Weather conditions weren’t ideal for the debut of this two-day festival on a downtown pedestrian bridge, but those ArtPrize visitors who braved the elements were rewarded. (Recap, photos)
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Staging a festival on a bridge spanning the Grand River in Grand Rapids in late September and early October may be provoking the gods and Mother Nature.
Regardless, ArtPrize’s first-ever Blue Bridge Music Festival dodged raindrops and weathered a few interruptions Friday and Saturday, but managed to still showcase a diverse mix of regional bands for a hardy bunch of concertgoers and ArtPrize visitors.
So while Friday’s headliner, Kalamazoo’s The Go Rounds, never got a chance to close out the night after psych-rock’s Heaters’ rainy set, Flint Eastwood forged ahead to deliver the Saturday night finale, though 45 minutes behind schedule.
Raindrops rolled off the edge of the covered stage and pools of water gathered around the feet of performers and a small group of attendees during Flint Eastwood’s passionate display of pop-rock perfection.
Although steady rain showers didn’t completely deter the festival’s final set, it did make for a shortened performance even if it was a magical one.
While a glowing cityscape towered overhead, an exuberant crowd gathered around the stage: rain-splashed revelers grooved to the music with hands and umbrellas stretched to the sky. Frontwoman Jax Anderson gave a signature performance filled with wild dance moves and lively stage banter, amid popular tracks “Monster,” “Glitches” and “Small Victories.”
“I think it went great. I made the decision months ago to not do a back-up venue. The point of this festival was to show our music scene to the people who are walking around town for Artprize, and I think we did that,” said Quinn Mathews, festival organizer and station manager for WYCE-FM (88.1).
“It’s so easy to be negative, but all of this is such a positive thing. It’s a huge success and I want to keep doing it.”
In spite of the rain and conditions, numerous acts still managed to roll out sets during the two-day festival, including Mark Lavengood Bluegrass Bonanza, Edye Evans Hyde & Michael Hyde, Kari Lynch Band and the aforementioned Heaters, who ended up cranking out the final performance on Friday.
“We were ready. Heaters killed it in the rain, it was great,” said Mathews. “The Go Rounds got up there and we were ready, and the skies opened up. I made the call. We had to. … Successful day, though, in the long run. It was great.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Blue Bridge Music Festival in Grand Rapids
Photos by Taylor Mansen, Anna Sink and Ricky Olmos