Music fans united in Carroll Park this Saturday for Baltimore’s Shindig Festival. It was a perfect storm of marvelous music, wonderful weather, fantastic food from local restaurants, and enthusiastic music fans. Finally a real music festival in Baltimore with headliners Joan Jett and Dropkick Murphy as well as crowd pleasers Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reverend Horton Heat, Gaslight Anthem, and the Kelly Bell Band.
I wasn’t sure if paying double the admission price for VIP was worth it, but I am SO glad I did. The close parking promised with my VIP ticket couldn’t have been any closer, as it was right across the street from the entrance to the festival. There was a special, much shorter line, for folks with VIP tickets, so I didn’t have to wait in line to get into the festival – and it was a LONG line. Included with my VIP ticket was a Shindig Festival tee shirt and cd of the artists who were performing. My VIP creds allowed me access to the VIP tents, one next to each stage. Besides providing shade and seats, the VIP tent had its own bathroom, bar and food. At first spending time in the VIP lounge was just for comfort but as the day went on, it was out of necessity. The lines for the bathrooms and for food and drinks were ridiculously long outside of the VIP tents. And since it was right next to the stage, there was no real reason to leave, but I did walk around the festival a couple of times just to take it all in.
I arrived at the Shindig Festival just as the Kelly Bell Band started their set. They are a Baltimore Blues band who have been playing together for 18 years, actually they are a mix of blues, rap and rock. I stood fairly close to the stage for their set and had a blast!
I walked around to see what the festival had to offer. I sat at a picnic table to enjoy my pit beef and pepsi and ended up talking music with fellow fans for the next two sets, Jimmie Chicken Shack and The Hold Steady. I didn’t mind missing these two bands (I could still hear them) because talking with other fans about music is part of the fun of a music festival. But when Reverend Horton Heat started I politely excused myself and made my way toward the stage. They were not at all what I expected. I thought they were supposed to be rockabilly, but they were no rockabilly I had ever heard, so without stopping I continued into the VIP tent and found a nice spot on the couch. Since the VIP tent is right next to the stage, I could hear and see the bands. Next up were the Mighty Mighty Bosstones followed by Gaslight Anthem. I arose from the couch and walked toward the stage – but still within the confines of the VIP tent. The lead singer’s voice reminded me of Ben Nichols from Lucero. I liked them and will give their music a closer listen.
Something about music festivals make me hungry, so I enjoyed a yummy lobster roll before venturing outside the VIP tent to secure my spot for Joan Jett. I stood up at the front rail on the left end of the stage. After 45 minutes, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts finally appeared and rocked the Shindig Festival in an hour set that included hits Cherry Bomb, Do You Wanna Touch Me, Bad Reputation, and I Love Rock and Roll.
The Shindig in Baltimore was truly a great music festival! There were two stages on either end of Carroll Park for alternating bands. This allowed everyone to see every band and for every band to be on time. This was a music festival for all ages, not just teens and young adults. In fact, I would say the average was 30. It was lovely to be outside enjoying the beautiful weather listening to great music with fellow fans. I really hope the Shindig Music Festival continues in Baltimore for years to come.