Living in Mississippi means that it’s sometimes hard to find cultural events to attend, which is why when a friend of mine told me about Sloss Fest in Birmingham, Alabama, I was totally down. This was the second year for Sloss, a two-day music and arts festival featuring three stages of music, food trucks from local restaurants, a whole slew of tens for local and regional artists, and lots and lots of hot weather.
Sloss Music & Arts Festival is held at the Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, a National Historic Landmark, which is super cool. Like it says on their website, Sloss Fest is “about more than 30+ bands on 3 stages, it’s a celebration of the unique, creative culture that makes life in Birmingham so special.” Birmingham really is a wonderful city, so I was excited to experience something else there.
There were some really cool bands at the festival – from Fitz & the Tantrums to Death Cab for Cutie to Jr. Jr. to Grouplove – playing on three different stages. Two of the stages were set across a wide open lawn from each other and one was on the other side of the entrance in a giant, metal shed. Thankfully, there was one big tent in the middle of that open lawn for shade and two free water fill-ups. Unfortunately, the gates didn’t open till after noon, so it was HOT HOT HOT. I know that the festival coordinators had absolutely no say about the weather but it was approximately the temperature of Hades that weekend. The good thing was that everyone else was just as sweaty so nbd.
One of the coolest parts of the festival was the booths for regional and national artists. I was super excited to find out that Fur Turtle – who has created posters and art for one of my favorite musicians, Joshua James – was going to be there. He was one of the first artists we sought out when we got to the festival on Saturday, and I immediately saw a twenty one pilots poster in his booth. I, of course, had to have it, and I’m super excited with my purchase. This is what the poster looks like (image from Fur Turtle’s website).
My favorite performance on Saturday was Grouplove on the Steam Stage. I might’ve loved them even more live than I do recorded. Grouplove’s two singers – Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi – were phenomenal, jumping around, head-banging, rocking out, and singing to their – and all of our – heart’s content. It was impossible to look away from them because they are so obviously passionate about music and in love with performing. Their music had everyone jumping and dancing despite how hot it was. Such a great performance.
I also saw Death Cab for Cutie (who was cool and relaxed and maybe a bit boring in parts but still super fun to see live) from the front row and Logic (who is a really talented rapper; couldn’t stay for his whole set though).
On Sunday, my favorite was definitely Jr. Jr., despite the fact that earlier in the day, they were 30 minutes late for their signing (my friends and I waited for almost an hour to meet them and their whole band didn’t even come). Even though I was annoyed with the signing debacle, their set was awesome. They sound exactly like their recorded albums, which is rare and wonderful.
And this is where the weekend got a little disappointing. My friend and I went over to the Shed stage to see The Struts for a few songs and then head over to the other side to see Fitz & the Tantrums. Of course, the sky took it as the time to let the rain fall. It was a relief because it had been so hot, but they had to postpone all of the sets to avoid ruining the equipment or electrocuting all of us. Because they had to postpone it though, we weren’t able to see either of the sets because we were going to another show that night (Parachute).
But you know what? Despite the HOT weather and the rain and the late bands, I had a fantastic time at Sloss Fest, and I would definitely go again next year.