Flaming Lips at 2015 Nelsonville Music Festival
Thousands turned out for Friday’s Flaming Lips show at the 2015 Nelsonville Music Festival. (Jasmine Beaubien/WOUB)

Thousands Flock to Nelsonville Music Festival

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Acoustic guitar tunes filled the air, storms clouds had gathered, but not yet burst on the crowds, school-aged kids cooled off with a water balloon fight and many festival goers sun bathed on the grass, waiting for the next act to take the 11th annual Nelsonville Music Festival main stage.

“It’s this big music festival with amazing acts (such as this year’s headliners, The Flaming Lips and Merle Haggard), but it still feels very comfortable, very personal, very community-like,” said Brian Koscho, Marketing Director of Stuart’s Opera House.

And friends and festival goers Anna Shriver and Gabrille Andrews illustrate that.

Shriver and Andrews lay out in front of the No-Fi Cabin, a small stage, which houses no electricity and only allows for an intimate audience of about 30, glistening with sweat from the high heat. The music festival draws the two Ohio University alumnae back together every year for a reunion, Shriver said.

“We love (the Nelsonville Music Festival),” the two exclaimed together.

Watching The Flaming Lips perform on the main stage Friday night was among the highlights of the festival, they said.

“It was amazing, it’s like they take you to another world,” Andrews said.

“You’re just engulfed by the colors and the sounds and the music,” Shriver chimed in.

“They’re so interactive,” Andrews added. “They want their fans to have a great time and party and dance.”

The two were still discovering pieces of confetti tucked in their hair and all around from the massive amount that had been dumped on them by band member Wayne Coyne.

Others like Julie Vieux came from long distances to be a part of the festival. Vieux, along with her husband and little ones traveled from Houston to spend time with family, she said.

Her family was hanging out at the art tent with Federal Hocking’s art club and contributed wishes to be placed on the “Wish Dragon,” set to parade around the festival.

Some of the wishes on the dragon read, “World peace,” while others wished for safety, good health and one special wish for a rocket ship.

Family interactions like this draw more people to the festival, Koscho said.

“(The festival) is definitely an all ages thing and that’s not very common with these kind of things. Families seek that out and it draws people to it,” he said.

Koscho said the festival has evolved and grown considerably, with additions like its collaboration with the Federal Hocking Art Club and now Hocking College’ Appalachian Heritage School, since its inception as a one-day festival 11 years ago.

The trick is to not lose focus on what makes the festival special, he said.

“The tough thing for us that we worry about, focus on and do our best to take care of is that the festival grows in a way that it doesn’t lose what makes it special, and so far we’ve been really lucky with that,” Koscho said, “Last year we had a good amount of people, and it still kept that character.”

On Monday, Koscho said that approximately 7,000 people attended the festival this year. He said that number is slightly higher than last year’s crowd count.