“If you build it, they will come.”
This couldn’t have been more correct for Festival Republic’s first large festival in the US, more specifically Orlando, Florida. Crowds were drawn from all over the country, joining together to watch acts varying widely from Blake Shelton to The Killers, as well as dozens of smaller acts if you wanted to find something new or take a break from the big names. The festival drew thousands each day, focusing on a younger crowd on Saturday, and a more festival-experienced crowd on Sunday. Among the festival goers we met, there was a couple from Denver, a man from Cleveland, and dozens of people from Michigan, coming all the way to Florida to see their hometown heroes Kid Rock & Bob Seger close out the weekend.
On Saturday, the festival had many eager fans waiting at the gates more than an hour before the first band was set to go on. With a total of 4 stages (as well as an “Art House” that had live music and a smaller setup by Stage 2 for between sets) there were plenty of bands to see throughout the day. We were non-stop jumping from one stage to another trying to get the full experience from 11 AM until The Raconteurs took main stage at night. The biggest issue with this setup was that there were too many acts that we missed out on because there just weren’t enough hours in the day. Festival Republic did an amazing job, for the most part at making sure there was a band for every genre, any time of the day. I just wished The Avett Brothers, Gavin DeGraw, Pete Yorn & States weren’t all at the same time. Even if you couldn’t make it to every band out there, next year promises just as many amazing acts and hopefully a few returning acts.
Day 2 brought the country festival diehards out to a warmer, sunnier day in downtown Orlando. While most of the acts wouldn’t match the same type of audience from the first day, several acts such as Los Lonely Boys and Buddy Guy can command the attention of any crowd. In addition to the music, local food trucks such as “Korean BBQ Taco Box” made an appearance for some cuisine variation. It came as a welcomed variation as most trucks were sold out of their food before Kid Rock took the stage. The stadium packed in for Kid Rock’s set at 7 and stayed full until well into Seger’s set after. The two Detroit legends performed together and kept the crowd enticed by Seger’s first festival gig in years.
Overall, the entire weekend was a success to all in attendance. Central Florida has never had such a large group of artists play at once and it’ll certainly be welcomed back in the future. The festival could have benefit from a better VIP section, as the stage setup didn’t allow for the best viewing experience from the sides. The festival’s staff did an amazing job keeping everyone organized and the show running on time. Full Sail University’s students of the Show Production and other entertainment degrees made up a decent part of the staff, providing the students with the experience of working a huge festival that really is the top of the live music industry. Keep an eye out for next year’s details; if it’s anything like this weekend’s show, it’s worth every penny for even a single stage’s lineup.