Gem and Jam Festival 2017 Overview

Gem and Jam Festival 2017 Overview

Driving out to the Pima County Fair Grounds to get to Gem and Jam 2017 was an interesting experience. You literally drive out to the middle of nowhere and it low key feels like you’re being taken to an undisclosed location in some mobster movie and something bad is about to happen. Then suddenly a small side road pops up and you make a quick left turn giving all your friends whiplash and you’re there.

Surrounded by mountains and an unbelievable desert sunset, it made for the perfect setting for a music and arts festival. By the way, if you’ve never experienced an Arizona sunset you are seriously missing out because it is unlike anywhere else.

Thursday night was a sort of “pre party” with all the performances happening on the small stage while everything else was still getting set up. While it was a very small crowd of people, the energy was still high. There was live painting happening on the lawn around the stage as well as art installations being set up and people with their sketchbooks, making for a very creative atmosphere. The day was very low key and relaxing, for the most part. Around 8:00 Project Aspect picked up the energy and really got the party started. The energy carried through into the rest of the night.

Friday, the official Day One, was when we got the full affect of what the rest of the weekend had in store for us. Honestly, how could you not be excited when HAANA is on stage shredding her violin? Even more so when a guy in a dinosaur onesie wearing a fanny pack tries to dance with you and you slowly have to moonwalk away. In my (humble) opinion the small stage still killed it in comparison to the main stages that night. Party People was one of the more memorable performances from that night. 80% of their set was improvised on the spot. Mikey Thunder free style rapping and referencing Rick and Morty’s “Get Schwifty” made my night complete.

Saturday is when all the students from University of Arizona showed up to join in on the fun. This is when the crowd and energy was at an all time high. Opiuo took the stage and even though he was jet lagged he fed off of the crowd.  He was one of the most positive and high energy performances of the entire weekend. While he was performing there were people live painting to his right and on his left there were fire dancers and acrobatic performers. To see this happening all on one stage, while also being surrounded by installation art, was something incredibly unique. It was a true mixture of the arts that blended seamlessly.

The final day of the festival was Super Bowl Sunday. While we all tried our hardest to focus on the music, many of us got distracted by the game. It didn’t help that they had 4 large televisions displaying the game. It was very interesting watching Lady Gaga slay her performance on mute while hearing folk/blue grass music in the background. Luckily, Poolside took the stage right as the Falcons lost. We were able to immediately dance off the Tom Brady blues. This concludes my weekend with my favorite quote, “Tom Brady listens to Nickelback!” – Dinosaur onesie fanny pack guy.




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