UpNorth fest hits a high note.

August 24, 2016

UpNorth- 1#ManisteeCountyNews    #UpNorth2016

By Sydney Scarbrough. Contributing Writer.

CLEON TOWNSHIP — UpNorth Music and Arts Festival welcomed thousands of attendees from across the country this past weekend near the Village of Copemish. The festival, appropriately titled “the first of its kind,” placed a pronounced emphasis on art, music and nature.

UpNorth- 2Early arrivers established camp Thursday night underneath a full, blood moon. Live painting and art installations were strategically positioned throughout the venue and near the stages. Inside the forest, lights hung from a small stage where artists painted. A small gallery nearby presented their art pieces. Apart from visual art, flow artists performed on stage with the artists during the majority of shows which intensified the festival’s unique design.

Four stages accommodated a wide range of artists during the weekend. Curated, or themed, stages governed genres playing specific chunks of time. The “Wakaan Takeover” Friday drew a massive crowd for acts including Liquid Stranger, Perkulator and Space Jesus. On Saturday, Mija kept the “Fk A UpNorth-3Genre” stage energized during the rain along with Tokimonsta, Shawn Wasabi and Landis Lapace to name a few.

The venue, Twisted Trails, winded and curved throughout a hilly, green expanse. Even the forest within the venue lit up with a rainbow-like palette of colors. Various paths led to hidden treasures throughout the forest, including a fluorescent zigzag of yarn. The festival titled the yarn hangout “Neural Patterns.” I witnessed a group meander off the beaten path and stumble upon the yarn configuration; after which the leader of the group proceeded to announce to his group that they arrived in “Yarnia.”

Despite it being the first year of the festival, the organizers resolved events quickly and effectively. Saturday’s weather consisted of steady rain, which flooded areas of the festival. Unfortunately, one stage became inaccessible, but the others were saved using hay to both soak up the rain and block off flooded areas. Organizers admitted they expected less people in attendance, although adequate numbers of portapotties and water stations remained accounted for.

UpNorth- 4Some recurring complaints about the festival include the lack of alcohol sold within the venue in addition to noise violations, absent artists and too few food vendors. Although the event refrained from selling alcohol, they did not strictly prohibit transporting it in individually – except for glass containers. Noise complaints shut down the event during Ghastly’s set late Sunday night into early Monday morning. Cancelled flights and sickness caused musicians to skip the festival entirely, not allowing the organizers enough time to compensate with differing acts. Only one food vendor accessible by general admission attendants consistently offered vegetarian options throughout the weekend, but no vegan options existed except for VIP ticket purchasers.

​Improved weather allowed Minnesota to conclude the festival on an uplifting note. While people continued to chant “one more song!” , “happy UpNorth” and “see you next year” resonated in the festival chatter as well. UpNorth’s Facebook page reminds every first-year goer (now veteran) and interested attendees alike about the potential of many years to come.