LouFest: Still great despite changes

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This year’s LouFest encountered perhaps the most hesitation the festival has faced since it’s debut in 2010, with many people disappointed with the lack of big names in acts compared to previous years. However, LouFest 2016 was anything but a let down.

First up Saturday morning, Diarrhea Planet took the stage and jolted awake attendees who had gotten out of bed just a short while earlier. From their first song “Seperations” to the last chord struck an hour later, the band created an atmosphere in which the thought of staying clean was put on the backburner, and was replaced by the need to join the giant mosh and mud pit that broke out.

With members joining the fray and running through the crowd and mud, banter of alcohol and the earliness of their timeslot, it was clear that Diarrhea Planet was having just as much fun as the crowd. The band, though one of the first to perform, came away as a clear victor of the weekend and was the clearest reminder all weekend that in a time dominated by pop and hip hop music, there is always space for some good old rock and roll.

Another clear highlight of the first day was Frightened Rabbit, whose Scottish storytelling was a picturesque painting to have gifted to LouFest patrons on Saturday evening. Pulling heavily from this year’s album “Painting of a Panic Attack,” the set was partially a dance party, partially an emotional cleansing, and everything in between. From a whisper to a roar in the span of a song is common for these lads, and the crescendos seemed to grow larger than any studio recording when transformed on the stage. Though mainstream success seems to have narrowly avoided the band since their inception, they definitely walked away from the Forest Park stage with a whole slew of new fans.

One of the last acts to take to the stage Saturday was electronic duo Big Data. Despite the mud’s attempt to solidify fans to the ground, the crowd went crazy for the pair’s set. The crews of frat boys dressed in Hawaiian shirts moshed to Big Data’s energetic show as they played hits from their debut album, “2.0.”

All the talented acts weren’t limited to Saturday. On Sunday morning, much like day one, those who arrived early were treated to truly phenomenal musicians. One of those acts was Mothers, a four piece from Georgia who graced the BMI stage and rewarded the small crowd to a set of truly beautiful music.

Pairing slow-tempo but incredibly technical guitar playing with Kristine Leschper’s haunting falsetto is as good of a classic pairing as peanut butter and jelly. Add into that mix sticking lyrics such as “I don’t like myself / When I’m awake” from “It Hurts Until It Doesn’t” and you have a winning formula for a band that has pure talent.

Greensky Bluegrass and Shakey Graves brought a healthy dose of jam and folk to a festival that was otherwise light on the genres. Greensky Bluegrass’ show winded every which way and pure talent shined in the multiple solos given to every band member.

Festival veteran Shakey Graves started with his original one-man band style, playing his bluesy track “Roll the Bones,” before his band joined him for the duration of the show. Grave’s witty songs’ back stories and shout outs to inspirational artists kept the crowd laughing, and he ended his time on stage with his most popular song, “Dearly Departed.”

The final grand act of the weekend was recently reunited rock/electronica group LCD Soundsystem. Throughout LCD Soundsystem’s set, the crowd was treated to a nonstop shot of adrenaline for nearly two hours straight. From the repetitive opening chants of “Us V Them” to “Movement,” which opened more than a few mosh pits, to the drop in “Dance Yrslf Clean,” the band crossed genres regularly while always sounding distinctly like themselves. It seemed as if the whole weekend had led up to the final eight minutes of the weekend, however, in which LCD transported the crowd to another dimension with their otherworldly rendition of “All My Friends.”

All of St. Louis seemed to jump in unison and scream “Where are your friends tonight?” at the top of their lungs in a moment that will live in LouFest history forever as one of the greatest.

This year’s festival provided two noteworthy days filled with underrated acts like Frightened Rabbit and Shakey Graves, but still managed to bring in over 25,000 fans each night. These numbers matched last year’s, when folk gods Avett Brothers and Hozier headlined, proving that St. Louis doesn’t need a shiny lineup to have a good time.