Fly Free Fest 2013: Review + Photo Gallery

This past weekend, the inaugural Fly Free Fest hit the small town of Adams, TN and it did anything but disappoint. Less than an hour north of Nashville, the festival grounds awaited its attendees and my crew decided to get there before sundown. We got to the small Tennessee town, bought some bare necessities at the local Dollar General, and just had to drive right down the street to get to the venue. The locals were friendly and interested in hearing about the festival; some even thought about coming for a day or two.

fly free fest

photo by Ikeah Tate

Upon arriving at the venue, the box office staff welcomed us and led us to our campsite, which was just so perfectly right next to the main stage. There were three stages in total, each named after cloud formations – Cumulus, Stratus, and Nimbus. As soon as we got our tents set up, I was ready to adventure.

The woods held campsites as well, with the Red River flowing right next to it. There were vendors and art installations scattered throughout, as well as the Stratus and Nimbus stages. The weather could not have been better either – it was sunny everyday, yet cloudy enough to make it fairly warm and then transformed into cool, autumn nights.

Often the first night of a festival is overlooked, and frankly underrated, but Fly Free deserves much credit for indulging all the festival-goers with acts such as Moon Taxi and RJD2. Before those two dazing sets, Skymatic showed Tennessee how Atlanta gets down, electro-hip hop style. The project consists of Phil Ross, who produces and shreds on guitar, while his girlfriend Hannah Wilder joins in on violin. I had the pleasure of meeting both of them after their set before heading to Moon Taxi. The Nashville-based band’s set was mind-blowing. I had seen them last at Wakarusa – don’t get me wrong, that was amazing too – but they jammed out Friday night, playing some songs of their newest album such as “Running Wild” and “River Water”, which was all too appropriate for the setting of the festival. I had long waited to see RJD2 live and his set was nothing short of spectacular. He was spinning on four turntables; it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Night one was definitely a success.

photo by Ikeah Tate - The Polish Ambassador

photo by Ikeah Tate – The Polish Ambassador

Saturday started off low-key since we woke up before music had started, but there were many early risers for workshops, such as yoga and intro to permaculture. But I decided to channel my inner outdoorsy self and take a quick nap outside on the ground until I could hear the energy and sounds of Behold the Brave playing at the Stratus stage. While exploring into the woods and down by the river, we could hear the groove-rock coming from The Black Cadillacs on the main stage. One of the best parts of the festival was the schedule suited the typical music lover, who wants to see the main headliners but also unearth new tunes. Morning Teleportation and Cloud Cult were two of my discoveries. The first is a psych-rock band from Kentucky, while the latter is an indie-rock group that actually began in 1995 as Craig Minowa’s solo project.  Rubblebucket put on an astounding show, proving that bands do not have to adhere to one genre and can be very visually stimulating. The day turned into night and rock turned into funk. Next up were The Floozies. This musical set of brothers puts on a rare electronic-rock live production. The producer, Matt, plays guitar as well, while Mark drums – creating a distinct funk sound. Stokeswood closed out the late night sets by making us dance until the wee hours of the morning. The group also reigns from Atlanta and calls their music “low-endie rock”.

photo by Ikeah Tate - Papadosio

photo by Ikeah Tate – Papadosio

Waking up on the final day of a festival is always a bittersweet feeling. But to shake it off, we ate a cooked breakfast thanks to our gracious neighbors. The whole group was with JamCare Medical, so not only did they help us out but they were also tending to people all weekend. Another positive sign of success for Fly Free is that there were no serious emergencies.

As we wandered around the venue with festival neighbors, we got to take a look at some attention-grabbing vendors that we hadn’t passed by earlier. During one of our stops, I met some fellow Atlantans who invited me to one of the C4C interactive workshops with them. Since I hadn’t made it to a workshop yet, I decided to explore with new friends. After a moving exercise about creating sacred space, Garrett Llopiz talked about the “I” vs. “me”. I had no idea what I was in for, but it was an experience unlike any I had ever had.

In between venturing and going to the human ATM machine (yes a staff member was the one who gave us cash), we caught the end of Strung Like A Horse with Lacy Jo, with Lacy Jo giving a belly dance performance during their set. Realizing what time it was, Zach Deputy was one of the performances that could not be missed. The sun was still up and the vibe was calm so most of the audience laid down on blankets and tapestries to let Deputy serenade us with his impeccable voice, guitar, and harmonica skills

Night had fallen and The Polish Ambassador took the stage. Wearing his infamous blue and yellow jumpsuit, The Polish Ambassador, real name David Sugalski, put on an extremely energetic set. Out of all the shows, I would have to say his had the best connection with his audience since the liveliness was reciprocated. Papadosio closed out the fest, playing tunes off their most recent album, such as “Find Your Cloud” and “Method of Control”. Although the band even admitted to the crowd that they were burnt out from touring, the five-piece headlining group jammed out until they literally could not anymore due to the curfew.

The atmosphere of the festival really reminded me of a much smaller-scale Electric Forest. I was surprised at how many people I met said this was there first festival and also that there were many fellow Atlantans who attended as well, but that makes sense since SweetWater Brewing Co. was one of the primary sponsors. Fly Free was indeed a complete success and that was made apparent by the constant positive vibes and smiling faces. See you next year, free flyers!

– Lauren Stanaitis | Photos by Ikeah Tate

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