This past weekend was absolute insanity at the heat-fueled annual Boulevardia Beer, Food & Music Festival in Kansas City, Missouri. Though the latter part of Day 2 did, unfortunately, get rained out — gotta love that unpredictable midwest weather — what did transpire on the blacktop outside HyVee Arena (Kemper Arena) was absolute magic. Photographer Ashleigh Lee brings us highlights, including sets from Fitz & The Tantrums, Young The Giant, Lovelytheband, and more.
If you can remember back to Boulevardia 2017, you may have been just as bummed out that you missed Guster due to the rain out as most. But — for those of us who didn’t chicken out and bail from heat exhaustion or thunderstorms — Guster regaled an infectiously energetic crowd in a parking garage. As immaculate as it was, it was amazing to have the band back in town for round two at Boulevardia 2018 so they could share their chops on stage with the masses. Thanks to Guster for making it back, and to Boulevardia for one insane weekend.
June 15th and 16th, 2018 marked the fifth annual Boulevardia Beer, Music, and Food Festival. Though it always feels like it falls on the hottest days of the year – it is consistently held on Father’s Day weekend in a an old but picturesque area that is basically all blacktop concrete – Boulevardia is a consistent adventure for midwesterners and travelers alike. This year featured forty bands across three stages, old and new taps alike, food selections from all over the metropolitan area, and additional installations like a wider variety of vendors and the fest’s very on outdoor Silent Disco.
This year, Saturday’s headliner was Bleachers. So of course we ran into the pit to get a few action shots for you!
For those of you who are not yet privy to the rising music scene in Kansas City, now is the time to do your research. Boulevardia – the midwest beer and music fest that started to call Kemper Arena and the West Bottoms home five years ago – has exploded into a much bigger event, drawing crowds from all over the United States to tap brand new and limited run beers, check out bands in both rustic venues and in front of a very spacey-looking building (Kemper Arena, about to become HyVee Arena), and to ride a ferris wheel in an undoubtedly urban and growing area. This year featured forty bands – including, but certainly not limited to Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, Radkey, Manchester Orchestra, Sir Sly, Guster, Bleachers, and Kansas City’s own Tech N9ne -, craftspeople and artists from around the metropolitan area, and a silent disco experience. (The best part about that? It was outside, instead of in a tent, so looky-lous could stop and watch for a bit if life called for it.)
2018 featured an array of additional rides – you know, besides that vibrant, beautiful ferris wheel – and a Royals outfield experience. And even though this event seems to happen on the hottest and muggiest weekend of the year every single year, we were too busy watching numerous parades of contortionists and acrobats and clowns and people full of PRIDE and enjoying the midwest’s best in beers that we almost didn’t even notice it.
But that’s the magic of Boulevardia. Enjoy these Day 1 photos, and check back in to see some highlights from Day 2 as well!