My excursion to Musikfest on Wednesday proved to be a fruitful endeavor.
In five hours, I was able to devour more than just a pile of seasoned chicken and shredded cheese stuffed in a flaky taco shell the size of my face.
I discovered new bands, nearly got caught up in a swing dance and (momentarily) considered doing the "Watermelon Crawl." (What? It is a catchy tune.)
I also filled my belly with what can best be described as a banana split parfait: a plastic cup stuffed with two layers of banana pudding, crushed graham crackers, crushed pineapples, banana slices, diced strawberries and topped with whipped cream and a cherry. I could feel my arteries clogging when the attendant lifted the lid to what appeared to be a troth of yellow pudding. It was glorious.
Fueled by strawberry lemonade and Take-A-Taco, I began my pilgrimage bopping my head to Black Tie Stereo on the north end of Main Street. A cross between My Chemical Romance and The Killers (with just a dash of Maroon 5), the band's exuberance and energy was infectious; a talented quartet primed for making plenty of noise in the years to come.
I was then greeted by the acoustic stylings of the Pocono Duo as I made my way down Main Street. The band was wrapping up a solid rendition of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side."
From there, my ears led me to the Festplatz stage. The Phillip Fox Band was smack-dab in the middle of a full-blown hoedown (are hoedowns still a thing?). Their brand of Southern-fried country rock had as much muscular groove as it did two-step boogie. It was, hands-down, one of my favorite performances of the night.
Over on the stage, Brazil's The Moondogs were howling something fierce as they treated the crowd to thunderous bursts of bluesy hard rock. If the members of Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones decided together for a few beers and a backyard jam, the resulting sound would be The Moondogs. I was only able to catch the last handful of songs, but it was enough to convince me to purchase their CD, Black & White Woman. (Yes, kids, CDs still exist!)
It was not long before the mugginess was becoming too much to bear. So my girlfriend and I decided to relocate to the SouthSide and cool off inside the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks' air-conditioned Lyrikplatz.
Singer-songwriter Emily Mure charmed the room with a voice smooth as honey and melodies just as sweet. Her performance was followed by Bethlehem's own Dina Hall and Beth Sherby. Hall and Sherby delivered an equally impressive set, demonstrating why Hall is one of the Lehigh Valley's hardest-working homegrown talents.
Upstairs on the Musikfest Cafe stage, Chelsea Reed and the Fairweather Five were feeling especially jazzy with a terrific throwback style and swagger. Reed's pipes were nicely complimented by the vintage swing of the Fairweather Five.
Outside on the Americaplatz lawn, festival faithful were grooving to the bombast of the colorful MarchFourth! Marching Band.
We soon hopped back on the bus and returned to the north side, where Musikfest staples Jimmy and the Parrots were midway through a solid rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" at Plaza Tropical. (Side note: I stopped believing around the time when Journey and "Wagon Wheel" became mandatory set list fodder for every cover band in the tri-state area.)
Before venturing back up to Main Street, I poked my head inside the Festplatz tent. Popular local country music band Crazy Hearts had the dance floor packed with 10-gallon hats and line-dancers of all ages. Once the final notes of "Watermelon Crawl" rang out, I knew it was time to call it a day.
Before traveling back to Easton, I was able to watch Brooklyn-based Best Behavior blast their way through funky indie rock; the perfect way to cap an evening packed with terrific music from all corners of the globe.
Be sure to visit LehighValleyUnderground.com for more Musikfest coverage.