Story by Tony Bonyata
Boasting one of the strongest music festival line-ups this summer, Hedgpeth has secured the talents of both well-known artists, such as The Flaming Lips, They Might Be Giants and the only scheduled Primus show of the summer, along with up-and-coming artists such as Kings of Leon, Hot Hot Heat, Phantom Planet, Minus The Bear, SundayRunners and The Apparitions (the latter two both on the Lake Geneva-based label Machine Records), along with dozens of other talented national acts.
A major coup of this event was landing one of the pioneering bands of alternative rock, Primus, who'll be performing as the headlining act on Sat., July 29th. With Primus' leader Les Claypool currently on tour supporting his first solo album Of Whales and Woes, not to mention a book reading tour in support of his first novel, South of the Pumphouse, and working on a distribution deal for a mockumentary film that he wrote and directed called Electric Apricot: Quest for Festaroo, it seems as if it would have been impossible to also squeeze in a festival show this summer with Primus bandmates Larry LaLonde and Tim Alexander. But as Claypool himself alluded, "I think they offered us a big wad of dough [laughs]. Primus is like this big, hibernating bear that pokes its head out every now and again. There's got to be a big tempting hunk of salmon to get the bear to poke its head out, and I think that's what happened. But it also sounds like a cool festival - The Flaming Lips are playing the night before us and that, to me, is very exciting. I love the Flaming Lips. It looks like a really great fest and it got us all really fired up, so we're going to do it."
"Other than that," Claypool continued, "I don't really know much else about the fest. You know, I'm the guy who gets on the bus and I usually don't know where I'm going. I usually find out the day before what city is next. I don't tend to look at my itinerary and I've always been like that. The tour for me is sort of one big blur."
While Claypool admits that his favorite places to play are old theaters because, as he puts it, "they're steeped in history," he also said that, "I also like the notion that tonight I'm playing [a theater like] the Electric Factory in Philadelphia and then tomorrow I'm playing this really big festival. It's great having a variety. I tend to use food metaphors, like I love eating sushi, but if I eat it every day I get bored with it. So it's good to have something different now and again - on all fronts of life."
Definitely the biggest draw of the entire festival will be The Flaming Lips, who will take the stage as the headliners on Friday, July 28th. After twenty-three years together and eleven studio albums, co-founding member Michael Ivins recalled when they first formed, "I think we made jokes when we first started like, 'Hey, what are you doing for the next twenty years?' I just think we all felt that this was what we really wanted to do - no matter what happened."
While Ivins admitted that they won't have the furry animals on stage from previous tours, he also promised that, "it's still going to be an overblown spectacle." And that's what Flaming Lips fans have come to expect; from the huge Space Ball that frontman Wayne Coyne walks atop the audience in like a giant hamster ball, to megaphones, balloons and onstage fan participation, this is definitely one act to see live.
Hedgpeth is just one of the U.S. music festivals that has Ivins and The Flaming Lips excited to perform at, and the musician likens it to more of a European style music fest. "Europe has had this tradition of large music festivals for, my gosh, probably forty years now," Ivins explained, "and it's really a part of their culture. Everybody talks about it. You can get into a cab and people who don't really know anything about music will know about the Reading Festival or Glastonbury, and they've even gone to one at some point. When Lollapalooza started back in the early '90s here in The States, Perry Farrell and the organizers decided to make it into a traveling circus and it would just show up in your town and it was like, 'Here's the festival. We're bringing it to you.' And in '95 or so, for whatever reason, it started to not do so well. We were lucky enough to be on the 1994 Lollapalooza line-up with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and the Smashing Pumpkins, which was amazing. What seems to have happened, as the idea of traveling with a huge production through the summer didn't work out so well, is that we're slowly catching up to the European way of doing it, which I think is pretty awesome. Not only do they have these types of festivals in England, but they're all over Europe - Sweden, Holland, France, they're all over the place. It's really kind of cool. It's getting more like Europe here in the States, where the distances between festivals are a lot shorter. It's like if you lived somewhere in the area of Chicago and Milwaukee you could go to the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago and then there's Hedgpeth in Wisconsin."
Despite the proximity of similar indie music fests in Chicago, Michelle Van De Bogert, general manager of Hedgpeth, also sees it as a great opportunity for music fans. "The more music the better," she said, "that's the way of indie music. Its great to see that fans have choices for their entertainment. All of these music fests in the Midwest are great festivals, and each of us offers something a little different. There's room for everyone."
One of the things that make this particular festival a bit different from others is that it offers a campground for music lovers to pitch a tent and spend the entire weekend without ever having to leave the festival grounds. As Van De Bogert puts it, "Camping is definitely something that sets us apart and it's a great way to enjoy a festival. Why go home? Stay straight through!"
"The Shadow Hill Ranch itself really sets us apart also," she continued. "It's a great setting for a music festival. There is a natural concert 'bowl' in the grass seating with a great setup for each of the stages. It's full of 'green space' as we say and is a beautiful place to hang out and listen to some great music. In addition, there will be good food and drink, and lots of arts and crafts vendors."
Chicago-based rock group SundayRunners will also be performing at the festival on the 29th. Not only did the band's frontman Randy Diderrich grow up in southeastern Wisconsin but he and his band are currently recording the follow-up to their 2005 self-titled debut in both Lake Geneva and Chicago. Diderrich admits that the new record will definitely be more of a band effort than the first. "The first SundayRunners record, for all practical purposes, was my solo record," the singer stated. "The one we're working on now was written, rehearsed and arranged as a band. Our guitar player, Mason Brown, is really stepping in as a key songwriter. Musically it's not all that different, but it's definitely shaping up to be more of a rock record."
Regarding the Hedgpeth Festival Diderrich adds, "It's nice that it's similar to some of the music festivals in Chicago, but it's in more of a nature and camping setting, which I think is great. You couldn't pull that off in downtown Chicago. There'd be zoning problems and too many crazy people running around. It's definitely better suited to a more laid-back state like Wisconsin. I use to go to Alpine Valley [Music Theater in East Troy] when I was a kid but you couldn't stay overnight. Of course, half the show was the party in the parking lot prior to the actual show."
"I think this is a great thing and I hope it's the start of something that they do on an annual basis," he added. "Like all these type of things, they start out as an experiment to see how the first year goes. Depending on how the press and support is for it, I don't see why it couldn't be an annual thing that would get bigger and bigger."
It looks like Diderrich and music fans around the Midwest can look forward to this in the future as Van De Bogert stated earlier this week, "We do plan to make Hedgpeth Festival an annual event. The response has been such that we think the fans and community will enjoy having this as an entertainment option each summer. There is definitely a built-in audience - this area is full of music fans. We have seen it from the regional response - our phones ring off the hook with people asking, 'Is this lineup really coming to our town?' The festival is also generating excitement from greater distances. People have ordered tickets from as far away as Austria. Although, our campaign focuses on our more immediate geographic area - Chicagoland, Milwaukee, Madison, Rockford and college campuses in Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa and Southern Illinois. We expect to bring in tourism from a wide area."
For more infomation log onto: hedgpethfest.com
What: Hedgpeth Music Festival
Where: Shadow Hill Ranch, 2305 Lance Dr., Twin Lakes, WI
When: Friday July 28 and Saturday July 29
Gates open: Noon both days - All ages show
General Admission Price: $30 per day (plus applicable service charges) or $50 for
both days (plus applicable service charges) [Note: Price Increase on July 22nd]
Camping Price: $35 per day (plus applicable service charges)
Tickets can be purchased at the Shadow Hill Ranch
Box Office, by phone at 262-279-6960 or online at: hedgpethfest.com
Friday, July 28th|
The Flaming Lips
Peeping Tom featuring Mike Patton
They might Be Giants
Minus The Bear
Rock Kills Kid
Rocco Deluca & The Burden
The Go! Team
The Black Angels
Bottle of Justus
Trampled By Turtles
Red Letter Agent
Saturday, July 29th
Kings of Leon
Murder By Death
Ultra Sonic Edukators
The Dog and Everything
Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers
Hot Hot Heat
Los Amigos Invisibles
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