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Home > FEATURED > WonderRoad Festival // 6.17-18.23 // Garfield Park

WonderRoad Festival // 6.17-18.23 // Garfield Park

Article and Photos by: Nick Durcholz


Indianapolis, Ind. – Superstition bursts into the mind of the most fervent skeptic when a festival experience goes particularly sour – or in the case of this festival – sweet.

Merely a bumbling two years old, WonderRoad was/is perhaps the most streamlined, crisp music festival experience in personal memory. The scale is certainly closer to hometown, grassroots festivals, and that automatically gives it an advantage in the organization game compared to the music festival titans like Bonnaroo. Nevertheless, besides a small parking miscommunication, I have never attended a concert whose gears fit quite as snugly to tell such a precise harmony as those that WonderRoad foretold. Hyperbole, right? Nope. As an adult looking for a polished festival experience, one simply cannot hope for much better. So, hats off to the WonderRoad crew!

That isn’t the real honey in the hive though, is it? What really matters is the tunes. Fortunately, the music was just as refreshing, dynamic and bold as the coordinating. What was truly remarkable about the music, was the multi-genre tapestry that the fest painted, cohesive and careful to not leave any set of ears unfancied.

The first notes witnessed upon my arrival were that of Beach Weather. Self-explanatory, chill, good times tunes. Pro tip: always try to see at least one band on the smallest stage of a festival. They will shock you in the best ways, and their thankfulness will come through in waves. Beach Weather was no different. Shortly after, the first band on one of the two main stages. This was X Ambassadors. They began with the trusty anthem “Renegades.” A solid tune with a poignant message. The song was in the limelight for a while there, but with good reason. It is even better live. In general, their energy was contagious and authentic. In my ears, they seem like a natural evolution of the marriage of rock and hip-hop with a tinge of pop styling. To do this while displaying volumes of genuine passion is very admirable.

Next was COIN. Bright and shiny, (uh, yeah) but while keeping an interesting, jilted and supremely danceable rhythm.  The lead singer took me back in time dressed like he just finished a day at my religious high school. A very youthful energy but galvanized with an aura of wisdom. Skipping to the adjacent stage, I was right on time for the Local Natives. Anything but, they are from Los Angeles and exuded that effortless cool. Their music was smooth and light but lacked much of any feeling or sound that stood out to me personally.

Then, the first night’s headliner, the fifties diner heroes from the nineties, Weezer. Akin to their set piece, a supersized steering wheel complete with the rest of the dashboard and radio, it was familiar and nostalgic. A warm, genuine nostalgia though, not a hollow and capitalistic. They laid out crowd favorite jams such as “Undone” and “Pork & Beans.” The older songs still had a lively sound like the band still had immense pride in the them. This is admirable, especially for a band as seasoned as Weezer. They were as much fun as I had hoped!

One day down, onto the next… A sunny and equally overcast Sunday, yeah, in the Midwest those are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps they are not anywhere? Man, the weather is more fucked these days than Barb’s scalloped potatoes. At any rate, the first band up was Overslpt. Unfortunately, their band name was also largely self-explanatory. Not bad by any means, just not particularly exciting or notable. Up next was the regal, crystal sprite, Meg Myers. She was one of my favorite performers of the whole festival. A presence and sound that crowded the clouds. Not just boisterous, but also filled with appealing rhythms and mystery. Both commanding and ethereal, Meg Myers creates an unforgettable aural experience.

Stage flip to Andrew McMahon in The Wilderness. It was my first experience with this band and I found them reminiscent of Coldplay or a more joyful/earnest version of Ben Folds. Either way, super passionate, polished, and genuine in sound and lyric. The positively they gave off was so cathartic! Next up was Tegan & Sara. Their names precede them, but they lived up to every one of my expectations and more. The energy was palpable and the lyrics were full of heart. They even showed a little comedy flair (and leg) which I was not expecting at all!

Last time I saw Michael Franti & Spearhead live (which was also in Indy) I was essentially a teenager. My angsty attitude saw the band as a novelty act. Nothing more than pure kitsch. With a much more mature musical taste, this time around, I believe I saw them for what they really are: a megaphone for joy. In these tumultuous times, Franti and crew are the ideal elixir. These folks have BIG LOVE! How am I feeling, Mike? Feeling great, thanks to you. He also invited a young member of the audience onstage to sing with him. One of the most wholesome things I have seen in person in a minute or two!

Last act I had the pleasure of seeing was the one the absolutely blew me away. Marcus King came out garbed up like a pool shark from a 1960’s dime store novel. I was skeptical immediately. Alright, what is this guy’s deal? It was not long before his soulful, searing voice and blistering, bluesy guitar made his entire look and vibe instantly credible. He certainly made a lifelong fan that day!

I cannot stress how smooth and enjoyable this festival experience was. I kept awaiting a dramatic blowback which never came. Thankfully. Jury is still out on whether that is more of a comment on the times we live in or my own state of mind, but either way it was an incredible experience. WonderRoad lacked the danger of a festival that teenage me would have enjoyed. After all, no one asked me if I wanted any morphine… But hey, on Father’s Day weekend, WonderRoad is %100 father approved.



Nick Durcholz
Heart of an Explorer. RAW Natural Born Artist. Wordsmith. Amateur Ornithologist. Beer Enthusiast. Music Aficionado. Old Soul. Gamer and proud dad.