Water City Racket Fest 2019: A First Look


Snowbirds at Racket Fest 2018 (photo Northern Mantle)

Community collaborations appears to be the main new feature of the upcoming 2019 Water City Racket Fest scheduled for February 14-16, 2019 in downtown Oshkosh.

Five new music host partners have been added, along with the addition of Thursday evening live music and a full day of live music programming on Saturday.

Let’s take a first look at some of the new things happening at the upcoming music fest:

3 days:  Racket Fest 2019 is expanding to a third day, with the event kickoff at Fletch’s Tap House.  While the bands are yet to be announced, Fletch’s is hosting a free evening of music from 8pm – 11:30pm on Thursday, Feb 14.

Fletch’s is also hosting a round of the upcoming Brew Battles  –  Craft Beer Bracket Challenge that weekend (stay tuned for more info on that splendid new event), meaning there will be an abundance of  tasty northeast Wisconsin beers on tap.

Weekend festival tickets will also be on sale at the show, with all weekend passes purchased that night including a free compilation CD featuring music from many of the bands performing at the 2019 fest (the CD will be available for just $6 throughout the weekend).

Friday Night Late Night Beats:  Peabody’s is hosting a late night session of beats Friday, February 15, beginning at 10pm and lasting on into the morning.

This free addition to the weekend will feature some of the finest local record spinners as they add a new musical element to the weekend.  As an added bonus, you’ll be able to grab some newly crafted goodness from the main festival’s sponsor, Fifth Ward Brewing.

In addition to Peabody’s late evening session, Manila Resto will again be hosting a musical treat for dinner, while the Algoma Club is going to be rocking with 4 exceptional bands playing from 7:30pm until 11:30pm.

Water City Racket Fest 2018 featured the music of DUSK, the Snowbirds, Haunted Heads, Redhawks, ASUMAYA, Auralai, and more.

Saturday February 16 is Music Day:  Original music is the theme for Racket Fest, as the event will host 25 sets from midwest bands and musicians performing their artfully-crafted sounds in downtown Oshkosh.  And Saturday is loaded:

– Music will start early at the Oshkosh Winter Farmers Market in the Menominee Nation Arena, with three free sets at 8:15am, 9am and 10am.

– The Oshkosh Public Library is hosting a Listen & Learn session under the dome, with three free 30 minute sessions at 9am, 10am and 11am.  Sessions will explore music creation, story telling, instrumentation, and more, providing a unique and personal behind the scenes experience.

– Fletch’s will host the city’s weekend musical lunch spot, with two intimate, paired-down acoustic performances from visiting musicians.  Music will run from noon to 2:30pm and is free.  Food will be served in house from the Varsity Club, and a plethora of Wisconsin craft beers will be

– While not officially part of the Racket Fest lineup, Vines & Rushes is partnering to host live music in Ripon from 2-5pm featuring two sets from Racket Fest bands who are traveling from out of town.

– Manila Resto will again be the spot for Saturday dinner, with live original music from 5:15pm – 7:15pm.  Racket Fest ticket holders each receive $1 off their bill.

– The Algoma Club likewise returns as the home base for Racket Fest, with bands performing starting at 7:30pm and filling your ears with goodness until 11:30pm

– Still looking for more late night music?  The Reptile Palace is on board this year with a stellar 3 band late night lineup that also features a select Fifth Ward Brewing beer.  Music runs from 10:30pm until 1:30am.

Asumaya at 2018 Water City Racket Fest (photo Northern Mantle)

Independent Racket Nights:  New in 2018 has been the Thursday early evening series Independent Racket Nights.  The 2018 series featured six shows hosted at four rotating Oshkosh venues, with the final two shows set for November 1 and December 6.  The series provided a chance to highlight some of the bands who will be performing at Racket Fest while sharing their music both on stage and on Racket Fest Radio on 101.9fm.  The 2019 series is expanding to add 1-2 new venues for a total of eight shows.

The November 1, 2o18 show at O’Marro’s Public House includes Spy vs Spy, Redhawks (Appleton), and Horace Greene.

The December 6, 2018 show returns to Fletch’s, where The Present Age, the Tapebenders (Milwaukee) and Redshift Headlights will play.

Band Announcements:  Fans can expect announcements of performers throughout November and December 2018.  The team is currently finalizing contracts and filling venue slots.

The announcements will coincide with promotions of event sponsors. Interested parties can review sponsorship opportunities here.



About Author

Justin R. Mitchell

Justin is the founding editor of the Oshkosh Independent.

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