This past weekend, hard cider brewery, Angry Orchard held their second annual Harvest Fest to celebrate their upcoming new hard ciders and have a good time with music and other events on the Orchard. The second annual festival came back stronger than the first event with more a ton of food trucks and music by Passafire, Iration and headliners Dirty Heads.
The grounds at the orchard & brewery can’t handle the crowds that were expected so we all parked in a grass field down the road. It was going to be tricky to find our cars later that night. As we loaded onto school buses, flashbacks of those awkward bus trips from grade school came flooding back. Luckily, it was less than ½ mile down the road to the orchard.
For late September it was unusually hot in the mid 80s and the afternoon sun was beating down on all of us as festival goers made their way to the gate. Despite a brief snafu with my passes, I made my way for the stage as Passafire were getting ready to come on shortly.
At the time I wasn’t sure if the photo pit was open since I appeared to be the only photographer, so I stayed close to the stage as I could in the crowd and took some shots of Passafire. Georgia based, Reggae Rock band who were really getting the crowd warmed up. I can’t say how the other performer was earlier in the day as I showed up just in time for Passafire. I think the crowd took to the band nicely, although, I think the faster, sometimes more rockier tunes had them looking for the food trucks behind them. Passafire played for an hour which was really generous for a festival type event. In fact, all the bands that performed had extensive sets. Passafire were finishing up their tour promoting their latest record, Longshot, which was released earlier this year. I particularly enjoyed “Growing Up,” and “Gone Yesterday.”
I have to hand it to Angry Orchard. They put on a fantastic festival with plenty for people to do and see. They even let fans roam the orchard grounds, well not too far, but certainly in areas near where the show was taking place. There were a ton of food trucks which made the food options interesting. I went boring with a burger and fries but handmade and fresh so it hit the spot. It’s a shame but I didn’t sample or try the hard ciders on hand. I blame it on being too damn hot for September and opted for water.
There was an hour or so break between each band’s sets, because there were local performers up at the Orchard’s Innovation House in a more acoustic type setting. I decided to stay put and people watch in between sets.
As the sun was setting, Iration from Hawaii were up next. I have been playing their new single “Borderlines” like crazy and was happy they played that in their 60+ minute set. I think Borderlines is a bit of a new area for them as it definitely is more pop friendly than their previous reggae rock tunes but it’s fantastic. A little crossover hit would be great for them and the reggae rock community. The festival grounds were really filling up at this point and I was in the photo pit for about 6 or 7 songs trying to capture as much as I could. Reggae rock shows in the pit are a little challenging, plus the pit had 4 giant bass monitors and when the real bassy songs came on, it would actually start to pop my hat off of my head. Iration were great and was perfect as the sun and afterglow that night. Iration played a majority of their songs off of “Hotting Up” and “Automatic.” Only two new songs from what I recall were played. I am really looking forward to hearing more.
With a little time in between sets from Iration to Dirty Heads, it was time to wander the grounds a little and you could see the hard cider and ahem, other things were starting to get to the fans in attendance. Some must have partied a little too hard too quick.
Dirty Heads came on at last, and the crowd erupted in cheers. Dirty Heads are definitely a bit more rap than reggae rock but have a lot of influences in their music. “Franco Eyed” from “Sound of Change” got everyone going crazy as it has some big rhymes and a great hook as the fans were all singing along. It was so loud in the pit (even with earplugs,) it was almost indiscernible as I couldn’t tell what song was being played. The band went on to play a lot of songs from their last two records, previously mentioned “Sound of Change,” and their latest self titled released. Dirty Heads have a new record coming out next month and a new tour forthcoming. Their latest single “Vacation,” was a popular one with the fans in the crowd. It certainly gets stuck in your head. Two days later, I’m still humming it out of nowhere. A few of my favorites were played such as “Dance All Night,” “My Sweet Summer,” “Oxygen,” “Red Light” and “Your Love.”
Still fairly new to the reggae rock world, I can see the reach of the music and fanbase constantly growing. More bands are popping up, and are leaping past traditional reggae artists in the Billboard charts. Every show I’ve been to the past few years have been packed and everyone knows the words to all the songs. It’s a testament to these bands and their constant promotion and touring to gain a hard work, fan loving reputation.
Here’s some of the images from each band: