Oil Region Indie Fest kicks off today

Oil Region Indie Fest will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. today on stages around Seneca Street in Oil City and from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday in Justus Park. (Photo by Richard Sayer)

The Oil Region Indie Fest will celebrate its ninth year as the area’s go-to music festival as independent and original music acts from around the state gather to play for concert attendees today and Saturday in downtown Oil City. The festival takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. today and from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Thinking of an indie festival might conjure up images of hip mid-2000s artists with quirky guitar work and laid-back melodies like Modest Mouse or Interpol, but the festival is geared more towards independent artists than any one specific sound.

However, independent artists actually just means that the artist is free from a major record label. An overwhelming majority of record labels fall under the umbrella of just a few different companies and their multiple subsidiaries. The festival celebrates the artist, not the industry, and entry is free for anyone interested in music.

Concert-goers can expect a variety of genres to perform over the weekend, with most of the acts playing Friday.

Ed Gein Mystery Machine will be there with a lo-fi punk aesthetic that sees guitars and drums clashing over low vocals.

Barlow carries the white-hot intensity of punk icon Iggy Pop’s “Search and Destroy” and wouldn’t be out of place in a fast-paced skate montage.

Fred Oakman’s acoustic folk-rock and DIY-punk ethos ring reminiscent of post-hardcore legend Chuck Ragan’s country-focused solo efforts. It’s slow-paced and almost melancholy, a sharp contrast to his other outfit, One If By Land, which has far more kinetic energy and raspy, loud choruses.

One If By Land will also play a set during the festivities.

Pittsburgh’s Wine & Spirit will bring their anthemic choruses and classic-rock infused guitar solos. The music feels like rousing 90s arena rock with a touch of punk attitude.

Lauren Joyce is the kind of music one can enjoy sitting around a campfire. Its upbeat folk-ish tendencies give way to uplifting guitar work tinted with southern licks. It wouldn’t feel out of place on an unplanned cross-country road trip, and begs to be played with arms hanging out of a rolled down window on a cool summer night.

That’s just a small sample of the music that will be on display at the festival. Other acts include Pocketmouse, Serpentine, 52 HZ, The Plot Twist, Losing Lucy, Sam Rockwell, the Black Hollow, Machete Champion and many more.

“We just go for a good variety, that’s where the real goal is,” Jill Harry, a committee member for Indie Fest, said, “There’s going to be some other bands that will come that will have a little bit of a harder sound.”

Harry said that acts that play in the park near Veteran’s bridge will be louder and geared toward a younger crowd, but that there will be something for everyone.

The festival’s will see some changes this year, as the closure of the Center Street bridge prevents concert promoters from closing down Seneca Street. Instead of its usual location, this year’s festival will place stages at Town Square, Seneca Plaza, Pipeline Alley, and the Venango Museum of Art, Science and Industry.

Also new to the event this year is children-focused stage at Seneca Plaza, where kids will take the stage to perform music.

“This year is a little bit tougher for us than the last few years because we can’t close the street down so we don’t have as much space to work with,” she said, “Things will be a little more spread out.”

Indie Fest is a massive, volunteer-driven undertaking. Booking more than 40 musicians and bands is no small feat. It’s difficult to imagine that in its original inception, the festival would grow to its current size.

“For the first few years it struggled to find its footing and a way to really reach the people,” Jill Harry, who came on board around the festival’s fourth year, said, “That fourth year, we went to the Friday night format and people seemed to really respond to that. The last few years we’ve gained a lot of momentum.”

The event attracts bands from a wide area around the state.

“Artists from outside Oil City know Indie Fest, so we get a lot of requests from bands from this part of the state that want to perform,” she said, “In that respect I think it’s gained a lot of ground in the last few years.”

Friday will feature all four stages in use simultaneously while Saturday will be upping the count from last year’s one stage to two.

Indie Fest is a volunteer-driven endeavor and is free to the public but donations are encouraged.


5 p.m. – Pocketmouse at Pipeline Alley, Elizabeth Harris at Town Square, Tasana Camara at The Plaza and Nathaniel Custer at the museum.

5:50 p.m. – Serpentine at Town Square and Fred Oakman at the museum.

6 p.m. – Lauren Joyce at Pipeline Alley and the Transit Studios Youth Showcase at The Plaza.

6:40 p.m. – Scrap Kids at Town Square and Mark Rice at the museum.

7 p.m. – Johnny Nos Collective at Pipeline Alley.

7:15 p.m. – Sean Carey at The Plaza

7:30 p.m. – Truckstop Vertigo at Town Square and Justin Parson at the museum.

8 p.m. – *Super Surprise! at Pipeline Alley and Kim Huegel at The Plaza

8:10 p.m. – Northern Gold at Town Square and Josh Travis at the museum

9 p.m. – Ed Gein Mystery Machine at Pipeline Alley and CID at Town Square

10 p.m. – Barlow at Pipeline Alley


2 p.m. – Samantha Sears in Justus Park and kids art activities will be held until 6 p.m. in Justus Park; there will also be vendors and food booths during the day

3 p.m. – Ricci Hardt in Justus Park and Cody Horning at The Bridge

4:30 p.m. – The Dusty Trout in Justus Park

4:45 p.m. – The Black Hollow at The Bridge

5:15 p.m. – Bernies in Justus Park

5:30 p.m. – 52 hz at The Bridge

6:15 p.m. – The Plot Twist in Justus Park and Heel Turn at The Bridge

7 p.m. – The Random Hubiak in Justus Park and Losing Lucy at The Bridge

7:45 p.m. – Big Time Machine in Justus Park and Omission at The Bridge

8:30 p.m. – Wine & Spirit in Justus Park and Cogley at The Bridge