There is something truly special about those small festivals that have local bands and small crowds. From the very moment we arrived at Beesonstock in Cisne, Southern Illinois, we already became friends with our neighbors to the right; and within a few more minutes became friends with our neighbors to the left. Both nights we arrived towards the late afternoon; enjoying the waning daylight and just slightly cooler weather.
Probably the most distinctive characteristic was the size of this festival, having only one small, wooden stage where all the bands played. I also have to say it was nice to be able to bring your own food and drinks; especially when the whole weekend, including camping cost $20! With a total attendance of 650, the venue was comfortable whether you stayed near the stage or took a break by your car as you played Cornhole, Hillbilly Golf or tried out twin hoops for the first time. Again, this environment just promotes a friendly, almost family-like camaraderie among the attendees.
Mostly local bands play this event, some with great promise. To be honest of the line up this year, I only knew of one band, The Smoke Rings, and they ended the first night with a great performance. It is refreshing to see a woman, Stephanie Smith, rock out the lead vocals. Though the entire band’s talent is evident, especially when they play their originals. The other band that really stuck out on Friday was the South Street Jam Band, especially when they covered one of my favorite bands Tool, with a great rendition of “Sober.”
I was expecting the number of people to increase tremendously on Saturday, but though the number of people did increase, it really wasn’t evident until later on in the night. Even then, it remained the perfect number that allowed everyone plenty of space to get their groove on. The different bands each brought their own sound, and it was a great mix, guaranteed to satisfy any musical palate. Downstate brought a fresh reggae sound to the event, while Cluster Pluck was more traditional blue grass and then SMASH! gave us an electronica, Soundtribe-like jam.
Overall it was a great time and a ton of fun. I feel like I am a culprit of seeking out those bigger festivals with all the big names; but that I shall be no longer! That special something that these small local festivals have is something I urge all of you to check out for yourselves. You will meet some cool people, enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and definitely find some new bands to follow. Rock on Beesonstock, Rock on.