words & photography | KYLE WOLFF

A fat sun rotated with a chubby moon throughout Bellwether Music Festival held on the Renaissance grounds in Waynesville, Ohio, this past weekend. The alternative festival is in its sophomore year, and it didn’t disappoint.

Walking the grounds was a euphoric experience filled with the typical festival garb—parachute bondings, bubbles, glitter, glow sticks, and tall boy spiked seltzers. However, a unique twist shined about the tunes—the renaissance. Festival goers could participate in a late-night silent disco, practice their archery skills, or throw an ax while their goblet of beer waited on the sidelines.

There was rock star jousting and sword fighting. Imposters of Billy Gibbons from Z.Z. Top took on and defeated KISS’s Gene Simmons in the hilarious, overly staged rendition of rock-and-roll meets the renaissance. It kept the crowd laughing between sets.

The lineup bopped around from transient and mellow (Real Estate, Beach House) to dance- party pop (STRFKR,  Twin Shadow, Caroline Rose) to head-banging rock-and-roll goodness (Guided By Voices, Sego) with a hint of singer-songwriter folk (Katie Pruitt, Young Heirlooms). Throw in some indie rock (Pinback, Cold War Kids, Cake) to round out the alternative roster.  Old-school bands met contemporary acts. It was one for all ages.

Friday night, the crowd chanted for Cake underneath the filling moon. A giant silver disco ball hovered over the stage, and an eighties anthem blared out of the speakers. Out came frontman John McCrea in a tiger tee holding his trusted vibraslap. Festival goers sang along as he gallanted about stage with expressive arms.

Old fans and newbies came out for Saturday’s headliners of Guided by Voices, Pinback and Beach House. The festival fashion was as entertaining as the music. Furry backpacks met butterfly winged Dr. Martins. It was a head-bopping, slightly sunburned day two as the crowd moved through the festival grounds with their PARTY fanny packs. Occasionally, a horned lady with elf ears appeared out of the trees with a newfound music festival air of confidence.

Bubbles floated straight out of neon swords. As the sun fell into the corn-filled fields of central Ohio, Pinback dah, dah, dah, dahhed into dusk. Everyone threw their head into the beat. It was a nice throwback for the crowd with the occasional yeah! paired with a solo fist shot into sky.

A chill hit the air late Saturday evening sending hints of late-summer into fall. A mermaid statue hung from a ship adjacent to the Shipwreck Stage perhaps serving as a guide into the night ahead full of mystical journeys and late-night swaying through the grounds of renaissance Ohio.

Beach House ended the festival with a starlight set of dream-pop tunes—a forecasted sleep scape filled with smoke and silhouettes. The crowd barely caught a glimpse of lead vocalist Victoria Legrand as she hung back over her keyboard singing melodic chants into the air. The beach balls and bubbles were still afloat but somehow seemed like a more mellow rotation into atmosphere as they evaporated nicely into the star-dot sky.