We’ve reached the end of a scorching hot summer, my fellow festival-goers. The chill is setting in and as the birds flee south and the squirrels battle for acorns, a different sort of creature gathered at Legend Valley in Thornville, OH for one last summer hurrah — the Werks’ fan.
Adorned in their traditional flat-billed headdresses and performing the sacred hula-hoop dance of their ancestors, they gathered for the third annual Werk Out Music and Arts Festival to welcome the equinox.
Having outgrown the Zane Shawnee Caverns, the ever-growing Werk Out crowd found its new home at the famous Legend Valley for the 2012 celebration. Strapping up hammocks and pitching tents, veterans christened the new grounds properly—with family love and good whiskey. Drawn by the promise of great music and festival history in the making, a healthy crowd of newbies joined their experienced counterparts Thursday to create the largest early bird turn out in Werk Out history.
After a little pre-gaming and a stroll down Shakedown Street, the earliest early-birds had a few good hours to kill before the music started. Some took advantage of their “Werkin Wheelz” tickets and took a little golf cart ride while others stopped to admire the work of the visual artists at The Artwerk Gallery. From Wake ‘N’ Rage Camp to the main stage, they explored and fraternized, all while anticipating what was sure to be an amazing night of music.
At four o’clock, pH Factor broke the silence, taking the Technaflora Stage and kicking off a raging night of music. Little by little, fans gathered to the front to warm up their dancing feet for a long night. Aliver Hall then broke in the OurVinyl Stage (best stage ever!) followed by the unique and enticing tunes of Dirtfoot, a sound that they call “a dose of gypsy-punk-country-grumble-boogie.” I couldn’t describe it better myself.
The Werks’ Duck Farm
The mouth-watering scent of Disco Pizza and Mr. Freshy thickened the air as fans indulged in their festival feasts, fueling up for the night. Cosby Sweater provided the funky dinner entertainment, dressed just as their name suggests. Their colorful sweaters, and immense energy took everyone into full rage mode, some still with food in hand.
What had been a relatively tame party evolved into a full-fledged rage fest as the sun set. Like creatures of the night, those who had remained unseen all day emerged well-rested and ready to exhaust every ounce of energy they had. It was that sacred time, that of getting a bit crazy.
They flocked to the stage for Papadosio, LED hula-hoops and rage sticks in hand. Captivated by their mystical melodies and mesmerizing visualizer, fans swayed and celebrated the night. Although the air was chilly, tunes from Dosio’s new album, T.E.T.I.O.S., kept fans feeling nothing but warmth and bliss. Whether it was out on the lawn or up against the pit fence, everyone was letting loose.
One performance flowed into the next as Dr. Fameus brought the drum ‘n’ bass with a touch of dubstep to the OurVinyl stage. Gathering again at the main stage, the most experienced Werks’ fans claimed the space up-front-and-center before Dr. Fameus had finished. They weren’t messing around.
As The Werks took the stage, it was every fan for his/herself—the rage was on. They were greeted with a roar from the crowd before opening with “Sweet Content” into fan favorite, “Burnin’ Groove.” Fire performances by Nocturnal Arts and the appearance of a giant, LED caterpillar crawling through the crowd only added to the almost overwhelming excitement of The Werk’s first performance of the weekend. The Werks also debuted their new song, “Going Round” and covered Phish’s “Slave To The Traffic Light” for the first time.
Coming through with a true crowd pleaser, The Werks invited Papadosio to the stage to create the rare musical phenomenon of Werkadosio. Joined by Nick Gerlach on saxophone and Space Panda, the group performed “G-Funk,” setting the tone for a truly impressive weekend to come.
Wide-eyed and wired, many ventured out to the Wear The Party Stage to wind down with EarthCry. Sitting for the first time in hours, fans listened as Anthony Thogmartin took them on an educational exploration of solfeggio frequencies. Incorporating each frequency into his songs, listeners learned, felt the healing properties, and chanted “om” in unison to each one. Bringing listeners to a peaceful state, the night ended with a little meditation and Blue Moon Soup.
Some slept while others partied through to Friday morning, round two of The Werk Out. Early afternoon workshops of yoga and meditation was how some spent their waking hours while others enjoyed a breakfast burrito or a whiskey pick-me-up.
All seemed a little sluggish before Dayton, Ohio’s own Subterranean House Band gave the wake-up call and whipped them back into shape. Meanwhile, Howard, Lewis & Lovins were shakin’ up the Wear The Party Stage. Soul Rebels, Magic Jackson, Roster McCabe, Funktion, and The Macpodz rocked the main stages well into the mid-afternoon before things got, well — a little strange.
The jazzy, funk fusion of Strange Arrangement was just what The Werk Out ordered when things needed to get a little weirder. Playing songs like “Polygraph,” Strange Arrangement drew a crowd with their quirky lyrics and catchy melodies. After a good groove session, some foot-stomping, whiskey-flowing good times were had to the much anticipated set of Greensky Bluegrass. Refreshing and energizing, it was good to hear some traditional bluegrass instruments in action. A little banjo on that cloudy afternoon was just what The Werk Out needed to get right back into high spirits.
The dance party continued with Kung Fu’s 70’s-esque funkadelic sound, which was perfect to boogie down to as the evening drew to a close.
As the sun set, all eyes were on the EOTO’s giant lotus flower, a video-mapped stage that promised a good, old-fashioned mind-blowing session. Combining technology, live drum performance, and one amazing stage is a recipe for insanity. While some could only stare at the towering visuals, others danced wildly and without form. It was enthralling chaos.
The Twin Cats followed to bring things back into perspective with a little funky jazz before round two of The Werks.
The second Werks’ set was one of many guests and even more surprises. Featuring Tim Palmieri on guitar and Rob Somerville on saxophone, they debuted their new song, “Music,” before bringing up Aaron Armstrong on percussion. Much to the crowd’s surprise, The Werks even covered Europe’s “Final Countdown” with Jason Hann on drums, Todd Stoops on keys, and Rob Chafin on vocals. Did I mention that Chafin was in full hair-band costume?
The group fun continued with an amazing Everyone Orchestra featuring members of The Werks (of course!) and a number of friends followed by late night sets well into the early morning hours.
After a chilly, cloudy Friday, Mother Nature interfered with a little rain and high winds on Saturday. The morning started with a little SassafraZ and The Skeetones before the sun made its way out for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and The Heavy Pets. Sadly, Glostik Willy’s set was cut a little short as the wind started to pick up again. Despite the complications, rowdy Werkers were braving the weather, still riding the good vibes and begging for golf cart rides.
Anticipation was building as Rusted Root took the stage. An unusually large crowd was gathered for a mid-afternoon set. This was one immensely loved band, and one soon learned why. Having never seen Rusted Root myself, I was truly impressed by their unique sound which combined a number of genres. They were one of the most talked about bands the rest of the afternoon.
Eumatik and a disappointingly brief Elemental Groove Theory set followed and Ekoostik Hookah took the main stage. Being right at home in Legend Valley, Ekoostik Hookah drew a huge crowd of loyal, Ohio Hookah lovers.
Afterwards, those who had been asking themselves, “What the f*ck is Zoogma?” found their answer in the form of a raging hip-hop, electronic dance party. ZOOGMA was a definite crowd pleaser, sampling from hip-hop songs while bringing the energy of a rock show. No matter what genre you preferred, their mix of sounds brought a little something for every festival-goer.
The electronic high continued with Lotus, who brought the crowd to a good push-and-shove closeness. Everyone wanted to be up front for this one. Being veterans of the festival scene, Lotus knew exactly how to blow this crowd away and accomplished full face-melting status. Even those who claimed to dislike electronic music came out for this one, and they did not disappoint.
Break Science followed before one final Werks set. Opening with “OG,” The Werks brought out Space Panda on keys for “Rollin” which went into one of their most popular songs, “Duckfarm.” Danny Sauers of The Subterranean House Band played saxophone for “Fall” before The Werks ended with “Galactic Passport.” With much encouragement from a crowd that was not quite ready to let them go, they encored with a cover of “American Band.” One enthusiastic fan even came out on stage in an Uncle Sam outfit as an LED butterfly floated through the crowd. The Werks finished with “Heading South” before taking their final bow and a group photo.
With much applause and cheering, Tom Blessing came out on stage to thank all staff and patrons for contributing to the festival. All staff and the band came out for one, big group bow as the crowd showed their own gratitude for a festival well-done.
Late night sets from RoeVy, Space Panda, and others continued until six in the morning. Although all were tired after a long weekend of partying, the fire performers kept spinning and festival-goers kept raging through the cold night. Much to their satisfaction, they had werked it properly, even if it had werked them to exhaustion.
Written by Courtney Tynan
OurVinyl | Contributor