By Hannah Norwood
July 26, 2017
Once a year, the urban industrial environment that is downtown Birmingham, Alabama transforms itself into a haven for music, craft beer, creative cocktails, arts, crafts, and even live iron pouring demonstrations. Sloss Music & Arts Festival is a celebration of the unique culture the city has to offer as well as a part of the revitalization efforts, with the event taking place on the grounds of the old Iron “Sloss Furnaces,” a National Historic Monument. This was the third annual year the festival took place in Birmingham. On July 15 and 16, 40 bands performed on 4 different stages at Sloss Music & Arts Festival 2017.
Here are our 5 most memorable moments from Sloss Fest 2017:
Charles Bradley lit up our hearts
Charles Bradley has been around the block a time or two. He’s a 68-years-old who has survived cancer and can still break it down better than most half his age. His hype man called him the Doctor of Love– he wasn’t wrong. Between multiple outfit changes, and lots of grooving around the stage, complete with plenty of hip gyrations, and a voice with so much soul it brought the audience on a roller coaster of emotions. Charles Bradley brought the funk and soul, even in the rain.
Conor Oberst trashes Donald Trump
As the former lead singer of Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst is a staple songwriter of anthems that are sappy and a little bit sad. In front of the questionably receptive Alabama crowd, he blended nicely into his set, a rant trashing Donald Trump. With quotes including but not limited to “Unbelievable orange rat man that got all his money from his daddy.” This lead into a rousing edition of his song “A Little Uncanny,” charged with anger and harmonica. He changed the lyrics quite a bit in the first verse to: it’s a little uncanny what “he” managed to do… referring to President Trump getting elected instead of the mystery girl in the lyric. This song was much more upbeat than the rest of the set and reminiscent of the President Bush days.
Francis and the Lights wins over Sloss Fest
Francis and the Lights had almost as many dance moves as Charles Bradley, but not nearly as many impressive outfits. He danced so hard that at one point his sunglasses flew off into the crowd with his sweater flying in the breeze. He danced down the perimeter wall of The Shed, which was blocked off with caution tape adding to his dare devil persona. The set wasn’t complete without a quick jaunt at crowd surfing. Francis was charming and had the crowd going wild most of his set. His songs are all ones you can dance to, and he definitely lead by example. Expect big things from him, with a voice as powerful as Phil Collins, he’s going places.
Sturgill Simpson covers Rihanna’s “Desperado.”
The roadhouse country singer Sturgill Simpson covered hip-hop, R&B artist Rihanna’s hit song “Desperado.” It was a nice change of pace in the setlist, and his country twang really added something extra to the song. This type of genre crossover is happening more frequently and I hope it’s here to stay. It pushes the crowd to the edge of their comfort zones. Music is powerful stuff. This cover rivals the Dixie Chicks playing Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons.”
Brittany Howard and Alabama Shakes bring the house down
Ms. Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes brought down the house on Sunday night. In her home state, she put on a performance like no other. Belting her heart out for two plus hours, she left it all out on the stage. Furthermore bringing some amazing, powerful, and much needed female energy to the festival. This band was quintessential to the roots revival movement and having them play the last set was a perfect capstone to Sloss Fest 2017.
More about Sloss Music & Arts Festival.