Margo Price at 2018 Sloss Music & Arts Festival

Sloss Music & Arts Festival

2018 Sloss Music & Arts Festival Day Two – July 15,

Aug 02, 2018 Photography by Don Naman
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In this corner of the country they like to say, "the South will rise again."

Though probably not in the context of the phrase's original intention, Sloss Music & Arts Festival in Birmingham, AL went into day two of its weekend run with a heart full of good intentions and optimism.

It was only a day earlier, as Chris Davidson details, the festival was hit with inclement weather which saw attendees evacuated for hours and an abbreviated performance line up put in place. Sidelining acts like White Reaper, Matt Maeson, Lany, and Big Freedia.

With temperatures even higher than the day before and not a menacing cloud in sight, the atmosphere was positive. It seemed as though the glitter smeared, Hawaiian shirt clad masses were ready to forgive and forget as Super Doppler kicked off the final day's festivities.

Like a hug and a handshake, they welcomed everyone back and with their grooves the Norfolk psych rock band whispered into the ears of anxious festival goers to let them know, that weather permitting, everything would be right again.

Venturing over to the aptly named Monster Energy Shed Stage, Morning Teleportation were also doing their part to wash away the sins of the past, as they attempted and succeeded in teleporting fans to a place where music festivals are fun, free of bad weather and event mismanagement, and are extended close quarter get togethers under a bridge.

Though the great thing about Sloss is that, for a region plagued by years of civil inequity, financial hardship and a glaring lack of cultural recognition, the festival does a great job of providing big name guarantees and securing that all important platform for emerging artists looking for a way to break through and create a buzz.

Brent Cobb put it best when we caught up with him on his tour bus later in the day, "I've always been a fan of movies like Dazed and Confused and this is that atmosphere. I feel like our people are here. Not only do we need it as artists but also, I think as fans. There has always been so much great music, especially to come out of Alabama, that it's nice to have a place for everyone to congregate and get down together. It's nice to have folks show up and have one place we can be heard at."

From one Southern voice to another, as far as emerging artists go, none stood out more than local performer Taylor Hunnicutt, making her major festival debut on the Seasick Records Stage.

"I've been looking forward to this for so long and I woke up this morning and it didn't even seem real that it was actually today," Hunnicutt said. "It's the only thing like it here, we don't have another huge festival like this. This is huge, everyone comes together, especially the local and Alabama based bands. Every year I've come, I've enjoyed it and I'm just super lucky to be on this side of things now."

Hunnicutt's first EP hits streaming services later this summer and it's recommended for fans of fellow Sloss performers such as Nikki Lane, Margo Price and the aforementioned Cobb.

Speaking of Cobb and Lane, the modern country troubadours did back to back duties on the Blast Stage as The Brummies grooved across the way.

We highlight these two acts in particular as, Sloss being a music festival in the South, these acts saw the biggest crowds outside of the major headliners.

With authentic tales of down home Americana and outlaw trail blazing, their tunes left the lips of everyone who turned up.

And then it happened. Marijuana earring wearing Margo Price ushered in the apocalypse to central Alabama as she traded in her guitar mid-set to hop on the drums for an extended jam session along with her dedicated skins player.

The buzzers screeched out and the video screens soon tuned to the prepared inclement weather messaging, as thousands in attendance let out a collective sigh, a string of expletives could be heard from Birmingham to Montgomery. Someone should have told Price that swear words and celebrating "drug" use still have no place among Southern gentry.

The sky turned grey and for four hours, attendees were corralled underneath the overpass that nestles into the historic furnace site. Though for those trapped in the Monster Energy Shed Stage, they were treated to a special, albeit brief, acoustic performance from AJR, which only served to rile up the bridge people.

Around 9 p.m. the figurative floodgates were opened, and those faithful hordes set out to the major stages in an attempt to salvage what had become the wreck of Sloss Music & Arts Festival 2018.

Those who stayed were rewarded. GRiZ with his saxophone backed electro soul future funk picked up the party right where we had left it, the man and his slew of body moving hits accompanied by gigantic far out visuals may have been instrumental in preventing a destructive riot.

Those who left, were also rewarded. Word soon got out that in an effort to make up for their set being cancelled, hometown heroes St. Paul & The Broken Bones headed to Saturn in the nearby neighborhood of Avondale to perform a free, although inevitably sold out show to any of those lucky enough to make it in.

To end it all, highly anticipated and insanely popular Chris Stapleton crooned the still substantial attending masses into acquiescence, as the southeastern festival came to its inevitable, unfortunate and abbreviated end.

Through delays, frustrations and setbacks, Birmingham is a city that cares and endures. The city is emerging to find an identity and celebrates those also on that journey. This is communal storytelling at its best, and with this festival, the artists, the musicians, and the fans are setting a standard for what we will call, the new South.

With Sloss Fest's future potentially unclear, all we can hope is that the good times and amazing performances will be what lasts when looking back on the little festival that just wouldn't stop.

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Jennifer Nadeau
August 3rd 2018

You’d better talk to Willie if drugs and swearing don’t belong around here, my friend. Also Johnny, Waylon, Hank… the list goes on.

August 26th 2018

The festival was really great.. I really want to take part in it again.