Feel The Love We Are Generating
Written by Abigail Amor
Photos by Roger Gupta
I have not been back to a Werk Out Festival since its very first year, which time must have played tricks on me, because that was now seven years ago, and back in 2009. It was not at Legend Valley, but was still in Ohio, it was small and intimate and even in the beginning it had a rocking line-up. But now, WOW has this festival grown and molded into something that is truly incredible. To see such change from then till now. I was in awe from the moment I parked my car, Thursday the first night, it was already packed. The vibe was still close and full of tight-knit groups, with the ultimate display of love, having a beautiful couple get married under the Werk Out arch. This festival has grown to hosting people who have traveled from all over to experience this event. While in line at the box office I met two people who flew in from Denver, CO; I chatted with people from places such as Michigan to Chicago, and all over the Mid-West, it so crazy to see something grow to such extremes. This is no longer a little festival out in no-where Ohio, but on its way to being a national event with big time guest.
This year’s line-up contained some hot and heavy performers, such as The Werks, of course, the band who got the ball rolling on this whole thing. The Motet, who I have only had the pleasure of seeing a few times since they do not come this way often. Lettuce, who is a funky and wonderful band who I normally see at larger festivals such as Wanee. STS9, who we all know for having a strong following, I have seen them as far away as at High Sierra out in California. Greensky Bluegrass, who just rocked out Red Rocks and was on stage with Warren Haynes and the Tiger Guitar on Jerry’s birthday, also headlined and played Saturday as the sun went down. We can’t forget Dopapod and Twiddle, who both played two nights, which some could argue still wasn’t enough (though we got to some of our favorite songs).
While maintaining these heavy hitters they don’t forget to keep the up and coming bands alive and well; Big Something (my favorite band of the year) surprised tons of Werk Out attendees who heard them for the first time, along with favorites like Broccoli Samurai, Kung Fu, LITZ (another band playing their first Werk Out), and Turkuaz just to name a few. LITZ even surprised fans with a sit-in from Ryan Dempsey of Twiddle during their set.
There was a combination of mash-up and recreations like Abbey Road being performed in its entirety by The Big Damn Jam as a tribute to the late Norman Dimitrouleas, or a late night tribute to Daft Punk from Earphunk (titled “Daft Phunk”), but Twerkapod stole the night by killing their 90’s set covering hits such as: “All the Small Things” by Blink 182, “Hit Me Baby One More Time” Britney Spears, “Killing in the Name Of” by Rage Against the Machine, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, and “Date Rape” by Sublime. Talk about an old school party in a late night tent, this was definitely a moment you didn’t want to grow out of.
This festival didn’t only focus on these amazing musicians but they also keep the visual arts alive; with continuous live painters, fire performers, art tents, workshops and interactive installations throughout the grounds. I have been to Legend Valley multiple times and never seen it as dolled up as it was for the Werk Out, the beautiful art installations were set up all over the venue. From the moment you enter your eyes were drawn to neon string crafts, that are made from a constant twisting and turning, putting the string from corner to corner, making an array of geometric designs. Look up from there and you see a unique shape, almost shade-like canopy above your head, with couches set along the side of the road enticing you to sit down and melt away, or just people watch for a minute or two. I love the idea of these couches that were all over; just sitting out in the open. Others had tee-pees set up around them; like they were waiting for you to sit down and enjoy the spectacle. As you make your way to the late night tent, you pass huge glowing crystals, at night you can only see the color shining through but while walking in the day you can see that there is a glistening of sparkly material. Back at this tent there was an interactive laser fire-pit setup. When you break the laser beam, the fire around the spinners would poof into a large flame, giving the audience control and hours of entertainment between fire performers.
Vince DiBiaso’s archway installation stood at the entrance of the gallery, the beautiful structure large enough to walk through (or get married under) featured entwined curving pieces of wood which atop sat an illuminated sign that read “Werk Out” in shining blue light. Vince also built a tower with moving gears that read “Werk Out” down the side, the gears echoing the “works” of clockworks. A graffiti artist, Peter Wilke, painted a bright, eye-catching “WERK IT” on a wall by the main stage, and outside of the gallery multiple artists could be seen collaborating on a large mural of a graffiti style snake.
My favorite couch I found, is the one facing this gorgeous 3D creation of Metatron’s Cube; it was suspended in the air with a light shining on it, so that its shadow would be cast on the blankets hung on all four sides. There is a small gap so you can see the white installation alone or watch it morph into what seemed to be an infinite number of shapes through its shadow. This is the type of atmosphere that you will want to wonder, sit and chat, and rage at the stage. They truly were able to captivate every element you are looking for in a transformational festival, while creating a open atmosphere that makes you want to be creative.
The live artists featured were all of the utmost skill and talent, and I got to experience the art of new unfamiliar painters like Julie Young, Ryan Bird, and Lauren Shea, to name a few, as well as seeing new works from Werk Out vets like Jo Jo Davis, Tom Reed, Patrick Milescu, Vince Krivda, and Blake Bower, who decorated the Woodlands Tavern stage with his art (he also did a fantastic job managing the stage during the weekend). The Symbiosis Gallery hosted over 43 artists, curated by Elise and Taco Olmstead, and their canvases lit up the night between the sound tents at main stage.
The weekend was full of music to hear and sights to see, but what made it truly special was the family vibes amongst the staff and the attendees. This year is the first Werk Out since the passing of former keyboardist for The Werks Norman Dimitrouleas, and the memory of him was all around us. Pins and keychains made from his clothes were given out during the Abbey Road tribute, which was one of his favorite albums. On Saturday, during The Werks’ last set, the entire band came out wearing full black and white suits, and Dino, former bass player and brother of Norman, wore a full white suit. The over-the-top wardrobe and tension in the air broke finally at the emotional climax — the encore of “Carry Me Back Home,” a song that Norman helped write and hits a little too close to home for anyone who dares to listen. At the end of the song the entire Werk Out staff, family, and friends joined the stage to sing along in a tear-fueled chorus. The set ended with a message from Dino, “All you need is love.”
The Werk Out has definitely moved its way up from a festival I may have been to, to one that I cannot believe I let seven years go by without returning. I definitely have been missing out! I will not make that mistake again, and I hope neither will you. Keep a look out because I cannot wait to see how they step it up from the array of visual artist to all those killer sets, they have seemed to only be able to step it up. I will not let this festival slip out of range on my radar again. Come feel the love they are generating.