Belated Mittenfest V wrap-up

In the aftermath of last year’s Mittenfest, I asked Brandon Zwagerman for his thoughts on how things went, what he and the other organizers might have learned from the experience, and how, if at all, things might change in the future as a result. My intention was to post his comments here on the site in early January, but, for one reason or another, I kept putting it off. Well, it’s now over half a year later, Mittenfest VI is just a short five months away, and I’m finally getting around to it. [note: Those who weren’t able to attend Mittenfest V can find some of my videos here.] Anyway, here’s what Brandon had to say seven months ago…

Brandon Zwagerman:

What can I say about Mittenfest V, really?

By all accounts it went off without a hitch. Andy, Hasan, and the rest of the Woodruff’s staff ran everything like a Swiss clock. The sound was excellent thanks to Dave, Keith, and crew, and the sets of 60 bands ran smoothly, save a few minor glitches. If Woodruff’s keeps this up, with the right booking they’ll be a truly viable competition to the Blind Pig. We hit capacity every night, although sometimes barely, and other times without an overly-ridiculous line; to me this is evidence that Woodruff’s is the right size for Mittenfest for the near future, and we hope to grow with them as they mature. And I can’t thank Jeremy Peters enough for being on top of every facet of every problem that would arise from every corner.

As far as I can tell, most everyone who participated or attended had a great time, and that’s really what we are going for here. From Patrick Elkins in a dress to the New Year’s Eve dance party lasting until 4 a.m., many of the most memorable moments occurred off-stage. 826michigan’s table featured an interactive robot-drawing station, which was quite a hit as well; in general I think they had more crowd interaction and support than ever this year.

As for the music, we somehow hosted a full 60 performances, and fans showed up at 3:45 every day, and stayed until 2 a.m. for four days in-a-row. And, almost without exception, everyone was great. I can’t even attempt to mention everyone, but Drunken Barn Dance, The Sights, Matt Jones & the Reconstruction, and The High Strung should probably all just play a show together if they haven’t; I’m curious who the last band standing would be. Gotta say, Secret Twins are better every time I see them; I picked up their record and it’s downright amazing and beautiful. All I really want to listen to the past week or so is them along with Bad Indians, Deadbeat Beat, and Long Whisker, but that’s just me. Other personal favorite sets were Mittenfest rookies like In Tall Buildings, Pistolbrides, The Kickstand Band, Pewter Cub, Cains & Abels, Stef Chura, Ola Ray, The Press Delete, and Scarlet Oaks. Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful sounded better than ever. I was a total sucker for Patrick Herek and his band full of Mongers as well. There were mosh pits during Frontier Ruckus and Lightning Love. And White Pines? I’ve always loved Joe Scott but he has come back from Ohio a force to be reckoned with.

We upped the ante yet again: $15,000 for 826michigan, and a total of approximately $34,900 over the past 5 years. Which is crazy, in retrospect, given the truly humble origins of Mittenfest. The best part is, everyone had a good time doing it.

This year, Mittenfest matured, I think. We know what it really is, what it is good at, its tolerance for evolution. It feels like something solid I can poke with a stick that isn’t going to change in any drastic way. For Mittenfest VI, we will figure out how to raise even more funding for 826 while tweaking the stylistic diversity further, but on the whole I think we have found the right formula for a successful 4-day fundraiser music festival in Ypsilanti that can hold its own against any comparable event in the state.

I should add, for those of you who have bands, that the deadline to apply to be a part of this winter’s Mittenfest is fast approaching. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the last day of July. Anyway, if you want to be considered for a slot, all you have to do is click here and fill out the form… So start forming your bands today. Good luck.

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  1. Artie Schlimer
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    If hippy jam bands are more your thing, the Michigan Roots Music Jamboree is this weekend in Ypsilanti.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Andy Clock talked about the Roots Jamboree in his interview with Mark. The pertinent part starts a little before the 5 minute mark.

  3. gary
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    i wish more hippie jam bands would apply for mittenfest. i’m sick and tired of the emo-core, powerpop, sensitive indie bands. i wanna hear long solos to let my freak flag fly to.

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