All photos by Jenn Noga
Well folks, we did it! We made it to yet another Wonderstruck and came out the other side without fest flu! This is truly a momentous occasion. This is my third Wonderstruck (formerly LaurelLive) and now that I’m a seasoned veteran, this year was unlike any other.
My first two rounds at Wonderstruck were chaotic and overwhelming, mostly because there was a two-year gap between my first and second tours thanks to COVID, but this year? I was calm, cool, and collected going in and I had a game plan. Kayden and I were prepared and nothing could go wrong right?
The game plan quickly fell apart as all my plans do, but I was able to bounce back and still have a great weekend.
The weekend started off with a wild Friday night, which was just me and Kayden taking the piss out of each other for 5 hours and listening to music. We were responsible adults and went to bed early, not because we’re old and get tired at 10 pm. We usually run on QST (queer standard time) which means we’re about a half hour late to just about everything, but not on Saturday. We were up early and ready to go with like two hours to spare. We went and got breakfast at Fresh Start, a local diner since I really don’t know how to cook. With one emergency trip home because I forgot the parking pass, we were off on our grand adventure.
While waiting for the show to start we popped by to see our friend Jamie the stage manager at the White Claw Stage and then went over to 88.3 The Sting and sat in on some of their live coverage of the event. And spin the prize wheel to get candy. Can’t forget that.
Detention opened the weekend on the main stage with a killer set as per usual. This is the fourth time I’ve seen them since last year’s Wonderstruck and it’s been amazing to watch them grow and really hone in on their craft. We then spent the day frantically running around doing interviews and seeing friends perform, seeing Jack Harris and HEMBREE at the RADD Stage.
I got the opportunity to do a dual interview with Smallpools and make a new friend! Ryan Carcia an incredible Pittsburgh-based photographer, and I had about 10 minutes with the band, which you can read more about here.
While I missed their set due to timing and technical issues, Kayden reported they put on an incredible show! Kayden and I saw them on their Cleveland stop on their Life In A Simulation tour and it was such a fun time so I’m sure it was nothing short of an amazing time for everyone.
While Kayden stayed and watched Smallpools, I booked it for my next interview with Cousin Simple, which was one of the two standout interviews I had over the weekend. It was full of giggles and lots of blackmail. I think I agreed to commit a crime to join their Hex Girls cover band. They’re super nice and even said hello to me the next day as we watched The Orphan The Poet.
We ended the night with All Time Low which I wasn’t really satisfied with if I’m being honest. I personally really enjoyed their earlier work more than their newer stuff but it was still a set full of energy. It was also a really important moment for me to be sitting on the side of the stage, surrounded by the artists of the day and just jamming out and watching others’ reactions. Elliott and Luke from Detention win the cutest reactions.
We didn’t stay for the Lumineers because I started to get a migraine from the amount of smoke on the stage and probably dehydration. We packed up our stuff and went back to my house where I promptly fell asleep. What Kayden did after we downed half a bag of Doritos I don’t know.
Day 2 did not start off as well as day 1.
We rolled out of bed (aka he couches in my living room) and we were officially running on QST. After scrambling to get ready and beat the morning rush we got breakfast at the diner and were on our way to our primo parking spot. It’s one of the perks of getting there early. You may be bored out of your mind waiting but nothing beats beating the surge of traffic at the end of the night.
We started our day at the White Claw Stage with The Empty Pockets followed by an amazing interview, where I found yet another lover of That Thing You Do. Plus The Empty Pockets are just cool people.
We spent the rest of the day fluttering from stage to stage, not really sitting to enjoy anything in its entirety, except for Dean Lewis. We simply went where the wind took us. The meticulously planned days I had mapped out became irrelevant as I needed time to decompress as much as I could in between activities while trying not to spiral into a meltdown. And get frozen yogurt from the Gorilla Gurt truck.
I ate a lot of frozen yogurt.
Overall, I had a really nice time with Kayden, who gets my sincerest gratitude for driving 2 hours and 15 minutes to come hang out with me for a weekend, as well as every single person who took time out of their schedule to be interviewed! The 17-hour nap I took afterward was one for the books!