This past Saturday, music-loving students crowded into the Field House for Lincoln Fest, a yearly event that brings an energetic lineup of musicians and musical acts to campus.
“I always joke that it’s a low-budget Lollapalooza,” said junior Kati Stemple, chair of Union Board’s Music and Expressions Committee.
Over the years, Lincoln Fest has undergone various incarnations. Originally a three day event that brought small Illinoisan musical acts to campus, Lincoln Fest has evolved into a single, 11 hour-long event that primarily showcases the musical talents and stylings of Knox students.
“It is so important that we feature the talent that Knox has. We have such a wide pool of people with so many different hidden talents and musical capabilities,” Stemple said.
While past Lincoln Fests have predominantly showcased acoustic performances, this year the planners strived to create a more diverse roster of local musical acts. The 2015 Lincoln Fest featured the vibrant a cappella covers of Soulfege, the layered acoustic songs of sophomore Haley Richter and senior Mikko Jimenez, the intimate, folksy tunes of Fellows (composed of sophomores Lee Foxall and Madeline Pape), the hip hop stylings of junior Brendan Carmack (a.k.a. Griswold) and senior Eric Crawford (a.k.a. Craw the Sage), the polished piano pop pieces of senior Brian Tanaka, the energetic hard rock of Dreams of Burbank (composed of Tanaka and juniors Morgan Jellison and Rob Peterson), the poetic melodies of senior Missy Preston and the chaotic DIY sound of Genovia Forever (composed of sophomore Kyle Hall and seniors Scott Suiter, Hadley Gephart and Kathleen Guillon.)
“We featured a wider variety of performers this year,” Stemple said. “That was one of my goals. Knox has such a large pool of talent to draw from. I wanted to appeal to as many groups on campus as possible.”
As this year’s Lincoln Fest featured an unprecedented number of Knox musical acts from a wide variety of musical stylings and backgrounds, Stemple and her committee recognized the significance of representing Knox’s talented student body in this year’s lineup.
“[Playing at Lincoln Fest] is a really great experience for people who might not be pursuing musical careers post-college. How many people can say that they were able to play in a music festival their sophomore year of college?” Stemple said. “I want to give people that opportunity. This is a community that tries to foster expression and creativity, so this is one of the perfect events to do that.”
As most Knox bands and artists perform primarily at DIY venues, open mic concerts and house shows, the chance to play at an event with a professional production setup like Lincoln Fest is seen as an inimitable opportunity.
“I think [playing at Lincoln Fest] is a stepping stone,” Jellison said. “We’re working on the same system as the headliners, and they have a professional setup. It’s really nice to be able to work with the same system that an established band is using.”
For past Lincoln Fests, Union Board has booked more professional bands and smaller headliners. This year, however, Stemple opted to book fewer professional bands and to collaborate with Knox’s campus radio station WVKC in order to book a bigger headliner, indie pop band Hellogoodbye.
“There’s so much in terms of finances that goes into planning Lincoln Fest that I think that most people don’t recognize. Without WVKC, there’s no way we would have been able to bring Hellogoodbye,” Stemple said. “I’m hoping that from the collaboration this year, we’ve fostered an environment that allows for further collaboration on a bunch of events. It doesn’t have to just be Lincoln Fest. I think they’re a great organization and they reach areas of campus that I might necessarily have access to or that Union Board might not necessarily always reach out to. That’s what Knox is about. We are a community of really diverse, unique people. Being able to cater to as many different aesthetics as possible is so important when it comes to event planning, especially in regards to music.”
Stemple believes that the collaborations and inclusivity that framed this year’s Lincoln Fest are pivotal to the central purpose of Lincoln Fest: to promote a sense of community on campus.
“The fact that such a small school has the ability to host an event to the scale of Lincoln Fest and has the ability to bring the campus together through music is so cool,” Stemple said. “My goal with Lincoln Fest was to try and create an event that had an air of lightheartedness that brought people together to listen to their friends and people that they hadn’t known before. To [provide] something that is so important to the human condition is what I hope I accomplished and what I hope Union Board and WVKC were able to accomplish.”