Cleveland WonderStruck Music Festival concludes with AJR, Trombone Shorty, Portugal. Man, more (photos)
KIRTLAND, Ohio – The WonderStruck Music Festival wrapped up its first year with solid lineup and plenty of sunshine on Sunday.
Well, that was its “first” year known as “WonderStruck” – the music festival formerly known as LaureLive changed its name and location after its fourth and final Laurel School Show in 2019. Afterwards a year late due to the coronavirus pandemic, WonderStruck was born on Saturday, July 24 on the expansive grounds of Lakeland Community College, 7700 Clocktower Drive in Kirtland.
The festival’s first day, Saturday, featured headliners Third Eye Blind and Walk The Moon, as well as a host of Northeast Ohio talent in the pre-night shows.
READ MORE: WonderStruck Welcomes Music Fan Crowds Again on Saturday (Photos)
Sunday’s overall lineup found a bit more appeal than the festival’s first day – supporting acts included the shimmering indie-pop styles of Texas band Dayglow, dreamy singer Jade Bird and festival favorite Trombone Shorty.
Dayglow singer Sloan Struble wore a vintage costume while performing slightly funky indie-pop songs like “Nicknames”, “Fuzzybrain” and “Woah Man”. A massive crowd gathered around the Lakeland Stage for the band’s midday show, when the sun was at its peak. Later, Trombone Shorty brought dinner time energy to the Music Elevates stage, pouring out effortless trombone solos and dancing around his backing band during his energetic set.
One artist stood out like a sore thumb from the rest of the day’s sets. KennyHoopla (aka Kenneth La’ron) took over for Noah Cyrus after Noah Cyrus retired from the festival lineup just days before WonderStruck took place. The Cleveland pop-punk native got the audience moving, but sounded rough without a backing band, singing over recorded versions of his heavy tracks.
Other acts seemed more refined. Youngstown’s vintage pop group The Vindys and Columbus’ funk-rock band The Floorwalkers brought a ton of action to the festival’s smaller Stage 3, where trees provided plenty of shade for relaxed performances and relaxing.
Shaded areas were popular hangouts on hot summer days, and long lines waited for customers at lemonade stands and water filling stations. Then, when the sun started to set, the pop-rock artists AJR and Portugal, who made success. The man showed his strength on stage.
On a list of WonderStruck 2021 highlights, AJR is reportedly top. The group of brothers (Adam, Jack and Ryan Met) drew a crowd for their interactive show. The Mets joked and chatted with the audience between explosive performances of hit songs like “Bang”, “Weak”, “Burn the House Down” and “100 Bad Days”. Beyond their musical abilities, the brothers, along with trumpeter Arnetta Johnson and drummer Chris Berry, were able to entertain and dance the huge crowd.
This crowd thinned out in front of Portugal. The headliner performance of The Man, which featured a mix of songs from the band’s catalog including “Feel It Still”, “Modern Jesus”, “Chicago” and “So American” – as well as a rock cover of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are”. “The band members rarely took the opportunity to interact with the audience, instead focusing on heavy guitar solos and transitions between tracks.
Portugal. The Man sounded great musically, but in some ways the band seemed to lack practice. Vocalist John Gourley stood towards the back of the stage, with a lectern in front of him, occasionally flipping through sheet music during the performance. During Portugal. On The Man’s show, bassist Zach Carothers noted that it was the group’s first show after the pandemic.
It was a common theme at WonderStruck on Saturday and Sunday – most performers noted that WonderStruck marked their first return to live performances after the COVID-19 shutdowns. This sentiment was also shared by many participants.
Beyond the idea of returning to live music in 2021, WonderStruck’s performance, ambiance and positive vibes made this weekend a memorable one.
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