Pinestock Music Festival
September 11-12, 2015
Northeast Indiana is not exactly a touring destination or musical hot spot, but Fort Wayne native’s Nick Weaver and Nate Norris have worked hard to make it one, for at least one weekend every September.
This year marked the fifth annual Pinestock Music Festival in Churubusco, IN (aka Turtle Town), and its first as a two-day festival, with the added first day taking place at two bars in Churubusco filled with local Indiana acts. For Saturday, the main day of the festival, the event was moved to a new location on a disc golf course in Churubusco, which on the surface seems strange, but turned out to be the perfect property for the festival. There was way more campground, parking space, and the the main stage was on a natural incline making it almost an amphitheater-type setting. The location serves as a stepping stone to possibly taking the festival to the next level.
I was unable to attend Friday, but from word of mouth, it sounded to be a blast. People were able to camp both nights and trolley the first night to the two Churubusco bars, going to as late as 2:30AM. Chatman’s Brewery in Angola sponsored the event, and provided beer on the trolley and different kegs beer throughout the festival Saturday. One of the biggest draws to an already great value in the $55 two-day ticket beside 17 musical acts, a free t-shirt, two days camping, and a massive bonfires is the bottomless beer cup, with new microbrews from the Midwest tapping nearly every hour. Fortunately, you can balance your drinking with the unreal delicious Bravas Dogs food truck, which has the most delicious hot dogs and fried potatoes I eat all year.
As with many festival lineups, the three best acts were its last three: Mike Mains and the Branches, Metavari, and Desert Noises. Michigan’s Mike Mains and the Branches really delivered with their punchy pop songs, really getting the crowd moving. Headliner Desert Noises hail from Provo, Utah and play similarly sun-scorched guitar rock with huge solos and plenty of harmonies. The band even pulled up Metavari’s Nate Utesch for some saxophone help to close out their set before encore.
While Mike Mains and Desert Noises were enjoyable in their own right, the festival highlight like the previous year remained Fort Wayne’s own Metavari. Last year, Metavari debuted songs off their latest LP, Moonless, which as discussed in our interview with them last year, was a sort of electro-pop rebirth for the previously post-rock leaning band. This year, the band has certainly become even more confident playing those Moonless songs, but even debuted a few new songs, including the undeniable Twin Peaks tribute, “Oh Diane.”
Familiarity certainly played a role, but no other band in Pinestock’s short history has got the crowd moving quite like Metavari did this year. The band even threw in hundreds of glow sticks to enhance the experience that much more. The band wasn’t even the last act of the night, but still got cheered into a two-song encore: playing the irresistible “Be Free (Tonight)” appropriately matched with a crazy robot version of Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” including the cheesy 80’s video in the background. It was likely my favorite performance in hundred or so there has been in the five years of the festival.
Pinestock again remains the best small festival I’ve attended and a must attend if you are in a three hour radius of the festival. It’s become a signature Indiana event.