Written by Bill Whiting
The first day of the Bunbury Music Festival on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Ohio on July 13 had many delights and rewards for the exploring concert seeking music lover. Rockville, MD’s O.A.R. could be heard far and wide across the river scape, drowning out large events on the river such as the annual sausage fest in Newport, KY, and a tightly contested baseball series between the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals. Lead Singer Marc Roberge’s enthusiastic and engaging connection to O.A.R.’s strong fan base led to many sing a longs during a power packed string of hits that included “About Mr. Brown,” “Ladanday,” “Shattered,” “Taking on the World Today,” “Program Director,” “Love and Memories,” “Road Outside Columbus,” “Heaven,” “The Wanderer,” and “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker.” Syracuse, New York’s Ra Ra Riot entranced the masses on an open field stage with pop gems from their releases The Orchard and The Rhumb Line. The main stage at the Bunbury Music Festival on day one had seven exciting acts to pick from, but, perhaps it was Mikel Jollett on lead vocals, Steven Chen on guitar, Noah Harmon on bass, Daren Taylor on drums, and Anna Bulbrook on viola from Los Angeles, California’s The Airborne Toxic Event that put on the strongest set of the day, drawing material from their self titled debut, and 2011’s underrated long player, All at Once. Seattle, Washington’s Minus the Bear thanked the crowd for supporting the festival, and enjoyed a few playful moments in between a solid and instrumentally diverse series of songs. Lead vocalist Jake Snider traded guitar phrases with guitarist Dave Knudson, and keyboardist Alex Rose fleshed out Minus the Bear’s echoing rock and roll. The thundering anchor of rhythm from the quintet was provided by bassist Cory Murchy and drummer Erin Tate on compositions that energized the lawn from 2007’s Planet of Ice project, 2010’s Omni LP and 2012’s stellar disc, Infinity Overhead.
Every festival has an act that transcend’s the event, and on the opening day of Bunbury’s maiden voyage, Cincinnati’s own firebreathing rock unit, Foxy Shazam, stunned a standing room only gathering on one of the packed side stages with an entertaining, visually diverse, and musically theatrical performance that will be talked about for years to come. Lead singer Eric Sean Nally was a true master of ceremonies, twisting his body into knots as he slammed to the floor repeatedly, emphasizing Foxy Shazam’s dramatic and funky rhythm and blues searing rock anthems.Keyboardist Schuyler Vaughn White body surfed the audience while accompanying the ensemble’s dizzying spin through improvisational masterpieces from 2010’s eponymous collection, and 2012’s brilliant and addicting
The Church of Rock and Roll. The first night’s headliners, Los Angeles, California’s Jane’s Addiction, played to the largest throng, and impressed with a wide range of brutally fearsome indie radio classics. A culture shaping act that has influenced both festivals and up and coming acts of the future, Jane’s Addiction powered into “Mountain Song” and “Jane Says” from 1988’s Nothing’s Shocking with a great deal of verve and aplomb. Lead singer Perry Farrell kept the Bunbury faithful hooked, serenading them while they focused in on an overwhelming stage set full of digital screens, trapeze artists, and oversized statues. A massive Cincinnati Reds fireworks display accented the slam bang tunes that graced their 1990 recording, Ritual de lo habitual. But, the real fireworks were on the stage as bassist Chris Chaney and master percussionist Stephen Perkins lit a fuse on the radio and video smash, “Been Caught Stealing.” Dave Navarro’s blistering guitar leads fueled the explosive nature of “Stop,” and the challenging repertoire from Jane’s Addiction’s 2011 daring slab of vinyl, The Great Escape Artist. Day One at Bunbury was a great success from a logistical viewing and listening stand point, and it left one in great anticipation of the last two days and nights of the outdoor Cincinnati music festival.
Check out more photos from Day 1 here: