KIRTLAND, Ohio — There’s a sense of wonder surrounding the music festival experience. Everything from the outfits and hairstyles, to the collective dance moves, to the non-stop musical atmosphere, everything is designed to provide an idyllic sunny day for music fans.
It’s no wonder Elevation Group opted for Wonderland-themed branding for its flagship festivals in Ohio and Indiana. And it was, again, an apt title for the WonderStruck Music Festival at Lakeland Community College, which was taking place July 9-10. (Previously the festival was known as LaureLive, before WonderStruck’s 2021 debut.)
The grounds of Lakeland have been transformed into a family wonderland, with inflatable obstacle courses, interactive games, vendor villages and plenty of festival food options waiting for lunch and dinner.
The day was headlined by The Lumineers, who approached the audience through the use of a stage extension that weaved its way through the crowd. At the start of the folk-rock band’s set, drummer Jeremiah Fraites climbed onto the platform from below with his drums.
Fraites and singer-guitarist Wesley Schultz used the platform for performances of “Cleopatra”, “Ho, Hey”, “Flowers In Your Hair”, and “Charlie Boy”. At other times, they stayed on the main stage to jam with the rest of the band’s musicians.
The Lumineers drew the biggest crowd of the day, and it was a dedicated crowd too; many audience members sang each song.
It was a fitting end to the first half of WonderStruck 2022, which kicked off at 1:30 p.m. with a rousing performance by Akron’s Detention – a 2020 Tri-C High School Rock Off winner. continued to feature young, up-and-coming pop artists, including soulful pop singer Mills and Brooklyn singer-songwriter Trella, whose set was delayed 30 minutes due to technical difficulties. Once on stage, Trella anchored her set of cinematic pop songs with her versatile pipes.
Neil Frances – the duo of Jordan Feller and Marc Gilfry – took to the main stage in the afternoon, with audience members dancing in the sunshine to the band’s funky, vintage-sounding songs. Screens on either side of the stage showed huge disco balls, reminiscent of a few decades of their inspirations on songs like “Show Me The Right” and “It’s Like A Dream.”
Attendees jumped between the three stages, rushing between acts to catch bands like Smallpools, 24kGoldn, Tai Verdes and several bands that performed on Radd’s smaller, darker stage: Hembree, Jack Harris, Cousin Simple , 90s Kids and Niko Rubio.
Verdes particularly impressed, with lively renditions of his famous TikTok tracks “A-OK” and “Stuck in the Middle.” But he challenged to limit himself as a social media sensation, with his latest single “Last Day on Earth” also showcasing his soulful sounds.
“A-OK” was performed a second time, in remix form, by 24kGoldn and Verdes together, during 24kGoldn’s set. The two paired well, bringing a new vibe to the earworm of a song.
All Time Low played just before The Lumineers, delivering the biggest rock of the day. The group, which experienced anonymous sexual abuse allegations against him over the past two years, has consistently drawn a large, condensed crowd that has come together in songs like “Monster” and “Dear Maria Count Me In,” as well as a cover of “Blinding Lights” by The weekend.
A few bands stepped out of the mold, but on Saturday there were times when the vibey indie-pop mix faded. The lineup’s undercard included surprisingly similar pop acts, preceding some of the day’s biggest hits.
That being said, the mix satisfied attendees, especially young music fans who showed up for the whole day of fun.
Tomorrow, WonderStruck continues with performances from Vampire Weekend, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Saint Motel and more. Tickets are still available for the day, at $99, at wonderstruckfest.com/tickets.
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