Originally posted via Do615

Beneath the blazing Birmingham sun, a festival was born. Over the course of two days at Sloss Furnaces, 33 bands performed on three stages.

The venue is a former pig iron-producing blast furnace (1882-1971) and is said to be haunted. Previously unfamiliar with the area, I wasn’t expecting old furnaces to be such a kickass location for a festival.

1. Ain’t nothin’ like a hometown show

St. Paul frontman shaking his groovethang in 100 degree heat.

St. Paul frontman shaking his groovethang in 100 degree heat.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones stormed the stage on the sweltering Sunday evening in their Blues Brothers suits and packed some serious energy onto the Blast Stage. The Birmingham natives treated their audience to soulful sonic perfection and danced around with abandon.

2. The crowd was nice — super nice

I didn’t run into a single jerk this past weekend. Sloss attendees were extremely friendly to the point where several people genuinely apologize to me when I was making my way through the crowd as if they had been in my way. Talk about southern hospitality.

3. Zella Day creates a special experience

Zella puts on an epic show.

Zella puts on an epic show.

When the Hypnotic songstress took the mic on Sunday afternoon, the vibe at the Shed Stage was electric. The shed was jam packed with an equal mix of guys and gals dancing and singing with Ms. Day. It was a mark of my determination and the crowd’s friendliness that I was able to find my way through the dense crowd and back to the front after leaving the photo pit.

Her emotional rendition of Jameson brought tears to my eyes.

P.S. Check out my pre-Sloss interview with Zella Day here.

4. Festival launch with a bang and lessons learned

With a first year festival, you expect some hiccups and disappointments. On the whole, Sloss absolutely nailed it. The festival ran smoothly with good acoustics, seamless parking, art vendors, and a layout conducive to making it to your set on time. The venue was unique and had a solid pavement to grass ratio.

Iron pouring for custom keepsakes

Iron pouring for custom keepsakes

Room for Improvement: More water stations. I saw two places to fill up water bottles and the lines were usually long.

You’re probably thinking “grab a Camelbak, you festival noob.” I didn’t bring my Camelbak because I was lucky enough to have a photo pass which meant hustling from one set to the next with 7 pounds of expensive camera equipment in tow. A little dehydration is a worthy tradeoff for being a few feet from the performers in the photo pit. However, another hydration station would be a welcome addition for 2016.

Red Mountain Entertainment (one of three organizers behind the festival) has already stated that Sloss Fest will return in 2016. Can’t wait for round two!

Click here to check out the rest of my photos from Sloss