This Saturday, February 18th, thousands and thousands of people will descend to the West Bank of the Flats for Brite Winter. Now in its 8th year, what started out as a small party put together by a couple of bored college kids has evolved into the biggest music and arts festival in Cleveland.
Last year’s festival was also in the Flats after a 5 year run in Ohio City. And while one might have expected a smaller turnout due to a change of location away from the already popular West 25th Street, a day of uncanny weather with temperatures reaching 67 degrees made it the biggest yet.
This year’s lineup boasts over 40 local and regional acts. There are already some great articles out there highlighting acts to see – Brite Winter Fest 2017 Guide: All the bands, art and more you need to see on Cleveland.com from Cellar Door alum Nikki Delamotte and 14 Bands to See at This Year’s Brite Winter on Cleveland Scene’s site – so we’re going to focus on the newbies. While there are some local favorites who have played before, there are over 25 bands this year that have never played Brite before. So without further ado – here are 10 awesome bands that have never played Brite Winter before.
Mourning [A] BLKstar
These guys seem to be everywhere you turn as of late, and for good reason. Their sound is a completely unique blend of soul and what-the-fuck creating a completely fresh new thing that Cleveland has obviously been starving for. I’ve heard more than one of my usually cynical, grumpy, virtually arms crossed Facebook friends go bananas for this band. 9:55pm at Mulberry’s
Wesley Bright and the Honeytones
While new to Brite, Wesley Bright is definitely not new to Cleveland. With his first band The Hi-Lites and now the Honeytones, Wesley has been captivating audiences at every venue in town. A breakout ensemble planting their flag firmly as the leader of the North Coast Soul Revival. 11:00pm at Music Box Upstairs
The Ohio Weather Band
Boasting a combination of great songwriting, great musical chops and the original voice of singer Corey King, these boys from Akron frequently make the trek up to Cleveland to spread their infectious hooks. 8:00pm at Music Box Upstairs
This fairly new band only has a handful of shows under their belts, but their with bands like Dikembe and Heart Attack Man. They’re a kind of 90’s slop, grungy powerpop throwback but upbeat, with insanely catchy melodies. Every song on their 4 track debut gets in your head. 10:25pm at McCarthy’s
Funkyard is a mammoth ensemble of ten players that just ooze chops. To call them a cover band would be an awful mis-characterization. Do they play some non-originals? Sure. But we’re talking about things like robust, layered, re-envisioned arrangements of Michael Jackson’s PYT. 10:55pm at Mulberry’s
Punch Drunk Tagalongs
Another newbie in the area just starting to gain some traction around town, Punch Drunk Tagalongs create a reverb soaked, fuzz filled atmosphere of psychedelic grooves. But what truly makes the eyebrow rise is vocalist Alisha Stahnke who goes from a haunting smokey croon to the scream of a wild banshee in the drop of a dime. 4:25pm at the Stage Under the Bridge
Montage is made up of three juniors from the Cleveland School of the Arts. I recenly saw them perform while judging the HS Rock Off and they completely destroyed everyone else performing. Such confidence, stage presence and abilities are rare for kids this young. Not a lot out there for video, and even this great track doesn’t do their live performance justice. 3:50pm Cover My Meds Stage
The Whiskey Hollow
Vocalist and songwriter Maddie Finn is a monster talent. And I must admit, I was slow to get hip to The Whiskey Hollow. This is only because I was so sad to see Envoi break up (who coincidentally I saw live for the first time at Joy Machines for Brite a few years ago). But there’s simply no denying the immense talent here. The truth is regardless of which direction she goes musically, she’s going to create something beautiful.
There’s a disease infecting our music venues and bars, and that disease is called apathy. Somewhere along the way crowds went from dancing and cheering to standing still arms crossed, and maybe just MAYBE a toe tap. And then that disease started to spread to the performers themselves, and this overall ‘we’re not supposed to care about what we’re doing vibe’ started spreading. Like somehow, it’s uncool if you show in anyway that you actually enjoy writing music and performing it for people. Well do you know who is completely immune to this disease? Tim Moon. It’s very clear Tim loves every minute of everything he’s doing. He dances, he engages with the crowd, and he even (GASP!) …smiles! Crazy right? Come get some of these catchy songs and positive vibes in your blood at 6:25pm at the Stage Under The Bridge.
Ex-Astronaut, formerly known as Field Trip are one of my favorite bands. I had the pleasure of being in a lottery league band with Chris Hoke so I got to see his unbridled creativity first hand in real time. The fuzz, the flange, the soaring guitars, the soaring vocals all create this beautiful mess of sound that you just want to get lost in. 7:55pm at Mulberry’s
For more information about Brite Winter and to see the full music schedule go to www.britewinter.com