iMatter Festival - Sept 2013 - Eldridge Park, Elmira, NY
iMatter Festival 2013 - Eldridge Park, Elmira, NY
The iMatter Festival is an annual festival held in the small city of Elmira, New York. The festival began after a realization that the city had an unusually high rate of suicide. It was created as a way to bring people together with others who were likely going through similar things, to allow them to express themselves through the bands they love and get lost, at least for a moment, in the one thing that they could find themselves in.
2013 was the 5th year of iMatter and featured a strong line-up, headlined by Christian metal bands For Today and August Burns Red. Other bands included Sirens and Sailors, GhostsxShip, Fit for A King, My Heart to Fear, and the Color Morale, among others. Like most major festivals, it began in the morning, around 10am, when the lesser-known bands, began to perform. Unfortunately, the crowd was pretty small until later in the afternoon, though it gave the listeners there a more personal feel to the first few concerts.
As the day progressed, the crowd grew and the merch tent became filled with so many fans it was difficult to tell where one line ended an another began. With each band, the crowd grew in size and the excitement throughout the festival became contagious.
The bands ranged from good to great, with My Heart to Fear standing out in the early morning line-up. The last three bands – The Color Morale, For Today, and August Burns Red - were the main focus on the concert and drew the largest crowd.
The Color Morale was the perfect band for iMatter – though they are not a Christian band like many of the others at the festival and they have a softer sound than any of the other bands, their album Know.Hope is all but an anthem for getting through the difficult times. Lead singer, Garret Rapp, gave an emotional and heartfelt speech that brought the audience together and as he performed their single, “Strange Comfort”, it became obvious that the crowd was connected in an unexpected way, through their experiences and struggles.
For Today was the first headliner and a huge crowd favorite. For Today has a very strong metal sound and the talent of the band was obvious, though often shadowed by Mattie Montgomery's speeches between songs. Though I found Mattie's preaching between songs just short of annoying, he has an obvious gift of connecting to others through his religious beliefs.
August Burns Red completed the night with an incredible set. Their set was a combination of The Color Morale and For Today – a little heavier than the Color Morale, not quite as intense as For Today, and with a lot less preaching, though lead singer Jake Luhrs did spend time talking about his life experience and encouraging fans. August Burns Red brought many fans to the festival and definitely did not disappoint.
Between all of the bands, especially the final three, iMatter was a day full of inspiration, hope, and perhaps most important, a lot of moshing. Music brings people together and iMatter is a perfect example. However a person chose to express themselves – whether by moshing in the pit, listening from the back, or hands in the air absorbing every word, there was no better place to fit in than iMatter.
Plans are being made for iMatter 2014 and it should certainly be a must-see on everyone 2014 festival list.