of the songs "Spiraling Line of Light" into "Moonset" and finally "Juggernaut" was played to keep the spirit of the crowd going in hopes of a killer second set.
The set break caused a lot of anguish with mother nature putting on her own show. Lotus came out as the rain began to fall through the already speaking sky. The band was able to belt out a rocking version of "Whip it" as well as a few more songs before the set was cut off for the show that the heavens were putting on for us all. It was a wicked monsoon which lasted for about an hour yet seemed to drag with all the turned tents and soaked individuals, they still kept on their smiles and expectations to continue shaking in their now wet shoes. After the down pore DJ Rootz came out to help ease the frustration of the evening. His swift electronica sound caused a crowd to once again be lifted back to the positivity which this venue has to offer.
Saturday August 29th Though the night brought some disarray for those trying to stay warm and dry, the next day the sun peaked through the clouds and brought a fresh start to the festival which had much to offer and was cut short by the natural performance put on by the gods. The music began around noon with the band Histronic, a band from Minnesota whose focus was upbeat dance music which got the crowd stomping in the sand which surrounded the stage. The band fit in well with the electro beats it put forward and was well suiting for the weekend with such a vast music demand for funky electronic based sounds.
The beautiful thing about this venue is you can literally lay back in the sand on the beach area as you overlook the stage and listen to the variety of bands that they have perform. You could sit and cool off in the blissfully blue quarry lake while the melodies complete the receptive euphoria you get from the settings around you. If you want to get up and wander a bit away from the music you are welcome to swim out to the center of the lake where there is an island that you can relax and take in the complete surroundings of the quarry, or else you can head a little ways further around the lake and jump off the 15-20 ft cliff that is there which you can leap into the pristine waters below.
Lovewhip continued in the early afternoon with a funk rock beat and new wave indie sound as well as an interesting performance with their retro attire and incomparable lyrics. This band was an upbeat entertaining show that kept the afternoon encouraging for the audience. They jived on stage and kept the music flowing joyously through the venue.
The native Ohio band, Papadosio hit the stage mid-afternoon with a more jam tone on the weekend. The band is funky, a lot of extended rifts and uses electronic noise occasionally for added modulation. This band fits the description Ive heard them described as "Elecrockimprojam". Impressive and well toned for a band with a fresh sound to the genres that were expected this festival.
Mid day The Werks came onto the second stage with a funky rock performance mixed with a dose of trance. The members of the band worked off one another well with impromptu, shot from the hip jams which fired up most of their native Ohio fans which attended and represented the band vigorously with many sporting shirts with the bands name boldly stated.
Telepath hit the main stage with a fire towards the dub beats which they bring forth. This band kept my head bobbing throughout the set and rocked the quarry with their swift electronic down tempo beats which emphasized on smooth sounding melodies with euphoric moments mixed in. Michael Christie hit the keyboards adding samples and melodic beats to the band while Curt Heiny worked the bass and Mike B bumped up drums and loops. They gave a hint of ambient tranquilizing electronic sounds as they continued through their set. This band kicked off the evening with positive tones a warm opening for the next coming bands.
Seeing Eoto for the second time now was an interesting experience for the venue is so much different from the small Chicago theater that I had seen them my first time around. With uncertainty of what to expect and anticipation for Michael Travis and Jason Hann from String Cheese Incident to hit stage, instant satisfaction engulfed the audience with the crazy electrically charged voices and electronic house, dub set sounds that vibrated off the quarry walls. The positivity felt from these two gentlemen as they create sounds based on percussionist electronic beats truly captivated the audience as they fist pumped and couldn't resist the urge to continuously rock their heads to the beats.
A second night of Lotus brought together many followers of the band as they celebrated one of the last hoorays of the summer and the beginning of changes for this band which many have learned to respect and love over the past year. Lotus opened with a up beat attitude as well as tempo while strumming the song "Suitcases" to begin their first set. The band continued with "Livingston Storm" and "Spiritualize". This set you could truly feel the passion in the air as the tunes continued throughout the night. The band came out on stage before the encore of the set to announce to those who were unaware that they had played their whole studio album "Nomad" all the way through for the first time. The set concluded with the last song on the album a lullaby called "Colorado" which perfectly summarized the tranquil experience that this set inflicted upon the audience.
As the second set approached with clear skies upon this evening and the thirst from the audience for the music to never stop. Lotus came out with "Mr. Roboto", following the intensity of the opening song with "128" and "Blender" which emphasized on the set rock electro tempo of the first set they had just put out. The second set enlightened the mood of the evening and enchanted the audience with this band if they haven't been entranced by them already. The set concluded with the songs "Shimmer" into "Robot Rock" and "& Out", overall making the show a monumental experience for the audience and a satisfactory delivery by the band. The encore included "Marisol" and "Hammerstrike" which truly consummated the Lotus experience of the evening as well as for weekend. The conclusion of this set also brought forth a new chapter for the band as the drummer Steve Clemens takes a leave to spend time with the family he is creating. It was an exciting night as the audience stared with content as the curtain was drawn on this band for the evening, yet surely we will see it going the distance in the future.
As Summer Dance 2 drew to an end the last Dj set from Anothony Fugate was the final electronic sound that the hit the quarry walls for the weekend. While fire dancers lite up the beach reflecting specks of illusion off the lake as well as the clear sparkling sky blanketed with stars illuminated the night. This beautiful venue that had memorable scenic views including unforgettable music that will continue to thrive through this quarry for years to come. It truly gives an experience that will thrive many senses and leave you with much more appreciation for natural venues and creative gatherings such as this one.