What was meant to be an open-air music festival turned into an indoor, all-day concert.
At risk of subjecting hundreds of music-lovers to unseasonably cold weather, WIUX moved its 30th annual Culture Shock to Rhino’s Youth Center, the largest all-ages venue in town.
However, even Rhino’s wasn’t big enough to hold WIUX’s largest event of the year, which is typically held in Dunn Meadow and is host to many vendors, programs and, of course, bands and fans.
Toward the end of the evening, fans lined up down the block due to a full 400-capacity venue.
Those lucky enough to get in and see their favorite local and national bands came from all backgrounds — from festival first-timers to seasoned show-goers.
Hundreds of people mean hundreds of backgrounds, stories and experiences. Here’s a look at some of the many different roles at Culture Shock.
Rhino’s opened its doors an hour later than the advertised 1 p.m., but it wasn’t due to negligence.
Volunteers arrived early in the day to set up tables, tents and audio equipment of all sorts.
Due to the size of Rhino’s, most of the tables were set up in the parking lot, which required a team of volunteers to sport windbreakers.
One of those volunteers was Mike Higgins, a sophomore WIUX member.
Higgins arrived early with several other volunteers to do the grunt work.
However, he had other projects to attend to throughout the day.
As a member of WIUX’s blog team, he was put in charge of conducting video interviews at the back of Rhino’s, where it was slightly quieter.
He and other blog members scouted for enthusiastic festival-goers who would tell them about their experiences and hopes for future Culture Shock festivals.
With camera and tripod ready, Higgins spent hours hearing everyone’s hopes for Kanye West, Radiohead and other superstars to headline next year.
However, working for the blog wasn’t the only reason Higgins wanted to do these interviews, he said.
After this semester, Higgins will be replacing WIUX special events director Ben Wittkugel and will be in charge of booking and running the 2017 Culture Shock.
“I’m just watching Ben and seeing where he goes, what he does and how he does it,” he said.
With a binder full of booking tips and protocol in hand, Higgins said he will begin sending out emails to national bands this summer.
Most of his work as future special events director will come prior to the festival, he said.
Surprisingly, the day of the festival came with the most amount of relaxing, he said.
After finishing his videos, Higgins found time to sneak to the front row and watch his friends in Brownies in Cinema, a local psych-rock band.
After listening to a song or two, Higgins was off again to follow Wittkugel, catch up with friends visiting from out of town and fit in more video interviews.
Despite having occasional free time, he said he was on duty most of the day.
“We’re just making sure nothing burns to the ground,” he said.
Dozens of early-arrivers wandered around the Rhino’s parking lot and impatiently waited for Higgins and the other volunteers to finish their prep and open the doors.
Sitting in a circle with one of his many groups of friends was Elijah Heath, a sophomore who had never experienced Culture Shock in Dunn Meadow.
“I am freaking excited,” he said while being filmed by Higgins. “Last year I couldn’t make it because I was invited to a girl’s formal, and I didn’t even notice the day. I regret it.”
Describing his black Doc Martens as his dancing shoes, Heath expressed his interest in seeing several local bands.
However, he said he was most excited to see Whitney, an indie-folk group featuring former members of Smith Westerns.
With a less burdensome schedule than Higgins, Heath was free to wander.
His time was often spent in the middle of the crowd, bobbing his head, frequently wearing a smile.
Even in between bands, Heath and some close friends jumped up and down in the parking lot as a WIUX DJ blared some electronic dance music favorites.
Heath said he had to leave a couple times throughout the day to take a breather.
He said one breather entailed a 15-minute walk to Z & C Teriyaki & Sushi Restaurant for his favorite: teriyaki chicken, lo mein noodles and spicy mayo.
Heath was never gone longer than an hour. He said he didn’t want to miss any of the groups, but he chose to miss the local bands he had seen live before.
During his interview with Higgins, after joking about this being both his first and last Culture Shock, Heath said he hopes to see his own band, Raleigh’s Ghost, play one year.
The band members:
Culture Shock wouldn’t exist without the bands.
With 11 bands on the bill, six were locals and three were touring from out of town, including headliner Neon Indian, an electronic-pop act from Texas.
However, Dasher was an anomaly — a local band using Culture Shock as its tour-kickoff show.
The three-piece noise-punk outfit, consisting of Kylee Kimbrough on drums and vocals, Steve Garcia on guitar and Gary Magilla on bass, stood out as one of the only punk bands on the lineup.
Before they played, Garcia and Magilla danced by their merchandise table as the Underhills pleased the crowd with their soft acoustic-folk melodies.
Dasher was scheduled to play next.
“I can’t wait to play right after them,” Magilla said. “I wonder how the crowd will react.”
One member had to be with the merchandise and handle the money at all times. Leaving for tour the next day, they were hoping to sell plenty of $10 T-shirts, $5 vinyl records and two-for-$1 stickers and buttons.
To prepare for the set, Kimbrough set up her drums on the side of the stage and paid particular attention to the snare’s tuning.
Trying to quench their thirst before going on stage, Magilla drank iced coffee and Garcia filled up a plastic cup with sink water.
As Kimbrough screamed into the microphone for her sound-check, families with young kids swiftly exited.
Those in the front row covered their ears as Garcia’s feedback-heavy guitar shrieked on the right and Magilla’s distorted bass boomed on the left.
Although the slot was 35 minutes, Dasher’s set was shorter, which helped put the festival’s schedule back on track.
The majority of the band’s time at Culture Shock involved loading heavy gear in and out of the venue, protecting their merchandise and networking with other bands.
With shows in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Cleveland and more ahead of them, Garcia said they were happy to play in Bloomington before leaving.
However, he and Magilla were mostly focused on perfecting their tones before hitting the road.
“How was my bass tone?” Magilla said. “I couldn’t hear myself at first, but I think it leveled out.”