The busiest summer ever for live music and festivals captivated the attention of Local Spins devotees. Today, we reveal the Top 10 concerts and festivals that enthralled our readers.
To say that live music was back in a big way during the summer of 2023 amounts to a monumental understatement.
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West Michigan, in particular, heated up with hundreds of outdoor shows and festivals that attracted thousands upon thousands of attendees, as well as avid readers of Local Spins.
As the season wanes amid the final flurry of festivals, we decided to reveal the Top 10 stories and reviews of these events based on readership counts at Local Spins from Memorial Day weekend through Friday (Aug. 25). Some of it may surprise you and some of it comes as no surprise at all.
Drum roll, please …
2. Electric Forest in Rothbury, June 22-25 – The electrifying spectacle in the resplendent woods of West Michigan drew more than 50,000 revelers who celebrated electronic music and more over four days (amid some pretty dusty conditions): Electric Forest 2023 – Unforgettable sets, radiant festivalgoers, dust and rain
(Day 1 coverage and video of Electric Forest here: https://localspins.com/electric-forest-shines-on-opening-day-with-upbeat-vibe-local-spins/)
3. Buddy Guy at Meijer Gardens, June 23 – Another iconic figure, 86-year-old bluesman Buddy Guy, impressed a sold-out amphitheater crowd with ageless playing and singing during his farewell tour: Loud, proud and legendary – Buddy Guy bids adieu with blues salvo at Meijer Gardens
4. Chris Stapleton at Van Andel Arena, June 2 – With Michigan-bred heroes The War & Treaty opening the show, country/Southern rock star Chris Stapleton produced a sizzling show for his Grand Rapids fans: Chris Stapleton, The War & Treaty, Marcus King bring soulful heat to Van Andel Arena
5. Jason Isbell at Meijer Gardens, Aug. 6 – It drizzled throughout his concert, but revered singer-songwriter Jason Isbell’s return to Meijer Gardens proved to be a memorable night of compelling tunes: Jason Isbell showers Meijer Gardens crowd with rock-fueled, Americana gems
6. Liquid Note Opens New Outdoor Venue, June 9 – The fresh outdoor space in Otsego hosted bluesman Duke Tumatoe for its first concert with more to come, something previewed at Local Spins: Otsego’s Liquid Note set to open new 500-capacity outdoor venue
(Check out photos from that first show here: https://localspins.com/concert-week-in-review-from-meshell-to-duke-tumatoe-to-o-a-r-gr-to-allegan-to-kalamazoo-local-spins/)
7. Snoop Dog and Wiz Khalifa at Van Andel Arena, July 25 – Hip hop mainstay Snoop Dogg revved up (and lit up) a big arena crowd with help from Wiz Khalifa and Ying Yang Twins: Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa light up Van Andel Arena with smokin’ hot rap assault
8. Taylor Swift at Ford Field in Detroit, June 9 – The biggest concert tour of the summer had pop star Taylor Swift playing two nights in the Motor City, realizing the “Wildest Dreams” of ardent Michigan fans: ‘Bejeweled and Enchanted’: Taylor Swift unleashes pop spectacle at Detroit show
9. Walk the Beat in Grand Haven, Aug. 12 – Up-and-coming West Michigan jazz band took home the top prize in the 2023 edition of this unusual festival that unfurled on Grand Haven’s East Side: Pocket Watch wins Grand Haven’s 2023 Walk the Beat amid sun-splashed milieu
10. Umphrey’s McGee at Meijer Gardens, July 2 – It’s always a jam-band party when Midwest faves Umphrey’s McGee makes an appearance at this Grand Rapids amphitheater: Umphrey’s McGee creates psychedelic midsummer night’s dream for GR fans
Of course, the summer’s not done yet. Here’s a roster of festivals/events taking place this weekend across the state:
• Cedar Polka Festival, Aug. 24-27, Downtown Cedar: https://cedarpolkafest.org/
• Holler Fest, Aug. 25-27, Frog Holler Farm, Irish Hills (Jackson County): https://hollerfest.com/
• Porcupine Mountains Music Festival, Aug. 25-26, Winter Sports Complex, Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park, Ontonagon: https://porkiesfestival.org/
• 28th Street Metro Cruise, Aug. 25-26, Along 28th Street in Grand Rapids/Wyoming: https://28thstreetmetrocruise.org/
• Meadowfest, Aug. 25-26, Northern Michigan (Off-the-Grid): https://www.facebook.com/TheMeadowfest
• Polish Heritage Festival (Dozynki Festival), Aug. 25-27, Calder Plaza, Grand Rapids: https://polishheritagesociety.com/
• Forest Trail Music Festival, Aug. 25-27, 352 W. Forest Trail Rd., Free Soil: https://www.foresttrailmusic.com/
• Burning Foot Beer Festival, Aug. 26, Pere Marquette Beach, Muskegon: https://www.facebook.com/burningfootbeerfest/
• Walk the Beat – Albion, Aug. 26, Downtown Albion: http://walkthebeatalbion.org/
• Return to the River Music & Art Festival, Aug. 26-27, 555 Monroe, Sixth Street Park, Canal Park in Grand Rapids: https://www.facebook.com/downtowngrinc/posts/pfbid02nr9PFhk1ysKM67gwrUxSNJ3m6YJc2GyjtBNxhotxmDDUYYRTQJKwgD4jjKTkT28Pl
• Fair Ground Festival, Aug. 27, Barry Expo Center, Hastings: https://thornapplearts.org/fairground/
Find a complete listing of festivals in Local Spins’ Michigan Music Festivals 2023 Guide.
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