The second day of the first annual Holler on the Hill festival in Indianapolis’ Garfield Park kicked off with much more hospitable weather than day 1 featured. Gone were the low temperatures and overcast skies, replaced by a beautiful full blue sky, and warm sunshine to make for the perfect fall day to finish off the incredible event.
Day two also featured the bigger lineup of the two days, kicking off an hour earlier, and caused quite the scheduling predicament as I set out to plan my day. There were a lot of good things I missed on Day 2, and I regret that. I did, however, see an incredible amount of stuff though, and with that said we’ll jump right in to all the badass things I saw on the second day of Holler on the Hill.
Ian Noe was one of my most anticipated sets of the weekend. I’ve been a big fan of the young man’s work since I was turned on to it last fall. I first saw him over at brother W. B. Walker’s 5 year anniversary show in March, and I was immediately captivated by his performance. Ian’s unique storytelling ability was on full display on the Backwoods stage early Sunday afternoon. Standing alone on the stage like a lighthouse for the crowd people made their way back to hear him sing with the unparalleled combination of conviction and fire that he delivers. Ian Noe is a special talent, and to see some of the stuff live that he has coming out on a new album left no doubt that big things are in store for him moving forward.
Click HERE to see our full gallery from Ian’s Holler on the Hill set!
Up on the Hilltop stage backed up by the busy Whiskey Wolves of the West was the beautiful and vivacious Emily West. Her energy was infectious, drawing a large crowd as fans filed in the nearby front gate. There was a certain chemistry on display between she and Leroy Powell that gave the set a special feel to it as they sang a mix of duets and numbers where the power and soul of Emily’s voice could shine through. The collaboration played out on the stage flawlessly as West and the Wolves brought the crowd pressing to the rail eating up every note of every song they played.
Click HERE to see our full gallery from Emily’s Holler on the Hill set!
The surprise of my weekend took place Sunday on the Main Stage. I made my way down to take some photos and check out Otis Gibbs, and I immediately found myself unable to leave during his set out of pure enjoyment. I knew I was in for a treat when the first song I heard was a tribute to professional wrestler Sputnik Monroe, and the story of how he fought for racial equality in the Memphis territory. I was captivated by Gibbs innate storytelling through his songs. I was left in awe of his presentation of his songs, and what they meant to him. There was also a bit of a feel good moment during his set as he told the story of how he had grown up in Southern Indiana, and at one time had worked in the park hosting the event, and had planted some of the trees still standing there today.
Click HERE to see our full gallery from Otis’ Holler on the Hill set!
Up on the Hilltop stage it was the Whiskey Wolves of the West taking over. Allstar guitarist Leroy Powell and Tim Jones lead the way in the high energy technically excellent set as the heat of the afternoon rained down. The Wolves laid it all on the stage in their featured set after playing several others throughout the weekend. It caught the attention of many and brought out on of the biggest Hilltop Stage crowds of the afternoon, and the Wolves made sure to please.
Click HERE to see our full gallery from the Wolves’ Holler on the Hill set!
My shortest set of the day was Aaron Lee Tasjan. I’ve long been looking to catch Tasjan at the suggestion of more than a few, but the stars just didn’t line up for us this weekend. I was only able to hear about 4 songs before having to move along to the next stage as the busy afternoon kicked into overdrive. What I did hear of Tasjan left me wanting more, however. His set featured an eclectic energy that was undeniable, and the kind of raw, honest songwriting that anyone would be able to identify with. I’ll be making up for this one just as soon as I can.
Click HERE to see our full gallery from Aaron’s Holler on the Hill set!
Down on the Main Stage Texas songwriting aficionado Hayes Carll kicked off his set with a solo number, and then his band joining in with him. The heavy hitting songwriter drew quite the crowd down to the main amphitheater and he laid song after song out there for them to appreciatively soak up. He played a healthy variety of his extensive catalog, deciding to play many on the fly. An all around entertainer, Carll left his mark on the Garfield Park crowd with songs like “Drunken Poet’s Dream”, “I Got A Gig”, “Beaumont”, and many, many others.
Click HERE to see our full gallery from Hayes’ Holler on the Hill set!
The hometown boy was next as Indiana’s own Alex Williams roared to life on the Backwoods Stage to one of it’s biggest crowds of the weekend. It was apparent from the start that Alex was excited to be playing the event, and his excitement was unparalleled on the weekend. Alex continues to be one of the fastest rising stars in this corner of country music, and the excellent show he and his band put on at Holler on the Hill is the perfect example of why that is. A blend of songs from 2017’s “Better Than Myself” album and new ones he’s putting on a new record filled his set, and the crowd jumped on every one of them. Alex Williams is a name we’ve heard plenty of in the last year, and as long as he keeps playing badass shows like this one, and writing damn good songs like the ones he’s going to have on his next record he’s going to be a name we hear plenty of for years to come.
Click HERE to see our full gallery from Alex’s Holler on the Hill set!
The Plain To See Plainsman himself, Mr. Colter Wall was the last set of the weekend for me back down on the Main Stage. Just a couple of weeks away from his latest album release (That we’re going to have a feature on right here within the next couple of days) he brought his trademark voice and filled the Indianapolis air with it as the sun set in the sky casting a beautiful and oftentimes fittingly eerie glow over he and the band. Colter and his band were on point for their set, demonstrating a special chemistry they have developed since coming together earlier this year. The set featured an especially haunting performance of the Billy Don Burns penned “Wild Dogs” from his new album, featuring just Colter and a damn well played steel guitar. The large crowd sat in awed silence as nighttime fell over the park. It was the perfect blend of an appreciative listening crowd, and Colter and company handing out excellence on each number as a reward. Colter Wall continues to be one of the brightest rising stars not just in our corner of country music, but music as a whole, and that was on full display as he and his band turned Garfield Park into a listening room Sunday evening at Holler on the Hill.
Click HERE to see our full gallery from Colter’s Holler on the Hill set!
That was all I saw enough of to write about at Holler on the Hill 2018. There isn’t much left that I can say that I haven’t already said about this event, so I’ll just reiterate what I’ve already said because there really is something to be said about stressing it’s importance:
Holler on the Hill was the kind of badass event that we need more of in music. It was a rich blend of different styles that were all similar enough that there was something for listeners of all kinds, and many opportunities to find something new and wonderful to support. It was a very relaxed, family friendly event with plenty of non-music related activities, great food, and most importantly of all affordability.
Holler on the Hill 2019 has already been announced. The event will return to Garfield Park in Indianapolis on Saturday September 21st and Sunday September 22nd 2019. There hasn’t been anyone confirmed for the lineup yet, but rest assured this IS an event worth traveling to if you truly love music. Head on over to their Facebook page to follow all of their updates over there, and go sign up for email alerts on their website for the 2019 event!
I would like to thank those in charge at Holler on the Hill for graciously allowing me access to cover this wonderful event. I hope this coverage has done the event at least a little bit of justice.
I’d like to thank the sponsors of the event for helping bring it to life right here in my backyard:
Sun King Brewery
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery
Finally I would like to thank all of the readers and friends who stopped to chat over the weekend, and all of the readers who read and share these coverages because they truly care about music. I greatly appreciate the support of each and every one of you, and I’m honored that you are willing to spend your time reading the things I write.
I’ll see you all out on the road again soon enough!