Sonic Temple 2019, MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, May 17-19, Part 3 of 3

Sunday showed up gloomy, and the weather looked like it might be our enemy. It’s always a bummer when the weather turns on you during a festival, but it is a fact of festival life and completely beyond anyone’s control. Bad weather is a risk at outdoor events and is entirely unpredictable. The first two days were immaculate so unless we thought we lived in a perfect world, we had to expect some rumbles on Day 3.

When we arrived, the 3rd stage, the Wave Stage, was temporarily closed. It turned out to be closed all day. The winds were too strong and made the rigging unsafe. All bands scheduled for that stage therefore had to be cancelled: Demob Happy, Scarlxrd, Basement, Black Pistol Fire, Refused, and Scars On Broadway.

Music started on the Echo Stage with only a small delay. First up was the LA band Teenage Wrist. A positive externality of one stage being down is the bands on the other stages have a bigger audience, and there was a good crowd, especially considering it was Sunday and before noon. The fan base swelled for the next band, Dirty Honey, a bluesy throwback that is somewhat less hippy than Black Coffee was the day before. Dirty Honey is making several festival appearances this summer and they are also opening for Slash on a few dates. They are a band to watch and it is always a good sign when they are on the bill.

Amigo The Devil (Danny Kiranos) gave a delightful performance full of hate, love, revenge, and death. It is just him singing and playing a guitar part of the time and a banjo the other part of the time. He has a dark sense of humor, and if you don’t see the funny in it you are taking it all too seriously. One highlight was the appearance of two dueling acoustic mosh pits as fans played along by making gentle circular revolutions at a speed somewhat slower than a square dance but every bit as friendly and inviting. At the beginning of his final song, Danny looked up at the tons and tons of swinging lights and rigging above him and said, with a chuckle, “Worse case scenario … I love you guys.” Everybody laughed. It was getting gusty.

Later, during the three o’clock hour, The Struts gave a fantastic performance on the Stadium Stage including, as usual, lots of audience participation. If you don’t know about The Struts you need to catch up. I like them more every time I see them. They play good-time music in a rock/pop vein that always leaves you elevated. We needed that in the crowd because things growing a little darker in the sky. Indeed, after the Struts finished, an announcement was made that the stadium field had to be evacuated. You could stay in the stands if you wanted (it’s a soccer stadium), but you had to get off the field and performances were going to be suspended for a while. The high winds were making the stage riggings unsafe.

One stage was left, the Echo Stage. Music continued there most of the afternoon. The Interrupters were a highlight – pub music on a big stage. The lead singer, Aimee Interrupter, has astonishing charisma and she is simply a wonder. Yet another band I had never seen before that I want to see again – here we come across one more entry on the long list of great things about going to music festivals: hearing bands for the first time. The next band to take the stage was a bit of a surprise. White dinner jackets, black pants, and bow ties … that’s The Hives. Their sound reminds me a lot of Cheap Trick with its straight-ahead rock and roll with a happy-go-lucky sway. Halfway through The Hives set, the lead singer announced that the music would stop for a while after they finished because of the weather. I think we all saw this coming but nobody wanted to hear that the last stage was closing down, too. As it turned out, before they could wrap up their set an emergency announcement came over the PA in the middle of one of their songs stating that the venue had to be evacuated. All fans had to go to their cars, or if they were carless they had to go to a building off site. This happened just before 6:00PM. At about 7:30PM, the danger had passed so the all clear was announced and we went back in. The re-entry process was very quick.

Music resumed at 8:30PM with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts playing a somewhat shortened set on the Echo Stage. They played the hits everybody wanted to hear and re-energized the crowd. I love Joan Jett and hadn’t seen her preform for a long time. She sounded great, the band was tight, and we were having a good time again.

The Foo Fighters played on the Stadium Stage to close the festival, doing a longer set than any other band had performed. I have never heard anybody say Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters didn’t kick out the jams – they gave a great performance. The festival ended as it was intended.

All together, the weather took a big chunk of music away on Sunday. The Wave Stage was closed all day and all the comedy acts scheduled to be in the Comedy Tent were also cut. There were no acts cancelled on the Echo Stage, but The Hives set was cut slightly short by the emergency evacuation. On the Stadium Stage, The Distillers, Chevelle, and Bring Me The Horizon were cancelled because of the dangerous weather issues. Even so, there was still a lot of music that day, and the organizers, staff, and law enforcement did everything they could to deal with the environmental situation that no one caused.

Sonic Temple 2019 was a success. The art was beautiful and engaging, the festival experience with food, drinks, and merchandise was top notch, and the line-up rivaled all other rock festivals this year. I’m looking forward to round two in 2020.

[All photos by Wayne Edwards. The schedule below is from the festival’s Instagram feed, marked-up by me to indicate the cancelled bands.]
©2019 Wayne Edwards.

Sonic Temple 2019, MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, May 17-19, Part 3 of 3