Southeast Pit Report: Interview W/Wes Gilliam (Heylook! Music Festival)
By: Joshua Lowe
SPR: Hey everyone Josh here from Southeastpitreport.com, we’re hanging out with Wes Gilliam director of the Hey Look! Music Festival in Greenville SC. How are you doing today Wes?
Wes: Doing well.
SPR: For our readers who may not know about Hey Look! tell them a little about the festival.
Wes: Well, as you know this is the second year, and the way I put it is I highlight a lot local bands. Last year was all local bands, this year I branched out and did a stage for local bands and a stage of regional bands. Something that’s very important to me, is to have a stage of locals no matter what I do. A lot of other festivals like Fall for Greenville or Spring Fling have local act, but they’re way out there, where you have to go find them, they’re not near the food or whatever. So it’s really important to me to have a spot for locals, where you can actually see them, right across from everyone else. So you have the regional’s you want to see, then you turn your head and there’s a local getting ready to play and not have to fight through the crowd and that kind of stuff.
SPR: That was one thing that I liked about last year’s festival is that when one band would finish in front of you, you turned right around there was another band taking the stage behind you. It’s not like Warped Tour, where you will watch one band play on the main stage, then have to sprint across the fairgrounds to catch the next band you want to see. Hey Look! is in the parking lot at Thomas Creek Brewery, so it’s not a huge fairground or Amphitheater, so I guess the best way to describe it is, “ Small and Intimate”.
Wes: Oh yea, definitely
SPR: With you showcasing a lot of locals on this festival, who’s your favorite local on this year’s festival.
Wes: Dude, I can’t say, they’re all like my children. I’ve been booking at The Radio Room for 4 years now, and to be honest, I couldn’t tell you a local that’s my favorite because I do 160 shows a year and after 4 years it really adds up. But there’s a lot really good emerging artists this year. Alex Hunnicutt is opening it up and he’s someone I think is a great songwriter. He plays with a full band, great songwriter, kinda like that Jack Johnson vibe, and he’s not really had a break yet. So I’m Hoping this will be a cool little break for him in a way. That’s what all this is for, for people I see on my radar that could use that kind of thing.
SPR: So you’ve stuck to your roots and kept the festival about the local acts and you’ve thrown in so regional bands like Islander and Brigades. What can festival goers except different this year than last year?
Wes: This year I’ll tell you there are a lot more electronic acts. And I did that on purpose, because one thing that I look at is what’s different with Hey Look, than other festivals around here and what makes us different than them all. There’s no one here on acoustic instrument this year, it’s a little amped up this year. The way I kind of view, it is between Shaky Knee’s and Warped Tour, where it’s still current, but it still rocks, but a little of everything. Kinda well rounded, there’s definitely a little vogue Fest in there too with RBTS Win from Asheville, Death of Paris and Jellyrox are some progressive electronic act, which is something that I really wanted to highlight this year, because I can’t think of in a Greenville area festival that has electronic acts. I was thinking that’s a current thing and it’s only getting bigger and bigger why shouldn’t we have that kind of thing.
SPR: You’re right, it seems that the electronic rock is everywhere right now. One of my favorite bands right now is The Browning and they integrate the electronic part into the progressive metal and it fits really well. But electronic it rock is realty popular at the moment.
Wes: Of coarse I don’t book anything cause it’s popular, I book it because really enjoys it. But I think it’s something that someone that is in the position to curate things should ask what’s something different and something new and good and what’s worth seeing.
SPR: Well, it goes back to what you were saying at the beginning, you’re giving a band a chance that may not have a mainstream chance here in Greenville. Like Jellyrox, I’ve known Matt a long time, back in the Eleventyseven days. My old Pop Punk band 3rd String Heroes use to play with them. But you’re right; Jellyrox would never be on downtown alive. But he’s fun and you’ll enjoy him.
Wes: That’s kind of my thing, I definitely appreciate what this city does, and they bring in great acts. We had Shovels and Ropes headline last year, they had St. Paul and the Broken Bones, really high caliber acts, but also very G rated and safe on the spectrum and my whole view point and the whole reason I did a festival was because I don’t think you need to be one step away from Disney to play to a huge audience here anymore. It’s 2015 and you’re only going to see one side of the spectrum because they have to please the average concertgoer. But people like me and you, or people reading this, want real music or want something that just a little different than the norm, and I think it’s our job to provide them with that.
SPR: Going back to last year that was one thing I noticed about Hey Look! Is that it wasn’t just one group of people. It wasn’t late teen’s early 20’s, or 25 and up, it was just a great mix of people that loved music. It truly was a festival that was for everyone and they were there to support music, and local business and didn’t have to worry about people being like “Well that’s just too loud” or anything like that.
Wes: Well this year will be a little more abrasive, last year we had some more adventurous acts like Art Contest, but this year is defiantly a little heavier, and I don’t want to say that this years show lines up more with my personal taste, because I love everyone that played last year, but these bands I put out there for a specific reason. Like hey people should see Junior Astronomers because they’re amazing. They’re the only band I can think of that can be put between, Brigades and Islander and hold their own. As far as intensity and energy, they get down.
SPR: That was something I noticed when the line up and set times were released. I’ve never seen them live, but you have the punk rock of Brigades and Islander closing out the night. An anyone who’s seen Islander knows the energy Mikey brings, and then you have Junior Astronomers thrown right there in the middle.
Wes: (Laughs) Yea, I just hope people are ok with having their heads walked on by Mikey. (Both Laugh)
SPR: Yea he gets a little crazy. Hopefully he want brake any mic stands.
Wes: I don’t even think he uses one anymore. Did you see the message they got the other day?
SPR: Yea! For those of you who don’t knot who Islander is or have never seen them Live, they’re a fairly new band signed to Victory Records and have been blowing up over the last year or so, touring with Pop Evil, Non Point, Papa Roach and more. Well Mikey loves to walk out on the crowd during the set, well apparently at a show recently, he stepped on someone’s face and they wrote in to them, saying “Thanks for ruining my concert, you stepped on my face, etc, etc.” So yea watch out.
Wes: Which I find that really funny seeing as how Mikey is such a gentle, soft spoken person who wouldn’t hurt a fly, he was just in concert mode, doing what he does best.
SPR: That being said we’ll see ever on May 30 at Thomas Creek Brewery. Anything else you’d like to add?
Wes: Yea we’ll see you guys May 30th, get your tickets early at Heylookfestival.com also we encourage everyone to come early, we have bands starting at 2 that you don’t want to miss. But we have also teamed up with The Film House here in Greenville and we’ll be showing The Decline of Western Civilization a really good punk rock documentary from 12:30-2 and have some of the bands there hanging out. Which is only $3 more on your ticket, so $18 gets your concert ticket, early entry and the movie. So come early and bring an appetite. SPR: Well, this is Josh with Southeastpitreport.com and Wes from Hey Look Music Festival and we’ll see you guys May 30th at Thomas Creek Brewery.
Purchase Tickets HERE
View Photos from 2014 HERE