Loufest 2014: Still on the rise

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If you weren’t in Forest Park a few weeks ago, let me tell you: You missed out.

On Sept. 6 and 7, 40 rock, indie, folk and pop bands took over four stages in front of over 19,000 fans at the fifth annual Loufest Music Festival. The weather was gorgeous, the crowd was fun and, most importantly, the music was great.

Skaters play "I Wanna Dance (But I Don't Know How) at the Forest Park Stage on Saturday, Sept. 6.

Skaters play “I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)” at the Forest Park Stage on Saturday, Sept. 6.

Saturday, just as the clouds began to roll out, New York band SKATERS started a mosh with songs off their first record, Manhattan, as well as previews from their upcoming album. Their grunge rock sound was unlike the majority of indie bands playing the festival, and the crowd was on their feet and excited for the entire set.

Washed Out, the second band to tackle the main stage for the weekend following San Fermin, had a chill vibe, attracting fans who preferred foot-tapping and head nodding to dancing and jumping.

Roadkill Ghost Choir owned the BMI stage with their long haired antics, head banging through an energetic set despite their less than perfect placement at the small, sun-soaked BMI Stage.

Fans mingle in Forest Park between sets Sept. 6.

Shannon Anderson
Fans mingle in Forest Park between sets Sept. 6.

The 1975’s set was mainly low key, but the crowd sang along excitedly to “Girls” and “Chocolate.” Lead singer Matt Healy took a few swigs of wine straight from the bottle as he marched around stage swinging a microphone. On top of that, a crowd excited for Arctic Monkeys, scheduled only an hour later, danced the night away.

When The 1975 left the stage, the audience pushed forward despite the lack of space. Concert goers were packed shoulder to shoulder for over an hour at the Bud Light Stage while Cake played at the Forest Park Stage across the park.

When Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner emerged wearing a black leather jacket, the high-pitched screams from the audience made it sound more like a One Direction concert than an urban music festival. The 28-year-old frontman wooed the audience with his dancing and his ragged-yet-angelic voice, backed by a flawless performance from his bandmates. Most memorable was the comb Turner kept in his back pocket, which he used on his hair like he was straight out of The Outsiders. The set included songs off their most recent album, AM, such as “R U Mine?” and “Snap Out of It,” as well as older hits including “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” and “Dancing Shoes.” As the night drew to a close and the Loufest shuttles started their engines, satisfied audiophiles emerged happy with day one.

Day two, highly anticipated for the variety of talent, was blue skies and smooth sailing. Young band The Districts broke a string during their first song, but their laid-back sound kept the crowd swaying through great pieces including “Long Distance” and “Funeral Beds.” They also reminded the audience that “the last time we were in St. Louis our van got stolen… But we have it back now!” Hopefully the band will find their way back to St. Louis on their next tour as well.

Fans hug the barriers at the front row of Washed Out at the Bud Light Stage Saturday, Sept. 6.

Fans hug the barriers at the front row of Washed Out at the Bud Light Stage Saturday, Sept. 6.

Portugal. The Man picked up the pace for the great second day of music. They told the crowd “not to burn yourselves out, but now is the perfect time to start partying.”

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue was a fantastic break from indie rock with their dancing and enthusiastic playing. Lead singer, trumpeter, trombone player and frontman Troy Andrews directed his ragtag group through a fantastic set, including a partial cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.”

Grouplove plays "Lovely Cup" at the Bud Light Stage on Sunday, Sept. 7.

Shannon Anderson
Grouplove plays “Lovely Cup” at the Bud Light Stage on Sunday, Sept. 7.

Grouplove’s high-energy power couple Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper completely owned the stage. The band opened with popular Spreading Rumours hit “I’m With You,” and bassist Daniel Gleason made his St. Louis Debut with the band, following the departure Sean Gadd late last year. The powerful group of five had the whole crowd singing along to smash single “Tongue Tied” off their album Never Trust a Happy Song. Crowd surfers ran rampant, keeping the security guards busy. They closed by bringing out Portugal. The Man, and covering The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”

AJR involved their audience by telling the stories behind the songs, but awkwardly turned away from the crowd to press buttons for their techno-based songs like popular “I’m Ready.”

Big Boi of Outkast emerges after the curtain drops on Sunday, Sept. 7.

Shannon Anderson
Big Boi of Outkast emerges after the curtain drops on Sunday, Sept. 7.

Outkast dropped jaws with their impressive lighting, set and energy on stage. When the curtain dropped, members Andre 3000 (Andre Benjamin) and Big Boi (Antwan Patton) emerged with their hands up, making a statement about the violence in Ferguson in the past couple months. Benjamin’s jumpsuit read “can one rest in peace & violence?”. The entire crowd seemed to know all the words to the chorus of “Ms. Jackson,” and “Hootie Hoo” kept everyone fist-pumping. Bringing girls from the crowd on the stage to dance for well-known “Hey Ya!” made the performance even more memorable.

Loufest was absolutely phenomenal; attendance more than doubled, growing approximately 15,000 attendees last year to around 36,000. The festivals growth will continue to attract bigger, more popular bands, adding to the experience. One can only hope that Forest Park is big enough for everything ahead.