The inaugural Bushwak Music Festival took place this past Saturday and Sunday in the barely charted wilds of St. Charles, just south of Des Moines. A hundred or so music enthusiasts made the trek southward with tents and sleeping bags and set up shop on the grounds of the town’s yet-unfinished amphitheater. And while the festival can charitably be called a qualified success, it was not without the hiccups and growing pains endemic of any new festival.
Attendance will be an issue. For the festival to continue, it’s going to need more people showing up in the ensuing years, and whether or not organizers can put together a compelling enough draw to lure people southward will go a long way to determining the festival’s future.
Speaking of the draw, the scheduling of this year’s bill left the show unbalanced, as organizers shot their load fairly quickly. The two-day bill was extremely front-loaded, and by 8:30 p.m on day one, nearly every act that was going to bring a crowd in the festival gates — Item 9, Christopher the Conquered, Rumble Seat Riot and Dead Larry — had finished their sets for the weekend. As the sun set on the event’s first day, Cirrus Minor was the only band left on the bill, before the rest of the night gave way to DJs and dubstep.
But the biggest issue for the weekend wound up being beyond the control of mortals, as rains settled over the area late Saturday night and washed out the entire schedule for Sunday. Event organizers have already announced their plans for Bushwak ’14 to be held at the same location, so hopefully the loss of revenue from the second day doesn’t monkey wrench those plans. Bushwak’s first year had promise, and with a year of growth and experience, next year should be better. CV