Situated in the northern reaches of Vermont, an oasis of craft beers and seemingly boundless optimism, Waking Windows proves itself an unlikely destination festival for the adventurous New Englander. Now in its seventh year, Waking Windows takes one spring weekend and transforms the center of the tiny city of Winooski into something like a miniature version of South By Southwest where nothing is sponsored by Doritos. This past weekend’s edition distributed more than 180 bands from across the musical spectrum among 13 venues around town, drawing eager crowds from far and wide.

In addition to two outdoor stages, Winooski’s bars, restaurants, vacant storefronts, and churches welcomed the likes of pastoral Jersey indie rockers Real Estate, electronic oddball Dan Deacon, Australian psych group Pond, Saddle Creek signees Big Thief and many, many more.

And while there were plenty of indie darlings to be found, the real beauty of Waking Windows is that the lineup didn’t stop there. A venture at random might’ve landed you in the middle of Asperos Saicos’ inspired garage-rock madness, a packed show from acclaimed MC Open Mike Eagle, or a showcase of local metal bands. Or under a tent, where Providence punks Downtown Boys (featured up top) got up close with their audience in the rain. Or at a dance party led by a Danish drummer in a jersey/bowtie combo and his five-piece, gong-featuring band. Pleasant surprises abounded at Waking Windows, a festival quite unlike any other.

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