Audiotree Music Festival
District Square, Kalamazoo
Kalamazoo’s music scene might be battered, but it ain’t beat.
Audiotree, the Chicago-based website and music company known for its stellar in-studio sessions, is bringing a well-deserved bump to town with its second-annual music festival. Sporting 12 bands on two stages in District Square, the event features a mix of national and local acts like RJD2, Tokyo Police Club, Slow Magic, the Soil & the Sun, The Kickback, Flint Eastwood and more.
While Audiotree calls Chicago its home base, the company has some kindred ties to southwest Michigan. Michael Johnston and Adam Thurston, co-founders of Audiotree, both grew up in Kalamazoo. The festival began as a way to bring some of the acts at Audiotree studios to their hometown.
“[We] always wanted to stay involved with the growing the music and arts scene in Kalamazoo,” Thurston said. “By hosting the Audiotree Music Festival in Kalamazoo, [we] can introduce artists to a community that may not get a chance to see them perform otherwise.”
As with a lot of festival lineups, Thurston said there’s a conscious effort to bring in bands donning all sorts of sonic outfits. Those who dig tunes with a digital hue can check out RJD2 or Slow Magic, while groups like Sol Cat and The Balconies should do the trick for those looking for more straightforward rock.
A good chunk of the artists performing at the festival are groups that have worked with Audiotree in one capacity or another, Thurston said, whether it be a live session, music video or studio recording.
“Since we’ve worked with these artists in the past, it gives the festival a family atmosphere,” Thurston said.
For a lot of regional bands, recording a live session with Audiotree is sort of a rite of passage. Alex McGrath, frontman for Michigan’s born-of-the-Earth darlings the Soil & the Sun, agreed what Audiotree does can be integral in connecting with an audience that might not get a chance to see you perform otherwise.
“An Audiotree live session is one of the coolest Internet things a band can do these days,” McGrath said. “As far as capturing a live performance goes, they’re pretty much unrivaled in terms of [audio and video] quality. Having really nice live videos on the web has definitely helped us share our music with a wider audience.”