Nateva Festival meets expectations

A review of the Nateva Music & Camping Festival in Oxford, Maine on July 2-4, 2010

, Managing Editor

Music fans know what to expect when they buy their tickets for some of our country’s best festivals. Those going to Coachella can expect desert heat, celebrity sightings, and huge headliners. Lollapalooza fans can expect beautiful surroundings in Chicago’s Grant Park and some of the best talent alternative rock can offer. However, when a new festival arises, like the Nateva Music & Camping Festival in Oxford, Maine, it leaves many looming questions. What bands will sign on? Will the venue work out? And perhaps most importantly, will it be successful enough to return next year? We headed up to Nateva this weekend to join the celebration and find out some answers ourselves.

There’s no question that this festival promised the kind of talent that could lure fans from both near and far. Festival founder Frank Chandler, a native of Newton, stressed the importance of having a strong showing of local acts which is why Nateva not only boasted a lineup of highly regarded national acts like The Flaming Lips, Further, and moe. but also an outstanding showcase of some of the area’s best including Passion Pit, The Ryan Montbleau Band, Rustic Overtones, Magic Magic, and You Can Be A Wesley to name a few. And for the most, all of the performances were memorable.

Paasion Pit and moe. kicked off the weekend with crowd pleasing sets on Friday night. On Saturday, the Drive-By Truckers delivered a rocking set that matched the hot weather, She & Him charmingly battled through some technical issues with a bubbly pop set with an old school flare and STS9’s vivacious set made for a wild dance party. It was all topped off by the always eccentric and awesomely entertaining Flaming Lips. The good vibes continued through Sunday thanks to George Clinton & P-Funk and the Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi band before Furthur closed the festival out with a marathon set that climaxed with some good ole fireworks.

The crowd on hand at Netava was basically what you would expect given the lineup. There were plenty of indie fans in attendance but it was the Dead Heads that were the glue that held the community together. As outgoing as always, the Dead Heads stuck to their reputation of salesmanship as they went from camp to camp hawking everything from tie-dye to peppers, with plenty of drugs in between. Regardless of the lineup, Nateva was destined to be a free spirited event. Security was loose but one still felt safe. The community welcomed campers to Oxford as signs were posted along Route 26 while neighbors invited attendees to camp in their yards. Campers were certainly happy to be there as they could smoke or drink quite freely while the layout of the campground assured fans that they wouldn’t be far from great music no matter where they were in the park.

Speaking of the surroundings, the Oxford Fairgrounds served ideally as a venue. The park itself was spatially satisfying as nothing was much more than a five minute walk away. Chandler and his crew added some nice touches to make the park feel more welcoming and add to its personality. A color changing Nateva sign rested upon a hilltop while a ring of color changing totem poles and a ferris wheel served as a beautiful backdrop from the stage’s view. Meanwhile, the festival staff worked tirelessly to keep the facilities clean and drinking water was offered for free from a chain of spigots at several points around the park that surely came in handy in the sweltering heat.

Luckily Nateva fans didn’t have to, but when it comes down to it, people will bare all sorts of rough conditions if the music is worth it. The great thing about Nateva was that the conditions were certainly tolerable and the music was even more acceptable. As long as this combination continues there seems to be no reason why this festival won’t return again next year, especially considering the multi-year lease Chandler has on the land.

Of course, if the festival does return next year a few questions will still remain. Who will play this time around and will the festival grow in size? However, if Nateva does fortunately return, for music fans here in New England there’s no question that you should attend. Perhaps Ryan Montbleau said it best when he looked upon the crowd and declared, “You know what this festival is? It’s whatever you make it!”. After a tremendous weekend at Nateva it’s certain that all parties involved made it a success.

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