A Guide To Mempho Fest 2018: Music, Camping, Tips & Tricks

Posted by Holly Whitfield | September 11th 2018 4468 0

For information on the 2019 MEMPHO Music Festival, click here. 

Ed. Note: Contributor Baylee attended last year’s inaugural Mempho music festival – you can read her recap here – and now she’s got a preview for this year’s Mempho musical festival at Shelby Farms. We’ve put this guide into a few sections: Details, What’s New, Big Names, Baylee’s Lineup Picks, and Tips ‘n’ Tricks. 

As the 2nd annual Mempho Music Festival approaches, I remember the highlights of last year and offer my predictions for 2018. Even with increased prices and a few surprising changes, we’re set for a fabulous musical celebration.

The Details

On October 6 – 7, 2018, Shelby Farms Park will host pop-up stages, food trucks, local vendors, and more for one radiant weekend. The festival gates will open each day one hour before show time, and close at the end of the final performance.

Ticket prices almost doubled from this year compared to last, but only at the expense of the world-class musicians they are bringing in. GA 1-Day tickets rank in at $99, with 2-Day at $179; VIP 1-Day tickets are $239, with 2-Day at $449. They also added a Super-VIP option this year listed at $799 for 1-Day and $1,299 for 2-Day. You can purchase tickets of all levels on the Mempho Fest website.

Adrian Berryhill

Although I purchased a GA ticket last year, my parents went big and snagged the VIP option. The VIP section definitely had a few major perks such as air-conditioned bathrooms (this was the best perk in my opinion), discounted drinks, free hors d’oeuvres, and a private area with a viewing platform of all stages. VIPs also get a closer parking spot, which – if we all remember – parking was the only major problem the festival ran into last year. If you have some financial wiggle room, look into VIP, but the offerings of Mempho GA don’t fall far from the next step up.

Performance from last year’s Mempho. Photo by Adrian Berryhill.

Now you may be wondering why Super-VIP heads past the $1,000 dollar mark for a two-day music festival; if you read the fine print you’ll soon know why. This ticket includes two catered meals per day, open bar access, exclusive artist meet and greets AND private performances, complimentary massage service, and on-site dedicated Super-VIP staff the entirety of the festival – plus the extras of VIP tickets as well such as private toilets, viewing stages, and better parking.

If you want to hear more about last year, re-visit the I Love Memphis recap from 2017.

Crowd at Mempho 2017. Photo by Adrian Berryhill.

What’s New This Year

There are a few distinct changes that may potentially change the atmosphere of Mempho this year, the biggest one is onsite camping. There’s also an additional stage. 

Have three instead of two stages means more artists and hopefully, more festival-goers. Small fests are typically cleaner, easier to navigate, and – most importantly – include shorter lines for food, beverage, and restrooms. Mempho isn’t a massive festival yet so I see a repeat of these benefits. I also see a subtle expansion trend developing.


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Again, the biggest change is the option to camp at Shelby Farms from Friday through Sunday nights. You have options of how outdoors-y you want to go: primitive aka car camping, RV camping, and glamping. You have to pay extra for camping and you have to have a fest ticket to camp, but you won’t have to worry about parking or the pain of getting in/out of the grounds. Plus, you can enjoy all the stuff to do at Shelby Farms. Read the full details about camping here.

Post Malone at BSMF 2018. Photo by Briana Wade.

Music: The Big Names

World-class musicians join the lineup for this year’s Mempho Music Festival including Beck, Nas, Phoenix, Post Malone, Mac Demarco, Janelle Monáe, and Milky Chance. Known for his smash hit “Loser,” headliner Beck will pull in the 90’s alternative rock fans who will stay for French rockers Phoenix, the German electro-reggae duo Milky Chance, and indie’s famous funny boy Mac Demarco.

Beck’s newest album “Colors” lives up to its name with vibrancy and rocking electricity; I’m sure he’ll play the classics, but get to know his new material before his set. You also may be going back and forth on catching Milky Chance, known for their inescapable 2014 hit “Stolen Dance.” I’ve seen then at a festival before, and their music fits in perfectly with sunshine vibes and ice cold beer.

After his performance at Beale Street Music Festival (he contributed to BSMF’s sell-out, straight-up bonkers crowds that Sunday) viral sensation Post Malone will bring in the young rap and pop fans, whereas Nas will draw the old school hip-hop enthusiasts. If festival-goers are smart, they will also make time for Janelle Monáe’s funky-retro R&B sounds.

Music: My Picks / Don’t Miss

The headliners of any festival will dazzle you with lights, charismatic performances, and hit songs, but I prefer to attend music festivals for the “bottom” of lineups. My not-to-miss picks include Memphis R&B siren Talibah Safiya, Artist-At-Large Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, and lady-rockers Larkin Poe.

Talibah Safiya. Photo provided by the artist.

I’ve seen Talibah perform twice now, and both shows were mesmerizing. Talibah lures listeners in with her vulnerable storytelling, electric laughs, and spine-tingling vocals. Her music incorporates soul, jazz, folk, and funk elements, and will undoubtedly appeal to many music lovers. My favorite track by her remains unreleased, but coming in a close second is “Middle of the Night.”

Fifteen-year-old Brandon “Taz” Niederauer epicly shred his way into the spotlight this year. Not only can this young man shock your soul with his guitar plucks, he’s already a multi-talented superstar after his role in School of Rock on Broadway and currently in Netflix’s She’s Gotta Have It. I’ve heard from friends who caught Taz earlier in the summer that you will regret skipping his set.

Finally, sister duo Larkin Poe mix a little country and a little blues with old fashioned rock n’ roll. These ladies are kickass lyricists and even more talented musicians. Check out their Audiotree Session for a full scope of what they can do.

Artist at Mempho 2017. Photo by Adrian Berryhill.

5 Tips For Mempho Fest

  1. Carpool if you can. The beauty of Mempho’s atmosphere exists because it’s nestled within the back of Shelby Farms, but that creates a challenge for parking and Ubers/Lyfts. Come with friends so you at least have company while you wait.
  2. Volunteer for a free ticket. Ticket prices are high this year, but you can lower them by trading in your time to make the festival happen. More info here.
  3. Take time to enjoy the park. During down time in between sets, roam the 4,500 acres of Shelby Farms Park. With your wristband, you can leave and re-enter the festival throughout the weekend.
  4. Check out an artist’s name that you don’t know. Music festivals give you a marvelous opportunity for music discovery, so don’t waste it.
  5. Bring the blanket, but not the lawn chair. You will want to sit throughout the day so don’t forget a towel or blanket to spread out on. Lawn chairs are prohibited along with a few other items including drones and selfie sticks. Check the Do’s and Don’ts before your arrival.

About The Author
A born and raised Memphian, Baylee Less recently returned to her roots after her four-year hiatus at the University of Maryland. A contributor to I Love Memphis and Memphis Travel, she is excited to share the reasons she’s always loved Memphis. She enjoys live music, Asian food, and being outdoors. Follow @bayleeless on Twitter for updates about being vegan in the land of barbecue.

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