Aura Music and Arts Festival has certainly come a long way since its 2010 inception. It started out a very modest St. Cloud affair, a town halfway between BFE and the middle of nowhere in Central Florida. It's come such a long way, in fact, that this year, the jam-heavy fest will be held for the first time at the legendary Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, a widely regarded favorite among southeastern festgoers.
A cause for celebration? We think so, and apparently the organizers do too. Even though the festival isn't until February, the folks at Aura Music Events have been getting the party warmed up early with a jamtastic night at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton on Thursday nights.
Last night's Aura Thursday, which actually marked the last for the time being, featured Sosos, an acoustic roots group based out of Fort Lauderdale.
It was a night of odd definitions. Let's start off with a "funky biscuit," which, to our surprise, did not refer to an item on the menu. It has quite a colorful definition indeed, as specified by a large quote on the front of the bar's menu and enthusiastically supported by our waitress, Daniella: "A beat or bass line that rocks the membrane of your brain, gives you a feeling of hedonism and ecstasy and puts a smile on your face."
Well, folks, now you know: If ever in need of a hedonistic, ecstatically fantastic time, you can get it at the Funky Biscuit.
Now, what's "Sosos," you ask? We did too. Apparently it's a play on the lukewarm term "so-so." Incidentally, "sosos" means "titties" in Taiwanese. Chris Monteleone, the band's frontman and guitar virtuoso, promised that they didn't know about the R-rated translation when they coined the name.
"We used to be called 'Hooper's Nougats,' but we changed it because, honestly, the name was just too... happy," said Monteleone, who also didn't hesitate to point out that his name means "mountain lion" in Italian. "I want to feel free to rip into a heavy-metal sound if the mood hit, and that would just sound weird coming from a band called Hooper's Nougats. We didn't want our music to be defined by what we were called."
The band's two-set show weaved through mid- to fast-tempo acoustic rock, with a few covers ("Paradise City" and "Superstition") peppered in as well. Sosos' unplugged structure, complete with a stand-up bass and djembe, suits the rootsy vibe of past Aura lineups.
The group has participated in the festival since 2011 and is excited about Aura's development into a major event in the Florida music scene.
"We've had an amazing experience with Aura, and it's gained so much traction," said stand-up bass man Ben Manburg. "The Suwannee Park is an excellent venue, so it will be a great time this year."
"It was a natural progression," said Cameron Troy, managing partner of Aura Music Events. "We outgrew our previous property, and moving to Suwannee means great things for our festival."
He and partner Daryl Wolff mentioned a plethora of plans for the new-and-improved fest, including expanded arts and yoga programs and a stretch into new territory in the Southeast.
"People have been coming from all over the U.S. to attend Aura," Wolff said, "but we imagine that the new venue will attract an ever-larger pool of music lovers."
Aura Thursdays has been featuring acts such as Ketchy Shuby and Aquaphonics at the Funky Biscuit for the past three months. Last night marked the end of the 12-week run, as Wolff explained that the night will be going on a hiatus for the time being.
We'll keep you posted, and you can also check in with Aura Music Events for more upcoming shows.
Aura Music & Arts Festival will be held February 15-17, at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak. Visit the festival's website for tickets and more info.