Photography by Dave Fi, Story by Jen Schratz
This past weekend, June 13th-15th, fest veterans and virgins gathered together on the rolling hills of Winding Brook Farm in Warrington, PA for the fifth Opple Topple Music Festival. Although Thursday night threatened with flash flooding and muddy grounds, the stage and sound crew managed to persevere through the unfavorable weather and get everything completed unscathed. The dedicated behind the scenes crew consisted of Ryan Opperman, Jaciee Lam, Andrew Levin of Stage Trip Productions, Phil Shor and Steve Holmes. Running sound was Dom Gambone, of Black Rock Productions, who flew in from Fort Collins, CO and was assisted by Ron Kohl. They made sure everything was in order and sounding smooth in spite of the weather.
On Friday evening as the clouds broke and the rain reduced to a drizzle most of the festival goers began to gather under the side stage which was completely tented and dry, equipped with a full stage light rig. Dirk Quinn Band got the night started with their high energy improvisational jazz funk and got people dancing. Following was Happy Dog who always delights and adds energy to the crowd, especially since frontman Jesse Wagner was celebrating a birthday, everyone was in extra high spirits. Everyone sang happy birthday and celebrated with a giant cake.
Next Pure Jerry stepped on the stage to get everyone sawing to the sweet sounds of the Dead. A special surprise followed when super group Free Keys, comprised of keyboard players Mike Borowski, Dave Hawkins, and Jayar Bass jammed out with special guests, drummer Adam Pasqual from Psychedelphia, Jesse Wagner from Happy Dog and guitarist Michael Morrow from Pure Jerry. They let the crowd’s vibe take them over and filled the tent with some purely satisfying jams.
As the eerie, supernatural glow of the honey moon rose higher in the sky the bonfire was lit and raged throughout the night bringing all walks of people together like little bugs in the night gathering around the glowing light. Acoustic guitars and drums began to pop up around the circle and a favorite festival tradition commenced, the late night bonfire jams.
The sun raged overhead Saturday morning and made the grounds more easily accessible and dry, calling festers from their tents and to the stage. People rose early, grabbed a bacon egg and cheese muffin, a freshly juiced pineapple, beet, lime combo to rejuvenate and dropped a chair in front of the stage for Doylestown School of Rock who rocked the entire festival. These kids pulled out all kinds of classic rock hits that echoed throughout the venue and got everyone awake and ready to put their rage face on. Chestnut Grove then followed with a refreshing indie sound; like Kings of Leon and the Avett Brothers swirled together.
As the sun descended behind the clouds and darkness crept in, the nighttime weirdness set in. Philadelphia natives Catullus took the main stage by storm and enticed all the wanderers to flock together, throwing their shoes to the side and dancing together. With their fusion of high energy psychedelic funk rock, they got the crowd buzzing with excitement. As mentioned in the preview, they surprised fest goers with a phenomenally executed “Above the Waves” by the Disco Biscuits. Serious Biscuit fans swarmed the stage to check and make sure it wasn’t DB on stage and were pleasantly surprised to see a new band kick it with such high energy and talent.
After Catullus, the Bansai Bills raged the side stage while the Main Stage was prepped for the headlining slot. Now, with night sky fully blossomed, Morning Fatty, hailing from Florida, filled the air with their funk reggae rock and gnarly guitar solos. After delighting the audience it was time for the late night to come into full effect with Vibratek and Still Hand String Band closing out the night under the rage tent.
The weirdness continued until the wee hours of Sunday morning when festival virgins and veterans were now a fully forged community of like-minded music lovers. Opple Topple succeeded in creating a vibe that was welcoming and friendly, with just the right amount of weird to keep people interested. Hopefully they will return next year even bigger and better.
Photos by Dave Fi