Lockn’ is a one-of-a-kind festival, and in many ways the best festival. The talent displayed on stage is better than anywhere else you can spend 4 days in the summer, with the exception of maybe a couple other events. It was hard to do, but I’ve narrowed my list down to 10 reasons why Lockn’ was absolutely rockin’ once again this year.
Widespread Panic w/ Steve Winwood
After a weather threat cut Phil & Friends Saturday set short, the concert grounds were evacuated, leaving Widespread Panic fans to retreat back to their campsite. In the case of this concertgoer, that meant hearty amounts of tequila.
When word got around that the grounds were open again and Widespread Panic was taking the stange, anticipation had grown tenfold. We literally darted to the stage in the rain to be met with Jimmy Herring’s shredding. Once Steve Winwood took the stage, it was clear we were in for a legendary night, as the supergroup busted through “Low Spark…” “Surprise Valley,” and “Gimme Some Lovin’,” amongst others.
The selection of craft beer at Lockn’ was second to none. No less than seventeen breweries were on site to add to the debauchery and increase the intensity of Nels Cline’s solos. The Six Point Coffee Porter was especially on point during Wilco’s Sunday set.
Del McCoury Band & Preservation Hall Jazz Band actually interlocked
Leave it to the two oldest bands at the festival to engage in such a forward-thinking concept. Lockn’ was designed for the music to never stop, and for bands to literally jam in to each other’s sets. This was executed perfectly by Del Band and Pres. Hall as they literally walked from the Ridge Stage to the Oak Stage during their back-to-back Friday afternoon sets.
Bill Kreutzmann’s Locknstep All Stars
The Friday evening set that replaced Bob Weir’s presence ended up being one of the most special sets of the festival. Boasting a variety of guests, from the legendary Taj Mahal to the alien-friendly EOTO, the Locknstep All Stars definitely delivered a noteworthy performance. Pictured above is the one time both stages were actually used at once, with EOTO playing on the left and Kreutzmann on the right for an incredible version of the drums that the Grateful Dead used to put in the middle of their sets. It was quite the spectacle, and I’d certainly never seen anything like that.
Waking up with Keller
Bright and early, at 11am on Friday and Saturday, Keller Williams took the stage with the Grateful Grass project, expanded to include Jason Carter on the fiddle and Jay Starling on the Dobro. The now-quintet delivered two unique sets of Grateful Dead music in mountain-music fashion. Laying up in a hammock to enjoy these very special sets was a different experience than I’ve ever had at a festival.
As if the bluegrass wasn’t enough, on Sunday Keller offered up the Grateful Gospel, where he lead a band to do Grateful Dead songs with a gospel twist. Never has church felt so right…
The Allman Brothers Band final festival set
It’s crazy to think that after 45 years of creating the most polarizing rock n roll the south has ever heard, the Allman Brothers Band played their final festival set to close out the already-legendary Lockn’ Festival. Dedicated to the late Brian Farmer, the band played their seminole release Live at the Fillmore East in its entirety, with Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes tag-teaming the roles played by Dickey Betts and Duane Allman on the recordings.
They did a phenomenal job with this, rendering it the tightest Brothers performance I’d ever seen. With the hurt of Farmer’s recent departure and Gregg in great spirits, the Allman Brothers Band delivered an emotionally-charged set of absolute classics.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Tom Petty seemed a little loopy on stage during the band’s Saturday Night headlining spot. Following up Widespread Panic with Steve Winwood is no easy task, but leave it to one of America’s most institutional rock n roll acts to do just so. Opinions are mixed on this set, but I think Petty and co. delivered a memorable performance of hit-after-hit, loud-and-proud sing-alongs and overall patriotism.
Image from Jambase.com
String Cheese Incident, my favorite band
String Cheese Incident’s special incidents with Zac Brown, Lauryn Hill and now Kool & the Gang have been met to mixed reviews. When you have a group as passionate as jam fans, any change you make is bound to be met with massive amounts of criticism by otherwise very open-minded people (funny how that works, huh?).
String Cheese absolutely crushed it with this one. JT Taylor played a very charismatic frontman as I watched SCI have the best time I’ve ever seen them have on stage. Literally everyone in the band looked like a kid in the candy shop as the group busted through classic disco material with the help of some sexy backup singers. I definitely recommend finding a recording of this one.
Weird ol’ Wilco
Wilco provided a solid differentiation from the other bands at the festival. Their nerdy indie brand of music isn’t as much a tribute to the Grateful Dead as most other bands at Lockn’, but the ties are definitely there. One of the most special moments of the entire festival was when, in the midst of excrutiating heat, Wilco brought in a sun-shower and a double rainbow during “I’m The Man Who Loves You.”
Jeff Tweedy didn’t like the rainbows, and was making fun of them via banter for the remainder of the set. Nels Cline made me think about the guitar differently. And the surrounding cast of bandmates absolutely crushed it in their own worlds.
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