Written and photographed by Breton Spiller
A little over a week ago, I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Sacred Rose Music Festival in Bridgeview, IL. Although there were a few hiccups, as is possible with any first-time fest, I still feel confident in saying this was a successful festival overall.
To avoid dwelling on what went wrong, I want to highlight everything that the Sacred Rose team did right. This festival had not only a stellar lineup but an abundance of creativity, an overall good vibe, and an excellent team running things behind the scenes.
Even before the festival began, the team behind the scenes was actively listening and responding with action to fan complaints and requests.
For example, the initial schedule drop had fans concerned about conflicts, overlapping set times, etc. So what did the team do? They adjusted! There will never be any perfect way to give everyone what they want, but redoing an entire schedule at a moment’s notice per fan request is not something you see a festival team do every day.
Now, not only did the Sacred Rose team adjust logistics leading up to the fest, but they were actively engaged with fans and responded to complaints even after the festival was in full swing.
Day one, it was almost impossible not to hear the whispers throughout the crowd about how there was lots of sound bleed between the stages and an overall lack of sound at The Canopy stage, among other things.
They posted this to their social media pages on day two in response to the chatter:
Some had the critique that it seemed VIP was getting a lot of the upgrades, but if I paid for VIP and didn’t feel the VIP experience was up to par, I’d probably be irritated, too. No complaints on my end for the team giving people their money’s worth.
Since this was a music festival, I should probably talk about the music, huh?
A standout performance for me was from Andy Frasco and The U.N. A high-energy performance from an eclectic group of musicians was exactly what was needed to help kick off Saturday of the festival.
The band was in constant motion: switching between instruments, dancing on top of the piano, throwing their hair around, and just having a straight-up good time. Andy Frasco even got into the crowd and led a jumping bar-mitzvah-style circle dance.
We can’t forget to mention the incredible Phil Lesh and Friends performance. Just a line of talented musicians jamming their hearts out on a Friday night. Regardless of the sound issues at The Canopy stage, the entire group played spectacularly, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most, right?
Other honorable mentions of the weekend include the Kitchen Dwellers, Maggie Rose, STS9, and Cory Wong. All incredible sets. I could probably just list the entire lineup here, though, because I can’t say I heard one drop of music I didn’t like all weekend.
I wish we all could have experienced two highly anticipated groups, Khruangbin, and Greensky Bluegrass. I can only imagine they had some insane sets planned for us. Unfortunately, some spotty weather rolled in and led to the cancellation of these sets, among others scheduled for Sunday night.
If you attended Sacred Rose on Sunday, you know what I’m talking bout. Good ol’ mother nature had to throw us a bit of a curveball, to which the festival responded quickly. Maybe a bit too quickly, though.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about prioritizing the safety of attendees, but there were a solid few hours where the sun was still brightly shining and the incoming storm nowhere near the festival yet. Excited to see the Infamous String Dusters with Molly Tuttle, Fans sat in the Dreamfield for over an hour before music resumed… at least for a little while.
I must mention that blame does not fall wholly on the Sacred Rose team here. Venues like Seatgeek Stadium often have their own rules in place regarding weather, and so does the city where the event occurs.
Do I think the weather delay could have waited an hour or two, and guests could’ve gotten a bit more music that day? Yes. Do I know enough about what went on behind the scenes to make that call accurately, though? No.
So, regardless of the action taken regarding the weather, a large amount of credit is due to the PR and social media teams’ efficiency in their communications with attendees. The Sacred Rose team released consistent updates via their social media and the official app as they made decisions about the incoming weather.
Once lightning struck near the festival, they ultimately decided to shut down the event for the rest of the night. For the safety of the guests, this decision was understandable. Again, though, I wonder if the earlier weather delays were a bit premature.
Following the close of the festival, Sacred Rose released these statements as a response to the weather issues, refund requests for Sunday ticket holders, as well as a credit card issue that many festival-goers experienced:
All that said and done, there isn’t much room for negative talk about this festival because you know what? Stuff happens.
Especially when you consider all of the bits and pieces that go into running a large-scale festival, the Sacred Rose team did a fantastic job of being present, listening, responding, and acting. They even had another festival happening the week after at the same venue! Talk about a full plate! I hope everyone involved in Sacred Rose and North Coast Music Festival gets some well-deserved rest soon.
(North Coast Music Festival review also coming soon!)
It truly does take a village to put something like Sacred Rose together. Every single person involved, from just regular GA attendees all the way up to festival directors, is a piece of the puzzle. I genuinely believe the Sacred Rose team acknowledges this as well because if they didn’t, I don’t think this fest could have gone down as well as it had.
I have high hopes for the future of Sacred Rose. To the teams involved, please keep doing what you’re doing and listening to your audience. It shows that you care, and to me, at least, that trumps all else.
It was a pleasure dancing among the varying art installations, vibing in the laser dome, and jumping around at Andy Frasco with you all. I hope to make my return to Sacred Rose next year and can’t wait to see what the team cooks up for it.
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