Over the last 10 years Columbia, SC has seen some great festivals vanish, left only with the memories of seeing both modern and legendary musical acts in the parks and on the streets of our hometown. Gone is Three Rivers Musical festival featuring some of our finest local bands opening for acts like Aretha Franklin and Widespread Panic. Rock 93.5′s Fall Out is still going, but far from its glory days in Finlay Park.
While city festivals are common everywhere in America, Columbia has struggled to find its niche in the music market. The solution for now seems to be every man for himself. With no centrality this will be what we have. And that’s not really a terrible thing.
River Rocks Festival was under-attended, but brought in some great Americana acts. Music mainstays like St. Patrick’s Day Festival in 5 Points and Rosewood Crawfish Festival do their thing every year mixing national and local acts. Music Crawl showcases boatloads of local talent every Fall. Stereofly is having their first showcase this August featuring up and coming regional and local bands. This year for the first time we have Jam Room Music Festival that promises to bring top talent to Main Street. Famously Hot Music Festival also makes its entrance onto the music scene boasting a three-day lineup, each day split by genre. This festival lineup is very interesting and features a Friday afternoon of Electronic Dance Music, followed by a Saturday of Rock music with 5 bands that haven’t had relevant radio airplay since the late 90′s. The Country music Sunday may be the hit, which is partnered with Columbia’s powerhouse radio station 97.5, and features one of the most relevant modern artist of the final two days in Josh Thompson.
There have been other small fests over the years, but for the most part have underwhelmed. Earlier this year we at SceneSC had several meetings figuring out if we could do this ourselves. Our staff has been traveling the country for the past couple of years attending festivals and paying attention to what works and also seeing first hand what doesn’t work. Our main question was what does the Midlands want?
We decided we want to be relevant. We want outdoor concerts with bands that we see on late night TV. We want bands in our home town that are selling out shows in Metro areas. We’re tired of bands from the bargain bin. Are bands that are on the charts or have been in the past two years too much to ask for? I don’t even really mean on the charts, yet again, I just mean relevant to modern music. For about the last seven years our “famously hot” city has brought in some cooled down music acts. At least at the same time we’ve produced some hot ones.
This is an ongoing stream of thoughts and ideas. We’d of course like to hear what you think.