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WARMfest Dispatch: Day 1

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The first night of WARMfest kicked off with more of a collective whisper than an amplified bang, with North Central High School's orchestra playing beautifully to several dozen listeners near the festival's entrance. Last night served as a sort of soft opening, where eager festivalgoers gained the lay of the land prior to the masses engulfing Broad Ripple Park for Joyful Noise Recordings' marquee acts this afternoon. While organizers and volunteers crossed their last T's and dotted their last I's in the background, a handful of local acts ushered in a weekend of live music and a celebration of White River on two of the festival's three main stages.

Bashiri Asad played the River Stage during WARMfest's opening night. - ROB PEONI
  • Rob Peoni
  • Bashiri Asad played the River Stage during WARMfest's opening night.

I was at WARMfest for a little over an hour, when Heather Michelle Chapman warmed the Heron stage with a handful of covers. "I think you might be our only fan tonight," Chapman said to my buddy Dan Murray who was dancing admirably while the rest of the listeners enjoyed the shade of the park's trees and comfort of its picnic tables nearby. Drinking-age readers might know Murray as the chubby bartender from The Monkey's Tale in Broad Ripple, just a few blocks from the festival itself. "Do you sing?" Chapman followed. The next thing I knew, Murray was on stage joining in an impromptu duet of John Mellencamp's Hurt So Good. While the rest of the WARMfest audience winced through this locally grown cover, I relished in the vicarious embarrassment of my longtime friend. (Actually, he did an admirable job given the circumstances.)

After a solid set from local soul singer Bashiri Asad, which featured a surprising cover of Radiohead's High and Dry, we ventured toward WARMfest's River stage where volunteers had set up a screening of the documentary The Past is a Grotesque Animal. The film revolves around the band of Montreal, which will headline WARMfest's main stage this evening, and its enigmatic front man Kevin Barnes. The movie was nothing short of fantastic and it underscored my excitement for the band's performance today. Nevertheless, I left before it finished to catch a few songs from local punk icons Zero Boys.

Upon arriving at the Hawk stage, I jostled my way to the front of the crowd to capture a few pictures. After all, I'm "working" this weekend on behalf of Sky Blue Window. I knelt at the front of the stage wielding my iPhone, as is the habit of every concertgoer these days, when I suddenly felt the presence of Zero Boys front man Paul Mahern looming overhead. Mahern swiped my phone and a moment of panic rushed through my bones. He's a legendary punk rocker, and it would've been a justifiable move had he smashed my phone to smithereens and sent the various pieces hurling toward the audience. Fortunately for me, he took the opportunity to take a few candid shots of his band before returning the phone safe and sound. I wiped a healthy amount of sweat from my brow and returned to my friends safely outside of Mahern's reach for the rest of the band's badass set.

The two left-most photos of Zero Boys drummer Mark Cutsinger and front man Paul Mahern were taken from off the stage, while the third image was taken onstage by Mahern. - ROB PEONI / PAUL MAHERN
  • Rob Peoni / Paul Mahern
  • The two left-most photos of Zero Boys drummer Mark Cutsinger and front man Paul Mahern were taken from off the stage, while the third image was taken onstage by Mahern.

For a preview of today's WARMfest action, check out my recent post on Joyful Noise Recordings' curation of the main stage. I'll be at Broad Ripple Park covering the festival all weekend, but if I had to pick one day to attend it would DEFINITELY be today. Let's rock!

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