Aura Music & Arts Festival

February 15-17, 2013

Live Oak, Florida

Review by Emily Majzer

Photos by August J Photography


The dropping temperatures were no competition to the body-heat infused dance waves that moved across the crowds at Aura Music & Arts Festival in Live Oak, Florida.  The sunshine state hardly lived up to its name this past weekend as festival-goers literally chilled out at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, that Aura now calls home.  The park is a pretty magical setting with Spanish moss covering massive Oak trees, nestled off the banks of the historic Suwannee River. It makes you feel like you’re in a children’s book of sorts.  The weekend was nothing short of magical with headliners like Papadosio, Perpetual Groove, Dopapod & Conspirator!

My Aura adventure began late Friday night when I arrived just in time to catch the whole Kung Fu set at the Porch Stage.  I was impressed at how quickly I snapped into dance mode after being in the car for almost 8 hours.  Their funk-fusion style of music makes it impossible to stand still & with the dropping temperatures, I’m sure everyone in the crowd was glad the music made them dance so hard.

Perpetual Groove was next, which was a treat since they recently announced their indefinite hiatus after this tour.  Their fans were not disappointed with their first farewell set where they played jams like “Mr. Transistor” & “Green Tea.”

After their set, I wandered over to the Tribal Council dome, where I was greeted with quality conversation & hot Yerba Mate.  I spent some time in the dome sanctuary, talking & laughing with friends both new & old.  Before long, I started to get chilly & so it was off to the Silent Disco!  I was surprisingly still awake & after rejuvenating at the Tribal Council dome, I was ready to dance till the sun came up.  Arpetrio was totally on my wave length.  I danced for a good bit & then decided to go seek out new friends & a sizzling fire to warm me up.  I ended up meeting some native Floridians who told me about another Silent Disco that was taking place in the camping area.  I was intrigued & followed them to check it out.  Upon arriving, I couldn’t tell anything was happening on the other side of the colorful tapestries that enclosed a huge campsite area, but inside there was a stage, projectors & fire that created a very warming atmosphere.  The Funky Nuggets, a band from Palm Beach County & crew had rented out their own headsets & generators to run their own Silent Disco.  I was awed at their dedication & ended up staying at this secret refuge until the sun came up.

The next day, I woke up just in time to catch Kung Fu again, only this time it was a Tribute to Stevie Wonder featuring Nigel Hall (Warren Hayes Band & Lettuce). They played all the hits including, my personal favorite, “Higher Ground.”  Everyone in the crowd couldn’t help but get down & resonate to all the classics.  Next on the list was Dopapod.  I really love these guys.  They reign from NYC but Aura marked the last part of their tour with Papadosio.  They kept it funky fresh & played jams off their newly released album, “Redivider.”  Next P-Groove played their second & final set of the weekend.  It was bittersweet as fans watched their “It Starts Where it Ends” encore.  Papadosio played late night Saturday.  They entranced the audience with their new LED screen where they project videos & amazing art that goes along with the messages in their songs.  It was a high energy set that included classics like, “Magreenery” & “Polygons.”

But my night didn’t end there, I made my way to the Silent Disco to catch Anthony Thogmartin, of Papadosio, play an EarthCry set.  It was definitely mellow & soothing compared to Sir Charles, who was cranking out dance party dub.

I woke up on Sunday to catch the Former Champions representing from Richmond, Virginia.  Their sets never fail to put me in a feel good mood.  It was a perfect segue way into The Heavy Pets.  Their rock ‘n’ roll/jazz/reggae fusion is fine listening for any set of ears.  Dopapod played the Porch Stage next & by the end of their set, the crowd was fired up & ready for round 2 of Papadosio.  They started their set with “The Plug” & immediately fans were hypnotized.  They kept the masses mesmerized up until the last note of “Stick Figure” was played for the encore.

What a sensational way to begin the festival season!  Aura seems to be one of those festivals that keep getting better year after year. The community vibe joined with the kickass line up makes Aura a festival you don’t want to miss!