From Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo, West Michigan was in a festive mood this weekend, thanks to Festival of the Arts, the Kalamazoo Pride Festival and more. The images at Local Spins.
The first weekend in June brought the heat — and outdoor celebrations galore, from Grand Rapids’ Festival of the Arts to Kalamazoo’s Pride Festival, State on the Street and Art on the Mall.
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An upbeat mood propelled all of the above, and Local Spins was there to capture much of the actions in words and photos.
Here are some Saturday performance highlights at Festival in downtown Grand Rapids from writer Holly Holtzclaw:
Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions – The summery Americana rock ‘n’ roll sound of Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions radiated a positive vibe that even an uncomfortably hot and sweaty late afternoon at the Circle Stage couldn’t suppress. To motivate audience members to get up and dance, Droppers offered free merchandise to “whoever has the sweatiest shirt by the end of the set.” Humorous comments like these and the band’s high spirits were enough to make attendees temporarily forget about the unpleasant temperature.
The Mel V Collective – Catchy, remixed covers of classic tracks from artists like Santana and Nirvana, trademarked by The Mel V Collective’s unique R&B groove and the impressive guitar skills of Mel V Mallory, caught festivalgoers’ attention as they passed by the Clock Tower Stage for the group’s 5 p.m. set. Mallory even ventured off stage with his guitar to play in the middle of the crowd and scale a nearby utility box to view the audience from a new vantage point.
Ficus – Ficus promised a high-energy, psychedelic rock set for an early evening crowd that filled the seats at Rosa Parks Circle and they delivered just that. Carefully composed songs with twists and turns at every corner leaned on the band’s on-stage communication and overall skill. To balance out these intricate moments, Ficus also took plenty of opportunities to have fun and jam together to create one-of-a-kind moments that were unique to this particular set.
Nathan Walton & The Remedy – Relieved by the cooler evening temperatures, fans of Nathan Walton & The Remedy’s soulful rock flocked to the Calder Stage for Festival of the Arts’ Saturday closer. Walton’s powerful voice took center stage, but he made a point of introducing and giving each member of The Remedy an opportunity to display their skills individually. Each musician in the group shines as a soloist, but it’s their power as a collective that has earned them endless support from West Michigan music fans.
Meanwhile, Kalamazoo Pride celebrated with a weekend of entertainment at Arcadia Creek Festival Place, including everything from drag performances to sets by Grace Theisen, Kait Rose, CupcakKe and more. The weekend also featured the return of State on the Street (with Lady Ace Boogie presenting August and Venus Flyytrap) and Art on the Mall (with BlueBack and Hiryu Daiko’s Taiko drumming).
Writer Cassandra Kipp noted of the Pride Festival: “In addition to live music, Jeremy Blair and the Western Michigan University dancers unfurled innovative and risqué performances that demonstrated an extreme ability to survive the heat, much like a desert lizard. Theisen performed a new song to the crowd, ‘A Little Bit Gay,’ to cheers.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts (Saturday)
Photos by Holly Holtzclaw
PHOTO GALLERY: Kalamazoo Pride at Arcadia Creek Festival Place
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker and Cassandra Kipp
PHOTO GALLERY: State on the Street, Art on the Mall in Kalamazoo
Photos by Cassandra Kipp