The last time I went to Bunbury Music Festival was in 2015. It was actually the first music festival my boyfriend and I had ever gone to together. I remember singing along to Bleachers, dancing in the rain to Tame Impala, and air guitaring to Black Keys. So when I had the opportunity to partner with Bunbury this year, I jumped at it.
Bunbury Music Festival is held every June in Cincinnati, OH at Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove. Jack White, Post Malone, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Dropkick Murphy’s were just a few of the band who graced the Bunbury stages this weekend. Bunbury had a super diverse lineup this year that included everything from pop, to hip-hop, to punk, to emo. While at first I thought the lineup was a little all over the place, it clearly worked from them, because Bunbury SOLD OUT all three days. It was a festival for the masses.
We saw so many incredible acts during the weekend. Royal Blood, Fitz and the Tantrums, Young the Giant, The Chainsmokers, Misterwives, Third Eye Blind, Griz, Andrew McMahon, Foster the People, Incubus, Bummers, Black Pistol Fire, Manchester Orchestra, Dropkick Murphy’s, Post Malone, and Jack White.
By far my favorite performance of the weekend was Misterwives. Mandy Lee is one of those singers who almost sound BETTER live than on the studio recordings. She captivated the audience with her energy and raw talent. I saw literal jaws drop as she hit her high notes.
Dropkick was one of the most fun shows we saw. Something about their performance just made you feel alive, and their smiles filled the whole park.
Chainsmokers put on one of the best shows, visually. They threw everything but the kitchen sink into their performance. Pyrotechnics, confetti cannons, lasers, fog machines, projections – they had it all!
Post Malone was the susprise of the weekend. He was one of those artists we were coy about, like “Well we’re here, we may as well check him out.” But his performance was down to earth, and heartfelt. Like I said in my day three recap, there was nothing super special about his actual musical performance – he performed over a track, and he was the only one on stage. But watching him hold back tears while he talked about how far he’s come, was heartwarming. He is still so humbled when tens of thousands of people show up for his performances and know every word. I hope he never loses that.
You can read more about the other artists we saw in my daily recaps!
Cincinnati is always a fun city to explore. And any festival that’s held on a river front is golden in my eyes. Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove is the perfect location for Bunbury. There were four stages this year – two main stages, along with the beautiful riverfront stage, and a smaller acoustic stage for local acts. The river front stage alone makes the location.
The VIP Experience
This year we got the full Bunbury experience: 3-day VIP passes. This was my first festival experience with VIP access. I always thought that VIP was overrated. I didn’t understand – I mean, you get to enjoy the music either way, right? But I get it now.
Getting into the festival was quick and easy with the VIP entrance. While the GA line was a couple dozen people deep, we literally walked right in.
One of the biggest benefits was the VIP viewing area on the main stages. No more fighting to get close to your favorite artists, VIP had at least a third of the front lawn just for us. That alone is a huge value. I was within 20 ft. of all my favorite performers, the entire weekend.
The VIP areas also had private bars with discounted drinks. A pint of beer was $3, a mix drink was $4, bottled waters and sodas were $1. If you’ve ever bought drinks at a concert or festival before, you KNOW how affordable that is in comparisson. I was sipping on the “Bunbury Buzz” all weekend, which was just tequila and orange Red Bull. I originally just ordered it for the souvenir Bunbury cup it came with, but it ended up being my drink of choice the entire weekend. I mean I knew I had to stay up late to publish my daily recaps, so why not have a few Red Bulls? And sure, throw some tequila in while you’re at it!
The VIP tent by the main stage was the place to be. It was air conditioned, and had a guest DJ between bands. This VIP area also had a a much larger viewing area, which included cabaret tables with seats in one section, and patio furniture in another. This was also the tent that had catering. Burgers, hot dogs, tacos, pretzels, brownies – the perfect sustenance for three days on your feet, in the sun.
Oh and don’t even get me started on the VIP restrooms. We had our own private, air-condition restrooms, with actual running water. Do I even need to explain why this was so great?
What They Did Right
Compared to 2015, Bunbury has improved so many things. The first thing I noticed was the entrance. They added way more lines to make it faster and easier to get in. And with VIP, you could basically walk right in. I remember waiting in line for over an hour in 2015 and the shock when I saw only one woman scanning tickets at the gate. I was thrilled that they resolved this in the last few years.
In addition to drink tents all around the grounds, they also had people walking around with beverage hawkers to make the lines that much shorter. There were also free water stations to keep all the Bunbarians hydrated.
The misting station was another happy surprise. Especially Saturday when it was scorching. Every festival should have a misting station.
They also had a lot more port-o-potties this year, which kept unnecessary lines from crowding the lawn.
One of the smartest improvements they made was they were prepared for the rain. Rain was inevitable on Friday, so they had the sound equipment covered until each band went on. Even the lights were bagged!
Bunbury Music Festival improves every year. They listen to their audience, which is the best thing a festival can do. I now see the light on splurging for VIP, and Bunbury does a great job of adding valuable things to your experience. It took me awhile to understand where they were coming from when booking the lineup. What other festival books Chainsmokers and Incubus as headliners? Not quite polar opposites, but pretty damn different. Well, they could have just booked all the Post Malones and Chainsmokers of the world, but that would lower the festival age quite a bit. And if you’re only appealing to 18-year-old festival girls, then the alcohol sales plummet. They wanted to book a lineup that appealed to everyone – young, old, somewhere in the middle. And they succeeded.
A huge thank you to Bunbury Music Festival for this partnership. It was the perfect way to officially start the summer.