Don’t mess with the Vortex

Ask any veteran of the summer concert-festival circuit, and chances are that they’ll be more than willing to recall any number of stories about overflowing portable toilets, 100-plus-degree weather, overpriced festival food, violent rainstorms and countless bad vibes. It’s enough to keep a sane person away. But the first Vortex Music Festival offers something else for those of us who just want to beat the heat and hear some live music.

Sounds familiar: Toubab Krewe (top) and Stephanie’s Id are just two of the nationally known local acts headlining at the Vortex Music Festival. Stephanie’s Id Photo By Marcella Rustioni

Taking place within the air-conditioned cool of the Asheville Civic Center, the festival has solved the riddle of the summer heat, but that’s just the beginning. Instead of focusing on a few big-name acts, Vortex is heavily focused on bringing local performers into the limelight.

Of course, that begs the big question: Who’s playing? The two-day event includes more than two dozen acts—many which are local headliners in their own rights—as well as a few handpicked acts from around the Southeast.

And who better to ring in the festival than local favorites and internationally known Afrobeat and rock outfit Toubab Krewe? Their performance on Friday, June 27, will be the group’s only show in the Asheville area for the rest of the summer, as they’ll be shuttling from Alaska to Portugal in coming months. For local fans, this is a must-see performance on its own.

They’ll be followed on Friday by local acts like Telepath, SeepeopleS, STRUT and Josh Phillips Folk Festival, as well as regional acts like Charleston-based rock group Black Eyed Susan and Atlanta-based “psytrance” DJ Moksa.

Another memorable performance on Friday will be the post-Bonnaroo set by Stephanie’s Id. Combining elements of rock, pop, psychedelic dance rhythms and a little jazz thrown in for color, the band has emerged as one of the more compelling musical acts from the fertile Asheville scene.

Saturday’s schedule is equally impressive, with local and regional acts like Laura Reed & Deep Pocket, Marsupial and Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band rubbing elbows with Athens-based jam-and-groove acts like Perpetual Groove and DubConscious.

And if great performers, a lowered risk of sunburn and a casual downtown setting weren’t enough reason for you to consider giving the Vortex Music Festival a piece of your yearly live-music budget, consider this: It’s all benefiting a good cause. The event will donate portions of the proceeds to Child Abuse Prevention Services, the North Carolina Association for Healthcare Access and MANNA FoodBank.

[Jason Bugg is a freelance writer based in Asheville.]

who: Vortex Music Festival
what: Inaugural downtown, indoor, locally oriented and charity-benefiting music festival
where: Asheville Civic Center
when: Friday and Saturday, June 27 and 28 ($30 per day, $50 both days. Visit for complete schedule and more information.)

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8 thoughts on “Don’t mess with the Vortex

  1. I think its funny to send jason bugg to some twirling hippy-fest.

    And, really, who wants to go to a show like this at the civic center? It’s like going to see a show at your junior high auditorium, complete with eh hall monitors.

  2. Rob Close

    i certainly don’t want to go to see a show like this at the civic center. it’s ok for one big headliner band that’s sure to sell out anywhere, but for a festival? not interested, thank you.

  3. Atruth: I didn’t see The Vortex fest as “a twirling hippy-fest” so much as I saw it as an experiment. Combining what was supposed to be jam-bands with their ready made audiences with local artists seemed to be on paper a great idea. Like hiding vegetables inside of children’s sweets. I’m sorry that the festival didn’t turn out well.

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