I am not a St. Louis native. By that, I mean that I did not grow up in the Gateway to the West, surrounded by baseball legends and architectural icons. No, I grew up a five-hour drive southeast from here in Music City, also known as Nashville, Tennessee. I will be honest, while I love St. Louis, home is home. There is nothing like driving down those old country roads, listening and laughing to the latest local folk band, the soft scent of summer – honeysuckle and fresh cut lawns – wafting through open windows. Of course, St. Louis has its own advantages – an incredible baseball team, a vibrant food scene. However, I never thought I would feel as musically sated here as I always did at home where music legends live across the street and wanna-be music legends offer to play you a song on every corner. That was, until last weekend.
Last weekend, I finally attended one of St. Louis’ most exciting, anticipated events of the year: Loufest.
Basically, every year, Loufest brings about forty musical acts to Forest Park for a weekend of good vibes and great music. This year, the headliners were Snoop Dogg, Weezer, and Cage the Elephant. In past years, acts like LCD Soundsystem, Hozier, Arctic Monkeys, and Outkast graced the greenway of the best city park in the United States.
Once you walk under the entrance arch, emblazoned with “LOUFEST” in bright yellow letters, there are food trucks to your left – affectionately nicknamed the “Nosh Pit” – a Ferris wheel to the right, merch tents ahead of you, and the top half of a hot air balloon peeking out above a huge festival map in the distance.
The beauty of Loufest is that, due to its smaller size when compared to larger music festivals, they always bring in lesser-known, up-and-coming musicians in addition to the better-known artists. My favorite performance from the entire weekend was the one-hour set of Rainbow Kitten Surprise – a five man band from Boone, NC with an infectious sound that mixes folk, rock, and a hint of soul – squished between Cage’s set at 7:00 and Snoop’s at 9:00.
Just like the music of this ambitious new band, St. Louis surprised me that weekend. Loufest made me realize something about the city I call home for 9 months out of the year. St. Louis will never stop surprising me. This city, the “Gateway,” always has something more to offer, and that is what makes it so special.