Keweenawesomefest: Festival delivers comic, musical riffs

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Jason Marr of Brighton, Michigan band Young Pioneer strides across the stage during the band’s Keweenawesomefest set Saturday night. The annual festival is organized by Michigan Technological University’s radio station, WMTU.

HOUGHTON — Bookended by the energetic live debut of Houghton band The Graduates and a raucous set from festival veterans The Go Rounds of Kalamazoo, Keweenawesomefest left fans satisfied with nine acts Friday and Saturday.

Bands appreciated the crowds’ attentiveness and enthusiasm.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Ben Awrey, lead singer of Brighton, Michigan pop band Young Pioneer. “Especially by the end, a lot more people were getting into it. It was a good crowd.”

Saturday had a Keweenawesomefest first — a comedian, Jaboukie Young-White. The “Daily Show” correspondent, who was prevented from performing at Winter Carnival by bad weather, drew the largest crowd of the night.

The Chicago native and former DePaul University student quizzed the crowd on their majors, also regaling the crowd with his tales of cheating on tests.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Bree Meyer, bassist for Minneapolis band Double Grave, plays during the band’s Keweenawesomefest set Saturday night.

“Normally when I do a school, I just tell the kids the best advice I can give is, honestly, cheat,” he said. “I’m not going to say that to you guys, because if you guys cheat, a bridge collapses.”

Joe Gonfroy, a Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly volunteer from France, had enjoyed most of the bands, particularly the festival closer, Kalamazoo’s The Go Rounds.

“I’m just here for one year, and I like to see the local bands,” he said.

Ryan O’Neill, a third-year chemical engineering major at Tech, praised the “good voice” and “good energy” of Young Pioneer. He thought Keweenawesomefest should be held more often.

“I feel like if more people knew, more people would come,” he said.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Comedian Jaboukie Young-White, co-headliner of Keweenawesomefest, performs a routine Saturday at Michigan Technological University. Young-White had previously been slated to perform as comedian during Tech’s Winter Carnival.

Planning for the next festival begins immediately, said Henry Sendek, event organizer for WMTU. Where and when it will be held is up in the air. With the McArdle Theatre potentially unavailable for next year, organizers are considering an outdoor festival — not a great fit for the customary Keweenawesomefest dates in March or April. And May would run into preparations for finals.

“There’s been plans about moving it into the fall,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll do that for next year, with only four months to plan it.”

It might also be moved to the Student Development Complex’s Wood Gym or varsity gym, Sendek said.

“In that case, we could pull a much bigger crowd,” and possibly collaborate with other organizations, he said.