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Appleton's Mile of Music Festival is totally underrated

When we think of wild shows or swoon-worthy bands at every turn, for most of us, our first thought probably isn’t Appleton, Wisconsin. But, this year’s Mile of Music Festival, Mile 9, gave all the indie-funk pop-soul folk-Americana glam-rock we could’ve asked for!

Before arriving in Appleton, I made a detailed itinerary to be sure I didn’t miss any show on my roster. Unfortunately, this fell through almost immediately. From age restrictions at certain venues and rain cancellations to broken cameras and sore legs, the weekend did not go exactly as planned. However, all feelings of annoyance and tiredness vanished when Gyasi stepped on stage at the Hilton Paper Valley Hotel’s Courtyard.

Believe me when I tell you their energy was like nothing I’d experienced prior. From the wildly eccentric pants to the sheer size of the platforms, I was hooked before the first note. The vocals, the guitar, the drumming, everything, was just as I’d imagine it’d be during Rock n’ Roll’s golden age.

During the show, Gyasi performed songs from their newest album, Pronounced Jah-See released earlier this year. My favorites of the album, without a doubt, are “Tongue Tied” and “Androgyne”. The feel of these songs is so unique and raw yet so reminiscent of classic rock. For example, the messages portrayed in “Androgyne” remind me a lot of Bowie’s iconic “Rebel Rebel” yet acoustically, it more closely resembles the style of Led Zeppelin.

Since the show, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve streamed the album. Gyasi and his band truly created a show worth reliving over and over again.

We ran into our first problem in terms of age restrictions with Garth.’s performance at Emmett’s Main Stage. So, we improvised. After a short lunch, we returned to the venue, walked through the parking lot away from the entrance, and around the side fence where I stood, outside the gate, straining both my eardrums and zoom lens in hopes of picking up even a small piece of the show. After some time, the heat became unbearable and we retreated to the hotel room with plans of trying again at his next show.

The next show on our agenda was the band Stay Outside. Despite the heat and the mid-day crowd, there is no denying that they showed up and delivered. It's safe to say that if this band was lacking in any area, it definitely wasn’t stage presence.

This show happened to be the same day they released their new single “Wood Panel Prince” and lucky for me, I got to witness them perform it for the first time.

After Stay Outside, we decided at the last minute to check out PONCÉ and it was one of the best decisions of the weekend. It was a lively show full of just the right kind of indie rock and some great crowd interaction.

Although they were a little more lowkey than artists like Gyasi, they still came with the aesthetics and overall captivating vibe. We also got a sneak peak of two unreleased songs...

But, during the show, their best song hands down was “Human Condition” and needless to say, I haven’t stopped replaying it since.

After a short break, we returned to see Carver Commodore bring ALL of the energy we needed. Not only was the music itself unique, but it was cool to see each band member express their own sense of style on stage together.

Their most memorable song of the show was easily “Black Plastic” but the show’s ending is what I’ll really remember–in the best way possible.

A little later, we saw Pepper Said, our first female-led band of the festival, who delivered with every single song. Overall, I’d say their style was pretty different from most other shows we saw and their sound was almost dream-like. Their music was very chill and full of nostalgic vibes. All I’m asking for is a coming-of-age movie with “Sweat” on its soundtrack.

After a late dinner, we hit Lawrence Lawn to see Caleb Hawley serve us soul. It was a beautiful yet lively show, too bad we missed most of it… we got hungry.

For our last show of the weekend, we found it only fair to go watch Garth. “sing that sh*t!” Immediately, we were loving him and not only because of the pink palazzo pants.

Throughout the show, he really let his personality shine from the stage. This, on top of his unreal vocals made for an amazing end to our festival experience. Though it was a tough choice, “Didn’t I” claims the title for best song of the night.

Bonus pic: Mr. “sing that sh*t!” and friends.

Although we didn’t hit every band we wanted to, I can’t complain too much as the weekend was jam-packed with rave-worthy shows and it's just another reason to come back next year! But, lucky for you, you can find all of our favorite songs by these artists and more including some of our favs that we missed such as WILLIS, DeeOhGee, and The Stews on our Mile 9 Spotify playlist.

Photography by Zoe Scott for TUGZ Magazine

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