Near the end of almost every set the Bend Roots Revival this weekend, the band or performer would say something like, "Isn't Bend Roots great?" or else thank festival creator Mark Ransom for his efforts to continue the celebration of local music. We at Sound Check gladly echo those sentiments because last weekend's fifth-annual Bend Roots was instantly memorable and, as we often say, the best party of the year.
The new Century Center proved a perfect neighborhood host for the event, allowing for seven stages, four of them equipped to fit full band set ups. The main outdoor stage nestled down in between the walls of the massive warehouse complex provided an excellent festival environment, which Moon Mountain Ramblers seized with a ripping set on Friday night.
Saturday brought more than 1,000 local music fans (maybe three times as many as came to earlier installments of the festival) to the Century Center for a day that showcased the best of Bend's music scene. The Autonomics hit the main stage around 6pm, unleashing a string of in-you-face rockers, gathering a massive crowd in front of the stage as front man Dan Pantenburg's arena-ready voice led the charge. Mosley Wotta followed, initially joined by Shireen Amini for an acoustic hip-hop jam before kicking into full gear with a full band.
Perhaps the most promising aspect of the festival was the Century Center Ballroom, which will soon become a permanent event and concert hall, but over the weekend served as a late-night party zone. This is where Ruins of Ooah, the didgeridoo-led trio, hosted a tribal dance party that got the room steamy before Empty Space Orchestra closed down the night with one of their loudest, fiercest and most dynamic sets to date.
Sunday was family day, bringing even more kids out to play with sidewalk chalk and watch more mellow acts. After night fell, there was an all out all-star jam to close down the fest, a fitting close to a landmark weekend. If this is an indicator of where culture is going in Bend, well, things are looking up.
Check out video from Bend Roots at tsweekly.com/blender