Things get slightly weird when you combine 14 music acts, 100+ degree weather, and over a thousand people. Turns out that's just what Manchester Orchestra front man Andy Hull wanted as he implored the crowd to get "slightly weird" during the nightcap of the day-long music festival. In its third year at Lexington's Masterson Station Park, MoonTower organizers put on a show that wasn't quite perfect, but pretty close. From the music to the food to the setup there were a lot of highlights from MoonTower, here are a few of them:
When I went in to MoonTower Music Festival I was a fan of two acts and had heard of two others. By the time I left I was a legit fan of five acts and will be looking for the new music from four others. There was a ton of variety: alt rock, southern rock, bluegrass, country, blues, funk, and more. With a spread like that it's likely that there will be something that doesn't appeal to you, but even more likely that several bands will. Those who braved the heat during the opening acts of the day were treated to more of the laid back and mellow music. Aubrie Sellers and The Weeks were brought a ton of energy despite the heat and got the crowd pumped up during the afternoon.
The performance which flipped the switch from "laid back" to "party" came from The Floozies. I'm not a huge fan of the electronic funk scene, and when I listened to some of their songs prior to the festival I didn't think I'd really get into it. I was wrong. They brought energy, excitement, and fun which got the crowd riled up.
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The three main acts were Trombone Shorty, Drive-By Truckers, and Manchester Orchestra. Three very different styles, but all three knew how to put on a show. Trombone Shorty almost stole the show, and if I'm honest and put my Manchester Orchestra bias aside, they probably did. Led by singer and instrumentalist Troy Andrews, Trombone Shorty was the most energetic group at the festival. Between the incredible music solos which ranged from guitar to baritone saxophone, all the members were either jumping or running around at some point and played what felt like an hour long jam session. At one point they went into playing Green Day hit "Brain Stew" which was a nice cross-genre mashup.
Drive-By Truckers and Manchester Orchestra capped off the night with two great performances. Each group played their fan-favorite songs while also mixing in some new stuff. By the time Drive-By Truckers took the stage the sun had mostly gone down and brought the temperature down with it. With the blistering temperature at bay the larger crowd finally started to really get into the music which made for a great atmosphere, which brings me to my second highlight.
There were reasons for the crowd to be sparse or not into the performances. The heat was brutal, there was a massive line for beer due to one of the taps going out, and the food trucks started running out of food, left, or also had long lines. These things didn't put a damper on things though. MoonTower organizers laid things out really well so that there were things to do throughout the day. A cornhole area was set up, there was a massive jenga set, and you could even get your palm read. There was a huge open area for people to spread out, throw a frisbee, and play football so you never felt overcrowded.
Once more people started to show up one of the most entertaining things to do was people watch. There were hula-hoopers, devil sticks (or rhythm sticks), jugglers, people on stilts, and generally just people having a really good time. With the variety of music at the festival came a variety of people and everybody seemed to have a good time. At one point I just walked around the venue and people were giving high-fives and talking about the music. It was a fun atmosphere and I got to see cool stuff like this.
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There were a lot of food trucks and my biggest regret was not eating something from all of them. I tried honey bourbon ice cream from Crank & Boom Craft Ice Cream which was delicious. I then went over to the Red State BBQ truck and tried a Chicken BBQ Parfait for the first time. To say it was a life changing experience might be a bit of hyperbole, but the sheer simplicity of the idea and perfect execution was great. Rolling Oven, Gastro Gnomes, Crazy Bout Cajun, Hannah Lee Bubble Tea, Popcorn Paradise, and SteelCityPops were also there but there was only so much time in the day to eat. I hope to try out some more new stuff next year.
Overall the MoonTower Music Festival was a great way to spend a summer weekend day. Between the great music, fun crowd, and good food you'll be hard pressed to find a better time. Be sure to be on the lookout for early tickets next year and hopefully another KSR promo code as well!
Did you go to MoonTower? Tell us about your experience in the comments section!