The National's Inaugural Homecoming Festival

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When I received the phone call from CD102.5 last Wednesday letting me know I was a lucky winner of passes to The National Homecoming, I had to take a minute to realize what I had just won. I admittedly have never been a fan of The National. I entered because I thought it would be fun to spend the weekend at a music festival, never thinking that I would win. If you know me that may seem odd to you, as I have become quite used to winning concert tickets over the years. With that being said, I was excited for what was now my first festival of the year. With it being just down the road in Cincinnati was even better. When my buddy Wade and I arrived in Cincinnati, we decided that The Breeders would be our first show of the fest. This gave us plenty of time to hang out in the city and see some sights. We ended up eating at a nifty little Indian spot in OTR (Over the Rhine) called Injoy. Its concept is similar to that of Chipotle and the food was great. The last stop made before the fest was Rhinegeist Brewing. I have loved their beers since first trying Truth IPA a few years ago. It's an awesome spot to hang out and have a few tasty beers. I recommend trying the Ginger Lemongrass Cider.

When we arrived at the festival, we experienced a small hiccup. We were informed that I was not on the list of ticket winners, even though I had filled out all the paperwork. This was not great considering we had made the trip from Columbus. After about fifteen minutes we were able to enter and found out there was a mistake made on the festival's side of things. I was pleased with how this was resolved and everyone involved was professional and helpful. The festival was in a pretty small park, however, it totally worked for what they were trying to do. Smale Park is right down the road from Yeatman's Cove which is where Bunbury Music Festival is located. The festival had two stages: East and West. The East stage was the smaller of the two, with the West stage serving as the main stage. There were a lot of good food options available and even a Rhinegeist Brewing tent. That and Mikey's Late Night Slice seemed to have the longest lines all night. I opted for a $7 16oz PBR over the $11 can of Rhinegeist.

Side Note: If you didn't have a ticket, Roebling Bridge provided very great, very free viewing access. You didn't hear that from me though.

By the time we got beers and situated, it was time for some music. The Breeders were just ending their set. Again, not a huge fan, but from what I heard they rocked out! I did recognize one of the songs near the end, and it was fantastic. After their set was over we walked over to the East stage to catch Mouse on Mars. This was one of the sets I was looking forward to the most. When I won the tickets I started doing some research on the bands, and this duo was something I had noted not to miss. They are a couple of German guys that make techno music. They were so much fun! Mouse on Mars began their set using various sounds from the audience and their surroundings to create a beat for the first song. I had never seen anything like this and it was really cool. They continued playing some pretty awesome beats. I think my favorite part of their set was the constant build-ups and then no beat drop. It was entertaining to see these guys break from the norm and do something creative. It was also entertaining watching the crowd try to figure out what to do after no beat drop. By the time we headed out for the next act, there was a huge crowd in front of this little stage. I would highly recommend catching these guys, as it was a show I won't soon forget.

After Mouse on Mars and after waiting in line for beer, it was finally time for Father John Misty. Honestly, he was the reason I entered the contest to begin with. I had heard he puts on a really good show and this one was no exception. He opened with the song “I Love You, Honeybear” and the show really took off from there. I was super stoked that he played my favorite song, “Nancy From Now On”. Father John Misty and his band really made my day. His set seemed to be a crowd pleaser as well. Father John Misty had the biggest crowd besides The National on Saturday and for good reason. “The Ideal Husband” was how Father John closed out his set. It is a great song and another one of my favorites. Overall I was very impressed with his performance. I had high expectations for this show and I am glad to say that he exceeded them! If you ever have a chance to see him, even if it’s at a festival, do it!

Next up was Julien Baker. Not for me. The music sounded good, but the lyrics were so depressing. My buddy Wade and I heard the lyrics for the first song and decided that drinking beer and finding a good spot for The National would be way more beneficial to our overall outlook on life.

Headlining act and festival host The National are Cincinnati natives, and their hometown really showed up to support these local heroes. The band was going to play two 2-hour sets over the course of the weekend. They played their Boxer album on the second night. This would be only the second time they played the full album from cover to cover, as well as the last time they would be doing that. I thought that was a pretty cool thing to do for their hometown. We were only there on Saturday, so we got a more traditional set. They did play a few songs I knew like "Day I Die" and "Don't Swallow the Cap". They finished the first night with crowd favorite "Bloodbuzz Ohio". Since I'm not particularly a fan of the band (although I do respect them), I didn't really understand the crowd. There was no dancing except for in the back or on the sides of the stage. Everyone just kind of stood around. Maybe that's typical of their shows but I personally enjoy a more lively atmosphere amongst the crowd.

Overall Homecoming was a good experience and a pretty good time. Father John Misty and Mouse on Mars really stood out to me most. I don’t think I would have bought tickets to this event, but it was a very well run festival. Everyone I interacted with was very nice and willing to help. This was a two-day festival; this review is just from Saturday. The Sunday lineup included: Big Thief, Future Islands, Feist, Alvvays, and The National.

Lastly, I would like to thank a few people who made this trip possible. First off is CD102.5. I am a huge fan of the station, and really love being a member of the lounge. This is how I win all my tickets! It is easy to sign up and all you have to do is listen for lounge tips. It is the easiest way to win. So thank you again CD102.5! I would also like to thank my friend Wade Biglin for agreeing to roll with me. I am glad I can count on you to drop plans and head to a random music festival with me! And finally, I would like to extend a hearty thank you to Mark Duffy and Mary Stone for letting us crash at your place. Without you guys, I doubt I would have even made the trip. Cheers to good friends and good music!