Day one of Grizzly Fest served to further show that Fresno’s music and arts scene is growing, and people will show up to support it.
My afternoon began with a shuttle to Woodward Park from Fresno State’s P20 parking lot. Pickups were also available from Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company downtown. Shuttle passes were $12 for one day and $20 for both days.
I entered through the north entrance and was immediately greeted with huge art pieces, and many Instagram-worthy photo-ops.
Three stages were set up for the live entertainment. The Sequoia stage was located near the north entrance. The 51 Fifty Grizzly Grove stage was located next to the south entrance. And the Yosemite stage, the biggest of the three stages and where the headliners perform, is a straight 2-3 minute walk from the south entrance. (Small maps of the area are given to everyone upon entrance.)
Music began around 3 p.m., but my first goal was to find food, cold water and shade to escape the heat. The Vendor Village is an area lined with food vendors and trucks. It gave me the feeling of a mini-Fresno Fair.
In the middle of the village is a sitting area where you can eat or take a break from walking around. I utilized this area quite a bit, as its placement is directly in the middle of everything.
I did have to make a few stops at different food vendors before I found one that took my credit card. I had another problem at a water station later in the day as well — the tablets being used to swipe cards were not working. My biggest Grizzly Fest advice: bring cash. It will make your afternoon so much easier.
The food was priced at expected rates, and there were tons of options from pizza to corn dogs to ice cream and sno-cones. Quesadilla Gorilla and Ampersand Ice Cream were present, as was Dog House Grill. There were even vegan food options.
I saw and listened to many performances throughout the day, but there are three that stood out to me.
The first was local blues-rock band Boom Boom Brady, who were the first performers on the Yosemite stage. I typically don’t listen to blues, but Boom Boom Brady has a distinct, easy-to-listen sound that can be classified as blues, but doesn’t really feel like it. This was my first introduction to the band, and I was definitely impressed.
The next performance I sat through was local rock band Sharks of Dance on the Sequoia stage. Sharks of Dance runs in the same circle of local musicians I listen to, so I’ve heard their name tossed around for quite a while but Grizzly Fest was the first time I actually listened to them. I was not disappointed. They have a funky, soulful rock sound, and amazing song titles like “Snapchat Mistress,” “Sex Dragon Bermuda Triangle” and “Bill O’Reilly’s Wet Dreams,” to name a few.
San Luis Obispo alt-rock band Night Riots performed on the Sequoia stage just before sunset. Night Riots is one of the few Grizzly Fest performers I was already familiar with and, as a fan, I was excited to see them. They played for about 40 minutes, and every minute was incredible. A highlight of their performance was definitely when they performed their song “Colour Morning.”
My second piece of Grizzly Fest advice (which can double as general music festival advice): See your favorite performers, but give performers you’ve never listened to a chance as well — they might become a new favorite.
When I wasn’t enjoying the live music, sitting in the shade staying hydrated or enjoying the food, I walked around Grizzly Fest and really took in what it was providing for Fresno — proof that we area a city that can try to do cool things and succeed at them.
If you would have told me a few years ago that Fresno would have its own music festival with local, national and global performers on the lineup, I simply wouldn’t have believed it. It’s events like Grizzly Fest that are bringing life to our city and changing it for the better.
Overall, I would consider day one of Grizzly Fest a success. If you missed out, there are still some tickets available for day two (Saturday at 2 p.m.). Performances begin at 2:30 p.m. and last all day and night. For more information and to buy tickets, go to grizzlyfestival.com.