6 Takeaways from LouFest, Day One

By Krystin Arneson
In Culture

I went to LouFest yesterday afternoon and evening, and it was a rollicking good time for myself and 25,000 others (new record for LouFest!). Below, some notes from the day (pics from our team to come later!): 

1) LouFest bills itself as family-friendly, and it is. The grassy knoll where the stages and booze/vendor/food/first-aid tents were located had plenty of room for strollers and picnic blankets, even double-wides (although I don’t know where the parents sat during actual sets). The most rambunctious anyone got was a group of girls in gauzy white attire sprinting after a golf cart, which seemed to be transporting some of their friends (this happened multiple times). A 7-year-old was standing next to me during the Ludacris set. He looked dazed and made me feel old, but otherwise it was totally OK.

photo by Ryan Harris

photo by Ryan Harris

2) Beers for $7? Totally down with that. Food and drink were of high quality (Cleveland-Heath at a music festival? Yes, please!), and craft beers were priced the same as Budweiser. This is a music festival, and it’s expected that you pay a small premium for convenient food and drink options, but the sellers could have upcharged more than they did. The boyfriend said he was very pleased he caught a “small buzz” for the relatively low price of $21, which he was psyched about (he also asked me to take him to White Castle later). That being said, sellers, please keep being kind to us.

Staff was also super-friendly: I got a gyro from Flaming Gyro because gyros are #delicious, and the vendor was insanely nice and didn’t make fun of me for asking him to not put the tzatziki on there. Gyros are normally post-drinking food, and if he put up with a lot of tipsy revelers that day, he hadn’t let it get to him.

3) Ludacris showed his feminist side. While I was shaking what my mama gave me to the beloved songs our school administrators frowned upon during high school (and middle school, TBH), he appealed twice during the course of his fantastic set to all the “strong, sophisticated, independent women” to put their hands up. He abbreviated some of the tracks and bounced around from single to single, a whirlwind glimpse of every dance and party from the past 10 years. It was pure fun.

4) LouFest is probably the cleanest music festival ever. People with trash and recycling bags were everywhere, even people—including a dad and his grade-school daughter—who weren’t wearing LouFest attire (family day out?). There was also a battalion of port-a-potties on either side of the festival, which kept lines (and smell, let’s be real) down.

5) Hozier <3. Every time I listen to Hozier, I wonder if he was one of the buskers I’d pass on Grafton Street when I was studying abroad in Dublin. I always feel guilty about not throwing money into this completely made-up basket, so I shelled out the $15 for his album on iTunes (this is a big deal for a Millennial) and hoped I would one day see him live. I won’t go into his soft Irish lilt or his amiable stage presence, because those would deserve a whole other blog post, but his set of blues and rock was the perfect nightcap for the evening. Because everyone is wondering about “Take Me to Church,” I’ll say these two things: 1) He saved that for the end because he’s smart and knew that he was playing to a tired crowd, and that’s what people really really really wanted to hear and 2) It was perfection.

But he also did a cover of the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” and it was just the best. It’s hard to touch the Beatles, but Hozier kept it moody and bluesy and wonderful.

Brandon Flowers performing at LouFest | photo by Torey Mundkowsky

Brandon Flowers performing at LouFest | photo by Torey Mundkowsky

6) Brandon Flowers seems to know that his fan base comes mostly from the Killers and indulged us. He opened with “Human,” and people went crazy because that’s probably the best song to get his party started with. And then he did his solo stuff, and that was good too—it made excellent use of his soaring voice, and his stage demeanor totally vibes with his Vegas-influenced sound (or maybe the other way around, or both)— but then “Read My Mind” came on and people freaked. The dance-pop remix of “Mr. Brightside” closed his set and people went crazy again. We miss the Killers, but we love you, Brandon.

TL;DR: It was awesome (and can we just talk about the weather?!). As soon as I hit “publish,” I’m heading back out again to catch Pokey LaFarge, a band or two for a quick interview, and this afternoon/evening’s lineup. Follow along on Instagram at @karneson09 and @alivemagstl, and check out this blog tomorrow for a recap of day 2. 

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