BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Secret Stages, a Birmingham music festival dedicated to bringing the best bands you haven’t heard of (yet) to the stage, will take place this weekend.

Secret Stages took a year off last year like so many other events and celebrations due to the pandemic and safety concerns. Last year would have been its 10th anniversary, but like so many other events, they decided to play it safe and not host anything.

Event organizers say this festival is about bringing people together, showing off great music and showing everyone who great of a city Birmingham is – they want people to be able to have that experience again.

“We really wanted to hit that milestone, but also we believe in Secret Stages as something that’s really important to the city and something that brings people together,” Creative Services Director Sam George said. “We wanted to deliver to our fans and our community that way.”

The festival will bring over 30 bands to three stages in Avondale at the intersection of 41st Street South and 2nd Avenue South Friday and Saturday. The three venues will be Avondale Brewing Company, Black Tie CBD and Saturn. Saturn will only allow those that are 18+ years of age to enter.

There will only be one stage inside at Saturn and masks will be required there. The footprint of this festival is mainly outdoors.

Event organizers said hand sanitizing stations will be all over the place. If you are not vaccinated, you need to mask up, even outdoors. If you have been vaccinated, masks are encouraged. Either way, you will be able to get a mask at Silent Stages.

“I don’t think anyone will be able to do what we want, which is to enjoy the music, unless they feel comfortable in the environment so I would say it’s our number one priority to keep people safe,” George said.

Jonathon Poor, one of the organizers of the event, said Secret Stages first formed in 2010 by people who wanted to bring music festivities back to Birmingham after City Stages went away in 2009. They wanted to make an event that would be beneficial to the local scene, so they came up with a brand of “discovery.”

“We strive to achieve being supportive and beneficial to local artists and regional/national artists that are not mainstream names and huge stars,” Poor said. “Music that is fantastic, but not universally recognized.”

Poor said the goal is to bring music fans to intimate venues where they can discover something new that will “light them on fire.” He mentioned that they aspire to build a trust with the community to curate music that festivalgoers might not hear on the radio or in the media, but find enjoyment listening to.

He also said that the biggest thing they promote is discovery. They don’t always go out and pursue headliners that people will recognize. They might put some recognizable names in the lineup, but a variety of genres and discovery is the focus.

For the bands, Poor said Secret Stages can be the next level for them to step up to. An event for them to strive and rehearse for. A stepping stone on their path to gaining exposure.

This year, Secret Stages is partnering with Eats in the Streets. The streets at the festival will be closed off to allow for an outdoor fair. With this partnership, Poor hopes that local restaurants will receive significant support.

The Birmingham’s Eat in the Streets initiative mission is to eat outside when you can’t eat inside during the coronavirus pandemic.

There will be an Eat in the Streets Courtyard inside Avondale Brewing. Event Director Jon Poor said they are featuring three of the hardest hit industries: restaurants, live music and the event industry. He is hopeful this sets the standard to keep bringing festivals like this back even during the pandemic and to help each other out.

“For Secret Stages it’s a no brainer because they support us every year, so whatever we can do this year to make their lives easier and get them some business, we want to do it,” Poor said. “I think we’ve got it worked out pretty well where I think everybody is going to be happy about how it goes down.”

When asked about the future of Secret Stages beyond this year’s event, Poor said that they want to grow back to the size that they were at before the pandemic. This year, they have 30 bands and three stages. Poor desires to return to 50 bands and five stages. He said that they want to highlight Birmingham, the locals and the hospitality, and to grow the event to new heights with more eyes, ears and collaboration.

Online tickets for the event are $35 for a day pass, $50 for a weekend pass and $100 for a VIP pass. Available at the box office at the time of the event are day passes for $45, weekend passes for $60 and VIP passes for $120. Tickets can be purchased here.

Day passes will allow access to all Secret Stages venues on a single day of the festival. Weekend passes will allow holders to have access to all venues for both days, and VIP passes will give special access to a VIP lounge where there will be complimentary beer, spirits, catering and DJ sets throughout both evenings.

To view the festival’s schedule, click here. To view the lineup, click here.