The Brite Winter 2020 Performances You Can't Miss

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click to enlarge The Brite Winter 2020 Performances You Can't Miss
PHoto by Nathan Rogers
Next weekend, Cleveland's 11th annual Brite Winter music and arts festival is loading up its many stages with dozens of top regional and local talent.

Taking place from 3 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Feb. 22, on the West Bank of the Flats, the indoor/outdoor event includes food trucks, themed warming tents, ice carving presentations and yard games. More than 40 bands will perform on five different stages, and Bitch, Thunder!, a female drum line, will  perform throughout the day.

As always, admission is free, although there is a suggested donation of $10 for those who want a coozie and to contribute to the Brite Winter cause. Either way, tickets are required for entrance. VIP packages, which include enhanced viewing near the outdoor stages, heated tent access, private restroom trailers and appetizers (but no free booze), start at $45.

Expect temperatures to range, as they have for past festivals, anywhere from 8 degrees to nearly 70. That means you’ll need to dress accordingly for this family-friendly festival.

There will be public artist workshops, and the Iconic Brite disco ball will hang at the corner of Main and Elm.

Top regional billing this year goes to Youngstown alt-rockers the Vindys and Akron hip-hop act Red Rose Panic, and you absolutely shouldn’t miss them, but we here at Scene have put together a list of other acts you need to check out as well:

Emily Keener
3 p.m.
McCarthy's Stage

Local singer-songwriter Emily Keener got an early start. She started writing and performing music professionally at age 12, often playing at wineries and bars. Throughout that time, she opened for numerous established artists including Jessica Lea Mayfield and Leigh Nash. In 2013, she released her debut album and then followed it two year later with the EP East of the Sun, which she recorded with the Womacks, a regional Ohio band. Her latest album, Breakfast, earned her No Depression’s 2017 singer-songwriter award. Her new single, the k.d. lang-like "Do you Love Me Lately," shows off her rootsy, country-ish vocals. It's from her forthcoming album, I Do Not Have to Be Good, due out in May. (Jeff Niesel)

Mimi Arden

5:10 p.m.
CLE Clothing Co. Stage at the Living Room

From the start, Cleveland band Mimi Arden gets right in your face with equal helpings of folk and rock and grit. And while it’s thanks to frontwoman Michelle Gaw’s inviting vocals and strong guitar lines that this band really stands out in a sea of similar acts, rest assured the trio's music is truly a collaborative effort (as heard on the group’s EP Greed, which came out earlier this month). The new songs focus on living for the moment and offer a bit of biting humor. Expect plenty of that with the band’s afternoon set. (Laura Morrison)

Uptight Sugar
7:50 p.m.
Cover My Meds Stage on Elm Ave.

Singer-guitarist Mike Murray and singer-keyboardist Dave Hamilton started this local band as an outlet to play the type of music they play with their cover band, Sunrise Jones. But with Uptight Sugar, they decided to play original music. The band released its first EP, Under Blue Light, in 2018. The 2019 five-track compilation, I'm OK, You're OK, followed. Writing and early production was done in Murray's basement. For the drums, they went to Superior Sound Studios and worked with veteran engineer Jim Stewart. Jimmy Weaver of Welshly Arms mixed the album, and Becker Mastering in Los Angeles handled the mastering. Late last year, the band released the Beatles-esque "Fell for You," the first track off their next record that'll come out later this year. (Niesel)

8:20 p.m.
Adcom Stage Under the Bridge
Despite the band’s British spelling, they group is really a fresh five-piece out of Cincinnati just wearing its hearts on its sleeves. The indie group’s 2017 single “Get You High,” which has more than 2 million streams on Spotify, proves that Harbour understands the art of writing a catchy, pop-infused love song. And their newest album, Thoughts on Letting Go, continues in that same vein. As the group is no stranger to music festivals, you can expect its show to be full of crowd-pleasing and sunny tunes. (Morrison)

The Vindys
8:50 p.m.
Cover My Meds Stage on Elm Ave.

The Vindys, a Youngstown-based rock band that regularly performs in the Cleveland area, are in the process of recording a new album and recently benefited from being featured in the Pittsburgh Pirates' Friday Night Rocks campaign. They saw a huge spike of over 40,000 views over a course of a week when the video for "Are You Ready," which was shot at Jergel's Rhythm Grille in Warrendale, was shown on Friday Night Rocks. The group includes classically trained musicians from Capital University Conservatory of Music, Dana School of Music, Slippery Rock University, and Mike Curb College of Music, and they've played shows with national acts such as Judah & the Lion, Smallpools, Hunter Hayes, Drive-by Truckers and Reeve Carney. They've performed at festivals such as Summerfest in Milwaukee, where they won the Emerging Artist Series' fan favorite of the day. Past winners of that award include Walk the Moon, Nathaniel Rateliff, Maren Morris, Walk Off the Earth and X Ambassadors. Expect the band to really thrive in the Brite festival setting. (Niesel)

Red Rose Panic
9:20 p.m.
Adcom Stage Under the Bridge

This Akron-based hip-hop group started as a duo. Best friends for years, singer Luminari and guitarist Styxx began performing together and even recorded an EP together before they recruited the group's other members and expanded its lineup by recruiting members from its church. The band's music draws equally from the Roots, Phish, Rage Against the Machine and N.E.R.D. In 2014, the band issued the EP One Night Standard, and it followed up the EP with the single, "Party Time, Excellent." A jazzy number that draws equally from funk and rock, "Hulk Hogan" features tongue-twisting lyrics and a propulsive beat. "Party Time, Excellent" includes flourishes of guitar and a spacey R&B-inspired interlude that sounds like something Herbie Hancock might've played with the Headhunters in the '70s. It's indicate of the high-energy tunes the band brings to the table. (Niesel)


10 p.m.
McCarthy’s Stage

Aloof Recs isn’t a group per se but rather a creative collective/independent music label with a stable of local hip-hop artists and producers working together to create a space for tolerance, love and acceptance. Artists include 2SSAINT, unknownphrazes, Case Bargé, Archie Green, Deity and Tino Cash. Past local performances from this crew have included live drums, guitar and keys backing up the vocals and beats along with plenty of back and forth with the audience. One of the final acts at Brite Winter, they’ll be sure to get everyone in the right headspace for the long evening (party) to come.(Morrison)

Ra Ra Riot
10:10 p.m.
Cover My Meds Stage on Elm Ave.
A late edition to this year’s Brite Winter lineup, New York indie rockers Ra Ra Riot will officially close out the event on the main stage. Over the last year, the five-piece has opened for Third Eye Blind, and Jimmy Eat World, gone on its own headlining tour and released its fifth studio album, Superbloom. Here, the music, some of which the group wrote alongside Rostam (Batmanglij) (formerly of Vampire Weekend), is more mature and layered into a thick soup of folk-rock goodness. Watch out for violin solos peppered throughout the multifaceted set. (Morrison)

Check out choice moments from last year’s Brite Winter event right here.
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