I almost always have music playing. The need for music changes with each location – the car, the studio, the living room, the gym. In an effort to keep things fresh, I am constantly looking for music I haven’t heard.  With hopes of discovering new music, I let my son choose the music when riding in the car together. Photographing and covering music festivals also helps.

You can’t see every artist perform at most festivals. If you’re not a die-hard fan who is prepared to camp at one stage for an entire day, then it is recommended to plan ahead and make a schedule of the acts you most want to see. Like most festivals, Bunbury offers help with a customizable schedule through their online app. I listen to a few songs from each performer, and prioritize which stage I want to go to next. Listening to studio recordings doesn’t reflect which stage performance is the best. Most of the profits musicians make is not from album sales. Ideally a band would be judged purely on their music, but that’s not the case. Please keep in mind my reviews below are based primarily off the first few songs I was able to witness before moving on, and a consensus of festival goers. Here’s my breakdown of all the performers I was able to capture:

Bunbury Day 1

The Orphan the Poet

tOtP_IMGL0619.jpg

Genre: Rock
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 8
Energy level: 8
Performance: 8
Coolness factor: 7

They have refined their sound since I saw them 3 years ago. More pop flavor than I recall, but with the same great energy. Vocalist, David Eselgroth made it out into the audience within the first few songs.

Radattack

Radattack_IMGL0744.jpg

Genre: Rock
Music: 8
Presence/fashion: 9
Energy level: 8
Performance: 8
Coolness factor: 8

More grit than pop. More mature than you would expect from a group just a year or so out of high school. Each member has their own style, but it goes along with the other’s looks. This is where I’d like to see rock be in the future. I hope they stick together for a long time to see how they grow as artists together.

Taylor Janzen

TaylorJanzen_IMGL1022.jpg

Genre: Indie Folk
Music: 8
Presence/fashion: 6
Energy level: 6
Performance: 7
Coolness factor: 6

Fascinating to hear a 19-year old write and perform such heartfelt music that I wasn’t interested in until I hit my 30s.

Poppy (Moriah Rose Pereira)

Poppy_IMGL1233.jpg

Genre: Electropop
Music: 6
Presence/fashion: 8
Energy level: 7
Performance: 7
Coolness factor:  6

Consensus: “Weird, almost creepy”, but possibly the future of the pop music scene.

Witt Lowry

WittLowry_962A2798.jpg

Genre: Hip Hop
Music: 8
Presence/fashion: 4
Energy level: 7
Performance: 7
Coolness factor:  7

Witt has a lot of energy for performing the saddest song I’ve ever seen live. Not afraid to bare his emotions on stage. Keep an eye on him.

Bayside

Bayside_IMGL0975.jpg

Genre: Pop Punk
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 5
Energy level: 7
Performance: 7
Coolness factor: 6

They formed 19 years ago. Have a wide range of songs for the genre. I’ve heard upbeat, angsty, and sullen.

Machine Gun Kelly (Colson Baker)

MGK_962A2981.jpg

Genre: Rap
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 8
Energy level: 9
Performance: 8
Coolness factor: 8

I’ve seen him crowd surf during other artist’s performances. Seems to play well with others unless you’re Eminem.

NF (Nathan John Feuerstein)

NF_962A3159.jpg

Genre: Rap
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 6
Energy level: 6
Performance: 7
Coolness factor:7

There were a considerable amount of performers wearing hoodies during their performance this years despite the heat. NF’s looked custom-made to hide most his face and fit over his hat. With a cage that he would retreat to, and a shopping cart with black helium balloons, his performance was lo-fi, but effective.

Stone Temple Pilots

STP_IMGL2066.jpg

Genre: Alt Rock
Music: 8
Presence/fashion: 7
Energy level: 8
Performance: 8
Coolness factor:  7

Age can be a damper for these performances. Replacing the original vocalists can be too. They have already put together a studio release together and Jeff Gutt fits in fine. He was lively on stage as if it were his band from the beginning. If you didn’t know who Scott Weiland was, you might think this was the original lineup. Note: Their latest eponymous release does not sound like the same band from the late 90s.

Fallout Boy

FOB_IMGL2326.jpg

Genre: Pop Rock
Music: 6
Presence/fashion: 4
Energy level: 4
Performance: 4
Coolness factor: 5

Consensus:  “They seemed like they were going through the motions.” I saw this band on this same stage 5 years ago. They hardly looked like the same people. With the exception on the pyrotechnics, this group offered little excitement on stage.

Bunbury Day 2

Shaed

Shaed_962A3696.jpg

Genre: Electropop
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 6
Energy level: 7
Overall performance: 7
Coolness factor: 7

I was immediately impressed by Chelsea Lee’s soft speaking voice change to the  low, bold, and soothing lyricist. Trampoline is a good single, but they do have more to offer. Looking for a full length from them soon.

Great Good Fine OK

GGFO_962A3765.jpg

Genre: Synthpop
Music: 2
Presence/fashion: 2
Energy level: 6
Overall performance: 3
Coolness factor: 4

Great Good Fine OK was none of these things. This was a challenge for the senses. John Sandler was wearing a black and gold homemade outfit, while the rest of the touring band was in street clothes. The lyrics may have been touching, but I couldn’t get over the sound.  This duo was delayed in starting, but continued their set as if time was not an issue. Promising two or three more songs, the fans at the nearby stage were booing while they had to wait for them to finish before the next band could start. There is a very real possibility that synthpop will be the end of rock music.

The Blue Stones

IMGL0805.jpg

Genre: Blues Rock
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 5
Energy level: 7
Performance: 7
Coolness factor: 6

One of those bands when you first see live, you’re amazed it’s all done with just two people. With only two members, everything has to be precise. They need to set themselves apart from some of the bigger names out there doing similar work, but they have started in the right direction. Long live the rock duo.

Flora Cash

FloraCash_962A3934.jpg

Genre: Indie Pop
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 6
Energy level: 5
Performance: 6
Coolness factor: 7

This married couple met on Soundcloud. Now they reside in Sweden. They have some feeling in the studio, that got lost on stage.

Tropidelic

Tropidelic_IMGL0028.jpg

Genre: Uncategorized
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 5
Energy level: 8
Performance: 7
Coolness factor: 7

Tropidelic is always a high-energy and fun performance. I was only there for 3 songs, but I’m sure more than one of them climbed off the stage to play in the audience.

Jukebox the Ghost

JtG_IMGL0278.jpg

Genre Indie Pop
Music: 8
Presence/fashion: 5
Energy level: 7
Performance: 8
Coolness factor: 9

Ben Thornewill took the time to sign autographs and allow photos with him for a mob of people just behind the stage when they were finished on stage. I’ve seen their performance several times. Every time I think I know what to expect from them, they change it up. With seven studio albums, they have a large catalog of music to choose from.

Dashboard Confessional

Dashboard_IMGL1574.jpg

Genre: Emo
Music: 8
Presence/fashion: 7
Energy level: 6
Overall performance: 7
Coolness factor: 6

Surprised to find out they’re really big in the Philippines. Most people did not recognize Chris Carrabba on stage, but they recognized his music. Their most recent release, Crooked Shadows, has a lot more synth and anthem rock qualities than their debut, The Swiss Army Romance from almost 20 years ago.

Jeremy Zucker

JZucker_IMGL0308.jpg

Genre Pop
Music 8
Presence/fashion 7
Energy level 7
Overall performance 7
Coolness factor 8

He has more monthly listeners on Spotify than any of the four remaining artists on Saturday. But he appeals to a very young crowd. If this guy keeps it up, he’s going to be gigantic.

Blue October

BlueOct_IMGL0332.jpg

Genre: Rock
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 6
Energy level: 7
Overall performance: 7
Coolness factor: 8

Last year Bishop Briggs was at this stage and it was overflowing with fans. This year, the same stage (different placement), and the band that had the most overflowing audience was clearly Blue October.

Awolnation

Awolnation_IMGL0215.jpg

Genre: Rock
Music: 8
Presence/fashion: 6
Energy level: 7
Performance: 7
Coolness factor: 7

For years, there was a stigma I had to overcome to enjoy Awolnation. Admittedly it was all me. That’s all I know. I was wrong. Fortunately, I was able to get over it. They have a lot of music that I recognize and enjoy.

Sublime with Rome

SubliewR_IMGL0441.jpg

Genre: Ska Punk
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 4
Energy level: 5
Performance: 5
Coolness factor: 5

The music was fine. Rome’s vocals are solid. The band was happy to be performing. They even put out new music since the line up changes and loss of Bradley Nowell. Ultimately though, they’re a bunch of old dudes too out of shape to do much on stage. I prefer their studio releases. If you want to follow a band around the country, but Phish is too hardcore for you, then this is your new old favorite band.

Greta Van Fleet

GVF_IMGL0862.jpg

Genre: Rock
Music: 9
Presence/fashion: 5
Energy level: 7
Performance: 8
Coolness factor: 8

There’s no denying that they remind people of another band from a different era. That band isn’t making new music together. Great Van Fleet is, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to witness their live performance, especially after hearing about their poor performance on SNL. The state of rock looks a lot like the state of the republic right now. If we want it to get better, we can’t be divided and hate on what’s right. Aside from Josh dressing like Abu from Aladdin (1992), they were terrific.

Bunbury Day 2

Büllow_IMGL0066.jpg

Bülow (Megan Bülow)

Genre: Pop
Music: 8
Presence/fashion: N/A
Energy level: 6
Performance: 6
Coolness factor: 7

The songs I’ve posted for each band reflects my favorite of their music. I had to change out Bülow’s song four times. I landed on You & Jennifer, and it’s going to be near impossible to dethrone. If Rebecca Sugar decided to tap into some forgotten pain, she would write and perform something very similar. With only 7 songs on Bülow’s full-length release, it’s hard to judge how good the music is (going to be). At this point, I can’t tell if her look is ironic or not, so I’m uncomfortable judging it. She may just be an iconoclast.

Lauren Sanderson

LaurenSanderson_IMGL0358.jpg

Genre: Hip Hop
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 5
Energy level: 7
Performance: 6
Coolness factor: 9

The greatest thing about Lauren Sanderson is that her album Don’t Panic has two versions — a regular hip hop version, and an acoustic version. This says a lot because there is a lot of cool about her. At the end of her set, she organized a meet and greet for anyone who wanted to wait in line.

The Aces

Aces_962A5566.jpg

Genre: Indie Pop
Music: 6
Presence/fashion: 6
Energy level: 6
Performance: 7
Coolness factor: 7

At the end of a tour, a performance can suffer burnout while every day becomes laundry day. That may have been the case the last time I saw the Aces. It was a pleasant surprise, despite some tech difficulties on stage with Katie Henderson’s guitar, to see the performance I hoped for this time.

Reignwolf

Reignwolf_962A5924.jpg

Genre: Blues Rock
Music: 9
Presence/fashion: 9
Energy level: 9
Performance: 9
Coolness factor: 9

So good, you’re cursing aloud in wonder. Reignwolf provided the best performance of the weekend. The energy; the music; the performance blew my mind. Jordan and Stacey-James  become the music. Their presence was undeniable. Overlook that Jordan Cook was dressed for a Seattle February in the mid-1990s, and they were near perfect.  Below is a link to when Jordan first started out. Seven years for a full album was worth the wait. I already have plans to photograph them again because it’s better live.

Streetlight Manifesto

StreetlightManifesto_IMGL0101.jpg

Genre: Ska Punk
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 6
Energy level: 7
Performance: 7
Coolness factor: 6

Ska has been getting a lot of grief lately for being something we used to listen to in the 90s, but to be honest, it's still better than some of the new style of things. Streetlight Manifesto has a lot gong on stage and is fun to watch, albeit, difficult to capture on camera.

Clutch

Clutch_IMGL0273.jpg

Genre: Blues Rock
Music: 8
Presence/fashion: 6
Energy level: 7
Performance: 7
Coolness factor: 6

Consensus: “I think [Neil Fallon] used to be a reverend. He sounds like he is delivering a sermon.” Somehow, I had never heard of them before and they’ve been around since 1991 with 12 albums! The more I listen to them, the more they are growing on me.

lovelytheband

Lovely_IMGL0759.jpg

Genre: Indie Pop
Music: 5
Presence/fashion: 4
Energy level: 7
Performance: 7
Coolness factor: 5

I walked around the pit giving others the opportunity to photograph this band that they were more excited to shoot, but Mitchy Collins kept giving me shots to stick around for, drawing me back to the stage. If you already like this music, you should definitely see them live.

Run the Jewels

RtJ_IMGL1014.jpg

Genre: Rap
Music: 8
Presence/fashion: 7
Energy level: 9
Performance: 9
Coolness factor: 10

One of the best performances of the weekend and vocally advocated for consent norms. Killer Mike wants to want to change the world. If you haven’t seen his documentary Trigger Warning you should.

Girl Talk (Gregg Michael Gillis)

IMGL1175-e1561419756351.jpg

Genre: DJ
Music: 6
Presence/fashion: 6
Energy level: 8
Performance: 6
Coolness factor: 7

To compensate for the typical still life that can become a DJ set, Girl Talk arranged for several festival goers to join him on stage for a dance party, which spread into the crowd within seconds. Gregg created what looked like a flattened basketball player out of the stage with the arms and legs extending from the floor. To put a DJ this late in the day was a bold, and satisfying move. It was a party.

The 1975

1975_IMGL0273.jpg

Genre: Pop rock
Music: 7
Presence/fashion: 7
Energy level: 8
Performance: 8
Coolness factor: 9

Consensus: “OMG OMG OMG. I love them so much.” Of everyone I talked to, this was the most anticipated of the weekend. This isn’t music for me, but the crowd loved them. The performance was lively and well lit. I hear it’s a trademark of his performance, but I have a lot of photos of Matty Healy with his tongue out of his mouth that I can’t use.

Bunbury

An excellent option for me to find and enjoy more music. Some artists I had never heard of, or some I wouldn’t be crazy about from their studio release, found an opportunity to make me a fan. Most notably Bülow and Awolnation, while Reignwolf and Run the Jewels heightened my excitement for their next thing to come.

Comment