The 2013 Life is good Festival is only the fourth annual event since it began in 2010, but it has already shown itself to consistently be one of the best festivals in the area. This year was no different.
There are lots of kids at the festival, but they are kept busy with activities and don’t interfere with your enjoyment of the music. The location is convenient and nice. They have good food and snacks, and all the money raised goes to a good cause. Most importantly, the music, is great! The music on the main stages doesn’t overlap, so you don’t have to make difficult choices about which band to listen to.
The best addition this year was the Coffee House, with the lineup chosen by Ryan Montbleau who also played sets on both Saturday and Sunday. Hats off to the man! Not only was his set on Sunday fantastic, but
he did an amazing job with the lineup! I always discover new artists at the Life is Good Festival, but this year most of the recordings I bought to take home were by artists who played the Coffee House. In fairness, I already have most of the records from the artists I like on the main stages, but the point still holds. The really exciting new discoveries came from that little tent near the entrance/exit!
With the possible exception of Zach Gill who had a little help from some guy named Jack Johnson that people seemed to have heard of, Caravan of Thieves had the most exciting show that I saw in the Coffee House. They play this brilliantly eclectic style of music with a real sense of style and showmanship. But musically literally every act I saw there was interesting, entertaining, or just damned amazing musically!
My only complaint is that the Coffee House was too small. When there is music on another stage that you’d like to see, but you’ve made a choice to check out another band you’d like to see more on a different stage, it can be very frustrating to miss most of the set because you have to wait in line! Especially if you had been in the tent, but only left to use the bathroom or something. Some acts were more popular than others, of course. On one occasion I left a half empty tent, and came back to a line!On the one hand, this was the first year that the Coffee House existed as an option at the festival, so it was probably hard for the organizers to estimate capacity. On the other hand, Ryan has played the main stages and in the store in the past and drawn big crowds. I first heard his music at the 2010 festival. So they ought to have realized he, at least, would draw big crowds.
In all honesty, I had hoped perhaps some quick thinking might have occurred between the end of the music on Saturday and the start on Sunday, and they would have come up with a way to open the front of the Coffee House tent or perhaps to position monitors outside, since inside the tent a camera appeared to be recording the whole time. But no such quick thinking occurred. Instead they restricted access even further, with security counting people as they came in and out and keeping the tent from getting too full.
On a similar note, the festival needs more than one large screen and even that one needs to be better placed. They should also have them next to both stages. Saturday was fine, but Sunday was very crowded and it was hard to see, and consequently to get good photos. In 2010 I was a volunteer, and in both 2010 and 2011 I raised enough money to have VGP access to the festival, so I didn’t notice these issues, but perhaps they were problems those years a well. This year I simply wasn’t able to do either of those things.
Nonetheless, it’s a great event! It’s family friendly with LOADS of kids, yet the kids have lots to do, and are kept safely entertained in health ways. That is, after all, what the Life is Good Foundation is all about. But if you are one of those adults who doesn’t have kids and who also has a low tolerance for them, this is actually a family-friendly festival you can attend with your friends who have families, and the kids won’t be the least bit in the way! In fact, I’ve seen more crying cranky children by noon at theme parks than I have at the end of the day at this festival. Maybe it’s because the parents are happy, too!
To my mind the Life is Good Festival comes close to setting a paradigm for what a music festival can be, but falls just a fit short every year for some reason. But I think it’s because my expectations are so high! I know no festival I enjoy more, particularly not with such consistency.
So there is my quick review of the Life is Good Festival. I’d love to hear what you think. Please enjoy the photos I was able to take in these festival galleries.