HeavyFest 4 Recap
Words by Jackson Balling. Photos by Morgan Laurie-Day.
On May 17th we here at Big Heavy World celebrated the fourth annual HeavyFest at the Magic Hat Brewery with music, delicious food, some exclusive Magic Hat brews, and one great congregation of people who came to support our views for the music community and our ambitions to help it thrive. While the official donation numbers haven’t been determined yet, there’s no doubt that it was a complete success.
The day began with rain and perhaps some uncertainty, but by the time noon arrived the sun was out to brighten up our day as Grundlefunk was preparing to take the stage. Their pre-set goofiness seemed to be inspired by the great beer provided in the hospitality room, as well as their general excitement to play on such a beautiful day, but no matter what they came out to give the early birds their very best. Their swirling jazz and funk jams, combined with rich, soul filled vocals, came together into a fantastic mix that really set a foundation for the other acts that followed.
The time between acts proved to be a great time to wander across the campus that was set up for the event, which featured crepes from The Skinny Pancake and on-site t-shirt screen printing from Catalyst Design LTD. There were also tours of the Brewery and Artfactory that became bustling as the day went on, and they became more frequent by the time the second act, Ryan Ober and the Loose Ends, took the stage. Their clean picked folk rock was riddled with great harmonies, with the ensuing good vibes being the loudest aspect of their sound, which fused together into a great follow-up to Grundlefunk as well as a fantastic soundtrack for the early afternoon.
The act I anticipated the most was Gang of Thieves, who was in the middle of the lineup and kicked the festival into high gear. Their set was perfectly timed with the dozens of new people who began to fill the tent as mid-afternoon drew near. The Gang took complete advantage of the growing crowd, playing a few high energy tracks from their new record Thunderfunk, including one of my favorites “Sexy Star Circus” which transitioned perfectly into a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star”. They really are the princes of Burlington funk and they carried that title with swagger and their trademark goofiness in every note they played, while being completely thankful for the opportunity to perform. When each member was asked for one word to describe the day they responded with “Awesome, sunshine, rad, groovy, positive, and magic”, which to me combines into an accurate description of their sound and character.
The ongoing project of the day was the spray painting of a Chevy Nova in honor of Big Heavy World, a car which will represent HeavyFest and Big Heavy at Champlain Valley Fair’s Demolition Derby, donated by Burnett Scrap Metals. Every time I looked over at the car I couldn’t help but notice the amazing transition from basic paint job to vivid flames on black, and it acted as a motif for how the festival became as it continued to go on. Perhaps the coolest part of this project was the quadrotor remote control drone with a GoPro attached to capture the progress as well as the crowd.
As the festival began to wind down to the last two acts they took advantage of their hour-long sets and the crowd that had built up over the course of the day to introduce their music to those in attendance. The first was American Babies from Philadelphia, who’s contemporary Americana in the form of electronic-tinged rock capitalized of the beautiful day and mood of the attendees and left a lasting impression. As an out-of-state band they praised the festival and their intention to want to be a part of it again in the future, as well as their desire to return to Vermont in the fall.
By the time four o’clock rolled around it was time for Bloomington, Indiana natives The Main Squeeze to take the stage with their highly praised form of funk. Their first time in Vermont was highlighted by their wonderful blend of funk, rock, jazz, and soul into a sound that was their own, which was adored by the large crowd that had amassed throughout the day. Their jams, grooves, and absolutely amazing vocals wrapped all that was HeavyFest in a perfect bow, ending a day that started with uncertainly with excitement and happiness. Those who missed their set won’t have to wait long to see them, they’ll be back as a part of the kickoff of this year’s Discover Jazz Festival on May 30th at Long Trail Brewing Company with free admission.
This year’s HeavyFest was an absolute blast and we’re thankful for everyone involved who made it such a great success. Check out more pictures in the gallery!