Home » [do], [listen], [think]

[listen] LIV Music and Arts Festival Recap

12 July 2010 by Claire Suellentrop 11 Comments

It was hot.

Really hot. As in, people were so drenched with sweat they looked like they’d just crawled out of a swimming pool.

Despite the B.O.–inducing heat, music lovers flooded the Commerce Arts District June 19 to partake in Wichita’s first LIV Music and Arts Festival. They were rewarded with live performances by local artists and plenty of Tallgrass beer.

“We should have had tents, we should have had misters,” festival organizer Adam Hartke said, laughing. “Next year, we won’t repeat those mistakes.”

As advocates of all things live and local, my friend and I joined the sweltering ranks on that steamy Saturday eager to see what a non-Riverfest festival in Wichita might look like. And it looked, well, like any good Commerce Street event. Beefy motorcycle men mixed with flowing-skirted hippies, and the party girls of Old Town mingled with hipster boys whose vintage shorts showed off way too much pasty leg. Stereotypes swirled as everyone gathered under the lure of live music.

LIVfest, the brainchild of Adam Hartke (president of Hartke Records), took its name from the Roman numeral for 54 as a tribute to Highway 54 (aka Kellogg Avenue), which runs over the south end of Commerce. LIV also stands for “Live in the Vortex,” a reference to Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Wichita Vortex Sutra.” Enlisting the help of folks at The Anchor, Rock Island Live and a handful of other Wichita music venues, Hartke organized an all-day, two-stage event featuring solely regional talent and local vendors.

The lineup engaged a wide variety of listeners, featuring artists such as indie boys Hot Air Balloon Trauma, hip-hop groups A Squared and Mannish Law, and bluegrass kings Split Lip Rayfield. As far as I’m concerned, though, Carrie Nation & The Speakeasy stole the show; they braved the scorching mid-afternoon heat and gave a smart-mouthed, fast paced performance. Although the majority of the crowd sought sanctuary in the shade, several of us were so infected by their energy that we couldn’t help but turn the sunny south end of Commerce into a full-fledged dance party.

Between acts, festivalgoers fueled up with burgers, bottled water and pints of Tallgrass beer. It was sponsors like Tallgrass that kept LIV Fest afloat; no project is complete without a few major mishaps, and the organizing team definitely felt the blows as several other sponsors rescinded their offers. With revenue deficits of $6,000 two weeks before the festival, the crew began advertising discounted VIP passes. Hartke described the swell of community support as tremendous.

“Schane at The Anchor sold tickets three-for-the-price-of-two out of her pocket,” he said. “She seriously would sell two and pay for the third herself. Alex from Kirby’s gave $1,000. We had donors everywhere. That gave us the confidence to go through with it…we had the greatest pre-sell of any show I’ve ever done.”

It was the sudden discount that convinced us to mark LIVfest on our calendars. Only $20 for two meals, three drinks and after-party access: what wasn’t to love? And thankfully, scores of other music-loving Wichitans shared the sentiment. According to Hartke, selling about 600 passes would have allowed the organizers to break even, so as total attendance reached somewhere between 750-1,000, community interest proved overwhelming. Around 9:30 p.m., I snuck backstage in hopes of a good photo opp. When I turned around, it wasn’t just Split Lip Rayfield jamming on a gas tank that had me cheering; equally as awesome was the sight of the rowdy audience. Stretching from the northern end of Commerce almost all the way down to the Fisch Haus Gallery, their shouts and applause were deafening, and it was clear that LIVfest was a huge success.

Though he claims that plans for next year’s festival won’t begin until August, Hartke has already hinted at a promising 2011 installment. He made no comment about next summer’s lineup, but he did stress the intent to include a greater number of vendors, healthier food options and access to recycling bins. Hartke found inspiration in the considerable turnout of the first annual LIVfest, as well as the waves of positive feedback.

“Wichita has its ups and downs, and sometimes I get down on it just like everyone,” he said. “But this festival proved what this place is made of…I enjoyed it even more than some huge concert with Tom Petty headlining. It was more genuine. It had more passion.”

Related posts:

  1. [listen] Wichita Jazz Festival
  2. [listen] Holiday Music Doesn’t Have to Suck
  3. [listen] J.A.N.E.T. : Defying Definition
  4. [listen] Local Musicians: Balancing Acts
  5. [do] Wichita Center for the Arts
  • Print
  • email
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • FriendFeed
  • Tumblr
  • Netvibes
  • MySpace
  • Technorati
  • Ping.fm


  • Joley said:

    LIV Fest was incredible, so much fun even with the heat.

  • news herald said:

    Its not my first time to pay a quick visit this site, i am visiting this
    web page dailly and get nice information from here everyday.

    Review my blog :: news herald

  • trabajos desde casa en sevilla said:

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but
    I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would
    never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  • com ganar dinero por internet said:

    There’s certainly a great deal to learn about this issue.
    I really like all the points you’ve made.

  • broadband internet rhodes ia said:

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished
    to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    After all I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  • plastic surgery yuba city ca said:

    It would help to talk about the operation with people that have had the same process done.
    Now I know that she has mentioned potential cosmetic surgery for her nose
    earlier, but this hit me tremendously hard.
    Change your appearance in a better and attractive way by simply applying for cosmetic surgery loans.

    my weblog; plastic surgery yuba city ca

  • what men secretly want said:

    This piece of writing gives clear idea for the new people
    of blogging, that actually how to do blogging and site-building.

  • superior singing method review said:

    Hello my family member! I want to say that this article
    is awesome, nice written and come with almost all
    significant infos. I’d like to look extra posts like this .

  • organize songs said:

    Hi to all, how is the whole thing, I think every one is getting more from this site, and your views are pleasant for
    new visitors.

  • adidas nmd said:

    My spouse and i were so relieved when Raymond managed to do his homework through your precious recommendations he had out of the web site. It’s not at all simplistic to just happen to be giving freely points which some people might have been selling. We do understand we need the writer to thank for this. The entire explanations you have made, the simple site menu, the friendships your site help to create – it’s got most incredible, and it is making our son in addition to us feel that the issue is cool, and that is exceedingly essential. Thanks for everything!

  • adidas yeezy boost said:

    WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. ?

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

Anyone is free to leave comments on any verb [ICT] post. Although verb [ICT] staffers don't actively monitor comments, we will consider removing any comments we find to be offensive, libelous, hateful, etc. If you see such a comment, please click the "report comment" link. Comment threads may be closed after a period of time to prevent spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled website. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.