14 bands in 11 hours — Rexburg’s first summer music festival

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The Moss at the end of their last song Photo credit: Bailee Merrill

A grunge-rock version of “Book of Mormon Stories,” a henna tattoo artist and 11 straight hours of live music were just a few aspects that made The Grounds music festival a unique event in Rexburg.

On July 10 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., local Rexburg and visiting Utah bands played their music at the Madison County Fairgrounds for listeners of a variety of genres, from bedroom pop to alternative rock.

Rexburg is a first-timer to music festivals, with The Grounds being the first all-day concert to take place in Madison County.

Riley Bode, manager of The Basement, an underground concert venue in Rexburg, said she was driving home from Costco when the idea sparked to have a summer music festival. Bode put the idea into action and, with the help of others, organized the event.

“It was the coolest group effort ever,” Bode said. “I feel like everybody had a connection that was gonna help. We went to farmers markets, some of the band members came and helped flyer everything, everybody really helped make it this really cool thing.”

At the beginning of the day, Bode shared that she hoped every guest would leave feeling like they found a band they connected with.

Flyer for The Grounds concert. Art by Naomi Manzanares
Flyer for The Grounds concert Photo credit: Naomi Manzanares

Dallin Hunt, the first solo performer and guitarist for the band Lity Cife, was energetic from the beginning despite the small turnout at the start of the event. The crowd cheered as he played his pop-rock music on his black and white Fender.

“I think concerts have a very universal energy and vibe,” Hunt said. “That’s when I’m in my element. I don’t know if you can tell but when I’m on stage I’m in another place. Have you seen the movie ‘Soul’? That’s literally about me! I cried when I saw that movie.”

Hunt, Jarom Eubanks, Jayce Ward and Charles Franta from Salt Lake City make up the alternative pop band, Lity Cife. Crowd members sang along to their number one hit, “Diet Coke.”

The last time Lity Cife played at the Basement, they dedicated “Diet Coke” to Sabrina Meza, a senior studying horticulture. She swayed and sang as they played it. Meza and her friend Spencer Sanders, a junior studying communication, shared their thoughts on supporting small bands like Lity Cife.

“When a band is small, they need the fan base to help springboard them into bigger venues and more opportunities for collaborating with bigger artists,” Sanders said. “When you follow a small band, you get to be with them the whole way. You get to feel like you’re a part of it.”

Meza agreed; she’s experienced being close to a small band. Lity Cife brought her on stage when they last played in Rexburg, calling her one of their biggest fans.

“I like the intimacy,” Meza said. “It’s more personal to me. I even make eye contact with them. It’s so cool.”

Spencer Sanders and Sabrina Meza talking in between performances
Spencer Sanders and Sabrina Meza talking in between performances Photo credit: Bailee Merrill

All bands start somewhere, and sometimes it’s at BYU-I. Nick Pavlakos, a junior studying English, plays drums for The Menagerie. The band had had an ad on Facebook for years when Nick saw the posting and met up with them for a practice, which led him to join the band. The video game Rock Band inspired his love for drums; he got his first real drum kit at 12 years old.

Pavlakos was grinning and laughing during their band’s entire performance.

“Being able to play with other people on stage, and essentially just sharing something that you enjoy and you know that they enjoy, that’s why I smile so much,” Pavlakos said. “It’s just an absolute blast, no matter how hot the stage gets.”

Nick Pavlakos in between songs during The Menagerie's show
Nick Pavlakos in between songs during The Menagerie’s show Photo credit: Bailee Merrill

As the day continued, more guests showed up, laying out blankets or setting up camp chairs on the lawn around the amphitheater. Students sipped from soda cans and a young couple made bracelets during the calmer bands’ performances. The day cooled off during the evening and attendees gathered around the stage for the more well-known bands.

The band Drusky energized the crowd. Their band name is a combination of “drunken” and “husky.” Drusky featured the only female vocalist of the whole day. Mia Hicken, the lead singer and guitarist, was friendly and personable with the crowd in between songs. The young crowd went crazy over their song “Tuck Finder,” a jab at dating apps.

The band’s friendship was tangible during their show and their interactions off-stage. When mentioning the best part about playing live, they all agreed on how incredible the energy feels from the crowd and from each other.

“Even when everything’s going crazy and it’s so hard to balance everything, if we can play a show or have a good practice, I’m recharged,” Hicken said. “It’s like my antidepressants.”

The Moss, the headlining band for the night, set up on stage around 9 p.m. The crowd pressed their way closer to the stage. Photographers weaved through people to get shots from different angles. Tyke James, the lead singer and guitarist, danced as he played. The drummer threw a drumstick to a girl in the front row. The crowd yelled the lyrics, jumping with raised arms during each song. At that moment, Rexburg felt like a mini Coachella.

According to Bode, the entire show had over 300 attendees including band members and vendors, selling things from skateboard rings to bleached apparel. She said it was amazing to see all the bands together and hopes to do another festival in the future.

For those who didn’t come, Bode said, “You guys do not know what you’re missing.”

The Basement has shows every week, from comedy to open mic to live bands. You can follow their Instagram for information on upcoming shows.