Winter in Cleveland is no joke. Blizzards make going out difficult. Locals stay indoors. Temperatures drop below zero. And, because of this, the city suffers on a cultural level. But a couple of friends have come up with the idea to embrace the winter, a thing most would deem crazy-talk.
Now in its fifth year, Brite Winter Festival, which takes place on Saturday at various venues along West 25th Street in Ohio City, convinces more and more Clevelanders to come out and love what the city offers, no matter the temperature. Last year saw 20,000 attendees, and this year should have an even larger number. People often ask programming director Thomas Fox why the festival is growing so rapidly.
"Best as I can understand, the festival and the whole concept intrigues people, invokes some childlike curiosity to go out and explore,” he says. “We have more and more artists every year asking, 'How can we get involved with this?' To me, that's what fuels Brite Winter to become better and better every year."
This year, some 78 bands will play, and a host of local artists will display art installations. Artistic collaborators include Cleveland Institute of Art students, who, in conjunction with other students from Case Western Reserve University, will showcase their new "wearable-technology-with-light." From the description, it sounds like they'll be dressing like Daft Punk.
"I've heard it said by attendees that there's 'something for everyone,' but I think it's different than that,” says Fox. “There are different stages representing different styles, genre and communities of music."
While it’s impossible to see all 78 bands playing, here’s a guide to some of the best acts performing. Whether you're into electronic music, indie rock, punk or what-have-you, there's a band for you. The outstanding support for these artists and the Ohio City community help Brite Winter become the mammoth event that it is. And as far as the future of the festival, it's looking pretty "brite."
"The most obvious answer to this is that we would like for there to be a future," Fox says. "It has always felt like a small miracle that this event happens every year. We are looking for Brite Winter to be a fixture in Cleveland's cultural fabric for many years to come. We'll always be about supporting and showcasing music and art in the winter."
Midnight at Town Hall
With the ability to create fully Technicolor prisms with his synthesizers, Freeze-Tag's music captivates like a light show. His winter-appropriate debut Eskimo wanders between relaxed grooves and highly sparkling atmospheres. The skilled blending of the unique sounds makes his tracks a wholly unified experience. Bending the boundaries of electronic music, Freeze-Tag lends his vocal talent to tracks like "Twice" and "Hours (Ours)," working them into the overall atmosphere. And as a live performer, he is fully engaged, playing keyboards, singing and running drum tracks live. His new single, "You Do," gets weird in totally mesmerizing ways and includes a ripping guitar solo, mutated voices and enough twinkling keyboards to light up the darkest winter.
11 p.m. at Town Hall
The disco-fabulous grooves of Rollergirl are infectious. His unique brand of house music recalls the synths and guitars of disco while utilizing a high-energy, modern production style. His self-titled debut LP is an endlessly upbeat, dance-ready album. Tracks like "#billyocean," "Let's Get the Rollerskates!" and "Music" carry a lot of the Chicago and Paris house ideals of the late ’90s and early ’00s but with a great modern update. Four-on-the-floor bass drums drive the heavily melodic music, but glitchy stutters and wobbly phasing add a unique musical perspective.