Eighth annual Sloughfest music festival rocks Augustana


Chris Ferman

First years Bri Clark, left, Diana Dethloff, center, and Carrie Uddenberg, right play a game of bean bag toss during Sloughfest at Augustana College on May 6, 2023.

Allie Lewis

On Saturday, May 6, Augustana held its eighth annual music festival: Sloughfest. The event was highly anticipated campus-wide and highlighted both student performers and headliners. Students from First-Years to seniors were in attendance and danced the night away on the Erickson Field. 

This was the second year that Augustana featured student performers.

This year however, Sloughfest added a new component, with the student step team, Heavy Steppas, taking the stage. Senior Andrew Leon Sanchez is one of the founding group members and made Sloughfest history. 

“I wanted to end with a big performance,” Sanchez said. “It was either we organize our own event and perform there, or we perform somewhere that’s big. I saw Sloughfest was hosting auditions…and we made it past the auditions.” 

Sloughfest is normally catered toward vocal and instrumental performances, but Heavy Steppas brought something new to the table. The group incorporated audience participation by teaching them some of the words to their routine, and the Steppas gave an outstanding performance. 

“Hopefully our performance can get some new dance groups that would want to start and be like ‘Oh my gosh, now we can perform at Sloughfest, it’s possible!” Sanchez said. “Or current dance groups that are like ‘We can do that, too.’” 

Heavy Steppas opened up the opportunity for other groups outside of just vocal or instrumental performances to step on the Sloughfest stage. 

Several student performers at Sloughfest decided to join forces after making it through the audition process. Junior Lorenzo Moreno and sophomore Julie Tarling, along with their other band members junior Utah Keehner and First-Year Abbey Soper, took the stage and performed together. 

“Originally, Utah was playing the drums and I was singing and playing the guitar,” Moreno said. “Then Julie Tarling auditioned solo, and we decided to combine both of our groups together. We added a bass player [Abbey Soper]. So, it’s piano, guitars, drums and voices.” 

This group sang covers of popular songs from several different decades. Songs such as “Jolene” by Dolly Parton, “Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilish and “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees were big hits that had the audience on their feet dancing. 

“I wanted to step my foot in Augie’s community and show them a part of what I love, which is music,” Tarling said. “I write music, and it is something I want to pursue in the future. I also really wanted to collaborate with more artists who love it as much as I do.” 

The next group to take the stage was the student group Boys of Bliss who performed their rock-inspired setlist for Sloughfest. This group performed an original song, along with covers of “Can’t Stop” and “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and “Hotel California” by the Eagles. 

Along with performances, the school provided food options like Chick-fil-A, Kona Ice, Fuego Taco, Goonmans and Hy-Vee. There were also lawn games and several places set up for students to take pictures. 

The Augie football field was absolutely filled with students for the whole duration of Sloughfest. There was a high energy crowd for not just the headliners, but the student performers as well. 

“It has not been easy, but I’m very excited because all of our work came together,” Tarling said.