Chicago-based music tastemakers Audiotree may be best known for some of their studio sessions with your favorite bands, but this past Friday and Saturday, they took over downtown Kalamazoo to bring some of those musicians to one stage for their annual festival. Although Audiotree, a big part of the crowd, and a few of the acts on the lineup all hailed from Chicago, the festival did a great job of curating local fare by bringing in Michigan based food trucks and beer from local breweries. The curators also succeeded in booking a diverse lineup that featured everything from psych rock to rap music. While there was never a dull moment over the course of those two days, here are the moments that stole the show.
Noname Drew in the Friday Evening Crowd
Chicago's on the rise spoken word artist/vocalist/rapper Noname has already had an unstoppable year, playing major festivals like Osheaga and Lollapalooza. Her sunset performance at Audiotree Music Festival on Friday evening completely hooked the small, but mighty festival crowd with her compelling cadence. Her 45 minute set included some of her most popular tracks like "Diddy Bop" and "Reality Check," as well as some shoutouts to fellow Chicagoans like Saba and Kanye West. One of the most memorable moments in her set happened only a few songs in when she told the crowd they could move up, and there was a notable shift of everyone rushing forward to soak in the magnetic performance. Noname will be performing Concord Music Hall in November as part of Red Bull's 30 Days in Chicago, so make sure you catch her there if you missed her summer festival performances!
Lizzo Activated and Instilled Confidence in the Crowd
Hip Hop singer Lizzo brought a vivacious and energetic performance to the Audiotree Festival stage, but her nonstop show also featured a powerful message. While she encouraged the crowd to dance and sing along to her songs like "Phone" and "Water Me," she also encouraged everyone to take a stand in the world. Mentioning some of the current problems of the world, Lizzo said the only way to get through the horrible happenings is to come together and activate. She also instilled the confidence in her audience that they can all do whatever they put their mind to, no matter what anybody says. She put on an inspiring show just a couple weeks back at Loufest, but every time she hits a stage, Lizzo spreads positivity and love. You can also catch her in Chicago this November with Red Bull Sound Select's 30 Day festival.
Campdogzz Warmed Up the Crowd During the Day's Peak Heatwave
Chicago's own Campdogzz warmed up the stage on the second day of Audiotree Music Festival. Although the seasons technically shifted into Fall a few days ago, the temperature during Campdogzz's set was reminiscent of the dog days of Summer, reaching mid 90s...with humidity. Although the temperature during their 30 minute set was nearly unbearable, lead singer Jessica Price's unique voice and the chemistry displayed between the band members still got the crowd engaged. The group flawlessly performed new songs off of an upcoming album, which all held onto their signature sound, but showcased their development and expansion as musicians since their last album.
Liz Cooper's Set Brought on a Wind Tunnel
The Nashville based nomad Liz Cooper and her band (aka The Stampede) kept it cool while they played through their laid back, country-tinged rock tunes. Throughout the set, the band's easygoing nature shone through, especially when Liz made the most of the fan onstage, which gave her a natural windswept look as she sang her songs with her signature earnest and raspy vocals. Throughout the set, you could tell Liz and her bandmates were enjoying themselves, which translated to the crowd getting lost in the moment too.
Active Bird Community Made Their Michigan Debut
NYC's Active Bird Community has been playing together since they were in middle school, for more than ten years, but when they hit the stage on day two of ATMF, they mentioned that the festival was their first time playing in Michigan. Although they'd never played nearby before, the music hungry crowd eagerly absorbed songs from the band's earlier days and their 2017 album called Stick Around.
Charly Bliss Played New Songs While Jetlagged
The Brooklyn based four piece fronted by Eva Hendricks also performed in the peak of Saturday's heat wave, but they still got the crowd into their show and moving in the sun. Decked out in a baby pink dress, Hendricks completely rocked the stage with her bandmates, even though they'd just gotten back from a tour around The U.K. Hendricks told the crowd they'd be performing a few new ones, and they went over incredibly well despite the jet lag.
Pinegrove Got Shady
Pinegrove frontman Evan Stephens Hall took the stage during Pinegrove's late afternoon set donning green sunglasses that matched his t-shirt, due to the blazing hot sun still beaming down on the audience and stage. After a few songs, Hall told the crowd that he wished he didn't have to wear the sunglasses because "eyes are the best way to show you mean it" but he asked the crowd to trust him anyways. Despite the sunglasses barrier, Hall and his bandmates still managed to connect with the crowd, who were all ardently echoing the words back to songs like "Old Friends" and "Cadmium." If you're based in Chicago and missed Pinegrove's set, go see them at Thalia Hall this November, where Hall will be performing sans sunglasses.
Twin Peaks Played Some Sweet Singles
The energy of day two at Audiotree Music Festival peaked (pun intended) when Chicago legends Twin Peak hit the stage with a surge of energy that never lulled. Their hour long set included some of their most popular tracks like "Butterfly," "Walk To The One You Love," and "Making Breakfast," but the band also performed some of their "Sweet '17 Singles" like "Tossing Tears" and "Shake You Lonely" for one of the first few times. Twin Peaks always steals the show when they're part of a lineup, but this refresh to their setlist added another layer to their usually incredible show. Twin Peaks will be taking over Chicago's Thalia Hall for three nights at the end of December, so ring in 2018 with one of their rowdy performances.
King Gizzard Dedicated a Song to Charles Bradley
During the early afternoon on Saturday, news broke that the soulful legend Charles Bradley had passed away. A few songs into King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard's 90 minute set that night, the seven piece band dedicated a song to Mr. Bradley, with vocalist/guitarist/flutist Stu Mackenzie saying, "This one's for Chuck." Outside of the heartfelt dedication, their headlining set kept up a pulsating pace that never let up and included several live debuts of tracks from the group's first album of 2017, called Murder of the Universe. Their explosive set acted as the perfect wrap up of Audiotree Music Festival 2017. Some lucky Chicagoans got to witness a similar performance at Lincoln Hall last night, and the super group returns again tonight with Mild High Club.