Northwestern Illinois in the mid heat of July brought a gathering of music, arts and creativity. For the second year of Whippersnap a new location, bigger bands and more appeal gave crowds a lot to offer. At Lyran Park in the north western area of Rockford Illinois the grounds were shaded and secluded. With a river to swim, fish and admire behind the stage; though there were lots of bugs due to this it added to the beauty of the grounds. With three stages and headlining acts included the bluegrass sensation; Railroad Earth, along with the Funky Meters and Particle the crowd had much more to groove the heat of summer away with. Also included in the festival were games; bocce ball and bags; photo booths, art vendors, oversized camping chairs, a kids play zone, and other festivities. Another positive attribute was the festival was it was highly dog and child friendly, you could bring your best friend and you didn’t have to miss out if you couldn’t find a babysitter. The upkeep on the grounds were far surpassing most smaller festivals. Age dynamics in the crowd ranged from young to old as well as the diverse lineup to catch many musical styling, rock, bluegrass, jam, electronic and more. A natural scene and shaded grounds was just a catch to the festival that was close knit leaving many memories behind.
Thursday was just the preparations for the weekend but boy did it start with a bang. Beginning the day in mid afternoon, many local bands hit the stage. The start of the festival emphasized the fun that could be had, many who were able to come for this evening were ready to dance into a wondrous weekend. With the evenings line-up including Indigo Sun; a Chicago band that knows how to start a party. With funky, dance music with electronic and instrumental talent. It was a treat before Particle hit the stage. They rocked the festival grounds with incredible rifts and jams that got the festival on track. Though the attendees were still streaming in, the weekend had already made memories and moments to make the smile factor on the rise.
Friday July 20th
Friday morning the festival was in full swing and gearing up for the next few days of music. Those who needed a bit of tranquility to start the day could head off to do some yoga or even take a dip in the river to wake you right up. With music starting early there was dancing during breakfast with a side of groove.
Genome, a funky jam electronic band from Chicago graced with instrumental talent is truly a charm. For this band each individual band member dashes a hint of incredible sound into the mix. With their skills collaborating these individuals make it easy to dance and groove along while watching the fluid way the instrumentals are added. These gentleman definitely were a blast to see perform and always smiling, having fun while belting out the beats.
Performing in the mid-afternoon sun; Barefoot Fred made a huge footprint on this festival during their set it was expanded upon. The bands set was a progressive movement of jam rock and got the crowd grooving. The music is catchy and organized with a lot of fun involved with the bands stage presence. Mid afternoon then beat away the heat out of attendees minds. A young girl playing guitar at the start of their set bumped the level of high impression of the multitudes of talent that this gathering drew in.
A four piece band, the Spread grabbed their instrumental talents and combined them into a powerful performance with audience gripped and laughing as the band seems to improvise on getting a wow factor from those dancing along. Also in the afternoon Spare Parts jazzed out an amazingly funky set. The music just hit your ears and traveled to make your feet move and produce a smile with the percussion and jazz influence of the music truly pulling you in. Chicago Farmer shared his deep acoustic and rustic styles to the mix of musical styles at the festival.
Thinner Tead with a sweetness to their sound following with twists and turns through different music styles. From funky jams, to electronic progression, them moving into a rock beat. The night was really rolling on with this band breaking apart the afternoon into evening set.
To begin a bluegrass breakthrough in the schedule; Greensky Bluegrass added their unique flare of bluegrass music to the festival. With plucking, pedals, progressive toe tapping and audience stomping. Classical vocals with rich instrumental drives. Covers including songs by Pink Floyd and “second that Emotion.” Drifting the shadows of the dusk into the lights beaming in unison to the string movements of the band members. A fascinating and fun set to hop along with and beam a smile right back to the guys on stage.
To break apart the string music Brainchild took to the stage with a funky fever to the start of dark. Hitting the Hyperion stage with the lights beaming a bit brighter for each set after the next. The music was a connection between beats, vocals and guitar solos. A nice mix of diversity between the bluegrass headliners of the evening.
Railroad Earth came out to a roar and a Heartfelt performance always brought with this band . Feel a passion and drive behind every melody that is included. There is nothing better than a warm summer evening and the tranquility and humbleness that these individuals joining their string talents together to play such incredibly tuneful music. There were some in the audience that were beaming and others who were stomping and swaying. Positivity vibrated through their set. Songs included in their set;"Cold Water,” “Crossing the Gap,” along with mellow tunes such as “Amen Corner.”
Closing with “Railroad Earth” into a stomping conclusion with the song,”Head.”
Hurbert wiser Induced a dance phenomenon once again transitioning music styles to a more rock jam feel, Rooster McAbe came out with whimsical movements that hooked attendees into the early morning. Though the night drifted on with the Steez killing it as always with their funky stylish and fluid music. The night concluses with an acoustic set from Flatland Ramble and a movie to top if off, the festival had Blue Brothers Movie playing for those who needed a bit of shutdown before they were ready to rest for another day of musical moments that were made.
Saturday July 21st
With all the shaded camping areas of the festival, there was a pleasant start to the day for many. The day was fresh and music started once again in the early morning with DR.Ed and Friends to kick off the groove and positive vibes for the day. With a long line up of performances though it was a set that was laid back but jammy.
There was just non stop music at this festival with Jaik Willis taking to the microphone in between sets to make the transitions more entertaining than just drifting from stage to stage and seeing the set up for the next band. Catfish and the Dogstars performed the mid day with an old hippie vocal feel and a funky dose of uniqueness with the electric violin. The misuc was funky and fluid and prepped for the afternoon that continued with music and sunshine.
Cosby Sweater playing at the Bergohoff Stage near the river was a nice back jam for those refreshing or trying to in the river. Snappy instrumentals with popping beats from the percussion added comedic relief with all the old sweaters hanging from the instruments on stage. Saxophone sound added unique dynamic with a DJ flare; a popular choice of instrumental collaborations with numberous funky bands. Energy was flown from the stage to keep the crowd grooving to the next set.
With such a drastic array of ages at this festival it was a pleasant appeal when Kashmir, A Led Zepplin Cover band took the stage. Performing songs from numberous albums created by Zepplin the band seemed to highlight the liking to Physical Grafitti. The stage presence truly embodied the energy and emotion of the band they so passionately cover, even in their wardrobe choice. With Drum solos and hair raising impressive vocal notes hit the evening was rocking on.
Zmick took to the stage with funky instrumentals and fast fingered key movements that added a retro element to the music. This band was jamming and fluidly incorperating elements of several music styles. Also taking the later afternoon by storm was Old Shoe. Early in the set keeping with the Zeppilin theme a cover of ”No Quarter” with Jaik Willis on vocals kept the crowd hooked even as hints of sunshine turned through the clouds and drizzle that were passing. Humid air settled in with this original jams very lively and funk infused. Old Shoe's twangy jams and just the radiating energy that came from the gathering was a true treat. Afternoon Moon jammed with upbeat vibes and a friendly crowd. Live painters were always at work with the music throughout the afternoon as the main stage was about to kick the evening into full swing.
Digital Tape Machine marched out to an attentive audience ready to see what this band can do. The collaborative talent of instrumentalist from several well known bands with roots in Chicago. Umphrey's McGee members Kris Myers and Joel Cummins included in the mix. the band came out with a smorgasbord of instruments to produce a jamming electro flared set. Starting with bumping beat countdown the band though they started late was well worth the wait. With a furry of synthesizers, beat boxing, a spinning DJ and audience members that couldn’t stop their bodies from moving. This band got the crowd rowdy as the sun set. They truly were an energizing performance to see before the starry blanketed sky cast over the last night at Whippersnap.
As legends took to the stage a roar from the audience was deafening and enthused. Coming out with a literal groove in their step the men of the band showed appreciation and got down to hat they are good at. The funky rhythms and cool style really was flabbergasting to be a part of. Such tradition mixed with talent. Performing covers and of course original New Orleans style blues and jazzy beats were all wrapped together. With a cover of “Rainy Day Woman,” and a sit in with the saxophonist of Indigo Sun; Lucus Ellman. The crowd was hyped and ever more grateful for the talent and amazement the band had handed them to highlight the weekend as the evening was spiraling to a close.
Family Groove company broke down the rock style and dance a meter as the crowd was still raging the midnight through. With their unique, inclusive stage presence it is always a joy to witness. Performing covers and original numbers by the band they never cease to entertain.
A bit later on in the evening as the night was winding down, UV Hippopotamus came out with a jazz, funk style streaming throughout the hillside. Lights beating to the percussion and music flaring from stage to cast over a hyped up crowd. Perfection as the night came to an end with smiles and laughter along with anticipation for the last few acts to keep the party grooving. The Coop came out and did just that. The members are always upbeat and grasped into focus to produce the music they have pulled together to make. There is something humble yet raw about this band that you cant help but deny being impressed. With a saxophone sit in and an intimate feel to the attendees
The weekend ended with a Sunday morning jam session with the band Bongo Turks and several others to pass the morning before finally departing with memories to fill the void. The second year of the festival surely brought high anticipation for the next year with such positively and inspiration of a pronominal gathering. With the rain starting to drizzle down the attendees trickled out and highly awaiting for this time next year when Whippersnap snaps again.