At almost any music festival there are things you can expect- lots of music, sun, sweaty people and late-night womp womp. Yes, Rootwire had all of those things. But there was something different about this festival. You could feel it as soon as you pulled into the gate and got your wristband. You could see it as you dragged your stuff back into the woods. And as Papadosio fans found out last weekend, you can create it. The aura of love, art, and enlightenment that hung over Kaeppner’s Woods wasn’t just the result of the hard work of our hosts, but was also brought by the 1,500+ music and art lovers who trekked to Logan, OH for what is undoubtedly one of the best small festivals in the country.
Before music even started, patrons were treated with beautiful sights and sounds throughout the grounds. Everywhere you went, there was art. Installations, lights, sculptures, paintings… you name it, they had it. With the emphasis on live art as well as music, the mission of Rootwire is to foster everyone’s creativity and artistic contribution; be it painting, playing music, or just dancing. Participation was radically inclusive and the results were amazing.
Bunk News Art Collective built a grove of art pieces, complete with trippy videos in mirror boxes and an incredible interpretive “God” sculpture/painting. Hoops of Creation’s Mad Scientist provided forest lighting with beautiful rainbow LED and hanging spider sculptures in the “Magreenery Woods”. Inside the bigger-and-better gallery tent there was a full functioning art gallery, featuring the work of over a dozen artists, and hosting live painting throughout the weekend.
The gallery tent wasn’t limited to just painters, though. Noemind performed live digital painting, projected above the stage during Papadosio’s live PA set. Glassblowers created custom pieces all weekend, and fire troups including Nocturnal Arts spun fire poi, staffs, hoops, and more through all of the evening performances. The Flow Fairies and Lindsay Nova provided illuminated support, performing with LED hula hoops on raised platforms in front of the main stage. All of this and we haven’t even gotten to the music yet!
Headlining the festival were hosts Papadosio, Emancipator, Invisible Allies, Blutech, Kilowatts, and The Malah. Papadosio gave their fans exactly what they wanted, playing four sets and filling the weekend with the best supporting acts and up-and-comers possible.
Thursday night the band performed a modified live PA set, with all of their instruments wired into guitarist Anthony Thogmartin’s computer where he twisted, phased, reverbed, and manipulated the nearly 2-hour improv set. Also moving the crowd Thursday night were the Skeetones, who played a smoking’ jamtronica set on the side stage, and Indy’s Twin Cats, a favorite from last year’s Rootwire.
Friday was packed with incredible acts from 11:30 AM until rain shut things down at 4:30 AM (Saturday). Fellow Ohio-to-Asheville jam band Jahman Brahman started the day’s music, warming up the crowd for the “jam-packed” roster. It’s hard to pick a favorite or stand out set from the weekend because Papadosio seems to have a knack for finding and bringing together amazing musicians. From Catch Curtis, to UV Hippo, to Shank Bones, and EP3, every act was worth fighting the heat for. When the sun went down, Dosio allies The Werks took the stage, playing one of the best shows fans have seen from them with guest bassist Dino Dimitrouleas. They also announced that they would be performing two nights in Columbus, OH with Papadosio for New Year’s Eve this year (woo hoo!) Afterwards, returning act RoeVy shared the love and untz until Emancipator threw it down on the main stage, turning DJ disbelievers into fans with their mix of samples and live instrumentation.
Highlights of Saturday included Silo Effect’s funky electronica, Third Nature bringing the digital love, and Damn Right owning the post-dosio slot with their slick samples and shredding synth lines. Papadosio played two sets, with The Malah performing in between. Two and a half hours of crowd favorites and brand new songs brought everyone together into a storm of dancing and smiles, leading into Invisible Allies’ set. The Blutech/Kilowatts combo had the chill tones of Blutech with a more up-beat and fitting post-Dosio vibe. That night the two would perform separately on the tent stage while the Silent Disco quietly raged on (huh?) in the main concert field.
Sunday was no less hoppin’ than the rest of the weekend. Hell Naw, of Athens, OH (Papadosio’s hometown) had this author looking for Primus, and pleasantly surprised to find some hometown boys bassing the stage. J2K of Florida brought the sunshine before Dopapod took the stage and the rain clouds rolled in. Playing through a downpour, the thumping funk kept the crowd front and center. In one of the coolest moments of the weekend, everyone in front of the stage formed a circle of hands. They were joined by people watching from dry shelter, coming together to dance in the rain, and making a circle that reached back to the sound tent.
Sunday night, those who were able to stay got a very special treat, the third EVER Papadosio acoustic set. The set began with everyone gathered, sitting in front of the tent stage. The set included songs that haven’t been performed live in ages, like “Big Smile” off of Magreenery and newer ones including the beautiful and powerful “Peru Song” inspired by the group’s experiences with ayahuasca in Peru in March. The calm and relaxed feeling was perfect for the last night of the fest, but the ‘Dosio fans couldn’t be contained and by the time they started “Unparalyzer” people began to take to their feet and dance for the last time that weekend. Between the live improv set Thursday night, and Acoustic set Sunday night, Papadosio showed everyone how multi-faceted their talents as individuals and as a band are.
Doubling in size and gathering a wider variety of artists as it grows, Rootwire Festival (only in its second year) is surely on it’s way to becoming a staple of the summer. If you couldn’t make it this year, mark your calendars now for next year. And catch Papadosio on their fall tour for a taste of what’s in store. All we know is love…
Written by Meghan Bender
Photography by the great Brian Hockensmith
To check out more photos from this event click here.