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Attendees of this year’s Founders Fest had already been pouring in for 15 minutes, and the line for entry was still stretched around the block. People continued flowing into the street venue in front of Founders Brewery at 235 Grandville until there was barely space to move, but nobody seemed deterred because of all the great performances to come.
Kicking off the festival was local experiential spiritual folk rock band the Soil and the Sun. The high-energy performance from this seven piece group set the tone for a day of non-stop music on two adjacent stages. There was virtually no turnaround time between any of the bands to perform.
“I like how they have two stages this year,” says attendee Joel French. “I was worried that having two stages was going to make me miss out on some bands, but the way they had them right next to each other and alternating was perfect.”
Following the Soil and the Sun was a relaxing set from folk band Seth and May and Friends, which led right into a set from afro-beat collective Afro Zuma. Just like at Local First Street Fest, Afro Zuma was the first band of the day to really get people dancing. Capped by a crowd-favorite cover of Femi Kuti’s “Traitors of Africa,” their set continued to raise the bar for the day’s quality music.
The next set by one man band That 1 Guy was easily one of the standouts performances of Founders Fest. With his“Magic Pipe” tuned and ready for action, That 1 Guy slipped on his silver-painted boots and stepped to the microphone. He began his set with a long howl, and the crowd howled right back in anticipation of the dance party that was to ensue.
“This is the show I came here to see,” says French. “I saw him at last year’s Electric Forest and have been hooked ever since. I hope he brings out the Magic Shoe.” Sure enough, That 1 Guy got out the Magic Shoe shortly after the set began, and started to pound on it as if it were a drum. The Magic Shoe is another handmade instrument by That 1 Guy, except this one is just an old shoe rigged with a device that allows him to plug in a cord into the heel, amplifying and distorting the sound.
Every song That 1 Guy played was met with loud cheering by his loyal fans, and for good reason. He can use just about anything to play the bass strings on his Magic Pipe. Over the course of this show, he played his Magic Pipe with his hands, a drum stick, a bow, a hotel room key and a playing card left over from the magic tricks he was doing on stage. His finale consisted of him playing a bass-heavy funk track while doing sleight of hand magic at the same time.
“This was easily the best show of the day,” says attendee Matt Olthoff. After That 1 Guy’s performance, the crowd insisted on an encore, chanting and cheering “one more song” until finally it was decided that there was no time for an encore.
The good times didn’t stop there. Toubab Krewe gave a unique performance highlighted by an improv chant about “getting loaded on 20 pints of founders,” much to the delight of the beer-filled crowd. Grand Rapids’ own Ultraviolet Hippopotamus continued the party with favorites like “North Coast,” a song about the love of all things Michigan.
The headliner, jazz-soul trio Soulive, capped off the night with incredibly funky instrumental covers of the Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” The band continued well past the festival’s scheduled end time at 11 p.m.
“The people of Grand Rapids have really supported us throughout the years" said Founders President Mike Stevens. "To us, this is kind of a thank you to everybody in West Michigan. Thank you for supporting us and thank you for drinking our beers.”
Graduate of GVSU, having studied both professional and creative writing. I like to absorb all kinds of music and writing, and will give anything that crosses my path it's fair shake. I also dabble in photography, videography, as well as punnography. Someone once told me I had a bad memory, but I couldn't remember which one.
Reports on: Music, Food, Art