It’s just not summertime without music festivals. Some students around Eastern Michigan University may have traveled to Indio, Cali. for the famous Coachella, they might be going to Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn. during June or Lollapalooza in Chicago during April. We can’t leave out Warped Tour, the legendary punk rock touring festival, and of course there’s Howell, Michigan’s annual BLED Fest.
BLED Fest is an acronym for Big Love’s Education Festival, a reference to its roots. It has come a long way in the past eight years, from its start as Hartland resident, and then-high school junior Ben Staub’s end of the school year celebration taking place in his basement and backyard, to the grand event it is now. BLED Fest 2012 is being held at Hartland Performing Arts Center on May 26, its fifth year at that location.
BLED Fest has become a local staple in the early summer. It has steadily grown every year, last year topping out at almost 3,000 attendees, and has even been mentioned in Alternative Press magazine.
There are 70 bands on this year’s roster and six stages. Bands of all different genres are showcased, ranging from ska to metal. In addition to the big names playing this year’s BLED Fest, like The Early November, The Wonder Years, Comeback Kid and The Swellers, many local bands who have been influenced by them will be taking the stage. Ypsilanti-based hardcore band SycAmour will also be performing.
“This will actually be our first time playing BLED Fest,” said SycAmour vocalist Jeremy Gilmore. “Earlier this year we were also fortunate enough to play Toledo’s Jamboree Festival. That was our first major festival. We’re all really glad to be given opportunities like these.”
The camaraderie between the bands at BLED Fest is great. They’re not in competition; they’re all sharing the spotlight with each other. Some band members will even make appearances onstage with other bands. Not to mention, being fans of the multiple genres that play at BLED Fest, they can wander the festival themselves.
“There are a lot of bands on the bill this year that are relatively new to us, so we’re excited for the entire day, really,” said Gilmore. “But we’re familiar with and pretty stoked for Endeavors, Wilson, The Crimson Armada, The Plot in You, Of Virtue, American Opera, Ice Nine Kills, Strangers to Wolves, Volumes, Siren the Escape and Inhale Exhale.”
Once SycAmour is finished focusing on BLED Fest, they’ll be setting out on a small tour and working on their new EP, “Obscure.”
“No festivals or anything like that line-up for now. I’m sure we’ll fill out our weekends though,” said Gilmore. “We’ve also recently released a cover of Adele’s ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ that’s getting some pretty positive feedback.”
BLED Fest is an all-age, alcohol-free show. At the high request of the attendees last year, this year’s show’s vendors will also be serving vegan and vegetarian friendly foods. Each year Fusion Shows produces BLED Fest and this year it’s being sponsored by Michigan Rehabilitation Specialists, LXR Biotech, Black Numbers Recordings, No Sleep Records and Capeside Records.
A festival just wouldn’t be the same without merchandise and swag. While most of the bands will obviously have merchandise for sale, there are also plenty of vendors, many of which are Detroit or Michigan based, who will be attending. No Sleep Records, Run For Cover Records, Topshelf Records, Capeside Records, Specs Howard School, Black Numbers, Eternal Energy Shot, Kalamazoo Coffee Company, Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. and Fall Press Screen Printing will all be there, just to name a few.
Tickets for BLED Fest are $20 in advance and $25 at the door the day of the festival. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and you can view the full lineup, schedule and map at www.bledfest.com.
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