By Ryan Borba & Ariel King
All IN Festival wants to honor the history of the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Beatles performed at the fairgrounds’ Coliseum and All IN, taking place at the fairgrounds in Indianapolis Sept. 9-10, will have special guests recreating the band’s 1964 set as part of the festivities.
“What we really wanted to do was showcase incredible live performers,” co-founder Paul Peck says of the second-year festival.
The event features Trey Anastasio Band, Tenacious D, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Greensky Bluegrass, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue and more.
“Our signature thing is the ‘Dreamset,’ the new version of the SuperJam,” says Peck, who was part of the first Bonnaroo team and co-founded Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival. He is referring to the popular Roo SuperJam performances featuring superstar artist collaborations and once-in-a-lifetime performances of special songs and covers.
For All IN, a second Dreamset is to feature Umphrey’s McGee performing Led Zeppelin songs alongside Jason Bonham, the son of late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.
Spearheaded by Peck and industry veteran Steve Sybesma, who together also developed Okeechobee Festival in Florida, All IN Festival takes place indoors and outdoors, with a 7,500 capacity on the indoor main stage that allows the show to go on, rain or shine.
“It’s a really big advantage,” Peck says of the festival site. “But then the idea of now taking this expertise on the site and all the incredible infrastructure, and it’s a real luxury, the infrastructure they have at the fairgrounds compared to other events.
“There’s just so much out there that makes the fan, artist and staff experience much more enjoyable and more inspiring for everybody, more comfortable. We think we are creating what could really be known as the most comfortable festival in America,” he added.
With the arena already in place, the location was perfect.
All IN Festival is located within 30 minutes from the center of Indianapolis, allowing for easy transportation to and from the venue.
When it came to the location itself, Peck and Sybesma didn’t need to bring in tons of equipment to set everything up — the infrastructure already existed.
“The basics are there,” Peck says. “Now all we have to do is figure out how to take the basics and not get ourselves from 0 to 100. It’s like, start from a B+ and get it to an A+. We’re producing an A+ event in that way; it allows us to focus on the creative aspects.”
The indoor venue also allows all artists to feel as though they’re performing a headline show of their own, solving many issues found in festival sets. Fans can cool off, and the production quality and performances aren’t compromised.
“Sometimes [artists are] resistant to doing festivals or only under certain circumstances because it can be really hard for them to play in an environment where people are coming and going, or they can hear the bass from all these other stages, or it’s sunny as hell and during the day there’s nowhere to hide and you don’t get your light show,” Peck says. “There’s a certain way you want to present your artistry and it’s going to be compromised at most festivals, unless you’re the headliner. Because of our site, we can actually create a dream environment for these artists. That’s what this festival is really all about.”
All IN Festival also utilizes its outdoor spaces with art installations and performances providing areas for fans to wander around and get a full festival experience. It allows for the indoor performances to become almost a festival within a festival.
“The outdoor vibe breaks up the experience and gives you two different looks,” Peck says. “And it’s kind of a tight footprint, so it’s really easy to get back and forth and in and out and see everything you want to see. If you’re anything like me at a festival, you want to see everything.”
As Peck looks toward the upcoming festival, he thinks of the fan anticipation.
“I know our fans are going to really appreciate the performances that are going to come out of this,” Peck says.