photos by aLIVE Coverage
Returning for a third year to Birmingham, Alabama Sloss Music & Arts Festival brought the city together again for two days of fun in the sun. Bringing some major names in the music industry to the deep south, Sloss Fest again set a new bar to the entertainment scene in Alabama. This is a must attend event for those living in or around the Birmingham metro area!
Music genre – Jam, Jamtronica, Rock, Bluegrass, Alternative Rock, Electronic, and Hip-Hop.
Capacity: Small (10k-20k attendees)
Crowd type: All ages, College students, High School students, Small families.
Water stations: Yes
For The First Timers – Birmingham is not a large city at all, any first timers should know it is extremely easy to get around the city so don’t panic around where to stay and how to get to the festival! The venue itself is located near downtown Birmingham at the historic Sloss Furnace in the warehouse district. Travel time from any hotel in the city would be less than 20 minutes via Uber, but for those Birmingham residents plan for parking! Parking got pretty hectic, arriving anytime later than 3pm and all nearby parking was almost gone. The festival is held in July, and for those who don’t know this, IT IS HOT. Being in the Deep South has its perks in other seasons, but come festival season the weather can be a bummer. Dress cool, dress casual and be ready to be uncomfortably sweaty. But even with the heat Sloss fest prepares for its attendees and offers some great amenities to beat the heat!
Standout Food – From pizza, to burgers to ice pops, many food options were offered at Sloss this year. Two however, came out above the rest for me, What’s the catch? Food truck was back offering ahi tuna, mahi-mahi and shrimp tacos that were out of this world. My personal favorite (only available in VIP) was a food truck called Shindigs, they had burgers, and truffle fries that were insanely good, but their steamed buns with Korean BBQ and pork belly literally make it worth spending the extra money on a VIP ticket.
Musical Highlights – With big name bands such as Widespread Panic and the Alabama shakes on the lineup, my expectations were easily met with the music I heard. I personally am a huge electronic music fan, specifically artists such as Gramatik, GRiZ and Pretty Lights, so attending a festival focused a lot on southern rock was different for me. In the past 3 years I’ve ventured into the jam scene and have scene many great bands play, but the one band I’ve been told time and time again to see was Widespread Panic. I missed the first two songs of the set, but when I got to the stage and saw the crowds reaction to every note played, it all made sense. Widespread Panic is known for its dedicated following, and even if it wasn’t totally my things I can come to appreciate the musical talent and love the crowd shows where ever they are!
Things To Do — This year offered iron pouring demonstrations like years previous to kind of give a inside look at what Sloss stood for in history, if you can time to kill and are over near the shed stage, I would definitely recommend stopping to see some of the iron work done live. Another feature added this year was a silent disco, also located near the shed stage.
VIP or Nah — With being in Alabama you are destined to experience some heat, but you are also destined to experience hurricane like thunderstorms. Luckily this year the weather didn’t get so bad that times were moved or performances cancelled, BUT it rained….a lot. Sloss fest day one was a huge mud hole with the only cover being under the overpass that goes directly over Sloss. One of the major perks of VIP is the pretty generous sized air-conditioned tent located near the Blast and Steam stages. Not only is the air-conditioning an amazing thing to have when its 90+ degrees outside, it’s also a good way to stay drive if a thunderstorm rolls through. Also included in the VIP section is its own food truck (Shindigs, see above) as well as private air-conditioned bathrooms. Obviously its more fun in the crowds, but for my personal music taste I was fine viewing from a VIP area with the extra-added amenities.
Story Corner – So one of my big aspects of my personal life is my active roll in the recovery community in the Birmingham area. I have been clean from all drugs and alcohol for 21 months now, but still push myself to have fun without substances. One of the coolest things I think Sloss had to offer this year was a sober tent, I know for me planning to go to a show or festival takes a lot more effort than before. Who am I going with? Are they safe for me to be around? Can I trust that they don’t do anything irrational? It can get pretty intense at shows, and since getting clean I’ve attended many festivals. So being able to be in my community and see a festival offer something such as this really gave me some comfort, I know many people in recovery that enjoy live music and festivals so seeing this elsewhere would make the trips easier!