The Levitate Music Festival was held at the Marshfield Fairgrounds in Marshfield, MA on July 8th and 9th of 2017. This was my first time attending the festival, and I found it to be a great weekend. The festival was very well run, there was great music, and it was a great crowd. In fact, Live Nation could learn some things from the way this festival was organized and run (this was done locally and was not a Live Nation event).
History of the Festival
Levitate is a surf/skate and apparel shop based out of Marshfield. The festival started in 2013, when Levitate decided to celebrate their 10th anniversary by putting together a music and arts festival. It started off as a 1 day show with a few bands, and has turned into one of the biggest festivals in New England. In 2017, they expanded the festival to 2 days, 3 stages, and over 20 bands!
If you are attending the festival from out of town, lodging can be a bit of a challenge. Even for those people attending the show from Boston (which is the closest major city), it’s a 60-90 minute drive from Boston, so going back and forth each day can be a lot.
If you are into camping, there are two campgrounds that the festival recommends – Wompatuck State Park and Indianhead Resort. Both locations are about 30 minutes away, but there is a shuttle bus that goes back and forth throughout the weekend (tickets for the shuttle bus are extra). It’s also an inexpensive way to stay closer to the venue.
If you are like me and prefer a hotel to camping, there are several hotels in the area. Any hotel in Canton, Plymouth, or Rockland will get you within a 20-30 minute drive to the venue.
Tip #1: We stayed at the Best Western Plus Cold Spring in Plymouth, MA. The hotel was quite nice and of the typical quality of a Best Western. It also has an outdoor pool and free breakfast. The hotel is located within a 5 minute drive of downtown Plymouth, where there are lots of shops, bars and restaurants.
Tip #2: If you do stay in the Plymouth area, be aware that most kitchens close at 10 p.m. So, if you are looking to get something to eat after the show when you get back to the hotel, your options will be limited. We did find Sam Diego’s, which is a Mexican restaurant on Main Street in downtown Plymouth. Their kitchen is open until midnight daily, and they have good Mexican food. I would also highly suggest checking out Dillon’s Local in Plymouth. Their kitchen is also open until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Their food is fantastic and the service is great. We had a late dinner there the night we arrived, and had a great time chatting with one of the owners.
Driving to and from the venue is a bit of a challenge. It’s right in the middle of the town of Marshfield, so there is very limited parking. If you pre-pay for parking, you can park in one of the on-site lots. There are also plenty of local residents who are selling parking at $10 per space in their front yards. There is remote parking available as well, with shuttle buses going back and forth to the venue. I always find the shuttles easy to use to get to the venue, but challenging when the show is over and everyone is trying to get on the shuttle at the same time.
Tip #3: We splurged for VIP passes. I’ll share several advantages throughout this article, but a big advantage was the parking. We were parked in a lot directly outside the VIP entrance. This made it easy to go back and forth to our car as needed (they permit you to go in and out of the venue throughout the day). When we left the show, it was very easy to exit the lot and we hit very little traffic leaving. The extra cost of the VIP pass was almost worth it just with the parking.
As mentioned above, the festival is held at the Marshfield fairgrounds. There are three stages – the main stage, a secondary large stage, and a third small stage. The entire grounds are not very big, so the stages are fairly close together and easy to get back and forth from.
There were merchandise booths set up in a couple of places, where they were selling official merchandise of the festival, as well as many of the bands that were playing. They also had vendors set up throughout the grounds selling various goods.
There were a number of food trucks and booths set up throughout the grounds as well, giving you a lot of food choices. There were also booths selling beer, wine, water and soda. We found the prices on both the drinks and food to be quite reasonable (beers were $7, or $6 if you used a refillable cup) compared to a lot of other venues we’ve gone to.
Tip #4: Beer lines in particular could be long at certain points of the weekend. Since the bands alternated on the stages they played, what seemed to work best was going to a beer stand on the opposite side of the grounds where the current band was playing. Since everyone seemed to move to where the music was, the areas where there was no music playing were easier to get around in. Once again, VIP passes were a big advantage, as they had special bars in the two VIP areas. While we found those lines to still be long Saturday evening/night, they were much shorter on Sunday.
This is an outdoor venue that is basically a big field area. Prepare for dirt/dust if it’s hot and dry, or mud if it’s wet. There isn’t a lot of shade either, so be sure to stay covered, wear sunscreen and drink a lot of water.
Tip #5: The venue had sunscreen stations set up where you could get free sunscreen. That saves you from bringing it into the venue yourself.
There were plenty of portable toilets set up throughout the venue. While I didn’t use them, I didn’t hear any complaints about lines or cleanliness.
Tip #6: VIP passes were a savior again, as there were outdoor but flushing (with water and soap in the sinks) air-conditioned bathrooms for each of the VIP sections. While they still got pretty messy by the end of each night, it beat the alternative!
We decided to come to this festival because of the great line up of bands. I think Levitate did an excellent job of getting a good variety of bands – both in the types of music they played, and the popularity of the band. The mix went all the way from Quinn Sullivan, who is a local kid that plays amazing guitar, to Umphrey’s McGee, who were just coming off playing three sold out nights at Red Rocks.
The music was set up so that it was continuous. They alternated between the main stage and the secondary stage, so it was just a matter of going back and forth after every set. The only disappointment that I had, was that I wasn’t able to catch any of the smaller bands on the small stage, as they always overlapped with one of the main acts.
The event was very well run, with almost every act starting exactly on time and ending on time, which allowed you to catch almost every band.
The one criticism I had of the stage set ups, is that they had very large banners hanging from top to bottom on the sides of each stage. While it looked good if you had a front view, if you were on the side, it made it impossible to see one side of the stage when the wind blew the banner out.
Tip #7: If you wanted a good spot to see a certain band, the way to do it was to leave the set that was playing on the other stage a little early. The majority of people didn’t walk over to the next stage until the other band was wrapped up. We really wanted to see Rubblebucket, so we headed over early and easily got a spot on the rail. Same thing with Lake Street Dive.
Tip #8: A final plug for the VIP passes…. They gave you access to a special VIP viewing area. While it was on the side, there was an elevated area that put you up above the crowd on the field. They also had an area blocked off on the side of the field, which gave you plenty of room to move around.
All in all, this was a great festival experience. While I think they experienced some growing pains with moving to 2 days, and they have some tweaking to do, this is definitely an event I would attend again. Lots of great bands, great vendors, and a great crowd. Thanks for a great weekend Levitate!
Have questions about the Levitate Music Festival? Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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