COLUMBIA, MD. — Everything old was new again at the Sweetlife Festival held at Merriweather Post Pavillion over the weekend.
The music and food festival, now in its fifth year and billed as a “party with a purpose”, is curated by Sweetgreen, a local organic farm-to-table salad shop.
What started as a small local event has grown into a full blown festival featuring two stages of music, a DJ area and a food forest filled with food trucks, a farmer’s area, booths from some of the area’s hottest restaurants and local beer and wines.
Themes of the day revolved around sustainability and community, while the young audience embraced trends and sounds they would like to claim as their own, but, in fact, owe to decades past:
Flower Children – The hippies would be proud. The festival trend this year has erupted and the flowers are everywhere, literally. Mostly worn in crown or headband style but also carried by the bunch, if you weren’t somehow florally adorned, you were the exception not the rule.
90’s Clothes – Most people cringe when they look back at the fashions they wore in the 1990’s. Meanwhile, their kids are embracing it. Baby doll dresses, Dr. Martens, flannel shirts, overalls and crop tops are all making a comeback in 2014.
Perhaps the most baffling trend is the return of the “mom jean.” Mom jeans used to be described as unflattering and unfashionable high-waisted. Still mostly unflattering but now somehow fashionable, especially as cutoff shorts, they were everywhere at Sweetlife, usually accompanied by the aforementioned crop top and flower crown.
Retro Music – A concertgoer described Irish singer Hozier as a modern-day Van Morrison. Fitz and the Tantrums make their living with a retro soul sound and then covered Eurythmics ’80s staple “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Capital Cities, while a modern electro pop duo, employ a talented brass musician to round out their sound. British sensation Bastille have a tune, “Of the Night,” which is a mashup of ’90s dance songs, such as “Rhythm is a Dancer” and “Rhythm of the Night.” Crowd darling Lana Del Rey models herself as a modern torch singer and is a self- described “gangsta Nancy Sinatra.”
Recycling never goes out of style, and Sweetlife gets an A for effort in trying to get the crowd to reduce their carbon footprint. Bins that separated trash into waste, compost and recyclables encouraged festival-goers to do their part, plus a program was in place that rewarded those who collected recyclables from the festival to trade them in for free stuff.
But even the best efforts can go a bit wrong.
By the end of the night, the trash that wasn’t strewn all over the rain soaked lawn was piled high in receptacles without any regard to it’s reusability. It must have been a long night for the cleaning staff.