Nateva Feva–Or Maybe it’s Just a Sunburn
It’s hard not to write a review about Nateva Festival without comparing it to Rothbury. Which really isn’t fair to Nateva- after all, the festival- which was held last weekend in Oxford, Maine- is much smaller, less expensive, and located in a completely different geographic location than it’s Michigan predecessor.
But when you step in as the replacement for one of last year’s most talked about festies, especially when it’s held on Fourth of July weekend, you should be prepared to step into some pretty big shoes.
What resulted was a fun but somewhat generic festy experience.
Don’t get me wrong, of course I had a great time. What kind of d-bag wouldn’t enjoy a three-day festival complete with sunny weather, the cleanest portopotties EVER, and 15,000-ish really chill attendees?
But throughout the weekend I couldn’t help feeling like Nateva was using some festival template that had proven
successful in the past, without really bringing anything new to the table. It was as if somebody said, “we need X amount of big bands, X amount of late-night shows, and a couple fun, quirky things to occupy these hippies’ time and we got ourselves a festy!”
Of course I realize that a lot of this is due to the fact that it is a brand new festival that still needs time to flesh itself out. And for their first go-round, it wasn’t too shabby. Let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?
Music: My only complaint with the music is that there wasn’t enough of it. There were two main stages set up side-by-side, and two barns to hold the smaller acts and late-night shows. Rarely were two bands playing at the same time, and sometimes there was no music at all. There were some advantages to this, though, like being able to watch whole sets of bands that I might normally miss at a more jam-packed festy.
The musical highlights of the weekend included EOTO (played a late-night set which resulted in me dancing by myself for
hours until they ended and I stumbled back to my tent like a tweaker as the sun came up), Passion Pit, DJ Theory (member of the Problemaddicts who was spinning on the last night after the Further show), the Heavy Pets and the Alchemystics (*see below for tangent about this band). I was also really impressed with the newest Grateful Dead incarnation, Furthur, who performed on the 4th and featured a nice little fireworks show after a U.S. Blues encore (*cough* Rothbury throwback *cough*).
* The Alchemystics might be one of the most hardworking bands on the festival scene right now- these guys are everywhere! They played on Sunday in the barn and killed it- especially when they brought up a couple members of brother-band The Problemaddicts. They all did a cover of “I Don’t Wanna be a Player No More” and brought the house down. Their stage presence was incredible and I was about two cups of Sunset Blush away from jumping on stage with them because they looked like they were having so much fun. Of course, these dudes are all so nice they probably would’ve humored me for about three minutes before having security take me away. My only issue with the Alchemystics’ set is that it should’ve been longer and on the main stage.
And I would be remiss not to mention the Flaming Lips, who put on quite an entertaining show following STS9 on the second night of the festy. Well, entertaining until the singer, Wayne Coyne, would not stop going on these emotionally-driven tangents about peace and love, and even claimed he wouldn’t stop performing some song until the war was over. I think he’s actually still in Maine playing it right now.
Other stuff: It’s hard to describe the layout of Nateva, because my friends were camped about 30 seconds from the stage so I didn’t have to do too much walking, but for a small festival is was pretty spread out which was nice, especially when it came to dancing and camping space. There was also this whole controversy about off-site vs on-site camping (or if you’re an idiot like me, having three day passes that I mistakenly bought which ended in tears and a go-cart ride from a hot black man named PJ. Mmm). In the end, the only area of the festival that had strict wristband security was the entrance to the music, so even those that did not have on-site camping were able to camp with their on-site friends.
Despite the festival’s infancy, there still were a few elements of Nateva that set it apart from others that have come before it. To the right of the main stage area there was an awesome Magic Hat beer garden that moved so efficiently you never had to wait in line to get a drink. There was also a “karma wash” on the music field, which was like a car wash, only instead of putting a car
through it your put your body through it. And instead of getting cleaned with water you were cleaned with good vibes.
One of the biggest hits of the weekend was the Silent Disco (for those not “in-the-know” this is a dance party where everybody is listening to the same music through headphones and watching cool shit on a projector). It went all night long and allowed dem’ hippies to dance into the wee hours of the morning without making a sound, save for a couple “woop woop!”s and “Natevaaaa!”s. I think this, along with the karma wash, should be focused on and expanded upon for next year’s Nateva- these are things unique to this festy and could help carve out its identity.
Of course, who knows if we will ever even see a Nateva again. I think it has a lot of potential, but just needs some time to spread its wings. Fortunately for this festy, if it does indeed come back around for next year’s 4th, the only thing it will have to top is itself.