Don’t Call It a Washout: Photos from NMFX

Philly rockers Low Cut Connie at the rainiest NMF to date (photo by David Renner)

The prevailing story in the wake of Norman Music Festival 10 (stylized NMFX), was the unfortunate rainy weather, which kept the free annual live music event from perhaps scoring its largest crowd to date. 2016’s festival set a record with over 100,000 people in attendance, and it’s very likely that 2017 would have topped it had the rain held off just one more day.

As the storms roared in Saturday morning, only the most avid festivalgoers were in attendance for whichever outdoor acts managed to catch a break to perform amidst the still dismal conditions. Gradually, the weather cleared in time for all of the headliners (including major catch Thee Oh Sees) and festival attendants to come out and partake in a much-earned live music experience.

The eventual outdoor greenlight was a testament to the resilience of everyone involved, as multiple reports have been smart to recognize, but one can’t help sensing a bittersweet tone to most accounts of NMFX. That’s because most of the focus has been on the Saturday outdoor portion of the event.

For a literal majority of the performers at Norman Music Fest, though, it all went rather well.

Photos from Thursday

While a number of performances were affected by the weather, far more stuck to schedule and may have even seen an influx in attendance. This is because most of Norman Music Festival’s stages are indoors.

Casual observers might not pick up on just how many music stages populate downtown Norman during NMF because it’s often the loudest and most visible ones that are recognized. It may come as a surprise, then, that there are nearly 20 stages, and over a dozen of those are located in various bars and venues along Main Street.

When paired with a flurry of rain, these indoor venues become a shelter for live music fans to get their fix while waiting on the bigger stages to pick up again. Because of this, lesser known stages like those at Bison Witches or Main Street Event Center likely saw some extra traffic because of the rain. Of course, this would have only been the case on Saturday, as NMF’s outdoor stages played to mostly dry conditions earlier in the week.

Photos from Friday

For an Oklahoma music festival taking place right on the cusp of early May, the weather could have been much worse. There were no tornadoes, and there were no power outages. That’s a really big deal. Such situations would have been catastrophic for the entire festival, and as Okies know, they often occur with little predictability despite being somewhat common.

Fortunately, even with storms, the majority of NMFX’s 300+ bands were able to perform without a hitch, thanks to the fest’s well-oiled machinery and the expertise of local venue owners. Furthermore, a few of the acts that were cut entirely from their outdoor stages still managed to salvage their sets at other indoor stages or the multiple unofficial stages that surround the event every year.

Photos from Saturday

The weather wasn’t ideal, sure, but neither was it a dealbreaker. The very foundation of Norman Music Festival is the celebration of live music, free and open to the public, and on the majority of its platforms, it held that standard as highly as ever. There were some incredible moments this year, as there are every year. It would be a shame to let them be overshadowed, so don’t call it a washout. If anything, NMFX was an umbrella.

This article was originally written for Cellar Door Music Group (cellardoormusicgroup.com). It is archived here with the publisher’s permission.

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aka Jarvix, the Chief Executive Weirdo of Make Oklahoma Weirder. His out-of-the-box music coverage has been published by the Oklahoma Gazette, KOSU, and The Oklahoman among others. He also makes DIY music as a solo multi-instrumentalist live looper in his spare time.

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