Domefest Review

May 30-31, 2014

Sunshine Daydream Memorial Park, Terra Alta, WV

written by Elise Olmstead

photos by Germination Photography

There are some festivals that have such a distinctness that right away you know where you are.  Domefest is one such festival.  Though the venue has changed over the years and it is now held at the beautiful Sunshine Daydream Memorial Park, as soon as I arrived and felt the vibe, saw my friends, the decorations, and heard the music, I knew that I was at Domefest, and sigh, there’s no place like Dome.

The lineup this year boasted some of the most talented mid-level bands currently on the jam scene, like Tauk, Turkuaz, Fletcher’s Grove, The Hornitz, and of course Pigeons Playing Ping Pong.  Though the festival is only two days instead of the typical three, the schedule is so stacked that there is not a spare moment to even catch your breath.  From start to finish we were glued to the stage and my feet were so sore by Saturday that I felt like I had been dancing for weeks.


Richmond based band The Southern Belles started us off, and the soothing sounds of one man band Mateo Monk entertained us between sets throughout the weekend.  Aqueous’s catchy guitar riffs and killer progressive rock got us warmed up for Appalachian jam rock band Fletcher’s Grove to melt faces.  The Hornitz played throughout the weekend between sets as well, and their two man show featuring horn instruments, keyboards, looped beats, and rap covers kept everyone smiling and dancing.  By the time Tauk took the stage I was excited to see all my friends rolling in.  Their unmistakable Homunculus tunes blew the crowd away just in time for The Mantras to get on stage and shred the hell out of their harmonizing guitars during an especially jammy set.

There was much shredding to be had that night when Pigeons took the stage and stole the show. Jeremy Schon, lead guitarist, was on fire, and the crowd was on Cloud 9. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is no stranger to theatrics, and they were sure to take part in their “Theme” costume theme for Friday night, where everyone got to choose whatever theme they saw fit. Their goofy costumes ranged from Ben’s hamburglar get-up to Greg’s Dorothy dress, and they even played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to commemorate. The set included favorite Pigeons originals mixed with fun covers, and I especially liked the block of songs that started with “Fade Fast” into “Thriller” > “Fade Fast” > “My Girl” > “Julia” > “Twist & Shout.”

Turkuaz took over the barn for a late night set and started with a “Stop Making Sense” set of only Talking Heads covers.  Talking Heads have been making a surprise comeback on the scene and everyone was excited to get down to some of their favorite songs.  The real part of Turkuaz’s set that blew me away was their originals.  The 9 member band is made up of equally talented members, each one incredibly skilled on their instruments, whether it be the guitar, the horns, the drums, or the vocals.  I was sad to see them play their last song and the night ending.


Saturday we had barely risen when the jams had already started.  The Jauntee was the first band to play, then followed by The Shack Band.  Josh Crowley played an especially passionate saxophone this set and I could tell the whole band was really feeling the vibration of the festival.  One of my favorite moments of the fest was when John Church, stage manager, joined in to sing “Spanish Moon” by Little Feat.  I did a groovy dance to The Hornitz’ cover of “Groove is in the Heart,” and then Yellow Dubmarine took the stage to sooth us with their down tempo Beatles covers like “Across the Universe” and “She’s So Heavy.” Everyone had been anticipating the Big Something set all day long, and they didn’t disappoint.  The Dome fans’ socks were rocked as we experienced songs from their critically acclaimed new self-titled album as well as sang along to old favorites from “Stories From the Middle of Nowhere.”

The crowd had little time to collect themselves before Pigeons got on stage for their final set of the weekend.  They were bringing some groovy heat this time around with an ultra funky breakdown during “Time to Ride” and even brought The Hornitz on stage for “F.U.”  They did a shout out to The Mad Tea Party Jam then broke into one of my favorite Pigeons covers, the Ghostbusters theme.  When the set was over the crowds gathered for high fives and hugs, we were truly blown away by the boy’s showmanship, musicianship, and huge effort they put into the experience of the weekend.

Thank goodness the night didn’t have to end, as Twiddle put the cap on the evening with a high energy set in the barn and a beautiful rendition of “Country Roads.”  I swayed and sang with my friends, wishing the starry night to last forever.  Please “take me DOME, to the place…where I belong!”  It was another one for the books, and a special experience with my festival family that I will not soon forget.