St. Johns County Fairgrounds
St. Augustine, FL
The Harvest of Hope Festival is a unique event that benefits the Harvest of Hope Foundation, providing assistance to migrant farm workers throughout the U.S. Last year the festival debuted at the St. John’s County Fairgrounds in St. Augustine, attracting about 5,000 more attendees than the foundation’s founders expected. This spawned an enthusiastic word-of-mouth marketing campaign, leading to promotions with small radio stations, music magazines like Paste, and music blogs. With the addition of a Twitter and Facebook page, the festival utilized social media in their favor, allowing for higher ticket prices. However, those prices are still at least half of what large corporate sponsored musical festivals like Bonnaroo demand.
Determined to keep things fresh, this year’s Harvest of Hope offered new attractions like a beer garden that included Magic Hat and Blue Moon beers. Additionally, for those brave souls without back problems, a mechanical bull seasoned the weekend with a real country flavor, although few took advantage of the fun. More fun could be found among the carnival rides and games, which faced a long row of tented vendors. But besides tents full of merchandise, this year’s fest also had a tent completely dedicated to non-profits along with a small stage for folk and acoustic acts. While the festival was set up to benefit the Harvest of Hope Foundation’s cause, the real attraction was obviously the music.
Harvest of Hope spawned an enthusiastic word-of-mouth marketing campaign, leading to promotions with small radio stations, music magazines like Paste, and music blogs.
Friday was full of New York acts, starting off with Brooklyn-based Bear in Heaven; their electronic fused indie rock creeped across the cloud-covered crowd who blew bubbles at the band. Immediately after, spectators received their daily dose of cuteness during Freelance Whales’ set on Stage 2. Each member juggled multiple instruments and harmonized with lead singer Judah Dadone who also played the banjo. Cymbals Eat Guitars’ spirited front man/lead guitarist aptly nicknamed Joseph Ferocious, bared his teeth, looking pained as he pumped out noisy tunes and spat jumbled lyrics. Also noteworthy was Portugal The Man, whose soulful jams put air guitars in many an audience member’s hand.
Saturday was a contrast of punk and hardcore on one main-stage and folk/singer-songwriters on the other. Torche represented the former with their local-brewed brand of sludge metal. Vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks’ facial expressions resembled Jack Black’s and kept things entertaining as he slid on his knees like a real rock star. The true standout of the day had to be Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band. The only main stage blues band, Rev. Peyton’s plucked and stomped with Breezy Peyton playing a mean washboard.
Sunday’s highlights were many and varied but included marching band Mucca Pazza who entertained both in the crowd and onstage. DIY ska-punks Bomb the Music Industry! put on the rowdiest show of the fest, sharing the stage with Andrew Jackson Jihad, their fans nearly tearing the stage apart. However, experimental crazies Man Man, upstaged headliners Broken Social Scene with their all white outfits, war paint and feathers. Even though Broken Social Scene premiered their new single “World Sick,” only their dedicated fans remained at the end of the night.
Review and Photos by Liana Minassian
Check out last year’s coverage of HoH here
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