LOCKNunLOADED

By on September 23, 2013

Furthur with guest Trey Anastachio (photo by Joey A. Pye / Staged Right)

Arrington, Va.–The Lockn’ festival was praised to be the rock and roll festival offspring of Woodstock, promising the best lineup since. With headliners like Furthur, Neil Young, String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic, Zac Brown, Black Crowes and more, the festival was sought after by young and old generations with hopes of seeing their favorite bands unite. The party was not to be crashed as just days before the gates were to open, Neil Young cancelled and Tedeschi Trucks Band were added as the mayhem started unfolding.

 

Day 1:  Anarchy

I arrived on Thursday September 5th there was a clusterf–k of traffic and hippies everywhere. Chaos and confusion run amok, as mounted deputies attempted to guide heads every which way, but only to confuse more. People started ditching their cars in traffic as Keller and the Keels hit the stage at 4. I was fortunate to have worked the event and was guided in among staff.  We camped in the staff area, but some folks sat in their cars for up to 12 hours, missing the first night of events. Once inside, we quickly settled our things in time to go see Mr. Warren Haynes lay it down and pay our respects. Warren has always been a personal favorite and it seems I’m not alone. At one point he was touring as a stand in for Jerry (Garcia) for The Dead and a stand in for Duane (Allman) for the Allman Brothers Band. His personal project Government Mule, and my favorite band of his, seems almost as if it is a neglected stepchild desperate and deserving needing attention. Starting at 5 pm, He was playing with The Warren Haynes Band before going on with Mule. To those that do not know much about the difference in his current bands, WHB is more of a light Jazz, whereas GM is more of southern kick you in the teeth grunge rock. I enjoyed the WHB show and was pumped for Government Mule. To our pleasure, he brought out Grace Potter and covered “Dear Prudence”, The Beatles, and even dropped a new track called “The Cost of Freedom” that screamed classic Mule and was a lyrical head-rush. Great song!

Warren Haynes Band (photo by Joey A. Pye / Staged Right)

 The String Cheese Incident played two sets that night, doing the usual by opening with classic cheese and diving off the deep end into transitional progressions of EDM music. A transition certainly made everyone feel like they were in outer space. I am not hating on it, in fact I love it. “Rivertrance” is a great example of the message and joy they exude. They played an alternate version of “Rosie” which was a nice surprise with Jason Hann (percussions/drums) teasing  Busta Rhyme’s “Check Yo’ Self.”  String Cheese Incident redefined themselves, a level of continuity has appeared, but they did not take away from the improvisational magic they are known for. They seem to be touring less these days, but it feels as if it brings a new level of spontaneity and creativity that fits.

Keith Moseley, The String Cheese Incident (photo by Joey A. Pye / Staged Right)

 

Day 2:  Acclamation 

  The second day was packed with another Cheese set, the first night of Furthur, and The Zac Brown Incident, along with more. String Cheese played early and covered “Naive Melody/This Must be The Place” which was an absolute delight, easily being my  favorite cover they do.  Jimmy Cliff also played during the early hours, telling us stories about himself and Cat Stevens in front of a hot, but adoring crowd. I would love to sit down and have a smoke with that guy, he just seems so delightful. Once night fell, The Zac Brown Incident took over and we watched as Zac stole the stage in what ended up being the rest of the evening. They played an all acoustic set with both The Zac Brown Band and The String Cheese Incident. String Cheese did an excellent job allowing the ZBB portion to shine. They mashed up songs, covered each other’s songs and even covered classics like “Use Me” and “Could You Be Loved”(Bob Marley). In fact, it seemed as if the encore of Marley’s tune impressed Bobby (Weir) enough, he later invited Zach onstage to sing a couple of tunes with Furthur including a great cover of “Into the Mystic” (Van Morrison).

 

Day 3:  Starting to Fade

Fortunately I was camped fairly close to the stage, but the general population camping was about 2 miles away, along with a separate stage. This was a major issue for most folks and will probably be the deciding factor of whether or not the festival returns to Oak Ridge. Vending was strictly controlled outside the venue, campsites looked like concentration camps, no fires and mid day heat made for malnourished concert goers and depleted resources. By this time I was humbled a bit. I started thinking about all of the pre-game hoopla saying this fest was going to be like Woodstock. The festival has made a general projection of 25,000 attendees. Woodstock confirmed 250,000 and unofficially reported 400,000, I can only imagine…

Anyway, the third day was maybe the most anticipated with a schedule that included Trey Anastasio Band, Black Crowes, and two special performances by Widespread Panic and Furthur. The Trey show was early on in the day and was fun. It was a great show, but not much to write about,  I danced and “Gotta Jibboo.” The End. After that was the Black Crowes, who ended up being the biggest disappointment of the weekend; followed closely by “John Fogerty and The Panics”. John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival sat in with Widespread at the end of their first night’s show and I must say I was not impressed. Maybe it was because I had heard JF cover most of those songs before, maybe it was because it seemed like it was forced and my ears felt like they were being raped by live music.  Maybe it was because he didn’t even know their name (thanking them as “The Panics”), or maybe it was because I wanted to hear some dirty Widespread Panic. Well, their show the next day would certainly prove the latter. Before I can go on, I must make note of Furthur’s set that night as they performed the “Workingman’s Dead” album in its entirety and was a real treat. Trey also joined them onstage for a few songs, playing the best “Scarlet Begonias Fire on the Mountain” I have heard and proved to be the best single set of the weekend.

Jimmy Herring, Widespread Panic (photo by Joey A. Pye / Staged Right)

 

Day 4:   Beat Down

The showers were for VIP members and were scarce even if you could sneak in and by the last day everyone was ready to go home. If the schedule wasn’t so damn good, I’m sure that place would have cleared out but Sunday promised Tedeschi Trucks Band, Black Crowes #2, Widespread Panic #2, Furthur #3 and kick started with Col. Bruce Hampton and Friends. I mentioned the Black Crowes being the biggest disappointment, well the Colonel did the exact opposite. I have covered/seen him about a dozen times this year and genuinely enjoy his music, but I was anticipating this particular show for a specific reason. All of the members of Aquarium Rescue Unit were in attendance for the fest and I was praying to the rock gods we would get an ARU set. Unfortunately we did not, but we did get a stellar set with some of my favorite songs like “Basically Frightened’, “Fixin to Die” and “Space is the Place.” He was just on point, like nothing I had seen before. Regardless of whether or not it was ARU, the Col delivered and I must tip my hat. TTB was excellent and soothing for the daytime shows, Susan Tedeschi invited Bob Weir and Chris Robinson on stage which made for a pleasant and enjoyable set. She left the crowd with a veritable smile only to be turned upside down when the Black Crowes played next.

With last night’s disappointing set and the sequel of disappointment performed by the Black Crowes still lingering in my head as they stepped off stage.  I was once again knelt before the rock gods praying that John Fogerty have a safe and definite departure. My prayers were answered as they blasted off with “Conrad the Caterpillar” and all was right in the universe. They did a sick “Disco Party at your Mamas House, Stop Breaking Down Blues”(Robert Johnson), bringing the old warm and fuzzy panic feeling. Later, Derek Trucks graced the stage for a few, encoring with a rare and favorite tune “Me and the Devil Blues.” The grin on my face felt as if someone stapled it to my ears, knowing that all is back to normal. Furthur finished out the evening and the fest with another stellar set, allowing Susan Tedeschi and Jimmy Herring to come up and play, ultimately proving they were and will always be the headliners for a reason. This was my sixth time seeing them and it seems like wine, Furthur gets better with age. If I had to give out a title for best all around, it would certainly go to them.

 

I was excited to leave the next day,  it seems the feeling was shared among everyone as the place was almost desolate by noon.  The exit was as seamless and smooth as the changeovers for the shows. One of the best aspects of the festival was the alternating stages, allowing concertgoers to peacefully enjoy each and every band one after another. It appears that this method is the only way to get the top tier bands to set aside their ego’s and co-headline together. I am not sure whether or not the festival will be in Oak Ridge, Virginia next year, but I believe they will do it again. With few objective attempts at this method and the subjective success from production POV, this tells me it will happen again. If and when it does, I am sure things will run more smoothly and can only hope it doesn’t follow the mainstream trend and continues with an integral line up as it’s true advantage.

John Bell, Widespread Panic (photo by Joey A. Pye / Staged Right)

Keith Moseley, The String Cheese Incident (photo by Joey A. Pye)

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