By: Bob Mandich
When you think of southern Indiana the last thing that would probably come to mind is a prime spot for an excellent festival. Well, think again because after only its 2nd year Hyperion has staked its claim as one of the best small festivals in the entire country. Spencer, IN and more specifically Stable Studios was an above ground cesspool of great music, unique visuals and a few thousand people who were all just looking for a good time (spoiler alert: they found it). The Hyperion formula is actually a very simple one: Book a few established names as headliners, fill the majority of the card with the very deep & talented Indiana jamtronica scene, mix it with some clever use of visual art throughout the festival grounds and let the rest take care of itself. If you weren’t at Hyperion this year then I’d highly suggest going next year, especially if good vibes are a key factor in your decision making. Hyperion brought them in bundles…
The days were as hot as could be and as crazy as it sounds to think we’d be complaining about it with all the rain that’s been had this summer, a little cloud coverage and maybe even a couple droplets were definitely filling the hopes and dreams of some. Great covers were being busted out left and right all weekend as bands including Jahman Brahman, Roster McCabe, The Main Squeeze and IndigoSun covered the likes of STS9, Led Zeppelin, The Temptations and Daft Punk. All of them were great especially Jahman Brahman’s version of “Aimlessly” that was exceptionally funky and definitely helped subside those Red Rocks blues.
Papadosio headlined on Friday night and with 2 hours to play with there was a lot of excitement surrounding their set. A new song, “New Love” served as opener and got the crowd going instantly. “Find Your Cloud” came early in the set and got its usual ovation. That unmistakable beginning lets you know you’re about to go on a wonderful ride of harmonious grooving. That’s an area where Papadosio flourishes, mixing beautiful melodies with pulsating rhythms. It was also quite awesome that while Dosio was killing it there were a number of fire performers to the left of the stage also drawing applause. These performers were hooping, spinning and moving with such effortless ease that the idea that they were handling flames almost didn’t seem dangerous. They deserve just as much respect for what they do as what Papadosio does. The highlight of their performance came towards the end and started with “We Are Water”. The extended jam at the end of the song had incredible build up that got hearts racing and feet moving in uncontrollable fashions. It was one of those moments where you have to take a step back and say “Man, this band is seriously something special.” Everyone was greeted to a Papadosio classic for encore as “Unparalyzer” brought it on home. Those synthesizers really do tantalize as the track suggests and also cause mass convulsions when played to the highest degree. Words like dirty and nasty may get thrown around a bit too much when trying to describe a performance but trust me when I say that “Unparalyzer” at Hyperion was one of the dirtiest, nastiest things you’ll probably ever hear. Listen to that soundboard when you got a chance…
The visuals at night were some of the coolest I’ve seen all summer. When you walked out from the main stage area back towards the campgrounds you’d find the trees had maze like patterns and then you’d find yourself staring at those patterns for at least a couple minutes. Not getting stuck in the maze proved to be rather difficult at times. What was even cooler about it was how simple it really was to make that happen. I won’t give it away because I’d like to give you the chance next year to see it for yourself, look around to find out how they did it and go “Oh, that’s really clever!”
Snarky Puppy delivered an extremely impressive set on Saturday night. Every time these guys take the stage they will have gained a few more fans by the time they walk off. The best way to describe their sound would be a funk fusion of every decade going all the way back to the 60s. While their band bio lists 17 different members, there were only 7 on stage for Hyperion. 7 were plenty. Their jams were so intricate, paying attention to the tiniest of details to make sure that every instrument being played was felt by everybody in the crowd. There are a lot of bands that are a lot of fun but when a band is making music that sounds like no one else and making people groove in the process that deserves recognition. Snarky Puppy is a GREAT band with a BRIGHT future.
Gramatik served as headliner on Saturday and threw down a very diverse set. Dropping everything from ‘#DigitalFreedom’ bangers to ‘Street Banger’ classics, the Slovenian maestro crafted together 1 hour and 45 minutes of music that seemed to please everybody in attendance. He even busted out a few unreleased tracks from his upcoming album ‘The Age of Reason’ and his GRiZMaTiK project with fellow electro heavyweight GRiZ, the drops on the GRiZMaTiK tracks were HUGE! If they ever release a full album together it may very well change the game. He also sprinkled in his remix of Bassnectar’s “Dubuasca”, which had the signature Gramatik sound dressed all over it. The encore was a track from his newest side project, Ex-mag. This has a more downtempo, chilled out vibe to it. My friend who was standing right next to me also referred to it as “…straight baby making music”. That sounds about right too. It was a set that had everything you could want from a Gramatik show and left even the most jaded of fans satisfied.
The late night action was featured some of the best live electronic acts around today. The Floozies brought their signature Kansas funkstep for a good ole fashioned barn rager. As a former resident of Indiana I can attest, they have those quite a bit. Their “Space Jam” remix made the crowd go nuts as we universally wobbled till there was nothing left to wobble to.
Break Science followed back at the main stage and put on a clinic from 1-2am. Adam Deitch and Borham Lee seemed to never let up as their playing got more intense and ferocious with each passing song. It was a shame they only had an hour because the way they were in tune they could have rocked it till sunrise without missing a beat.
Future Rock had us till 3:15 and did what they damn well pleased with us too. Once you stepped back into the barn it was a full blown bounce fest set in the year 2021. I don’t think a bands name has ever matched its sound so perfectly. Everybody had the biggest smiles on their faces, not even thinking about time, just enjoying the moment they were in. Future Rock closed their set with a cover of Daft Punk’s (there were at least 4 different Daft Punk covers at Hyperion, at least) “Contact”. It was intense as intense gets and the whole time I was waiting for the barn to be lifted off the ground and take us far, far out into space. When I think about it, we were already there…
Hyperion has built a solid foundation and excellent word of mouth in its first 2 years. As long as the formula remains the same, the people will keep coming and the good vibes will keep flowing. As great as the big festivals can be, there’s something really special about experiencing it in a much more intimate setting. The sky is where the organizers should be looking because it’s only looking up from here. Rage on Hyperion, Ray John.