After a brisk drive from Chicago to Muncie, Indiana; just outside of Indianapolis, we arrived at The Water Bowl. This land surprised me; it being a subdued area past all the farm fields and tucked away from State Road 3, it was intriguing non the less. You entered through the gates looking over a vast "water bowl", a pristine stretch of water right next to a stage at the bottom of a hill barracked by a line of trees. Taking a cruise around, it was apparent that we were right in the middle of agricultural America, this bringing a different feel to this festival. Somehow though even I found this area different from the usual fields which Ive been surrounded by my whole life, welcoming and more open which in the mid-west, at least for me its hard to open your mind up to what can be considered beautiful landscape; yet as the sun set over the tree line and colors reflected on the fields you could sense the positivity and delight that stems from this stretch. It brought a very upbeat outlook to this weekend full of music to come.
Friday September 11th
After getting situated and setting up the home base, we drifted to the stage to get down and listen to some music. Beginning on Friday night with the smooth melodies of Shaggy Wonda. This band from Indiana themselves created the opening vibes of the festival with their blue's style and rock beats that showed how mellow the weekend would be. The band members where very much in sync with one another as they played their instruments and worked the audience up for the great evening they were about to partake in.
Sweet Japonic continued on the main stage, their funky sound with soothing folk melodies that echoed through the field as dusk hit the festival grounds. The sweet vocals and incredibly lite sounds coming from the collaboration of the band's guitars and seducing percussions. The evening was to a terrific start musically as the festival seemed to populate with cars of people rolling in throughout the evening and into the night.
Coming from Chicago its hard not to be excited for the band Cornmeal to be playing as the sun was setting on the hilly span that surrounds the Water Bowl. This talented band knows how to bring true upbeat bluegrass that travels to your feet and cant stop moving them. Taking a glance at the audience as this band started you could feel the positivity that they create when they are on stage as the audience busts out into chaos, one dos-e-doe after another. The band is incredible together, they are very in tune with one another playing their instruments as Kris Nowak strums the guitar and sings the lyrics to many Cornmeal classics and some fabulous covers including the Grateful Dead's "Cumberland Blues", added bass sounds from Chris Ganji while Dave Burlingame on the banjo plays beautifully as he gets intensely into the music himself. JP Nowak on the drums adds an amazing sound with his beats bringing the tunes together. Allie Kral on the fiddle and sweet feminine vocals emphasized in the cover "Rocky Top Tennessee"; one impressive lady that many in the jam band scene look up to. She holds her own and truly gets down with these fellas she shares the stage with; always a smile on her face and dancing in her boots, this lady is a fabulous musician. Cornmeal was an outstanding show that left the audience wanting to stomp in the sand some more, they gathered the good vibes that you could feel stepping into this festival and subtly spread them throughout their set.
The evening continued with great music from the band Roots of Creation. This band had a very unique sound that was a mixture of jam, upbeat reggae with an electronic flare. They were a big draw with playing several covers and playing jam beats that made you want to shake your booty. On lead guitar and vocals, Brett Wilson brought a far out spin to the mixture of jam and reggae while busting some new age sound into the mic. Tal Pearson on keyboards gave prominence to unique and tranquil sounds as Chris Beam contributed on the bass. Mike Chadinha belted out percussions and drums that accentuated the bands reggae tone and dub productions. The sounds this band creates works with many genres including new style R&B as well as different jam styles that are rounded by powerful vocals speaking on positive vibes. This band hyped up the crowd for a night filled with more music and smiles even mentioning how "the mid-west knows how to party". Stepping off stage the audience began to wander towards the continuation of music which would continue till the early morning.
Trailing to the field stage you could hear the sounds of The Werks belting through the trees surrounding the stage. They brought their funky trance to the late evening bringing a different sound with more subtle tunes and dazed vibes reflected on the faces of those populating the tent. The swift cords on the guitar and added percussions as well as smooth vocals brought light onto the stage where most Wuhnurth attendees planted themselves for the duration of the eve into dawns early light.
The Muncie Indiana couple that MC Sparkplug consists of truly brought a spicy novel sound to the evening with their comedic trip hop and funky styles. They busted a rhyme and gave a performance which is unlike any other. They almost seemed to be telling a story in their beats and vocals which gave a definite uniqueness to the early morning ragers.
Fresh Hops, another Indiana band continued into the evening after a semi long pause in the music on the field stage. With a funky experimental jam based sound and sweet cords played they were well worth the wait. They captured many with the sounds that entranced and brought dazed faces to the stage.
Music continued well until sunrise as many danced the night away and got lost in the speckles of stars that were blanketed above the field. The first night of music at a festival truly captures the vibes and as the night came to an end you could tell the anticipation of the attendees for another filled day of melodies that would soon echo through the Water Bowl.
Saturday September 12th
Waking Saturday morning in a boiling tent and to a sun filled sky highlighted the beautiful September morning as well as creating a yearning for the music to begin. The music started with Nyx Redemption, a local band from Muncie. The Hue followed on the main stage with progressive beats that highlighted the early afternoon for the fast paced rock lovers. This Chicago band is a mixture of up beat rock tempo and hints of metal chords. Having a jam flare and guitar rifts which made your head bang a bit while watching the band strum along.
The Vessel proceeded with an interesting vibe on the afternoon. A trance, upbeat sound with a mixed with jam and swift upbeat tones. The soothing jive vocals distinguished this band from others at this festival. They moved the audience in the sunshine with swift soulful music which elaborated on the sweet sensations in the air. The sounds which this band creates elaborated on tranquil harmony as most of the audience sat under the large trees on the hill in front of the stage, trying to hide from the broiling sun that beamed onto the area.
Family Groove Company was next on the agenda, a band which have moved many before and brought much anticipation to their set. This band really knows how to lift spirits and wail out some funky tunes while the audience rocks along at supersonic speeds to the captivating music created. Their impromptu jam sessions and enthralling lyrics created a highlighted performance for the Wuhnurth crowd. Seeing FGC before, I truly love the mixture of funk and jam with bumping bass sounds and unique instrumentals used in their gigs. Jordan Wilkow playing the fender and organ as well as singing lead vocals definitely knows how to throw down and get the crowd two stepping. Janis Wallin on the bass, another very strong woman in the jam scene which makes me smile a little more watching the intensity and simplicity as she wails on the bass. Cuing in on the guitar is Adam Lewis as well as Mattias Blanck beating on the drums. This band gives a sensational performance and elaborates on a funky style that keeps you wanting more. Always a joy to see perform and a band that will always be on my list to see.
Next on the line up was Pnuma Trio, however due to some delay to their arrival and surely due to some disappointment in their slot not having the usual light show included; Papadosio came on to hype up the evening and get the crowd going. They came ready to outpour the funky electronic style they produce. The progressions in the music added a distinctive sound to the evening as they built up robotic movements which entranced the audience.
The crowd, pumped up, craved for Pnuma to come on and burst the stage with their new age electronic funk. Surely that did just that, coming out with a strong buildup and constant development and expansion in their beats. The band threw it down and the heads couldn't cease to shake to the consistent electronics booming from the speakers. With a hip hop sound in addition many different genres can appreciate the talent the group brings forth. Alex B impressively beating out the bass as Ben Hazlegrove bounces his hands across the keyboard and Lane Shaw on drums; a terrific collaboration of talent brought forth by these three young individuals. Fiendish for more the audience was let down as Pnuma was forced to cut short their performance by a few songs due to the extensive rocking causing an amp to blow, one of several auditory issues which occurred throughout the weekend. Non the less this band brought a lot to the festival and a climactic performance which boosted the mood for the music to come.
Saturday evening continued to quench the thirst of the music lovers. Ultraviolet Hippopotamus threw down the funk at the field stage with extensive usage of a variety of instruments. The Twin Cats bumping out their jazzy hip hop style keeping the ragers dancing till early morning. Liquid Beat Allstars played late night yet more auditory difficulties created issues in their performance. The day was a success only to have another day of great music to wake up and dance to, if sleep was even found.
Sunday September 13th
Once again waking up to a blazing tent, the urge to hit up the water bowl was inevitable. One of the perks this location offered was the fact that during the day you could cool off in the Water Bowl while listening to the artists on the main stage. Every Festival goers dream, staying cool! Euforquestra slammed their funky and jazzy style down while I took a dip and couldn't help but love the sounds that were illuminating from the stage as I cooled off. A vast array of instruments used to create unique funky tones helped start the day off right. Daphne Willis continued in the afternoon with her sultry, soothing lyrics and mellow tones that echoed through the field. Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band came out and with their entertaining and hilarious lyrics, a very different sound on blues and folk. The band's use of almost strange yet entertaining instruments aka a washboard really gives you the feeling you were at a big family picnic gathered in front of the stage. Jaik Willis serenaded the audience on the hill stage with his soothing, mellow lyrics and sweet strumming of his guitar.
As the sun set once again over the tree line surrounding the stage, Kyle Hollingsworth took the stage. His funky and impressively crazy fingers on the keys gave the festival a relaxing and funky performance. With the backup of Euforquestra, Kyle and the rest on stage gave a mellow yet hip set. Never seeing Hollingsworth without Cheese, I was very impressed at how entertaining it was just to watch him groove on the keys. Playing several covers and some of his own solo work it was a sight to see as the festival seemed to simmer down.
Future Rock concluded the mainstream music of the festival, bring a dance party with their progressive electronic. The members of the band all using synthesizers to elaborate on the sounds while Felix Moreno rocks the bass, Mickey Kellerman breaking down the keys and Darren Heitz performing on drums. The band was a hit for this festival which brought many Chicago-ans to the scene to enjoy a bit of what the Chi-town scene puts forth.
Overall the weekend was a hit, and through a few minor auditory problems, this festival I can for see growing and spreading good will and peace on "urth". This being the second year for this beautiful gathering, it has a lot of potential and enjoyment to be had for years to come. Driving away and taking a glance at the grounds Sunday evening it was hard to miss the reflection from the Water Bowl and the fires blaring on the hill, as the weekend ragers continued to dance the night away, I'm sure like many there, I will look forward to returning next year for more music and mid west style madness.