Despite the summer heat and a worldwide pandemic ravaging the United States, the July Mini Fest, formerly named Herd Immunity Fest went off over the weekend in Ringle, Wisconsin -- with a capped capacity of 2,500 for a space that could hold 10,000.
Prior to the kick off, numerous bands had understandably dropped off the bill in a state that is seeing rising infections, including Nonpoint, Royal Bliss, Kaleido, and Blacktop Mojo. But from July 16-18 an outdoor stage was indeed set up outside of the Q&Z Expo Center to host three days of music from 15 bands, including Static-X, Sponge, Saving Abel, Dope and the AC/DC cover band Thunderstruck who closed out Friday's show after scheduled headliner Bobflex's van broke down on the way.
Sponge singer Vin Dombroski (say a prayer for him) spoke about the unique experience in an interview with The Oakland Press, saying the festival "got some pretty bad press, but I felt like you had to give it a chance — maybe there’s something that will shed some light on how to do these things. There’s nothing up there. The area’s a cornfield.”
Dombroski, who estimated that about 1,000 people were there for his set added, “if we were gonna do anything like this, it felt like the safest bet I’d seen so far. I went with an open mind — and a little apprehension.”
As for mask wearing, Dombroski said he didn't see many people covering up, but did see the crowd practicing social distancing. "I don't know what's going go on the other days, but from what I saw yesterday (people) were doing a good job. I was a little surprised, but my experience was a positive one, as risky as it sounded."
"I was surprised to see that being so natural to folks. There was no mosh pit or trying to get up close to the band."
Thanks to social media, we can all take a look at the scene that unfolded over the three days amidst the corn...
In a post that has since been removed, the festival organizers gave their reasoning behind putting on a festival amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying “As humans we NEED other human contact. MUSIC in itself is great, but the live streams as I am sure you all know is just not the same we need LIVE , feel it to the bones, run shivers up your spine MUSIC with people around us. Takes us all away on a trip that unless you have felt it you won't understand.”
Those who saw Thunderstruck certainly understand.