AURA Music Festival 2014 Highlights

With Winter coming to an end and spring rolling into Florida, AURA Music and Arts Festival started off the festival season with a bang.

Thursday night’s pre-party started things off with the always grooving Funky Nuggets, Florida Jam stars, The Heavy Pets and Jacksonville EDM heroes, Greenhouse Lounge.

Friday began with lots and lots of beautiful people reuniting, as well as preparing for the crazy weekend ahead.

Members from The Heavy Pets took to the Vibes Tent stage shortly after, as their acoustic side-project, Fat Mannequin. I swear if I hear their song “Last Babies” again anytime soon, I may go crazy. Not that that song isn’t amazing live, it’s just far too catchy for its own good. South Florida reggae rebels, The Resolvers, hit the main stage next, for their first time. This group of talented musicians is quickly rising in the ranks of reggae stardom. All you have to do is see their set one time and you’ll be hooked. Stokeswood took to the Porch stage at 4:45 for their Hall & Oates Tribute set, which honestly was more of a big sing-along with Stokeswood getting down on stage as they always do.The music hall was next for some Monozygotik. By far, two of the best twins in the EDM game today, the Weinert brothers, Charles and Zach, are taking the scene by storm. Charles is the beat man and guitar in Greenhouse Lounge and Charles performs as a Trap-style DJ under the pseudonym Sir Charles. Together, the twins are Monozygotik and damn it is wonderful. Hands down, their set was one of the best over the weekend. In fact, I thought I’d never say this but the Music Hall ended being my favorite spot for shows at AURA. The sound was perfect, the lighting was perfect and above all else, the vibe was amazing and contagious. Probably one of the highest energy bands in the jam scene today, New Orleans natives The Revivalists, brought their southern rock and soul jams to the main stage just after Monozygotik finished. _DSC9906David Shaw is a fierce performer. While artists like Michael Franti get into the crowd and what not with their bubbly attitudes, Shaw gets up in the crowd with full emotion. Every time I see him perform, I feel like he’s directly trying to impart some sort of wisdom directly to those in front of him. I think Shaw will come to be recognized as the return of the great frontman in the jam music scene. Papadosio took to the stage around 9pm. What can I say about these dudes? Over the years they seem to have become pretty damn in-tune with what they’re doing on stage. Zoogma charged the Porch stage with a high-energy set of killer electronic dance tunes. The Joey Porter Superjam actually got pushed back to midnight on the amphitheater stage. This schedule change happened because the dudes from Conspirator’s flight got canceled due to bad weather. Same thing went for Kung Fu. Fortunately, Conspirator was able to make it out on Saturday but unfortunately for Kung Fu, they were snowed in and couldn’t make it. Thankfully, kung Fu is doing a Florida tour to make it up to the fans who were at AURA, here’s a link: was the last set of the night in the musical hall and was somewhat of a surprise set. EarthCry is Papadosio’s Anthony Thogmartin but on this special night he had Dosio drummer, Mike Healy, with him.
Sounds of Isha closed things out in the Vibe tent with a crazy awesome set of world influenced music, perfect for meditation. DSC_7160

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong started Saturday off with a funky set in the amphitheater. These guys are another band to definitely keep your eyes on. I expect to see them playing down here in the south much more.

Probably one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, Superhuman Happiness, hit the Porch stage for an early afternoon set. The way I usually describe this group of very clever musicians is that they sound a lot like Animal Collective, if Animal Collective could make coherent songs.
Polyester Pimpstrap was another one of those awesome stumble upon sets at the Music Hall. These guys brought the funk and started to get everyone really pumped for the night.Mike Dillon Band needs no introduction, just check out this video and you’ll either love them or hate em. All of Marco Benevento‘s music makes me want to run through an overgrown meadow while chasing wild horses. His music just puts me in my happy place. I’m sure it will have the same effect on you. Jimkata was my favorite set of the weekend. I had been given their album a while before they came to AURA and have grown to love these guys sound. I would liken it to MGMT circa “Oracular Spectacular” meets a dancey jamtronic band. These guys are only gonna get bigger, especially with their latest release “Feel In Light”.I’ve been a huge fan of Dopapod since I first caught them funking things up in the campgrounds at Bear Creek 2009. Needless to say, these Boston boys have become a powerhouse in the world of raging dance/jam music. Both they’re sets at AURA were killer to say the least.Future Rock is probably one of the most appreciative bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. The guys raged one of the hardest sets in the Music Hall and literally the second they finished, were in the crowd thanking people. I mean, Felix the bass player, jumped off stage and ran into the arms of his fans. It was pretty awesome.
Particle always brings the heat. Their set on the Porch Stage was no exception. Feeling invigorated with their recent return to the road with two new members, Particle took the volume up to 11 for their best set yet at Suwannee. Conspirator seemed a little off. There were no lasers, no real light show and the guys were on the Porch stage. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Porch but Conspirator is just better on the amp stage. I also think the guys were little thrown off by missing their set the night before. Lotus hands down played the two of the best sets of the weekend. If you haven’t had the time to check out the live recordings I recommend you follow this link immediately: Lotus Download Night 1The Werks always put on a great hyped up late night show.
Luke The Knife, Luke Miller of Lotus, hit the Silent Disco to play some of his disco dance tunes to the late night crowd.

Lucky Costello began Sunday Funday at AURA with set a of jammed out rock tunes.

Earphunk always gets me moving. These guys are going places and funking everything up everywhere they go. The Yoga program at AURA, offered by Boom Yoga was incredible. The second you step in the tent, you can feel the positive vibes. I’d say in general the yoga program at AURA was a huge hit and I can guarantee this exciting program will expand over the years. Catfish Alliance took to the Porch stage next. Big E, aka The Sexy Manatee, was out in full force, crawling across the stage, doing humping handstands on the chair and just plain old being a sexy manatee. Check out Catfish Alliance if you like the Beastie Boys mixed with some southern rock drinking songs.The Werks played an early afternoon set in the amphitheater. The guys played another ridiculous set which really got the crowd moving. Dopapod played an even crazier set on the Porch stage on Sunday than their set the night before. I had even asked Chuck, Dopapod’s bass player, before the show if I could request a song. He was all for it so I asked for some Weird Charlie. Low and behold these super awesome dudes not only played Charlie for me, they played it last. Lotus closed out the weekend with a heater of a set. I mean seriously look at this: Lotus Download Night 2

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Article compiled by Phil Sunkel

Photos by

Katie T Davis Photography

Sonsini Media

Phil Sunkel Photography


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