• ,

Anatomy of Tip's inaugural Landing Fest

The mission of The Tipitina’s Foundation is to support the music community and preserve the musical culture of New Orleans and Louisiana. The Foundation grew out of Tipitina’s music venue and promotes childhood music education, the professional development of adult musicians, and the increased profile and viability of Louisiana music as a cultural, educational, and economic resource. To that end, the Foundation and New Orleans jam band Galactic teamed for the first Landing Festival, to be held annually and coming again our way in September 2016.

Fest organizers put the whole thing together in just four months. Here's a recap of fest one, giving the local music audience an idea of what to expect in the years ahead:

The location: Landing Fest took place at the South Shore Harbor, which is about a 15-minute drive from downtown New Orleans. Two stages, placed at opposite ends of one of the marina's largest parking lot, were named the Arrival Stage and the Departure stage to fit with teach one's location.  The Arrival Stage hosted most of the bigger acts and had a more manageable photo pit compared to the Departure Stage.

The bands: The two-day festival featured a kick-off party the night before the main event at Tipitina’s that was headlined by Saturday’s headliner and co-founder, Galactic. Other bands on Saturday’s schedule included Cake, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Eagles of Death Metal, North Mississippi Allstars featuring Anders Osborn: N.M.O., Glen David Andrews, Maggie Koerner, The Soul Rebels Brass Band, Gravy, and DJ Quickie Mart.  Sunday’s schedule initially was to include Sexual Thunder, Sweet Crude, Dave Shaw and Zack Feinberg of the Revivalists, Rayland Baxter, Lil Dicky, Trampled By Turtles, Dr. Dog, and Grace Potter. However, inclement weather forced the festival to open late and Sexual Thunder, Sweet Crude, and Rayland Baxter weren’t able to play.  Two high school marching bands, Sophie B. Wright Charter School and West Jefferson High School, also were slated to play; sadly the weather didn’t allow WJH to perform.

The schedule could easily have been a day’s lineup at Jazz Fest.  The organizers used a savvy ping-pong kind of order in which no two bands played at one time, eliminating the frustration of having to choose one band over another and avoiding stage bleed.  The music ran to funk, blues, jazz, and rock, with two outliersin  Lil Dicky, a Yiddish rapper who was recently picked up by Lil Wayne, and Queens of the Stone Age, a side project of Eagles of Death Metal, a flamboyant and rambunctious heavy metal-influenced band.  You can see some of the setlists here: http://www.setlist.fm/festival/2015/landing-festival-2015-3d625d7.html as well as an extended gallery here: http://jalbum.net/a/1661419

Food and drinks:  The culinary fare could easily have been the same old NOLA festival food, which actually would still have been amazing. But organizers went in another direction, capitalizing on the city’s surge of food trucks and their overwhelming popularity.  The trucks on hand all were New Orleans-based and included Food Drunk, offering chef-inspired, alcohol-influenced cuisine, Frencheeze, a bread, cheese, and butter lovers' paradise, Crepes a la Carte, which cooks up more than 50 varieties of breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert crêpes, and Diva Dawg, a gourmet hot-dog truck. Prices were comparable to most festivals.

In New Orleans, one can’t go 2 feet without hitting a daiquiri bar, or so it seems. The fest had a daiquiri stand as well as mixed drinks, beer, bottled water, and sodas.  Water and sodas were reasonably priced at $2, with Red Bulls mirroring your average bar cost.  If can and bottled beer weren’t your drinks of choice, then you could head for a craft beer garden, with several beers on tap.

The extras and observations:  As with any festival there were some hiccups, but Landing seemed to take them in stride.  The lack of signage for food locations was quickly noted and fixed. The merchandise and few vendors were tucked away, ensuring that they didn’t get in the way of traffic flow, but also easily missed.  The concrete parking lot had both pro and con as well: It didn’t get muddy, but didn’t have any give, especially at the end of the day. The port-a-pottys were aplenty and lines never really formed. The fest also hosted two small fireworks displays that corresponded with deejays, but felt a little out of place in context to the rest of the music.

Portions of the proceeds of the festival were donated to the Tipitina’s Foundation.  The initial festival was small, and a little off the beaten track, but has planted some major roots for the future to come. The site says "See You in September 2016,” and we will be there.

Steven Hatley is a New Orleans-based photographer. You can find more of his photography here.