Held on November 15 with the support of the City of Lake Worth, the festival was the first of its kind to feature talented young bands of all genres, unusual food trucks (a poutine truck!), and local vendors selling jewelry and other wares. Each band was set to rotate around all the venues, playing 3-4 songs each time.
The Speakeasy Stage was easily the best sounding and organized stage of the whole night. One reason for this was probably because The Speakeasy’s sound engineer was controlling the sound as well as the schedule. The coolest thing about the engineer, and the stage, though, was that there was no huge soundboard outside, as one would expect. The engineer was using an equipment compatible soundboard app on his iPad to control the sound.
EveryDay but Friday, a rock band that traveled from Alabama just to be a part of the festival, was the first band to play on the Speakeasy Stage. Everyone from vocalist Hannah Retig to lead guitarist Joey Raynaud put on a killer performance. Raynaud especially had great stage presence when it came time for his guitar solo in “Born Wild”. The band also had a really great idea: since the bands were revolving around the stages, they listed on a business card what times they’d be playing and where.
Scary Iowa, a folk rock band from Miami, played second. The words “folk rock” and the images it conjures don’t do justice to just how good Scary Iowa is, especially for a band that’s only been around since February. Their lineup includes an electric mandolin as well as an ocarina, which is featured in the song “Hunter’s Requiem”. Those familiar with the video game “The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time” will get a kick out of one of the members making a habit of wearing a Legend of Zelda t-shirt while playing “Hunter’s Requiem” live. The band is also very technically proficient as their live show also featured revolving instrument playing between the guitarist, Alberto and the mandolin player, Adam.
Astronaut, an indie band from Miami, featured a guy twirling color-changing lights as part of the live show. This was a very inventive addition that went very well with the band’s music, which was very jam-heavy and relaxing.
Raggy Monster was up last. Raggy Monster, an indie rock band from West Palm Beach, showcased a great sense of humor when they appeared in workout clothes, saying that they heard “there was going to be a marathon today, so [they] thought there might be a lot of running”. The vocals from singer Rachel Duvall were very reminiscent of Florence Welch’s from Florence and the Machine, giving Raggy Monster another dimension to their stage show. Although their sound was overwhelmingly bass-heavy at times, the way the keyboard was used in the music lent an inventive, standout sound to their music overall.
However, just as with any music festival in its first year, the Rock Religion Music Marathon wasn’t without its problems. Some of these were attributable to unfortunate luck while some were rooted in organizational issues.
The main stage was plagued with sound problems nearly the entire night. These problems only worsened when a speaker blew toward the end of the night and the remaining bands couldn’t play the stage.
Should the marathon become an annual event, the organizational issues it suffered could be easily fixed: having streets blocked off/signs telling potential patrons where to find the festival or park their cars, maps and/or schedules of which bands are playing and where as well as a bigger outreach to the community. The festival had great social media outreach but the public at large seemed not to have any idea it was happening, even with a radio spot having been produced. One couple this writer talked with said they only found out about it after having dinner in the area.
If these problems are resolved, the Rock Religion Music Marathon has great potential to benefit the local music community as well as possibly getting South Florida out there on a larger level.