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Review: Bunbury Music Festival

The 8th annual Bunbury Music Festival was one of the best ones yet. Great music, vendors, experience, and weather! Check out our review of some of the bands from the weekend. Cheers to Bunbury 2019. Cheers to many more to come. 

Taylor Janzen

Canadian Indie folk singer Taylor Janzen illustrated her ability to express her profound lyrics about faith and mental illness to the Bunbury goers Friday afternoon. Her pop-punk like vocals along with some added instrumentals add a sense of modern, yet give special quality about her style of music that fits very well in this indie dominated music industry. (Natalya Daoud)


Straight from Rochester, NY, this four-piece synth-pop group walked on stage wanting to show the audience they are worthy of headlining. Since their first Bunbury performance in 2014, the band drew in a larger crowd thanks to hits like “How do you feel now?” and “Tongues.” Most of their songs sound similar to one another, they do have features to them that are worth seeing live. Their heartbeat-like bass notes, modern 80s-like synths, and their nerdy-like attire sets them aside in the main-stream indie genre. 

Joywave also had a very entertaining backdrop of the Google homepage. It appeared to have common words and phrases Bunbury goers would search for like “Where is Joywave from?” and “Why was the ending of the Game of Thrones finale so bad?” 

Jokes about Blink 182 not headlining for the second year in a row and Joywave not being able to headline this year kept resurfacing. With the rate Joywave is going, they may be able to fulfil their dream of headlining soon. (Natalya Daoud)


The 28-year-old Michigan born hip-hop artist poured his heart out during his dark, yet energetic hour-long performance Friday evening. The crowd of fans sang and jumped around to songs such as “Let you down” and “This is all I do.”  With every song performed, NF managed to have a slightly different lyrical flow. His way with words and his ability to connect with the crowd on an emotional level with the added feature of a drummer is what makes him distinctive in the main stream rap game. Symbolism is also a dominant feature in his performances and Friday night he used an eye-popping metal cage similar to the one on the cover of his third and latest album “Perception.” The cage symbolized mental entrapment which he later broke free from. In 2018 “Perception” went gold in the U.S. and NF does not seem like he is stopping anytime soon. His next album called “The Search” will be out July 26. (Natalya Daoud)

Stone Temple Pilots

In the history of Rock n’ Roll, many bands have lost or replaced their lead singers to differing results. Brian Johnson and AC/DC? ...Garry Sharone and Van Halen anyone? So, it was to be seen what 90's grunge rock vets Stone Temple Pilots could conjure up with a new lead singer they found on a reality TV show at their 2019 Bunbury set. And in this case, the Delio Brothers, Dean and Robert, seem to have made the right choice with X Factor alumnus Jeff Gutt. Once you get past the all too spooky resemblance, Gutt has to a young Scott Weiland, you discover a singer that can deliver the goods on STP's classic radio hits and the new music from the most recent self-titled album. The new songs hold up quite well. But make no mistake about it, the engine that drives STP is still drummer Eric Kretz, guitarist Dean Delio, and bassist Robert Delio. And it’s not bad to have a solid cache of great songs to play. The music business has changed dramatically since these guys were charting, but if this Bunbury set is any indication.......there are still real rock bands walking among us. (Tom Woodall)

Jukebox the Ghost

Straight from Washington D.C. this multi-genre band got festival goers to move and groove to their fun and catchy tunes. 

Their joyful melodies and energetic stage presence brought a positive energy to the crowd. 

The crowd sang to songs like “Everybody’s Lonely,” “Fred Astaire,” and their Queen-like track “Jumpstarted.” Lead singer, Ben Thornewill’s piano skills, was very dominant, yet effortless throughout their whole performance. Tommy Siegel’s guitar skills blended so well with the piano and his vocals are light, but forceful blending well with Thornewill’s vocals. Drummer Jesse Kristin not only can play drums exceptionally well, but can also sing beautifully. 

The most captivating part of Jukebox the Ghost’s performance was when they performed a cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Once Thornewill played the first four notes on the piano, the crowd pushed to the front of the stage and everyone started singing. Thornewill’s Freddy Mercury-like tone demonstrated how great of a singer he really is. During “Fred Astaire,” the band really got the crowd singing along and left the impression that they are not only musically talented, but also a fun band to see. (Natalya Daoud)

Jeremy Zucker

This 22-year-old singer, songwriter and producer from Franklin Lakes, NJ filled the hearts of mostly Generation Z festival goers. His pop sound is infused with lyrics like “Girl, I'll wake up in a minute (yeah)/ You die for love, I'm just living (how)/ I'm trying to talk, won't you listen/ Cause I'll say goodbye/ When you see this through my eyes now.” 

His indie-like vocals and pop sound feel like a Hollister music playlist. Zucker’s nonchalant vibe and sporadic falsettos had girls screaming, “I love you” to him.  Fans sang along to his current hit, “Comethru” and they were jumping around during his slow emotional, yet upbeat EDM-like song “Wildfire.” Most of his fans walked away with smiles on their faces once their favorite performer was done after about 45 minutes (even though he was originally scheduled for an hour). (Natalya Daoud)


From the moment they walked out onto the stage at their exact 5:45pm time slot and announced, “What’s up Bunbury!” Bayside kicked into a pounding set of pop punk that was made to please their most devoted fans and any newbie on the lawn. Lead Singer and main songwriter Anthony Raneri made it quite clear from the get, this is what we do, and we do it well. Sixteen riff ready songs in 45 minutes, delivered a rousing display from the 2ndtime Bunbury participants. They seem to like playing here and mentioned some of their other numerous gigs in the area over the past 20 years. Those years of playing together have paid off, as the band was tight and precise, with drummer Chris Guglielmo a real stand out. Playing loud and fast seems to suit these veteran punks quite well. (Tom Woodall)

Jack Burton Overdrive

There could not have been a better setting for music and for The Jack Burton Overdrive, locally known as JBO, then the Acoustic Stage at the Bunbury Festival. Set among some trees, for much needed shade, plenty of grass to lay out a blanket, and many of their West Side family and friends, the JBO provided a respite from the fast walking crowds heading between the two Main Stages. They also added some very solid four-part harmonies and old timey charm to the day. Nothing brings it home like a blazing squeeze box, or in this case, a concertina lead. New music from their latest release, Happy to Be Here, hit the right chord for the day. Jack Burton Overdrive will certainly make you happy.  (Tom Woodall)

Greta Van Fleet

I knew something special was about to happen when Michigan natives Greta Van Fleet used Detroit legend, David Ruffin's classic, “My Whole World Ended (the Moment you Left me)” as their walk-up song. The word classic was the theme of the night. Classic sound, classic images and classic rock. It is a much-needed throwback to the way live bands used to make you feel at a concert. The Kiszka brothers and drummer Danny Wagner, delivered a blistering set of classic tunes in front of a huge audience, to close out night two of the Bunbury Festival.  Ok, yes, there is the Led Zeppelin comparison, but these very young musicians are carving out their own unique sound. Led by the dynamic voice and swaggy stage presence of singer Josh Kiszka, the guy can hold that high end screech as good as any classic rock front man, Greta Van Fleet brings a refreshing take on the true tenants of classic rock.  With a soulful walk up tune as a lead in, the band delivers some very soulful vibes with their brand of Rock n’ Roll. There was a buzz all day at the Festival...can Great Van Fleet do it live on stage? And the Classic argument ensues and the answer in the case of Greta Van Fleet, yes they can! Long Live Rock. (Tom Woodall)

The Blue Stones

Obvious comparisons between the recent trend of two-man rock bands aside, how would The Blue Stones set themselves apart during their early Saturday afternoon, inaugural Bunbury set. The answer...quite well, thank you. Delayed a bit at the start from action on another stage, the Blue Stones, made up of Tarek Jafar, guitar and vocals and Justin Tessler, drums, did so with a combination of heavy riffs, solid vocals and pleasant Canadian charm. The audience, most of who were new to the Blue Stones, seemed to become fast friends after just a few songs. Stand out of which was “Black Holes (Solid Ground)” a crunchy guitar driven plea for human connection. Jafar carried the plea with some solid guitar work, desperate vocals and athletic rock star moves. The music is new, but if this showing is any indication, The Blue Stones will be showing up on your radar very soon. (Tom Woodall)


According to the Aaron Bruno of Awolnation, they do most of their best work in the studio. So how would Awolnation fare in front of a large crowd during their early evening set, on the Monster Stage, at this year’s Bunbury Festival?  If the bouncing in unison crowd was any indication, Awolnation can deliver a rocking live set. Led by Bruno, replete in a comfy short set (matching collared shirt and summer shorts for those unaware), Awolnation kicked into an energized set of songs to an enthusiastic crowd. Guitars were very present as they blistered through their catalog and seemed to really enjoy their place at the festival. Yes, the song “Sail”, with its very familiar, and current Toyota commercial pitch fame, was a highlight.  It really has a great hook.  But, songs like “Burn it Down” and “Not Your Fault” delivered as well. And a few snippets of AC/DC and Zeppelin Riffs on the end of each kept the crowd engaged. Awolnation, with this solid live set, proved it is more than a one-man band and studio creation. (Tom Woodall)

Streetlight Manifesto

Their exclamation a couple of songs into their hour long set of, “Hello, Indiana!” set the two-tone, or tenor sax, if you will. There was little else in the way of stage banter, instead the crowd was treated to what can only be described as a blistering set of horn driven (4, count ‘em 4), danceable but rock-ish tunes that prove ska is far from dead, it’s just partial to deadpan humor and politically and socially aware lyricism. It was an interesting set from a band whose inclusion in a festival like Bunbury was a bit of a conundrum, but a welcome one I didn’t want to think about too much. I was just happy they were there. (Jared Bowers)


At the opposite end of both the festival and the musical spectrum, Clutch played while staring into the sunlight, or, as they put it, on the actual surface of the sun. Heavy on cuts from their latest album, Book of Bad Decisions, the band hewed closely to their output from the last few records, not really delving too far in the past for inspiration. While I would have liked to have heard some classics from Robot Hive/Exodus, or even The Elephant Riders,I was really rather pleased with their set and thoroughly enjoyed the riffs and quips, along with the clearly excited fanbase that wouldn’t have normally ventured out to a festival like Bunbury. Catching their set was a pretty good decision, if I do say so myself. (Jared Bowers)

Run the Jewels

Lastly, at the opposite end of both the festival and the musical spectrum, a hip-hop duo took the stage and, frankly, the show. Run the Jewels are one thing on a record, something else entirely live. Heavy on cuts from their latest, RTJ3, but taking a few looks back at their first two albums, their set felt a little rough at the start, but quickly fell into a rhythm that allowed banter, dancing, and straight up *FIRE EMOJI* to bring the night to a close, at least for me and my friend. Between songs and general goofing off, Killer Mike and El-P took turns explaining to the crowd why they’re so important - reminders to help out fellow crowd members if they fall, warnings to keep their hands off those who don’t want to be touch (particularly women), and reminders that they know exactly how lucky they were to be on that stage, at that moment, performing those songs. It was a fun, raucous, and absolutely entertaining set that was a nice reminder of the power of Music, capital M, and what it can and should be used for. What I’ll remember for some time, however, was simply seeing how much fun they were having on stage, and how genuinely appreciative they were to be a part of the night for everyone. Also, can I get one of those “Kill Your Masters” tee shirts somewhere? (Jared Bowers)