Ah the 90’s. The good ole days when our phones flipped, internet was dialup, Razorbacks were good at basketball, and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony dominated the radio. This year, you can relive about half of that thanks to Mike Anderson reviving the hogs and Riverfest continuing their march toward music people listened to 20 years ago.
RiverFest today announced their 2015 featured band lineup which included 90’s favorites such as Sheryl Crowe, 311, Better than Ezra, Macy Gray, Robert Earl Keen, Sister Hazel, and of course, Bone Thugs. In fact the most surprising part to over half the lineup is the fact that they are still producing music. Throw Arkansas’ own Kris Allen in the mix who only managed to fill about half of South on Main the last time he performed in Little Rock.
It feels like every year when the lineup comes out the vast majority of the comments we hear are some form of “this is the worst lineup yet”. This year is no different. The Riverfest committee did decide to forego the typical barely-able-to-stand-on-stage late 60’s and early 70’s bands that have plagued the lineup for the past several years.
In their place some little-known bands that might offer a hidden gem or two. Sam Hunt, Starset, and Pretty Reckless are all bands out within the last 5 years that may (or may not) be one good song away from relevancy. Girl Talk, Big K.R.I.T., and Galactic are all artists that have been around for about 10 years and have yet to make a name for themselves. Don’t count them out as a solid performance however.
Every year Riverfest tries to defend their increasingly poor lineup with the relatively low ticket prices. It is true if you look at similar multiple day music festivals the tickets are in the $200-300 range. I believe there is an identity crisis that will continue to plague Riverfest until it decides what type of music festival it wants to be. You can’t be both a national featured act festival and also a $20 for three-day festival.
If money is the driving force, keep the price at $20 for three days but highlight local and regional artists. Each year Riverfest has a small selection of local bands trying to get their break that are so poorly promoted by the festival it is laughable. Embrace this, love the culture of the city and the surrounding region. Make it an even bigger platform for those acts to showcase their talents as opposed to a bunch of post-rehab bands trying to relive the glory days.
Or turn it into a $250 music festival like everyone else.
Until then, the only thing saving this year from being the worst ever is the absence of an overpaid and otherwise pathetic CeeLo Green.