No need to pinch yourself: Daydream Fest is real, and it’s back.
For a second consecutive year, a heaping holiday helping of Central Virginian bands will take the stage at Main Line Brewery in Scott’s Addition on Memorial Day weekend. New this time around? The festival will be spread out across two days — Sunday, May 28 and Monday, May 29 — making room for 16 acts total. Unchanged, however, is the mission: to convene musicians and fans who might otherwise be off in their own corners of the city’s music scene. Or as co-organizer Pete LeBlanc puts it, “to bring these different circles together.”
“Everybody’s friends,” says LeBlanc, owner of the BariPete Productions promotion company, “but we don’t necessarily get to interact in the performing world as much because of the different circles.”
LeBlanc chose half of the event’s acts. The other eight were chosen by Zavi Harman, who plays guitar in Spooky Cool — a first-year Daydream act — and who has booked shows under the PRSMCAT Presents banner. “It’s us being able to come together and curate this lineup,” Harman says, “and highlight all these different musicians that way.”
Variety is at the heart of the Daydream experience. Attendees will find everything from the indie-pop of Drook and the inspiring soul of Ms. Jaylin Brown to the head-bobbing jazz-funk of No BS! Brass Band and the arena-ready rock of Palm Palm, which is fresh off a stint opening for the Killers. And that’s just on the first day. “It shows how great these Richmond bands are and how much people are doing,” Harman says. “It’s like a nice homecoming where we can bring all these people that are on the road doing big things and have them all come together and play in their hometown.”
Day two will build to evening performances by Spacebomb Records founder Matthew E. White and Ghostly International recording artist Kate Bollinger. Monday’s lineup also includes a deconstructed, back-to-back serving of Butcher Brown’s musicianship, as guitarist Morgan Burrs and Devonne Harris, also known as DJ Harrison, will play back-to-back sets of their own. It’s a full-circle moment in the making, since Burrs was unavailable for the inaugural Daydream Fest, which the rest of Butcher Brown played alongside bass-guitar hybrid specialist and close friend of the band, Charlie Hunter.
- Joey Wharton
- Richmond's own Butcher Brown performing with legendary Bay Area guitarist Charlie Hunter at the Daydream Fest in 2022.
That was when Harman saw Daydream’s promise fulfilled, despite high temperatures that kept the crowd from cohering earlier in the day. “It was really at the end when it cooled down and Butcher Brown was playing that you could see everyone from the outskirts coming in,” Harman remembers. “That was a really special moment for me, seeing the giant crowd of people — knowing that they were there but being able to see everyone packed in was really cool.”
For Jake Vanaman, who plays sax and keys for the eclectic and ascendant jam outfit Kendall Street Company, it’s an opportunity to grow closer to the music scene in another sense. He recently relocated to Richmond from the band’s home base of Charlottesville, and he’s especially enthused about the community aspect of the festival. “I moved here last summer, and I’ve really been looking forward to becoming more integrated into the scene and aware of new bands that I hadn’t previously known about living in Charlottesville,” he explains. “Daydream [is] like a roster of the best bands in and around the Central Virginia area. I feel free honored to be included in that.”
- Dylan Akers
- Guitarist Charlie Glenn from Richmond band Palm Palm, which is just back from opening for The Killers.
Kendall Street Company knows the festival circuit well, having played on stages at Lockn’, Summer Camp, High Sierra and other high-profile events. But the focus on local music at Daydream means artists can enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere as they get to know one another — and maybe even collaborate. “I think that there’s a little bit less pressure, maybe, on the artists,” Vanaman says. “It’s more of a family affair … I expect there to be a lot of crossover between bands and performers [and] that’s something we’re looking to do. We’re looking to have guest performers from other bands that are on the roster perform with us.”
For those looking to catch every guest appearance and stylistic left turn, there will be plenty to keep them fueled and engaged. The organizers plan to have four food trucks slinging sustenance, with liquid refreshment provided by Main Line itself, as well as the onsite Cirrus Vodka distillery. There will also be a 30-booth market offering locally made pottery, vintage clothing, zines and more, as well as booths for nonprofits to share their messages. “[Creating] this environment where you have so many types of people, so many different types of makers all able to gather in one space and share everything — that’s what I really love about this festival,” Harman says.
It’s made possible by the generously-sized lot at Main Line, which thrived during the pandemic as a result of its distancing-friendly layout. That’s when Pete LeBlanc started working with the brewery. “It just made sense to go to Main Line because of the size of it,” LeBlanc says of the decision to host Daydream there, “and because I already had a working relationship with them.”
“That place is huge,” Harman adds, “which is the appeal of it — that we can throw a festival there and pack it out.” Perfect for an event with a mission to connect and convene a music scene with variety to spare.
Daydream Fest will take place on Sunday, May 28 and Monday, May 29 at Main Line Brewery, 1603 Ownby Lane. Doors open at 1 p.m. both days. Single-day tickets are $30 and two-day passes are $40. To view the full lineup and purchase tickets, visit daydreamfest.com.