Sloss Arts & Music Festival 2018

Hippie Sabotage bandmember crowdsurfs at Shed Stage.
Hippie Sabotage 1 of 1 8Photo by Lakyn Shepard/Photo Editor 

Kristina Balciunaite

A thick cloud of vape fumes, sprinkles of glitter and metallic echoes of music can only mean one thing. Sloss Music and Arts Festival is back in town. Spanning over the weekend of July 14 and 15, the fourth annual music and arts festival brought in over 40 artists from all over the country and thousands of attendees. 


Young attendee awaits for festival to resume during thunderstorm.
IMG 3555 2Photo by Olivia Watts/Photo Contributor

It’s not Sloss Fest, if there are no interruptions caused by weather.

On the first day of the event, the festival was hindered by an approaching thunderstorm, causing all festival attendees to seek shelter. The storm did not affect the area, apart from delaying the shows that were scheduled for the time the threat hit. 

The second day seemed to be going better, until 4 p.m., when another thunderstorm broke out over Sloss Furnaces. This time, the delay extended for over four hours.

“We’re understanding, but if this [inclement weather] is that common, it would be the end of us attending,” said Jake Coley, who drove almost six hours to attend Sloss Fest.


Photos by Lakyn Shepard/Photo Editor

After the weather threats and rumors of possible cancellation, the audience was even happier to welcome this year’s headliners 21 Savage, Vance Joy, Arcade Fire and Chris Stapleton. A remarkably diverse bunch, but of which all were welcomed with equal excitement.

The first day of the festival brought in a vigorous and energetic crowd. With every artist, the atmosphere shifted accordingly. 21 Savage raised the hype-level and as Arcade Fire took over, it transformed into a mellow-happy mood. 

Drew Danna drove six hours from Monroe, LA, just to see Arcade Fire perform.

“I have tried to see them [Arcade Fire] perform for over nine years,” Danna said. “I am very excited, I never thought that I would get this close.”

A selection of Birmingham’s up-and-coming performers, including Lady Legs, Captain Kudzu and Love Moor, rocked the Seasick stage. 

The second day of the festival slowed down the pace, but kept the energy, as the Sunday line-up featured more country artists such as Margo Price and Chris Stapleton.

AJR performs two songs acoustically due to weather conditions.
AJR 1 of 1 5

Photo by Lakyn Shepard/Photo Editor

One especially remarkable performance was by the indie pop band AJR. As approaching thunderstorms paused all performances and everyone was left to wait inside the Shed Stage, which is also a designated shelter area, the crowd started chanting for music to be played. However, the PA gear was packed up for safety, making the artists unable to perform.

After passing nearly two hours under the bright red glare of the “Code Red” message posted on the stage screen, the audience was thrilled to see the vocalist of AJR walk out on stage.

“We are going to perform two songs for you, but you’re going to have to be quiet,” Jack Met, AJR vocalist/guitarist announced.

A hush fell over the crowd when Met started strumming the guitar. A warm atmosphere infused Shed Stage, as a few hundred audience members sang along to AJR’s acoustic performance.

To finish up, Met threw a frisbee to the audience, which was caught by Jake Perkins, UAB Nursing Alumni.

Jake Perkins expresses joy minutes after catching a frisbee
thrown by one of the bandmembers from AJR.

IMG 3546Photo by Olivia Watts/Photo Contributor

“I played Ultimate Frisbee at UAB so seeing the disk come straight made me catch it,” Perkins said.
“It was a really good production. The artists care a lot about the outcome of the show.”


Many might forget the second part of the title Sloss Music and Arts Festival. The event is not just about the music, but about the activities and arts. Birmingham was strongly represented showcasing tens of local artists, vendors and restaurants. 

Hannah Nell Holsomback, braided hair on-site. A service that proved to be extra useful in the July heat.

Hannah Nell Holsomback, from Hair by Hannah, finishes a custom fishtail braid.
hairspray 1 of 1 3Photo by Lakyn Shepard/Photo Editor

“I like working at a music festival because it’s made for people to enjoy,” Holsomback said.
“Everyone gives you creative freedom.”

One of the most popular activities, apart from the concerts, was the iron melting demonstration. All festivalgoers had the opportunity to carve out a shape that would later be mounted with iron and brought home as an authentic Sloss Furnace souvenir.

Festivalgoers carve in designs that will later be mounted with iron.
iron melt 1 of 1 2Photo by Lakyn Shepard/Photo Editor

“The iron industry is why Birmingham is where it is,” said Joe McReary, volunteer worker with Sloss Furnaces.
“It’s an object lesson in the history of this city.”


The "Golden"

Andrew and Anna pose with sloth.
glitterfashionPhoto by Lakyn Shepard/Photo Editor

Andrew and Anna entered Sloss Fest shiny with glitter and accessories.

“I just wanted to do something that I’ve never seen before,” Andrew said.
“I don’t see a lot of guys wear this so I wanted to try it.”

The "God Bless America"

Randy Reiss, aka "The Undead Sinatra" stretches out his cape
for it to catch the oncoming breeze.

IMG 3511Photo by Olivia Watts/Photo Contributor

Randy Reiss, who flew in from San Francisco,
had draped himself completely in an America themed attire.

“It’s just a ridiculous Halloween outfit on wear on some occasions,” Reiss said.
“It gives a lot of attention from women. And a lot of high fives.”

The "Hydration Mode"

Brad, Jamie and Trey take a sip from their camel backpacks in the glaring July heat.
IMG 3506Photo by Olivia Watts/Photo Contributor 

Brad, Jamie and Trey from Hattiesburg, MI, showed up prepared for heat.
Bearing camelback backpacks, in bathing shorts and shirtless.

“We went for the relaxed, handless summer look,” Jamie said.
“I like it when everyone gets together for this. It’s extravagant.”

“Sloss Furnaces is truly a one-of-a-kind setting to host a festival,” said Betsy Kiser, Marketing Director at Red Mountain Entertainment. “The music and art culture in Birmingham is already vibrant, but we like to think that Sloss Fest is a signature event that shines a brighter light on that scene on a regional and national basis.”

The Sloss Fest Experience

Video courtesy of UABTV

About - Student Media

UAB Student Media is the home of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s student-run media outlets. They include Kaleidoscope , an award-winning weekly newspaper; BlazeRadio, our 24-hour online radio station live on the TuneIn app; Aura, a much-heralded literary arts magazine; and UABTV, original, web-based video programming. UAB students operate all media. The articles, posts, newscasts and opinions are solely those of its student writers, producers, editors, deejays, etc. and do not reflect that of the university, its administrators or the Student Media advisors.


survey button3