So what is Festival? Officially known at the Festival of the Arts, Festival is an annual celebration held each June in Grand Rapids since 1970. It all started when Alexander Calder installed “Le Grande Vitesse“, known as The Calder around here, in Grand Rapids in 1969. The next year, in celebration, Festival began in honor of the artwork that has become the symbol of our fair city.
Since I can remember, Festival has been a part of life each summer, happening the first weekend in June, marking the end of the school year and beginning of summer. In high school we’d walk downtown to see a few (free) shows, hang out with friends and eat food from the booths run by community organizations. My favorites growing up were the ice cream and elephant ear stands but in high school, friends opened me up to the world of Greek, Vietnamese and Bosnian foods. Always, always a good time was had by all.
This year, Todd and I walked down to meet up with some friends who were coming to see a local band, Alexis. Before we met them we got dinner. Lines were long for the Bosnian food and a Vietnamese co-worker had already brought amazingly delicious spring rolls from one of the Vietnamese booths into work on Friday so we settled for BBQ Chicken sandwiches and fries. These weren’t just any fries those. They were bacon dusted fries. I don’t have to tell you that they were delicious. Yes, I’m a fatty, haha.
Now that we have my gluttony out of the way, back to Alexis. I had never seen them before and goodness, gracious, I had no idea what I was missing. Alexis is a local electro-pop duo. Normally they wouldn’t be on my musical radar but man, these guys are so entertaining. The lead singer, Matt, – postman by day, rockstar by night – lights up the stage and Dan, the keyboardist, provides equally entertaining backup. On top of it, I am still singing their super catchy tunes a day later.
I’m positive that words cannot describe the Alexis experience. I’ve never seen shorts that tight or dance moves so flamboyant and enthusiastic. I can honestly say that I can’t wait to see them in concert again. There’s something entirely infectious about seeing performers who so clearly love what they do.
After Festival we headed to a new local bar, Pyramid Scheme for a few drinks. We ended up staying for a few hours and probably two hours into it the guys were busy playing pinball and us girls were chatting near the window and guess who walked up? Alexis. We went crazy like teenage girls at a BSB concert. They were gracious and, I think, flattered. We were still talking about it half an hour later. I must say, being a groupie could be a fun gig. I’m so glad Alexis played Festival, I’m officially a fan.
Are there any local bands that you love?
Does your town have any annual festivals or events you look forward to?