CINCINNATI — It’s hard to remember a time when Cincinnati didn’t have its own signature summer festival.
Eight years in, Bunbury feels like home for the 60,000-plus music fans who make their way down to Sawyer Point Park for three days of sun, rock, pop, hip-hop, folk and dance stars and rising voices.
Into heritage alternative bands from the '90s? Check out Sublime with Rome or Stone Temple Pilots.
More of a hip-hop head? Run the Jewels, NF and Machine Gun Kelly have you covered.
There’s also today’s hottest rock acts (The 1975, Greta Van Fleet), a legendary party DJ (Girl Talk), internet sensations (Poppy), emo/pop favorites Dashboard Confessional and Fall Out Boy and local bands.
You can’t see it all, but you can have an excellent time down by the river with some world-class acts. Take your time, stroll around and discover some new music in between catching acts you’ve been waiting for all year.
To help get you started, here are our suggestions for a great Bunbury experience.
FRIDAY, MAY 31
2 p.m. Friday | CVG River Stage: You Vs. Yesterday
This rising Dayton four-piece landed at this year’s festival by winning the Next2Rock contest. The group's urgent emo-pop sound is the perfect warm-up for Fall Out Boy.
2:30 p.m. Friday | Monster Energy Stage: SHAED
You've probably heard this D.C.-based electropop trio’s breakthrough hit, the bubbly “Trampoline.” Singer Chelsea Lee’s voice has shades of Ellie Goulding, but twin producers Max and Spencer Ernst surround her with a unique blend of lush R&B, dance and pop soundscapes.
3:30 p.m. Friday | Monster Energy Stage: Poppy
What is Poppy? That’s a huge part of this bizarre internet meme singer’s persona. A self-proclaimed “manufactured" pop icon, she's a blank-faced YouTube superstar, and her 2018 "Am I a Girl?"album swings from airy pop to folk tinged with death metal and robotic electro bop.
4:30 p.m. Friday | Sawyer Point Stage: Joywave
If you love the jagged keyboard rock of the early aughts, this New York quintet will hit the spot. Its smart, dark synth pop crackles on tracks like 2018's Radiohead-esque rocker “Doubt.”
6:30 p.m. Friday | Sawyer Point Stage: Machine Gun Kelly
Cleveland’s own had a huge 2019, including a star turn as Tommy Lee in the Netflix Motley Crue biopic "The Dirt." His aggressive, biting rapping style mixes in plenty of rock for a high-energy, guitar-heavy show.
6:45 p.m. Friday | CVG River Stage: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
Bunbury increasingly has offered tasty morsels for jam band fans and this psychedelic funk foursome’s party-starting sets will get your feet moving and your skirt spinning.
7:45 p.m. Friday | Monster Energy Stage: NF
NF (Nathan Feuerstein) is a white rapper from Michigan who grew up loving that other white rapper from Michigan: Eminem. But he has carved a unique lane for himself with melodic, sung-rapped emotional anthems such as “Let You Down,” which tracks his difficult childhood over an insistent beat and hard-hitting (but clean) lyrics.
9:45 p.m. Friday | Monster Energy Stage: Fall Out Boy
The most successful rock band of the aughts has had a killer second act. Fall Out Boy's 2013 reboot has included soaring, urgent pop tunes such as “Centuries,” which hews to the group's patented mix of emo angst, killer hooks and pop savvy.
SATURDAY, JUNE 1
2:30 p.m. Saturday | Monster Energy Stage: Great Good Fine OK
This Brooklyn-based synth pop duo is best known for collaborating with former Bunbury headliners The Chainsmokers on 2015 dance jam “Let You Go.”
3:30 p.m. Saturday | Metro Acoustic Stage: Young Heirlooms
The hard-gigging six-piece Cincinnati Americana band harkens back to the halcyon days of 1960s and '70s California folk rock.
3:30 p.m. Saturday | Monster Energy Stage: Flora Cash
After meeting on SoundCloud seven years ago (and then marrying), this moody pop duo scored radio and streaming paydirt this year with the earworm hit “You’re Somebody Else.”
4:45 p.m. Saturday | CVG River Stage: Jukebox the Ghost
The Philadelphia trio specializes in anthemic, uplifting indie rock centered on singer Ben Thornewill’s piano-pounding chops and big, sing-along hooks.
6:30 p.m. Saturday | Sawyer Point Stage: Jeremy Zucker
Need a break from the cranked-up guitars and beats? Check out this New Jersey singer’s lush, introverted pop tunes in the vein of Bon Iver and Jon Bellion.
8:45 p.m. Saturday | Sawyer Point Stage: Sublime With Rome
Replacing an iconic lead singer is hard, but Rome Ramirez has stepped in for this quintessential reggae pop/punk band with aplomb, giving the group's new and classic tunes his own gruff-voiced swagger and bouncy riddim.
9:45 p.m. Saturday | Monster Energy Stage: Greta Van Fleet
You’ve heard all the Led Zeppelin comparisons about this Michigan family band of classic rockers. Don’t worry, this isn’t just a retro rock show -- Greta Van Fleet's stage-burning, youthful fire will win you over. Guaranteed.
SUNDAY, JUNE 2
2 p.m. Sunday | CVG River Stage: bülow
Check out this dreamy teen singer from the Netherlands before she graduates to bigger stages with her angsty, bad-at-love pop tunes over hard-hitting beats.
3 p.m. Sunday | Sawyer Point Stage: Triiibe
The boundary-pushing Cincinnati rap/spoken word trio will challenge you with its positive vibes, funky rhythms and infectious energy.
4:30 p.m. Sunday | Sawyer Point Stage: Reignwolf
Prepare to have your ears blasted by this Canadian hard-blues rocking trio. It's equal parts White Stripes, Black Sabbath and attitude.
5:45 p.m. Sunday | Monster Energy Stage: Streetlight Manifesto
The long-running New Jersey third wave ska band gets the party started with its caffeinated blend of punk, rock, funk, jazz and klezmer.
6:45 p.m. Sunday | CVG River Stage: Lovelytheband
You must have heard this Los Angeles trio’s bomb pop hit “Broken,” a singalong ray of sunshine that might remind you of another Bunbury favorite: .fun.
7:45 p.m. Sunday | Monster Energy Stage: Run the Jewels
The dynamic rap duo El-P and Killer Mike just destroys stages with energetic, bass-thumping, pulse-pounding anthems about not giving a … damn.
8:45 p.m. Sunday | Sawyer Point Stage: Girl Talk
Gregg Gillis is the master beat manipulator. The outrageously fun DJ mashes up dozens of crowd-pleasing hits into three-minute party funbombs that can turn any frown upside down.
9:45 p.m. Sunday | Monster Energy Stage: The 1975
These English rockers (and 2017 Bunbury alums) blew up over the past three years into a globally beloved modern rock band thanks to singer Matty Healy’s confessional lyrics and a quirky, mopey pop-tinged sound.
IF YOU GO
Bunbury Music Festival
Gates open: Noon Friday and Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Sawyer Point Park, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown
For tickets: https://bunburyfestival.com/