Well, I know it’s been a stupidly long time. Life’s been busy and I’ve got no other excuse. However, the El Vee’s biggest event of the year is upon us and some of you may need a heads up on what to do or where to go. That’s what I’m here for, kids. My buddy over at Lehigh Valley With Love did his own little walkthrough which gives some good advice but I figured I’d give my own views on the whole ordeal. I’ll take you through the dos and don’ts of Musikfest. The ins and outs. The inside scoop, and any other secretive tip synonym you can dream up. Let’s get down to the info, shall we?
Getting to Musikfest is generally a pain in the ass. All of downtown, SouthSide, and everywhere is backed up. If you must drive over, park far away. Park above the Old Brewery Tavern, across the bridge from Brew Works, or on the SouthSide and go over the Fahy Bridge, otherwise you’ll be paying ~$10 for a parking lot and most of those fill up fast as well. Better yet? Shuttle your ass in. I tell everyone to go to the Hellertown Giant, drop their car, and take the drunk bus in.
The Drunking Drinking
For those of you who aren’t aware (really, there’s people that don’t know?), Musikfest, in my mind, exists solely to drink. Music second, food third, seeing random people from High School and your office that you hate fourth. Now, how does one drink at Musikfest? Well, they’ve got tents with beer and such. They’ve also got wine and mixed drinks floating around. First: buy a mug. You’ll save money. Get a blinking mug RIGHT AWAY because no matter what, when you’re drunk, you’ll be like, “screw this regular mug, I’m getting a blinking one!” Just spend the extra cabbage immediately and get it out of your system.
I avoid all beer tents but one: Volksplatz. Go to Bethlehem Brew Works. Face it. Now turn around. See the Sun Inn? See that little alleyway beside it? Follow it. Prepared to find the beer tent with the shortest lines in all the Festland. Enjoy. (Alternate: Americaplatz, but that’s soooo far away from all the action)
I usually try to buy from Musikest, however I am a beer snob. I like really great beer, and sometimes the Yuengling just doesn’t cut it. Enter Hotel Bethlehem, who serves Guinness (eh) among other stuff, Bethlehem Brew Works who serves up their own stuff (yay!), and Starfish, who has craft beer on tap (double yay!). If you’re just really goddamn cheap you can hit up Joe’s, Penn Pizza, or Ripper’s for discounted refills, but you can’t use those precious tickets.
Hello, and welcome to Gain Ten Pounds and Spend Fifty Dollars Musikfest Food. There’s a lot of annual delights that I’ve been devouring since I was probably too young to understand what alcohol was. So, probably 3.
Aw Shucks – You see this at pretty much every event/fair around the area, but it’s still a must-have. Roasted corn, still on the cob, doused in real butter, sprinkled with spice and topped off with some parm. Easy to eat while walking to the next beer tent. Found in: Handwerkplatz
Hogar Krea Shish Kabobs – Oh, all that is heavenly. I have literally come to Musikfest, acquired these, and left. This is the single best meal in all of Musikfest. Meat on open flames with smoke that you can see for miles (that’s a lie). Sweet, barely-charred-on-the-edges green pepper, and sweet onions combine to make this the most amazing thing you’ll shove down your gullet all week. No joke. Found in: Handwerkplatz
Take-a-Taco – Another annual favorite, they’ve got all kinds of tacos and fajitas. Pretty simple stuff, but unabashedly tasty. Found on: Main Street
D&J Concessions – FRIED EVERYTHING. Cheesecake. PB&J Sandwiches. God knows what else. If this doesn’t sound good, do yourself a favor and just try it. It’ll blow your mind. Then go home and curl up in the fetal position and cry about what you just did to your arteries and start doing pushups. Found in: Plaza Tropical
Alando’s Kitchen – A newcomer to the Fest, this is African food from a little kitchen that operates in the back of Wired Cafe. They’ll be cooking up authentic ethnic cuisine so it’ll be interesting to taste something different and new. Found in: Volksplatz.
Made in Brazil – Yet another newcomer to Musikfest, from the people that own Made in Brazil in Allentown and Rios in Nazareth. If you’ve never been to either of those places do yourself a favor and get there. Absolutely amazing different meats done up in Brazillian steakhouse-style. It’s a little lengthy to get into what that exactly means, but if their tent is anything like their restaurants you’re in for some tasty, tasty snacks. Found in: Volksplatz
Dina Hall – A local flavor known for her great voice and guitar work. She plays Starfish, some local open mics, and Wired Cafe now and then. Always a good time and her show is early on and a great start to your first night. Liederplatz 6-7:30 Friday August 6.
Three Legged Fox – Very, very chill summery music. Frequently referred to as Jack Johnson-like, which means you just want to chill out after a hot day, drink a beer, and listen to music exactly like this. Liederplatz 8p-10p Friday, August 6.
Counting Crows – In my opinion one of the only other paid shows worth seeing, even if you only know Mr. Jones. These guys have a bunch of hits, have been on the radio for years, and are known to put on a solid set. Throw that in with the fact that it’s the opening night show at Musikfest and you’ve got a great way to start your week of festing. I’ll be covering this one in depth, both for The El Vee and for an article at Discover Lehigh Valley who awesomely hooked me up with the tickets. Friday, August 6th at Sands Riverplace. Doors at 6pm. Note: You have to buy tix for this show.
Lindyhop Swing Dancers – If you’ve got no idea what Lindy hopping is, take a look over here at some videos. Needless to say it’s awesome, awesome swing dancing. If you like any sort of fun you’ll be at this with your jaw agape at how good some of these people are. 7:30-8:10 at Festplatz Saturday Aug 7th
Mama Jama – Most people here will be stoned. If you like Marley, come to this. If you like reggae, come to this. Sunday, August 8th 9-11 at Volksplatz
Hannah Graser – A young girl who I saw play some open mics that has a great collection of covers as well as some stunning original music for her age. Check her out at Lyrikplatz Monday August 9th from 7p-7:30p.
Drawing a Blank – Not sure if these guys are the punk band in the link but I can’t find any other “Drawing a Blank”. If that’s really them, then this should be a great show. Maybe I’ll see my first ever FestPit.
Scott Mckenna – Always a favorite of mine…I don’t know how this guy isn’t famous yet. He usually performs with guitar prodigy Nick van Wyk. Together they make some fantastic pop music. It’s a shame they’re not on a bigger stage for a longer period of time. 6-6:30pm at Lyrikplatz on Tuesday, August 10th.
Seamus Kennedy – Was introduced to this one through a friend playing drinking songs. Awesome Celtic music that will make you yearn for Celticfest. ABSOLUTELY make sure you have a full beer for when he plays the Barley Mow. 1:30-2:30p and 5-6:30p Tuesday, August 10th at Volksplatz.
The Fabulous Greaseband – The band your parents and grandparents want to go see. Chock full of 50s-70s cover music, they do a great job and are one of the favorites for the older crowd. If you like Grease, Valens, or anything older you’ll want to give them a look. That, and they’ve been around FOREVER. Thursday August 12 8-11 at Festplatz.
Connie Edinger – Awesome local musician with an amazing voice. She does cover songs of 70s-80s rock and she can belt a tune like no other. You won’t be disappointed. See her 7-7:30p at Lyrikplatz on Thursday, August 12.
Sublime – Everyone knows who these guys are. 90’s ska/reggae/punk from California that is the epitome of summer soundtracks. Songs about drugs, girls, and everything inbetween, they recently reformed after their lead singer Bradley Noll died before their smash-hit record came out. The new dude doesn’t look like Brad but sounds just the same. Easily going to be a stand-out show, and the openers The Dirty Heads have a really solid record to boot. I should be hitting this up if I can get in so there may or may not be photos. Note: You have to buy tix for this show. Sunday, August 15, 2010 at Sands Riverplace. Doors at 6pm.
I’m going to go against what Lehigh Valley With Love says and say don’t even bother with anything around Musikfest. It’ll be wayyyy too crowded and everyone gets in fights and gets arrested. Truck your ass over the Fahy and hit up Macgrady’s or Tally Ho if you want a college bar, The Firehouse if you want a shithole, Looper’s if you’re older, or The Bookstore if you want good drinks/beer and want to listen to more swing music. Oh yeah, there’s a casino somewhere too.
Also, going towards Volksplatz there is a HUGE bottleneck. Look at the map, try to avoid it. It sucks being caught in there. Follow The El Vee and Musikfest on Twitter for up-to-date info throughout Musikfest! Stop back and check out updates and such.
Go to the Musikfest website for additional info about other concerts, food, maps, etc. This is just a guide to what I think is good…there’s so much more to see.