In less than two weeks time, Forest Park will be flooded with thousands of fans coming out to enjoy the fourth annual LouFest music festival. The weekend’s lineup will include huge headliners (Wilco, The Killers, Alabama Shakes and The National) along with over 25 other artists and bands ranging from indie rock sibling duos (Wild Belle) to electronic pop bands from Stockholm (Icona Pop).
This year’s LouFest promises to be the biggest yet, and founder Brian Cohen couldn’t be more excited for the first set on Sept. 7.
“This year, we’ve added an extra stage so we were able to fit 30 bands into the lineup and are expecting our largest crowds yet,” said Cohen.
While the buzz is certainly increasing as the clock ticks down to LouFest, it was only four short years ago when longtime concert-goer Cohen finally decided to make his dream of bringing a nationally recognized music festival to the heart of St. Louis a reality.
Before landing in St. Louis for a job opportunity as a media specialist and documentary production instructor at Washington University, the Texan transplant became a fan of indie music festivals by annually attending one of the nation’s best, Austin City Limits. Known for finding the right balance between crowd-catching headliners and a fan-friendly environment, ACL was a music festival with a national following.
Cohen saw what tremendous effects the concert had on the city, plus the boost it gave to the local music scene, so he immediately saw the same potential in St. Louis when he arrived in 2003. (Not to mention Cohen was just plain bummed that St. Louis did not have an equivalent, so he took matters into his own hands.)
After a busy year of planning with city officials, park directors and a very talented team of organizers, Cohen brought a large-scale music festival to Central Field in Forest Park. For two blistering hot days in August 2010, an impressive lineup took turns taking the stage to perform in front of 10,000 fans that enjoyed not only the eclectic array of music, but also the hip local food venues, and eco-friendly focus of the event. The first LouFest was a hit and Cohen has never looked back.
Sitting in his Wash. U. office, Cohen explained that, “LouFest was built from a fan’s perspective – meaning that you don’t have to pay $5 for water, there are a ton of local food vendors with options for everyone, and there’s even a bike valet [provided] through Trailnet so every fan should have the best experience possible.”
Since the very beginning, Cohen has wanted the music festival not to just be a copy of Coachella or Lollapalooza, but rather a concert to match the unique style and needs of St. Louis. That meant keeping it affordable, family friendly, and with an environmental consciousness.
“Nobody wants this to become a generic event that could exist anywhere, because then LouFest would lose its soul,” said Cohen.
Thus far, Cohen has achieved his initial goal, and he has since seen an impressive increase in the number of fans coming out to experience LouFest.
Admission was up by almost 3,000 tickets from 2011 to 2012, and this year looks to follow suit, especially since the music festival geniuses at C3 Presents (the same group responsible for organizing City Limits, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and many others) have partnered with LouFest. The collaboration has been essential for expanding LouFest by helping to bring in larger headliners and increasing their promotional capabilities.
And just because the big names are rolling into town does not mean that the local bands are being eliminated from LouFest. This year, the St. Louis natives of Kentucky Knife Fight and the hometown rapper Tef Poe will be given a chance to play for their loyal fans and also to reach a whole new group of potential followers. While Cohen recognizes that some may be skeptical that teaming up with C3 will change what people love so much about LouFest, he promises that they will stay true to themselves and their initial goals.
LouFest has grown tremendously since that first steamy August weekend in 2010, but at the heart it is still a music festival crafted specifically for St. Louis. Brian Cohen and his team are truly dedicated to making it a unique experience and expect this year to be the best yet.
You do not want to miss out on this awesome opportunity to hear some incredible artists, so kick off the school year right and go to LouFest on Sept. 7-8! Single and two day passes are still available for $55 and $95 respectively, which is such a bargain compared to other festivals (the retail price for a single day at Lollapalooza went for $95!). Head to loufest.com to see a full list of the lineup, check out the schedule and buy tickets.