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First Thursdays Festival is back in full bloom


The sun shines through tree branches Sept. 5 at Showalter Fountain. IU students and Bloomington residents gathered together for the First Thursdays Festival. Alex Deryn

The start of the monthly spectacle known as First Thursdays Festival began at 5 p.m. in the middle of IU's Fine Arts Plaza.

The main performance stage was situated at the base and front steps of the IU Auditorium which faces Showalter Fountain.

An array of booths, photo opportunities and shaded tents were scattered about to have visitors interact and engage with various types of art. 

Dior Quartet, a relatively new band formed last fall that plays revamped classical music, took the stage and showcased some of the student musicians at the Jacobs School of Music who are all pursuing master's degrees. The four string musicians who make up the band are violinists Noa Sand and Tobias Elser, violist Darryl Manley and cellist Joanne Yesol Choi. 

Pages of sheet music could be seen atop their music stands. This classical music is not one to lull you to sleep, but instead is inventive and allows for each member to play off one another. The quartet fully relies on its instrumental playing to carry the performance.

A seven-man marching band called Jefferson Street Parade Band, which was described by the announcer as “easily Bloomington’s craziest and coolest marching band,” started performing around 6:30 p.m. Loud, energetic sounds infused with a blend of Latin American culture is what the band specializes in. The marching band aspects were still present with crashing cymbals, and closed out its set by proceeding to march around the stage and festival.

“I thought it was good. Kind of a ragtag group of men,” IU junior Ellie Pemberton said.

She has been attending the event, which is held about three to four times a year, since she was a freshman.

Royalty, a Prince cover band, dazzled audiences with Prince tunes featuring a feminine spin. The band consisted of a keyboardist, two guitarists, bass player, drummer and singers Traneisha English and Jada Bee. The performance included multiple guitar solos and engaging audience and band interactions such as gesticulate movements to accompany I Would Die 4 U’s chorus. 

As Royalty’s set wound down to a close, prior to playing “Kiss,” Bee addressed the crowd by saying “I love you, let’s rock.” 

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