Living in Cleveland Ohio I consider myself lucky that every summer there are so many music festivals within driving distance. This year there is one more to add to the list, the UPHEAVAL FESTIVAL in Grand Rapids Michigan. The festival’s inaugural night is this Friday, and in many ways marks the beginning of large scale music festival season in our neck of the woods. We spoke to Jenna Meyer, VP of MiEntertainment Group, and learned there are quite a few things that make this a festival an event you don’t want to miss.
So let’s get right down to it and talk about our #TopFive favorite reasons to add Upheaval to your summer plans…
When asked where the idea came from to start this festival, Jenna Meyers says “Obviously there isn’t anything else like this in Michigan. Rock Festivals are doing well around the country and it’s an audience that really isn’t being reached with a multiple day event here in state. That was our initial [starting] point, ‘We need a Rock festival'”, she added “West Michigan has always been a very strong rock [music] market” , and since they had been investing in Belknap Park as a company, and hosting Breakaway Music Festival for the last several years, Grand Rapids was an obvious choice. From there they partnered with Rock Fest promoter Wade Asher to start routing the talent. Meyers is excited about the future of that partnership and to be creating an event that will go on for hopefully decades to come.
From the looks of it they certainly did their best to come through for Michigan Rock N Roll fans this year. The line up is well rounded with national acts like Korn and Rob Zombie to up and coming MI homegrown favorites like Heartsick and Vestigial. There is nu metal, heavy metal, hard rock, classic rock, southern rock, etc…. truly something every rocker will enjoy.
And to add to your rock n roll experience, there will be merch vendors, tattoo artists, and some delicious food and drink options.
Belknap Park is a downtown city park about a mile from Grand Rapids city center. Tucked in between a business district and a neighborhood, Meyers describes the venue as a natural amphitheater, “It’s got a baseball field diamond on the lower level and then this really massive hill with a great lookout at the top, which is where our second stage will go.” She added, “It’s a great experience. When we do Breakaway [music festival] up there you get some beautiful sunsets and a view where you can look out over the city”.
To further speak to the accessibility of the venue, we at Rock Lines are staying at a hotel less than a mile from Belknap Park. I mean seriously…when is the last time you walked from your hotel to your music festival???
We all know the difficulties local businesses faced during covid shut downs. In an era where many large festivals are run completely by out of state entities, Upheaval is truly an event that supports local businesses and the overall local economy. Meyers points out “A lot of our suppliers are local. We have local sound. We have local video… All of our staff is local. It’s great to be so close to the community in that sense.”, she adds “There is an economic impact that is happening and those dollars are staying here.”. Also benefitting from the festival will be the local non profit organizations that will be selling beer and manning the water stations. Plus local bars and restaurants are making special plans to accommodate festival goers.
Ultimately it is the fans that make the festival experience. Fun will be had and new friendships will be made. Even though this is a new event, the enthusiastic rock fans have already started to bond online, forming a festival family of sorts, and calling themselves “The Uprisers”. Event management is appreciative of their support, Meyers says “We have a great fan group already. They have been amazing, especially throughout Covid and having the first year event delayed. I’m so thankful that that fan group has grown and they are so excited”.
I left the most obvious reason to get to Upheaval for last….2020 was a struggle. We missed out on live music, going out to eat, spending time with friends…you know, basically some of our favorite things in life. As of June 1st, 2021 all restrictions on outdoor gatherings have been lifted in the State of Michigan*. Upheaval Festival is a 25 acre outdoor event and an opportunity to get back to experiencing what you missed out on last summer. Plus, it’s always exciting to be there for the “first time” an event takes place.
As you can see the folks that planned this event are really looking to make it special and something to continue long into the future. To be honest there are truly so many more reasons to make your way to this show, but I am just going to stop with my list now so you can hurry up and get your tickets. See ya there!
Get your tickets HERE
*If you’re NOT vaccinated, the CDC recommends you wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart, and wash your hands when in a large gathering setting.