If the mild winter and early arrival of spring has got you stir crazy and ready for festival season to arrive, fear not. In years past, the season really hasn't arrived in Green Country until early to mid-May, when Bixby's BBQ & Music Fest and Tulsa's annual Mayfest roll around. Last year, however, Easter Island made a bold move from summer to late spring in an effort to both set itself apart and escape the brutal heat that accompanied its inaugural event in late June of 2010.
This year, the festival returns for its third year with more bands and more space in a new location, giving the event an opportunity to grow further. Previously held on a plot of privately owned land in east Broken Arrow, the festival moves to the north this year, taking over the Valley Sports Complex (23920 E. Keetonville Rd.) in Owasso.
When discussing the reasons for the move with event organizer Nick Bernson of Moai Broadcast, he shared that the festival had simply outgrown the previous space, as last year's event left no more room for camping. The move to Valley Sports Complex gives the festival more than enough room to grow with over 350 acres of land -- which is larger than the grounds for Wakarusa. The move also means no more sound curfews at midnight, so this year's festival will have music flowing until 4am.
The new venue already has much of the needed infrastructure in place, so electricity, roadways and water for bathrooms and vendors will be less of an issue. More than anything else, however, the move secures Easter Island's future and allows opportunity for it to continue to grow.
This year's festival keeps a focus on local and regional talent, but the success of previous years and the additional space has allowed organizers to bring in a few headlining acts like Ishi and Montu on Friday night and Fatty Lumpkin on Saturday to extend the reach and attraction for the festival.
In keeping with the festival's growth, Easter Island will have three stages this year. Nightingale Theater has stepped up to sponsor the Easter Island Main Stage, while Fassler Hall sponsors the second stage. The Colony is also involved this year, bringing out a full-service bar for this year's festival and hosting a third stage which will not only host bands, but a comedy club stage and film screenings each night.
Although the festival has grown each year, Bernson and his team have not forgotten the initial focus that they started Easter Island with. When discussing the festival with Bernson, he still refers back to his experience at Phish 8 and recalls how so many festivals can be overwhelming. Instead of creating an overwhelming, hectic experience, Bernson's goal with Easter Island was to create a festival that not only celebrated good music, but allowed festival attendees to relax and enjoy the weekend and not feel exhausted or overwhelmed by the end.
With that in mind, set times are once again staggered, allowing attendees to catch as much music as possible with little overlap and reduced stress over choosing which bands to see. By starting early (3pm on Friday, April 13, and 1pm on Saturday, April 14), staggering set times and allowing bands to play well into the morning hours, this promises to be one of the most enjoyable weekends of the festival season.
As in years past, the festival permits primitive camping with small grills and enclosed fires. There is also limited RV camping available this year, but reservation for those spots are NOT being taken. In addition, The Doghouse will be on hand as the official food vendor of Easter Island with multiple stands on site offering a variety of food options.
As the festival continues to grow, organizers have continued to diversify and add new features to the festival. Part of that includes the OKC Comedy Club showcase each night at the Colony Bar. Films will also be screened at the Colony Bar each night, providing a change of pace and a place to relax for those looking to get away from the live music for a bit.
Yoga classes will be returning again this year in what has become a staple of the Easter Island weekend experience. In addition, the art aspect of the festival is growing this year with art installations by Erin turner, SIAME Foundation and Cheese Factory Radio already confirmed and others initially planned.
Most important to most festival attendees, however, is the music and this year's lineup is stacked with over 33 live acts and more than a dozen DJs planned for the weekend.
Friday night's lineup includes The Haters, Travis Fite, The Del Toros, The Claptet, Hosty Duo, Captain Comfy, Montu and Grazzhopper on the Fassler Hall stage while Chris Lee Becker, Whitetail Buckdeer, Gogo Plumbay, Panda Resistance, Ishi and Digital Beatdown cover the Nightingale Theater Stage. The Colony Bar features the Comedy Club stage at 5:45pm, followed by a set by Vibesystem at 8pm and film screenings from 9pm-midnight before wrapping up with Desi & Cody, Phoenix Brothers and Mannachine.
Saturday kicks off at 1pm on the Fassler Hall stage with Bungalousi, followed by And There Stand Empires, Spivey, Jesse Aycock Band, Recorder, Dead Sea Choir, Stine Trio and Ego Culture. The Nightingale Stage then kicks off at 2pm with Pidgin Band, followed by Wink & Beau, the Fiddlebacks, Desi & Cody, Paul Benjaman Band and headline sets by The Moai Broadcast and Fatty Lumpkin to round out the night. The Saturday schedule for the Colony Bar stage kicks off with Steve Lidell at 5:15pm and the Comedy Club at 6pm with films form 7pm-midnight and DJs rounding out the night with Frank grimes, Demonic, Nutter, H2O and Monad Turk.
Gates open at Noon this Friday, April 13, for Easter Island 2012 at Valley Sports Complex and admission is $30 in advance or $35 at the gate for the entire weekend. If you opt to arrive on Saturday, a single day pass will be $20. In addition, Bernson and the Easter Island staff realize that many will be attending the sold-out Avett Brothers show at Brady Theater on Friday night, but that doesn't mean you can't hit Easter Island afterwards. Anyone who shows their Avett Brothers ticket stub at the gate on Friday night will get $5 off their admission and still be able to catch the night's headliners: Ishi and Montu, as well as Panda Resistance, Captain Comfy, Grazzhopper and Digital Beatdown.
Living Dead. This year's Easter Island Festival includes The Dead Sea Choir and over 30 other bands.
Also of note is the fact that Easter Island has teamed up with Land Legacy this year to help raise money for land preservation, with a portion of ticket sales going to the non-profit organization's conservation efforts. More information of the Tulsa based group can be found at landlegacy.com.
Perhaps most important to note with this year's location change is how to get to the festival and its new location at Valley Sports Complex. Directions to the site can be found at easterislandfestival.com, both on the main page and on the direction page. It is important to note that although MapQuest will direct you to arrive via Highway 167 from Catoosa, the road has collapsed and you will not be able to make it to the festival grounds from that direction. The best way to arrive is to take Highway 20 east from Highway 75. Further details, including full band schedules, are available on the event website.
With a new site, more space and an even larger band lineup, this promises to be the best Easter Island Festival to date and a great way to kick off the festival season -- and this is just the beginning.
A Big Weekend
Not only is this the weekend that kicks off festival season with Easter Island, you can't forget about Red Bull Gypsy Café, the Red Dirt festival that we discussed here last week. The event is Friday night, April 13, in Stillwater, with an amazing mix of Red Dirt artists. Proceeds from this weekend's show in Stillwater benefit the Red Dirt relief fund, which helps Red Dirt artists with medical expenses and associated needs.
We've also got not one, but three local CD release parties this weekend, offering up something for everyone. First up, Johnny Badseed and the Rotten Apples releases its DIY studio debut, Fill Yer Boots, with a show at Back Alley Blues & BBQ on Friday night, April 13. This one's a psychobilly mix of folk, bluegrass and punk that promises a rowdy good time.
If you're in more of an indie-rock mood, The Dull Drums will be releasing their latest disc, Skin You Alive, with a CD release show at Crystal Pistol on Friday, April 13, with The Fabulous St. Knicholas Cage opening the show. The band will also be recording the night's set, with intentions of providing an additional live EP to those who buy the new CD at the show.
Finally, the weekend's release parties wrap up on Saturday, April 14, with the more straight-forward, blues based rock of David Castro Band. Castro releases his debut, Forward Parade, with Jason Ferguson opening the show at The Hunt Club at 9pm as the band kicks off its release tour with a routing that takes it into Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and even Tennessee for a show in Memphis. Catch these guys now, as they've got a big summer planned.
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