Concert Review: Hinterland Festival – Lake Street Dive and Grace Potter at the Avenue of the Saints Amphitheater – St Charles, IA – Aug 5-6, 2016

Published by JB on August 7, 2016.

Concert Review: Grace Potter / Lake Street Dive at the Hinterland Festival – Avenue of the Saints Amphitheater – St Charles, IA – Aug 5-6, 2016

The surge in music festivals across the planet now has arms long enough to stretch into the outer-reaches of tiny St. Charles, IA with it’s bubbling population of about 643.   More importantly, it’s a simple straight shot 25-minute highway drive from the State Capitol building and the suburbs of Des Moines.   For the 2nd year in a row the newly crowned Hinterland festival stuck close to its midwest-Americana roots and brought in acts that are as red, white and blue as George Washington’s underwear.   Both Willie Nelson and the Jagger-like Grace Potter headlined the 2nd night in front of a slightly inebriated crowd of campers who ranged from arm-waving and head-bobbing for the sake of the groove – to passed out and sleeping on the amphitheater hill.

What’s great about the festival:

  • The free shuttle.  Yes, I was cringing when I saw the shuttle bus I was sprinting towards drive away 50 feet from my grasp, but the next one was leaving in fifteen minutes.  The return back on Saturday night had delays, but still, this was a free 60 minute roundtrip.  Their gas, their traffic, their hassle.  I napped on the way back.  It was perfect, and appreciated.DSC_3361
  • The headliners are very worthy.   Willie Nelson, Grace Potter, Ray Lamontagne and Cold War Kids made this a worthy task.  Tack on Lake Street Dive (who were truly exuberant) and this is pretty damn good for St. Charles, IA.  Someone did a good job recruiting the talent here (or simply writing the checks).
  • The merch stand was far better than the inaugural year.   Great selection of shirts and the ability to pay with plastic.   Nothing makes a festival better than driving up our personal debt for later concerns!
  • VIP bathrooms.  Those two words are the two most important words in the dictionary when it becomes that time!
  • Acoustics.   It sounded great.  Nice, slightly humid Iowa corn kept the sound deep and in our faces.

One thing that stuck out to me:

  • Wonderful little venue, as long as it isn’t muddy.  There’s a nice slant to the Amphitheater and tons of blanket-on-the-ground space with a great view minus the soundboard albatross in the middle.

Two things the festival should do for next year:

  • Better signage.  Upon drop-off from the shuttle half the people walked the wrong way.   I mean are we supposed to just know to “walk along that ditch over there 100 yards and you’ll see the entrance”?
  • Must get a big headliner again.  And let’s not be afraid to break the color barrier.  I’ve seen more black people at a NASCAR race than I saw last night.   Let’s integrate!

What kind of music I’d like to see in the future:

  • My Morning Jacket, Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, The Black Keys, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, The Smashing Pumpkins.   Go big.
  • Since 80/35 eats up some of the top acts touring in the summer it’s hard to find bands that bring out the teenage girls.  Most of those girls aren’t the camping type, but yet they have the stamina to cling to the rail for 9 hours (or until their cell phone dies).


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