It was freezing — I forgot to look at the weather on Sunday morning and ended up wearing shorts and a tank top in 47-degree gloom. Even though the weather was gloomy, the festival was a rousing success.
Burning Couch is an amalgamation of Bloomington art — from clothes to bands to doodles. The grassroots event took place at none other than Switchyard Park, a beautiful and spacious outdoor space. Sprinkled with the occasional couch, the expansive lawn was ready to go.
The day started with ForeDaze’s final performance as a band. It was bittersweet to hear “Co-sign” for the final time, but all good things must come to an end.
“It’s nice to have our last show be part of this huge community,” Alex Cappelli, their bassist, said.
This won’t be the last you hear of these talented musicians though. Their drummer, Carsen Outwater, is already part of hardcore band Fox Body, providing a core drive to their music. Marty Abaddi will spend the next school year in Italy but not before she makes some music with Cappelli.
“We have one song already,” Cappelli said, “We’re hoping to be doing that this summer and maybe even remotely next year.”
After thawing my fingers in the pavilion, I ran outside to catch a band I’d never seen before; psychedelic rock band Tree To Stone returned to the festival for a second try. Its "anything goes" attitude provided a collaboration with the following band The Atomic Misfits. The horn solos added an extra layer to their musical charm.
“When we were sound checking, I heard the horn players warming up in the background,” Luke Bird, guitarist and vocalist of the band, said. “I heard that they were playing on top of what we were sound checking anyway. I recognized that they had talent. We had nothing to lose here.”
I grabbed a few exclusive Burning Couch Pizza X cups and darted inside to hide from the cold. The pavilion was lined with art vendors selling their work. Cut It Out sold creative collages, including those made of parking tickets. There were several vintage clothing booths throughout the day with $5 clothing bins that I had to dig through. Pins and patches took over the corners of the room, proudly selling the bands’ merchandise.
Lily Selivan, an IU freshman, sold her and her sister’s paintings and prints in a big portfolio propped open on the table. She credits New Grounds, an artistic forum website, for providing her a place for artistic growth and inspiration. Like many other vendors present, this was her first time selling art in a fair-like environment.
“I feel very proud of myself for actually putting the time, money and effort behind making my pieces,” Selivan said. “The little compliments really go a long way. I don’t care if they buy it or not, it’s just them saying ‘oh, that looks cool.’ It means a lot.”
The acoustic stage shared the pavilion with the vendors, giving it an even warmer atmosphere for attendees. I was entirely captivated with Silvia Josefina’s performance, a local artist now experimenting with electronic music after five years in Bloomington. Their passion seeped into their stage presence, hooking the whole room into their music.
“I’m lucky to have been able to enter this community,” Josefina said. “The best part of Burning Couch is that I can actually interact with these people and share the space. A year ago today, I would not expect to be where I am in this room.”
I checked the time and rushed to the outdoor stage to catch the last half of hardcore band Callejera’s set. I got there just in time. Lead singer Mia Rivas had just taken a huge swig of their water bottle. It wasn’t filled with water; they let the fake blood they stashed in their mouth pour out as they prepared to crawl into the crowd. Bassist Tyler Eubanks wrapped their amp cord around their neck, pretending to choke themself. Callejera will never have a boring performance.
“The best part about our shows is definitely the audience,” Armando Tandy, the drummer, said. “We don’t want to be a band that everyone goes to because of the people performing. We want it to be an experience.”
After jumping around for Callejera, I was hungry. I grabbed some spring rolls from Pinoy Garden Café and headed inside for The Reys’ set. I had the pleasure of performing with Zach Gutzwiller and Connor Barcus last October and the two have only gotten better since then. Barcus said they’re aiming to play at the White House if they can.
I was cold, I was tired, but I couldn’t miss Westhead’s performance. The crowd was incredible, singing along to all their new music and dancing like their knees could never give out.
“I could barely open my eyes because it was scaring me a little,” said Max DiFrisco, songwriter and vocalist of the band. “It was really awesome.”
After every interview, I asked each artist what their favorite performance was. ForeDaze loved Callejera’s performance the most. Tree To Stone, Callejera, The Reys and Westhead couldn’t get enough of Ed Winn & The Atomic Misfits. They were even signing shirts after their set, proving their stardom.
As the night came to an end and the rain fell harder, it was time to leave. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day. In a way, this was Bloomington’s DIY Coachella with a lot less sun and a lot more layers.