As I’ve written here before, Harrisonburg and JMU have a vibrant and inspirational arts community, and one of the most exciting weekends of the year is quickly approaching. MACROCK, Harrisonburg’s own independent music festival returns on April 3 and 4. As a JMU student and coordinator of the festival, I’m here to tell you that if you’re a music fan, MACROCK is not to be missed.

This will be the eighteenth iteration of the festival, which began in 1997. In its early years, MACROCK took place on JMU’s campus but is now held in various venues around downtown Harrisonburg. What makes MACROCK a special festival is its dedication to remaining a totally DIY operation, meaning that it is organized by a committee of volunteers who plan every aspect of the weekend from booking the bands to working with local businesses. A portion of this committee is often made up of JMU students who take on the responsibility of putting on a music festival in addition to their school work and jobs.

Charlie Bliss playing MACROCK 2014

Rising independent artists typically headline the festival, and this year’s lineup is another exciting mix of great bands and musicians. Priests, the new DC punk heroes, will play on Friday night at the Golden Pony and Elvis Depressedly will serenade the masses over at Clementine’s. Quilt and Dorthia Cottrell take the stage at Court Square Theater. I’m personally excited about Spray Paint, a werido post-punk band from Texas.

MACROCK also provides an opportunity for unsigned bands to play to larger audiences and share their music in a festival setting. Bands from all over the nation apply to play MACROCK, making this weekend the perfect chanceto catch new bands and get ahead of the curve.

Ex-Hex from last year’s fest’


In addition to all the music, there will also be two panels held as part of the festival. The first panel will be discussing the topics of women’s experience in punk and DIY communities and the second will explore modern comic book and ‘zine culture. The label expo held in the basement of the Golden Pony will also provide a space for record labels and artists to sell music and other merchandise.

What makes MACROCK special is the way it shows how a group of dedicated students and members of the community can come together and create a platform through which music and art can thrive in a small town setting such as Harrisonburg. JMU students looking for excitement of big summer music festivals should head downtown and discover that this same excitement can be found only a quick walk away from campus.

MACROCK XVIII is April 3rd and 4th. Head to macrockva.org for tickets and information.

Check out some of the music here:


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