A weekend of musical and cultural goodness.
Within the Spanish moss and oak trees, lies the cozy Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park, host of the 4th annual Aura Music Festival. Aura masterfully blends the jam scene with healthy servings of electronic and funk music. With headliners for this year’s fest including Papadosio, electronic greats Conspirator and Dopapod, The Heavy Pets and Perpetual Groove… How could they go wrong?
As we pull in, we can hear the heavy bass radiating from the Amphitheater, which just added to the anticipation of the 9 hour drive. After grabbing our credentials, we settled in and met our neighbors (a very important part of the weekend as all festival-goers know). One of which told us that he took a bus from NY then walked nearly 25 miles from the nearest bus station to take part in this first jam-fest of the year. This type of genuine music lover is the backbone of any good festival. Their dedication and passion toward music is infectious and warm. And for the next 3 days, this is the only place that matters for everyone here.
After a short walk around the grounds, we catch the last half of a 3 hour set from Conspirator. They have just launched a tour around their newly released album, “Unleashed”. And the 4 piece’s electronically produced mix of melodies and the perfectly synchronized light show set the bar high for the remainder of the weekend.
Of course, no festival would be complete without a couple of slices of greasy vendor-pizza or the classic funnel cake or in our case some amazing Thai food. After all, in this near freezing temperature, we are looking for anyway to warm up and the vendors never disappoint. While finishing dinner and chatting with other Aura goers, we notice that the crowd is gradually migrating over to the Porch Stage for the upcoming Kung Fu set. These guys are always on point and tonight was no different. Their energy and funky charm would surely leave everyone smiling. They would also join Nigel Hall on stage Saturday afternoon in a noteworthy celebration and tribute to the great Stevie Wonder.
Perpetual Groove was to wrap up the headlines for Friday night in their first of 2 spots on the schedule for the event. “PGroove” has spent the last 10 years serving up some of the best genre bending music that you could hope to hear. This is set to be one of the last festivals to feature this seasoned quartet as they have claimed that they will be taking a “hiatus” at the end of this tour. Whispers of this were heard throughout the campground and it seemed as if people were soaking up every note of their music so as to not forget any of it. Several of the members will be joining forces under the name “Ghost Owl” and will begin touring as soon as April.
One of the best parts of any festival is the music and moments that are made off-stage. A good bit of our Saturday morning was spent within the general camping area meeting festies and hanging out around the warm fires and jam circles. Aura brings together an interesting group of people that are both welcoming and talented. Between the visual artists, good vibes, solid lineup and the incredible light shows, Aura has built a stimulating atmosphere that would be hard to top.
Dr. Fameus, Dopapod, and The Greenhouse Lounge all delivered impressive performances on Saturday afternoon. And as Perpetual groove wrapped up their last Aura performance, The Heavy pets were dialing in their jazzy/jam sound at the Porch Stage. These Florida natives are definitely a crowd favorite and for a good reason. One of the most exciting, and energetic sets of the weekend, they showed us why they landed a prime time slot in this years robust lineup.
The Asheville based, Papadosio, rounded out the night in good fashion. The light show and stage production was taken to a completely different level for this performance (It was clear that this was ‘the headline’). They played incredibly despite the sub freezing temperature and as steam rolled from their shoulders into the frigid air, the lights shot out over a crowd of dancing admirers. While Papadosio claims to have a unique blend of electronic and dance styles laced with jam and psychedelia, we like to just think of it as great music and there might have been no better place to see them than in Live Oak that night.
The lineup for Sunday included second performances from The Heavy Pets, Dopapod, and an 8pm slot for Papadosio. As the crowds began to thin, some were still clinging to the last few acts of the weekend. But whether you pack up now or stay for a few more sets, you’ll be returning to the grind and saying bye to all of your new friends, which is why Sunday is a bittersweet time in festival land.
Aura was a success…despite the cold weather! It’s obvious the the creators of Aura have a great idea of the experience that they are working to build for their patrons. The music was stellar, the venue was one of a kind, and the atmosphere was something worthy of the name “Aura”.