Are you in need of some soul-searching accompanied by good people and even better music? If so, then check out Audiofeed Music Festival — the annual music, arts, and community festival full of creative performances and free from judgment — and it's happening at the Champaign County Fairgrounds July 5-7, with early access July 4th.
Although it grew out of the Christian-based Cornerstone Music Festival (read back about that here) that attracted thousands of people in the 80's and 90's, Audiofeed isn't your typical religious event. The main theme of love and spiritual enlightenment is expressed through edgy music performances by 140 bands, a handful of influential speakers, seminars, children's activities and film screenings.
Since its inception in 2013, AudioFeed has hosted over 300 bands and art performances with one goal in mind: to spread and share unconditional love for art in the same way expressed through Jesus Christ, festival organizer Jim Eisenmenger said.
"It started as a gathering for people who were on the fringe of their faith," he said. "It was such a unique community of people getting together who felt like it was one of the very few places they could fit in. The combination of talking about their doubts, fears and music started an incredible unique movement."
Despite the festival's goal, Eisenmenger said very few artists are religious-affiliated. However, almost all of them are very open to starting the conversation about the theme, he said.
"What we look for in artists is really great music," he said. "The message we display is for anyone that's deeply struggling with accepting justice, love, peace, and community and maybe faith."
Photo from Audiofeed 2016 by Tom Chandler/Odd World Photography
Audiofeed is a multi-stage festival as you might expect, given the number of acts on the bill — three stages at the fairgrounds will feature many sounds of local bands including indie rock, jazz, metal, punk, singer/songwriter, blues and folk.
For three Champaign locals who play in the punk-pop band Ghoul Jr., performing at Audiofeed means taking part in a supportive, community event that spreads a great message. Bassist Veronica Mullen said she's most looking forward to the positive atmosphere of the festival.
"This will be our first time and we are very excited," she said. "We have never been to Audiofeed before so we're not quite sure what to expect, but we've heard nothing but good things. There are a lot of really great bands and artists on the lineup and we're grateful to be playing alongside them."
The festival first-timers will play alongside headlining bands like Propaganda, Gungor, As Cities Burn, So Long Forgotten, The Brilliance and Silent Planet, Listener, and special guests from The Liturgists Podcast.
Mullen said it feels great to be playing at a festival with a goal to spread unconditional love, despite Ghoul Jr's. punkish, and not-so-happy sound.
"We feel like most of our songs are kind of sad but maybe we can all just be sad together for a little bit and then hug after the show."
However, it doesn't matter what bands sing about, as long as they promote a sense of belongingness, Eisenmenger said. Regardless of Ghoul Jr's heavy lyrics, he said the community that Audiofeed fosters is what makes him return every year.
"It's so much about the discoveries people make about themselves by just hanging out," he said. "We're really fortunate that people come and embrace a place where people gather and talk all throughout the course of the day."
Eisenmenger encourages visitors to camp overnight in order to experience everything the festival has to offer. The camping fees are included in the ticket costs, however, additional fees are mandatory for those with an RV.
For a pretty reasonable price, attendees can experience spiritual enlightenment while bonding with community members over great local performances. Tickets, which are on sale for $40 per day or $70 for a weekend pass, can be purchased at their website or at the gates. Check out the Facebook event.
Top photo from Audiofeed's website.