By Melanie Stangl
Music festival season is in full swing, with multi-day Deutschtown drawing massive crowds and massive talent last weekend, and Ladyfest promising to do the same this weekend. There’s still room for one-day events as well, and the Feed More Festival at Stage AE—taking place this Sunday, July 17th, running from 2-10 PM—is a testament to that. Featuring a great mix of local and national acts (as well as food trucks and a community arts marketplace), with all proceeds benefiting the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, it’s a worthy cause for both your wallet and your ears.
Feed More Festival is the new iteration of the three-day-long Pittsburgh Blues Festival, which has been held at Hartwood Acres, Riverplex at Sandcastle Water Park, and the Iron City Brewing Company factory over the course of its twenty-one-year run. Admission to the first day was free with a donated bag of canned goods to the Food Bank. The second and third days featured bigger names within the genre (such as last year’s Buddy Guy), as well as set ticket prices. While the event was much loved by blues enthusiasts and the community at large, the organization cites operating costs as the primary motivation for this year’s switch. The goal of such events, after all, is to raise awareness and funds for the Food Bank, and keep as many hungry families fed as possible. Scaling back to a single day, recruiting more widely-known artists, and taking advantage of the already-existing facilities of Stage AE rather than implementing their own all made sense in the interest of saving expenses, increasing profit margins, and putting that money back into where it’s most necessary—providing meals to community members in great need.
The lineup, spread out across two stages, includes Swiss Army, Angela Autumn, The Commonheart, Derek Woods Band, Lucy Dacus, The Stone Foxes, The Lone Bellow, and headliner Cold War Kids. (VIP ticket holders will also have their own exclusive stage, with performances by psych-folk rockers The Mixus Brothers and the bluesy Pawnbrokers.) Several mouthwatering food vendors will be available as well: Brassero Grill, Rogue BBQ, Franktuary, Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, BRGR, and Giant Eagle Chicken. Finally, the indoor I Made It market will allow local independent artists to set up booths and sell their wares. Between the great food, the art to peruse and purchase, and the fantastic music, Feed More is shaping up to have all the elements of an incredible festival.
All kinds of rock lovers can find something to appreciate in this roster. Swiss Army brings well-crafted, punk-tinged alternative, while Angela Autumn offers folky, singer-songwriter fare, and a gorgeous voice that recalls Brooke Annibale with slightly more twang. The Commonheart have made a big impact on Pittsburgh’s music scene, opening up for Pirates games on ROOT Sports, and drawing a packed house and an out-the-door line’s worth of people at Deutschtown last weekend. For good reason, too: the incredible stage presence of lead singer Clinton Clegg, backed by a staggering roster of talented instrumentalists (including keys, multiple guitars/vocalists, and a brass section) always make for an unforgettable performance. If you missed them on the 9th, this is a great opportunity to make up for it. Rounding out the local list is the Derek Woods Band, whose namesake lead singer/songwriter is the son of Blues Hall-Of-Famer Tim Woods. They’ve garnered significant attention with their grittier take on the rock-and-roll jam-band genre. Woods is a Pittsburgh native, though the group formed in Los Angeles, and as a result they’ve toured both the East and West coasts. Having shared a stage with notable musicians such as Rusted Root, Lisa Marie Presley, and Willie Nelson’s son Lukas (to name a few) speaks to their impressive skill.
Feed More’s selection of national acts provides even more incentive to attend. Richmond, VA native Lucy Dacus has made waves (such as earning a spot on TIME’s “Best Albums of 2016 So Far” list) with her debut album, No Burden, and breakout single “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore.” Her charming alto voice blends perfectly with her pop/college-rock-informed instrumentals and honest, personal lyrics. The Stone Foxes, meanwhile, are a high-octane blues-influenced rock group from San Francisco—featuring energetic guitar parts, a gruff, powerful lead vocalist, and spirited harmonica solos. Their presence pays homage to the Food Bank’s prior musical history, with an undeniably fun, modern twist.
Those who attended last year’s WYEP Summer Music Festival at Schenley Plaza might remember The Lone Bellow, who played just before headliner Martin Sexton. Feel-good Americana folk-made-modern, with country influences that are genuine rather than kitschy, this is a band with heart and musical prowess in equal measure. Their Pittsburgh stops are only occasional, so you won’t want to miss the opportunity to see them.
Closing out the night with their brand of upbeat, blues-tinged alt-rock are the Cold War Kids, nationally recognized for their singles “Hang Me Up to Dry,” “Miracle Mile,” and their more recent alternative-chart-topping hit “First.” The band, despite several member changes over their twelve-year existence, have continued to branch out musically and steadily grow their fan base. They have multiple nationwide tours and appearances at Bonnaroo and Coachella under their belts, as well as performances at the Austin City Limits Festival and the iHeart Radio Music Festival (among others) later this year. Commanding higher-pitched vocals deliver charged, honest lyrics, and soar over piano riffs, expressive guitars, and pounding, inventive drumbeats. This act promises to be a big draw, and a solid conclusion to the festival.
It’s exciting and gratifying to see so many people work together to put on this event in the interest of battling hunger here in our Pittsburgh community. But it will only be a success if enough people come out, show their support, and enjoy a full day of excellent music for a damn good cause.
A schedule of each band’s performance times can be found here. Tickets are $40 online and $50 at the door, so don’t wait to snag yours. VIP tickets, which include various perks such as a meet and greet with The Lone Bellow and exclusive bars and bathrooms, are also on sale for $125. Check out the event page on Facebook here (and the official website here) for more information.
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