by Callie Enlow
I finally got my ass in gear to check out last year's fest, and, you guys, UTOPIAfest really brought the utopia. (Check our slideshow of last year's event here). No, these dudes aren't paying me; I may not even get a press pass. But I'm still telling all my friends to buy their tickets NOW (the event is capped at 2,000 participants) and would happily pony up the $120 for a weekend pass covering September 12-14 (there's also a pre-party for extra bucks on Thursday evening). Here's why:
Fun times at UTOPIAfest 2013
Name one thing you hate about the modern music festival: jerky security dudes harshing your mellow; astronomically expensive beer (not to mention water); being afraid your small children will be trampled to death; making tough decisions about which headliner act to see as they play concurrently; astronomically expensive parking; a fried food and taco diet ... Guess what, UTOPIAfest solves all your problems!
This festival takes several good pointers from the likeminded jam band-centric festivals and events from whence it sprung, but opens up the experience to a broader musical base. This year's lineup features diverse acts like the Cold War Kids, Warpaint, GZA, Billy Joe Shaver and Dan Deacon along with the folky, hippie tendencies of Father John Misty, Grateful Grass and the Wheeler Brothers. Last year had a similarly eclectic lineup. Instead of trying to decide between GZA and Billy Joe Shaver, all the music takes place on one of two stages at opposite ends of the gorgeous grounds. When one act ends, the next starts up at the opposite stage making for no garbled sound, no tough decisions and no set-up wait time.
Additionally, onsite camping and parking is included in the weekend pass price (there's different passes for car or RV camping) and you can bring your own food and beverages inside, hallelujah. The fest has a refreshingly lax view of security without being an anarchic free-for-all. For instance, I felt comfortable leaving most of my belongings in my unlocked tent, or hoofing solo in the dark for about 10 minutes to lock precious valuables like my camera in my car. While more than a few people were enjoying some type of altered consciousness, I wasn't stumbling over piles of vomit or into bro-fights at the end of the night, either. Oh yeah, and you can fill up your water bottle with free water. What a concept.
If you're the type of person who wants to bring your kid to a festival (not my jam, but that's easy since I don't have kids, anyway), they can get into UTOPIA for about $10 and there's lots of fun art and vendors for them to check out.
The downside: port-o-potties and running out of beer are huge bummers. Also, pray for no rain.
So, go get some Utopia while it still exists. Like its namesake, festivals of this ilk are typically ephemeral and should be enjoyed while they last.