Who, What, Where, Now!
MASSV Music Festival 2012
“Not just big… MASSV.”
Photography courtesy Karl Weatherly
During a two-day festival in downtown Ketchum, Idaho, the Music and Art Showcase Sun Valley (MASSV) brought what can only be explained as a wild and weird combination of Mardi Gras meets Burning Man with tweak or two of Cirque du Soleil. The eccentricities abounded—two oversized butterfly bicycles, a giraffe body suit with green plumage, an alien head with kaleidoscope eyes, a bejeweled belly-dancer, a vaudeville-style aerial silk contortionist hanging from the stars, burning hula-hoops, glowing laser suits and hundreds of wide-eyed youngsters. Sounds like Bonnaroo, you say? Well, close. But this was our version.
July 13th and 14th, the Simplot Lot was filled with artisans of every genre—wood carvers, painters, dancers, photographers, fire-throwers, stilt-walkers, and obviously, musicians trailed by every kind of party-goer. Ravers: check. Grandparents and grandchildren: check. I pile of sober kids from New Jersey: check. Terrified middle schoolers: check. Man offering free “mustache rides”: check. Pikachu: check? Everything in between: CHECK. One could just as easily wander through the art exhibits sipping lemonade, enjoying the wham whaaaaaams from a non-deafening distance, far from the mob of jumping bodies, as one could lap the beer tent and squeeze under the shower of raining glow sticks and sensory overloading.
There was an Art Car. There was a solar-powered DJ booth decorated in recycled thermometers, rainbow-colored light bulbs and metalwork. There was a homemade Reactable (DJ instrument that makes music on a table out of paper blocks and images… yeah). There were three “nest houses” made of willow sticks from the Sun Valley Center for the Arts. And—the reason most people came—there was gooooood music. The likes of which Sun Valley rarely ever gets to see.
“There is plenty of music in Sun Valley but it’s all for the older crowds,” says investor and co-initiator of the MASSV festival, Brent Russell. Brent works at St. Luke’s Hospital with Mayor of Ketchum, Randy Hall, who he said is always looking for ways to bring more youth to the Valley. “We were talking about the need to attract young people here in order to keep this a vibrant community. And there is so much opportunity that no one has taken advantage of,” he said.
So Brent, who has been DJ-ing and rapping as a hobby for many years, decided to get together with music promoter Zack Peterson out of Boise and actually make it happen. Sadly, a tragic car accident that took the lives of both Zack and wife CJ shortly thereafter stopped event planning dead in its tracks. That is, until the Peterson’s families contacted Brent and offered to donate money so that the concert could be held in their memory. “The family said it was something both Zack and CJ would have wanted to happen,” said Brent. It was the couple’s dream to bring music to Idaho, where they met and married, and a large part of MASSV was to make that into a reality. For our part, we all wish they could have been there.
Friday night, the barnstorming Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears got everybody warmed up with funky, bluesy, punky goodness and were followed by the dupstep duo, Adventure Club. If they couldn't get everybody rolling, bouncing, jumping and otherwise moving, then headliner Beats Antique, with a drumming belly-dancer, a ripping violinist and perfectly synched glitch beats, definitely did the trick.
There was a downtown street after-party both nights, just in case, with Doc Rock and DJ Alien (which was actually main man Brent Russell in disguise), Ladytramp, Proper Motion and more.
Saturday night, the “BIG night,” brought in people from all over the country to watch Aaron Behrens (strangely minus longs braids but still sporting shades) amidst a blast of lasers during Ghostland Observatory’s performance. Their style is so new it doesn’t quite exist yet, but those who try to categorize it usually resort to something like “electro-rock" (although “Freddie Mercury-helms-Daft Punk” seems more fitting). Opening for Ghostland was Idaho band Finn Riggins, along with Gift of Gab and Brother Ali, all of which played through a few downpours, destroyed equipment and a ripped stage tent (thanks, guys).
“We hope to make it an annual event,” said Brent. “All the investors wanted was to break even.” And I think I speak for all of us when I say... yes, please.