Published on Digging Pitt
Cleveland events have few prouder glories than highlighting its greatest neighborhood success stories. Last week’s Brite Winter celebrated both the flourishing of the start-up festival in its third year and the city’s most progressively developing district, Ohio City.
If there were any doubts Ohio City is now one of Cleveland’s premier arts and culture hubs they were quelled by Brite Winter Festival’s line-up of the city’s most promising and most established creative forces. Moving from last year’s location in the Flats to directly adjacent to the bustling West 25th, the festival turned the usually lively neighborhood into a complete block party takeover.
The night was lit with interactive installations created by many of the most up-and-coming designers in the Cleveland art scene. As the evening went on the crowd swelled and a giant snowflake by cyancdesign glowing in the usually vacant lot became a symbol of the festival. Nearby, open pit fires burned alongside an audience dancing to jangly indie buzz act The Lighthouse and the Whaler on the outdoor main stage. The whimsical scene was accented by the presence of art event leaders The YoyoSyndicate, who brought the 50 People 1 Question film project, and Cleveland festival veterans Ingenuity Cleveland, who examined the art of sound with their ‘Whisper-ma-phone’.
Most engaging of all was Brite Winter Festival’s use of local businesses as musical venues. Not only were bands stationed throughout the night at Ohio City mainstays such as Great Lakes Brewing Company, Garage Bar, and Touch Supper Club, crowd favorites were the most unconventional stages: Bonbon Café, Joy Machines Bicycle Shop, and Market Avenue Wine Bar. The folk of Jack and the Bear has never sounded so intimate as playing a floor set to a wall-to-wall crowd in the trendy newcomer bakery Bonbon. A block away, Cleveland hip-hop was at its most organic, on ground level in the dark basement of Touch Supper Club with the stylings of DJ ESO.
A sensory overload marked the triumphant return of this year’s Brite Winter Festival. Beyond the charming and ambitious art, beyond the packed bars and stages, Brite Winter’s move to Ohio City was a testament to the possibilities of local businesses investing in local talent. And that’s what makes Cleveland’s culture keep blossoming.