LAVA Festival Melts Its Way Into Hampton Roads

by Shannon Bowman

Always. About the music.

Josh Coplon has been dreaming about holding a music festival since he was 15 years old. On May 16th, his dream of a multi-band festival will come to fruition with the Hampton Roads first indie-rock festival and the only one of it’s kind in the state of Virginia.

The LAVA Music Festival (Low Altitude Virginia) will be held at the Suffolk Executive Airport and will feature national touring acts, such as Fitz and the Tantrums, Of Montreal, Mutemath, Tokyo Police Club, Robert Delong, Kishi Bashi, Cloud Nothings, and A Great Pile of Leaves, along with local favorites Major and the Monbacks and Wyteshayds. And in true festival style, there will be plenty of tasty food trucks, including Stuft, Malbon’s BBQ the Flying Pig, Lucky Peach, Sofrito, Twisted Sisters Cupcakes, Bros Fish Tacos, and the Thristy Frog. Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company will also be there as a major sponsor to help you wash it all down with.

The LAVA Lounge & Barcade will feature retro arcade games and pinball games as well as an interactive outdoor area that will include activities for the kids AND adults!  The LAVA Lounge and Barcade is open to all tickets holders. Make sure to stop by and try some select beers not offered at the Main Beer Tent.

Given this was the first festival of its kind, I sat down with Coplon and chatted with him about his background in music, his experiences with live festival planning and his vision for Hampton Roads and the LAVA Music Festival.

Coplon started booking shows at the 40th Street Stage in Virginia Beach when he was only 15 and was immediately hooked on the business of live music. Major and the Monbacks, formally known as The Yolks was his first booking. A Hampton Roads native and Maury graduate, Coplon went on to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston. While in school, Coplon attended the Lollapalooza Music Festival and had the experience that changed his life.  On August 5, 2012 during the performance of Sigur Rós, he realized that planning and promoting shows was what he wanted to do. “This was the most profound thing to have ever happen to me. This is it. This is what I’m doing with my life.” Later on, Coplon entered an internship with the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival in Reykjavík and was responsible for putting on over 600 shows, in 48 venues, over the course of one week.

Coplon returned to Hampton Roads after Berklee and began using his experience and love for music to book bands in local clubs. His goal was to get people to start going to shows for the purpose of listening to great music, not just going to a bar that had live music playing off to the side. Coplon wanted to bring good music to the area and help them get exposured.

Soon after, Coplon and his father began toying around with the idea of a major festival. The major components would be to create a show that would attract people from all over Hampton Roads, and stretch to Richmond, Northern VA, DC and Chapel Hill / Raleigh to provide more than just a concert, but a true festival. His search for a perfect location for this massive festival landed him at the Suffolk Executive Airport which will allow for the potential growth of a multi-day show where fans would be able to camp and enjoy the festival experience.

Pricing was another component that Coplon considered from a consumer point of view. Knowing that many festivals can charge upwards of $300 or more on one festival ticket, he really wanted to maintain a price-point that worked for everyone, including families. “I never wanted anyone to say that I couldn’t go to LAVA because it was too expensive.” Prices range from $55 to $85, depending on when you purchase the tickets and kids under 12 are completely free.

It is expected that several thousand people will attend the event this year. The festival will only occupy about a quarter of the Suffolk Executive Airport, giving them more room to grow in future years.

To purchase tickets please visit, click on the “Buy Tickets” link and enter the promo code (whrolava) to unlock this exclusive $55 ticket. 

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The Line-Up

Major and the Monbacks - When I'm Rollin'




Kishi Bashi


A Great Pile of Leaves


Cloud Nothings


Robert Delong


Tokyo Police Club




Of Montreal


Fitz and the Tantrums