Andrea, host of the station's Sunday night jam show, The Swirl, shares her festival experience
Jam fans from all around gathered together this past weekend at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida to enjoy the funky tunes and warm, positive vibes of Aura Music Festival. Those who couldn’t get there soon enough were given the option to come a day early, save a sweet camp site for their friends, and take part in the official Thursday night pre-party with The Heavy Pets, Greenhouse Lounge, and The Funky Nuggets.
Friday was when things really got into full swing, with three different stages around the park featuring live artists. Twiddle, the Vermont-based quartet, and Stokeswood, a tribute to Hall & Oats, rocked the afternoon, but it wasn’t until nightfall when the crowds began to thicken for one of the festival’s headliners, Papadosio. From what I gathered from talking to other festivalgoers and by the music that was constantly being blasted in the campgrounds, Papadosio was a fan favorite. I myself am a superfan of the progressive jamtronica quintet, and was delighted to be surrounded by other die-hard followers. On the first of their two-night performance, hammocks swayed, bodies shook, and dreamy, ethereal images danced across the amphitheater stage’s screen while Papadosio danced through and around songs off of their Observations album. After things got intense with Zoogma’s dub-heavy jamtronica sound, the schedule unfortunately suffered some changes due to the winter weather up north causing travel delays for Kung Fu and Conspirator. The night was capped with a Talking Heads tribute, Start Making Sense, but the party continued for those who needed to keep dancing at the festival’s Silent Disco, which featured electronic DJ’s including Luke Miller, aka Luke The Knife, of Lotus.
Saturday began with the high-energy psychedelic funk band, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. In every single festival I have attended, the artists who play the earliest times are always the least attended, which was a bummer for this particular band because the Pigeons put on quite an amazing show. The band’s vocalist and guitarist Greg Ormont was a crazy goofy character on stage, but was super down to earth and friendly the times we ran into him enjoying Aura’s other performances. Saturday evening was jam-packed with amazing music with my personal favorites being the performances by Particle and Conspirator. Lotus began their beautiful two-hour jam at midnight on Saturday (or Sunday morning, if you want to get technical), followed by The Werks, who played until 3:30 in the morning inside the park’s Music Hall (the only indoors stage, and thank goodness for that because by that time of night, frost started forming on the windshields of cars). Sunday’s lineup was much shorter, but equally as funky with Lucky Costello, Earphunk, and a second set by both Dopapod and Lotus.
Despite the festival’s Florida location, Fans had to battle the cold weather, which got into freezing temperatures at night. Many festivalgoers donned animal-themed onesies in order to keep warm. Thankfully, campfires were permitted on the campgrounds. During the daytime, Aura offered its guests the chance to connect with their spiritual selves through many different yoga and meditation activities spread throughout the weekend. In honor of the full moon on Friday night, festival organizers even put together a water and song circle to spread the teachings on the healing power of water.
A majority of the guests at Aura Music Festival were not only fans of just the music, but of the venue itself. There is something magical and fairytale-like about the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park that keeps people coming back to their many events. It was my first time at this venue, so naturally I felt like a noob surrounded by Suwannee veterans. I’ll definitely be back, and look forward to Aura 2015 if the festival continues.