FESTIVAL REVIEW: DIRT FEST 2016 Live at Downtown Pontiac, MI
Thousands of rock n’ roll fans flocked to Pontiac, Michigan on August 13th 2016 for Dirt Fest. A new location for the festival after previously being held annually a little further north in Birch Run, Michigan. The new site for the music festival was in the downtown Pontiac area across from the Crofoot Ballroom, a music venue that’s played host to a number of the bands already playing the event. Dirt Fest may not be an appropriate title as asphalt was what we walked on.
With five stages and over 50 bands performing, there was a lot going on. And I must apologize to Soil, Wilson, It Lies Within, Walls of Jericho, Six Prong Paw and several other bands as my photos of these bands got deleted somehow. All of the aforementioned bands had great sets. Wilson definitely made some new fans and created a party atmosphere with tonnes of confetti shot into the air. There was enough rock n’ roll going on for everybody to enjoy. I ended up making the rounds constantly to every stage to catch as many acts as I could. It’s always nice to discover bands for the first time, like Death of The Party, a local Michigan band with a strong presence on vocals and a tight group of musicians playing great rock. Or to finally hear bands live for the first time. Sometimes bands are just better live. I found that to be true watching Asking Alexandria. They brought it and the crowd was right there with them singing along.
Dirt Fest featured plenty of up and coming acts for the audience to find a new band or two or several to become a fan of. Most of these bands you could chat, take photos with and get to know the band members a bit and allow bands to grow or strengthen roots for a fan base. It Lies Within is a rising band yet still they take the time to mingle with fans. I find it humbling and generous that band members do this, especially these days when we have outrageously priced meet and greets just to say “Hi” and get a photo with a band we’ve kept in business because we buy all their albums and whatever other merchandise. I know it can be tough for band members to mingle amongst the crowd once they’ve reached a level of stardom that it would cause more trouble than good. But even then, Dirt Fest set aside free meet and greet times for some of the more popular bands playing the event.
As the day wore on, the crowd got worn-down. It was hot, rainy at times and muggy. There was not a whole lot of shade as many fans popped a squat under a shade tent that was the gateway to the two main stages. At times during the day, it was like a maze trying to navigate through the people and all the lines. Food lines, beer lines, meet and greet lines, but I never witnessed any hostility. It’s always great to see people getting along at these events. We may look scary, but we tend to have hearts of gold.
As the sun started to set, it seemed there were good acts on each of the stages. I was forcing myself to pull away so I could catch enough of the other bands and snap photos before their set was over. If there was one drawback to a music festival like this, it’s that you can’t catch everyone you want, at least not in their entirety. I had stopped to chat with people I’ve gotten to know, when I realized good humored band, Psychostick, was playing. I quickly made my way to catch a bit of their set before heading inside the Crofoot Ballroom, the lone refuge of the days heat and sun for most festival goers, to catch Westfield Massacre tear it up before heading over to the main stage to be ready for headliners Killswitch Engage.
All in all it was a good day of hard rock and metal music with bands like Hatebreed, Bury Your Dead, Born of Osiris, The Alpha Complex, Heartsick and Concret
The new location seemed to work very well and Dirt Fest should have no problems when the masses meet up again next year for another round of hard rock and heavy metal music. I just wonder if Wilson will be back so festival creator Matt Dalton can get another kiss from front man Chad Nicefield. Ha-ha, plenty of good times. I’m looking forward to next year. Rock On!