Featuring over 50 acts in metal, hardcore and rock on five stages, Dirt Fest sounds like a great daycation on for a hot, mid-August Friday, right? Until you find out it's in Birch Run. An hour and a half just from the offices of Real Detroit Weekly, it doesn't seem like the creators of the festival could pick a destination much farther from Michigan's epicenter, save fucking Copper County. But even though gas is about to peak at $4 a gallon, we'd like to recommend you rally your friends, start a fuel fund and plan you're next road trip because this year's festival is going to be the craziest yet.
"We're focusing more on the music this year," says the fest's creator Matt Dalton. "We started Dirt Fest by setting ourselves apart by bringing in other entertainment. But with all of that going on, it's really too much to absorb. We want everything to be about the music and for people to not feel like they're walking around in a cloud of everything that's going on."
In addition to changing the format, just a bit, Dalton says they're also adding an acoustic tent where bands will play a three or four song set. But one thing Dalton says is probably never going to change is Dirt Fest's location.
"I feel like it would bastardize it to morph it into something else, just for the sake of its growth. It works really well for its market, for the mid-Michigan audience. So if something's not broke, why fix it," says Dalton.
Considering the event's done nothing but grow since its fruition as an all local line-up many moons ago, it's hard not to agree with Dalton that it shouldn't be moved just to make it more convenient for southern Michiganders.
According to Dirt Fest sophomores Wilson, the trip to mid-Michigan might seem like a long drive, but it is most definitely worth it.
"For $25 you get to all these really great bands. Plus, with Chiodos headlining, you would pay that much just to see them play somewhere," says Wilson front man and lead singer Chad Nicefield.
Taking their second turn at the Birch Run Expo Center this year, the dudes of Wilson have branded themselves as the Midwest's Gnarly Rock N' Roll Juggernauts of the Keg Party. They normally live up to that name at any show they play around Detroit, but according to Nicefield, they make sure to turn it up a notch for this far away festival. And they're really excited to take it to the next level again this year.
"We played last year and then they called us up and asked us to come back and get weird again," he says. "I'm just super pumped to be playing again this year."
A bit of an eclectic mix of all things alternative rock, there is definitely something for everyone at this day-long musical excursion, another reason to spend upwards four hours for the round trip and one of the motives for Nicefield enumerates as the band's motivation to play the fest once again this year.
"We were kind of thinking we might be too much or maybe not enough for some for the bands of the people there, but everyone just has a really good time. The people there are awesome, there's no one that's like 'Oh, they're too cool for us." or 'We're too cool for them,'" says Nicefield.
According to Dalton (who's currently a resident of Southeast Michigan himself,) the distance isn't something that should keep anyone away.
"It's a hand-selected bill of bands that we like and bands and are on the up and up," he says. "For a day's worth of entertainment, it's not too hard to just back your bags and head on out." | RDW
Dirt Fest • 8/11, 12 p.m. • Birch Run Expo Center • 11600 N. Beyer Rd, Birch Run • 989.624.4665 • dirtfest.com • $25