This year Beale Street Music Festival was held in a newly finished Tom Lee Park. On the bank of the Mississippi River, freshly planted with wildflowers and native trees, the park is set to open on Labor Day this year! But those attending the festival got to enjoy this natural haven among the lively streets of Memphis early.
Low Cut Connie kicked off the festival with an exuberant start, retro-sounding guitar riffs got everyone tapping their feet as they relaxed in the sun. Artists Toadies, The Bar-Kays, and Live took to the 3 stages as the sun set, readying us for the headliners Earth, Wind & Fire, 311, and The Lumineers. The folk-rock sound of The Lumineers filled the stage with energy. A wide variety of instruments were masterfully utilized to create those haunting, mesmerizing melodies that will follow you home and keep you company for days. Their uplifting, intimate, and soothing performance was lit by mirror ball light beams dancing all around. Backdropped by the river, it’s bridges lit with neon lights. Ziggy Marley closed out Friday with a sensational performance, leaving festival guests excited for what Saturday would bring.
Saturday, the sunshine and guests returned for the second day and an abundance of great artists to choose from, a selection sure to please a variety of tastes. Lulling you gently into the second day of the festival Phony Ppl, who blend Reggae and R’n’B, with a thumping base, soulful vocals, and a touch of synths for an electric sound. Mac Saturn took to the Volkswagen Stage, channeling the energy of Mick Jagger, these born performers graced us with their unique sound that encompasses, a groovy Motown, Glam Rock and a touch of British Indie music. Ramping up the energy of the day, and the crowd.
New York’s Living Colour first formed in the 80’s, this band played a big role in diversifying rock music and paving the way for others since. Gave us head banging, soulful rock, verging softly on metal. Incredibly distinctive basslines and loud slamming guitar riffs. Colony House continued to amp up the atmosphere as evening rolled around. Their music had an infectious upbeat energy, and sound reminiscent of The Beach Boys. Sending us happily kicking and screaming into Saturday night Halestrom, heavy rock band with a bold voice, blended with an approachable pop sound and catchy hooks, think Paramore meets P!nk, but heavier.
GloRilla gave us a powerful, visually stunning performance. Bold, loud and holding her space she commanded the stage and crowd. This female rap artist already has a track with Cardi B and she doesn’t look set to slow her role any time soon. Watch this space, she’s going places. The Struts an indie-rock band who’s riveting stage performance had guests unable to look away. Playful character, and shining performance, prepared us for the night, spirits high and adrenaline pumping.
Headliners Greta Van Fleet took us on a journey ascending to the stars. Reminding us rock and roll is very much alive and sparkling. Over-running their set time, their performance just kept giving, from beautiful stage outfits glistening in the light, to fire ball pyrotechnics heating things up. Greta Van Fleet the Michigan band comprised of twins, who are equally talented in their roles as vocalist and guitarist, holding high notes and finger bleeding guitar solos. And their two brothers -one by blood one and one in spirit- who provide magical piano melodies, beautiful baselines and drum solos that will beat your worries out of you. The only blues you’ll be left with are their noticeable influences drawn from classic blues artists, and prog rock alike.
Sunday brought us the likes of Moon Taxi, a multi genre band with touches of Folk, Rock, Indie and EDM. Like an invigorating wave gently washing over you. Andy Grammar with his up beat pop tunes, and soulful R’n’B influences. Backed by lively brass instruments and joyful sounds of the talented band. Young the Giant took us into the final evening with a colorful, vivacious set. Performing their hit track ‘Cough Syrup’ and other melodic indie-rock tracks that got the crowd moving and cheering along.
Going out with a bang, AJR closed out the festival on Sunday, performing at the same time as Robert Plant & Alison Krauss on their respective stages. AJR’s set featured fun graphics, a breakdown of how they created their hit ‘Bang!’ and interactions with the crowd that filled the arena with laughter and applause. By the end of their set, as the festival drew to a close for this year, people were dancing, singing along and full of joy. The perfect ending to a wonderful warm sunny weekend in the south, filled with energy, joyous moments and some of the best music around.