After many months of finger crossing and countless Hail Marys, a miracle occurred: It didn't rain on In Bloom Music Festival's inaugural parade. That alone is a vote of confidence for the FPSF replacement, a sign that the mud, sweat, and tears may be a thing of the past (at least until next year).
Logistically, the festival ran as a well-oiled machine with lines for admission, water stations, and Porta Potties moving with equal efficiency. Official merchandise mostly ran out by the first night of the two-day festival, although the impressive lineup of food vendors—from Local Foods to Spicy Dog to Oh My Gogi and beyond—held their own. Eleanor Tinsley Park, in the shadow of the city's most iconic skyscrapers, remains an ideal venue, even if its bayou-hugging geography required a bit of walking. We were big fans of the Bud Light stage, where the biggest acts performed, due to the adjacent hill that allowed great views without having to jump into the crowd.
Highlights from a mostly cloudy Saturday included energetic sets from the Ying Yang Twins, Ugly God, and DRAM, who each worked the crowd with electric enthusiasm. Rapper-comedian Lil Dicky drew a surprisingly massive crowd while performing against a "No Guns" backdrop. One stage over, R&B prodigy H.E.R. (aka Gabi Wilson) dazzled with sultry lyrics floated atop punchy beats. A big disappointment? Beck, of all groups, who delivered a visually stunning mix of old and new to a small, mostly indifferent crowd. The real show, we discovered, was down the bayou at the jam-packed Incubus set, where people shouted every word with throw-your-baby levels of excitement. If you didn't make it to their set, we, uh, Wish You Were [There].
On Sunday, there was sun—and plenty of it. It was also when a clear divide emerged, with the older crowd flocking to acts like Explosions in the Sky and Queens of the Stone Age whereas the youth glommed onto the day's numerous electronic acts. Musical omnivores endured serious culture shock as they alternated between one crowd swaying and sipping on their Bud Lights and another violently vaping and Snapchatting (we enjoyed the variety).
That said, we would be remiss to not mention the perennial High School Problem™. Hordes of teenagers in basketball jerseys and flower crowns are by no means a new or exciting development for a festival, but the audacity of the In Bloom younguns was, at times, beyond the pale. For example, when a friend pulled us to the front of the crowd at Sunday's Shiba San set, we were sprayed with the contents of not one but two vodka-soaked stomachs. Having been wayward youth ourselves, we were sympathetic, but it was enough to push us toward the more grown-up crowds.
Then again, maybe the perceived surplus of teenagers was more of a symptom of the festival's less-than-capacity crowd. It wasn't a ghost town and the breathing room was certainly more than welcome—it's just a long way from the teeming ocean of humanity you might find at the Lollapaloozas and Coachellas of the world. But after all, this was only year one of In Bloom, and, while the lineup provided more "old favorites" than new discoveries, we're optimistic of the festival's ability to grow.