Not even the sweltering heat could put a damper on the return of Make Music Day to downtown Salem. The all-day festival that turns the alleys and sidewalks of Oregon’s capital into a non-stop showcase of local music returned in 2021 after a year of pandemic closures and virtual concerts.
Artists were giddy and eager to get back out before crowds, but even seasoned performers said that the fact they haven’t performed live in so long made the prospect of playing in front of crowds a little nerve-wracking.
“It’s a little stressful,” said Wild Ire drummer Nick Turner. “We’ve pretty much been performing for ourselves over the past year.”
Wild Ire was the penultimate act on the main stage of the old Mission Mill and Willamette Heritage Center complex, which was set up as the main hub of the day’s activities that stretched across dozens of city blocks.
Before the pandemic hit last year, Wild Ire was celebrating the release of a new album and a return from playing a massive show in Anaheim, California, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show. Just a couple months later, they lost the ability to play in-person shows entirely like so many other local musicians did.
The group rebounded from virtual shows last year with a brand new fifth member of the band. Make Music Day was the debut of Alex Hussey on keyboard and back-up vocals on Monday. The group tore it up with the kind of high energy show they’ve become known for in Oregon’s capital. Following their performance, Salem punk band Hot Sheets closed out the night. These were just two of the electric performances given by local musicians all day long.
Robotic Torres slung some dubstep-style beatboxing at multiple venues and drew crowds every time. Salem punk band Sadgasm got the sidewalk by The Infinity Room moshing to several of their tracks. Other performances throughout the day leaned into the background aesthetic of the dine-and-listen style of show that was held at numerous cafes and restaurants.
Curbside’s unofficial award for hardest working musician of the day had to go to Dylan Santiago, who played EIGHT total sets throughout the hot day of music, all at different venues. He was by no means alone in being a local musician who finished one set only to gather up equipment and book it to another downtown venue.
All day long, artists expressed how thankful they were to be back from the shut-in of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re glad to be back and we hope this iteration of Wild Ire is the best that’s yet to come,” Turner said.
To help support our mission of highlighting local arts and events, consider purchasing a subscription to Curbside Press. Every dollar goes right back into promoting and covering local artists in Oregon.
More from Make Music Day 2021:
To help support our mission of highlighting local arts and events, consider purchasing a subscription to Curbside Press. Becoming a subscriber give you access to in depth interviews with arts, like Wild Ire and many more.