Friday morning at the All Good Music Festival saw considerably cooler temperatures than anyone had anticipated, much to everyone’s relief. The lack of the being parboiled in one’s tent in the early morning sun seemed to help everyone’s mood, and a few hundred people gathered to see the first acts of Friday, cooled by the gentle breeze under a totally overcast sky. The earliest timeslot went to Colorado’s indie folk quintet Elephant Revival. A smaller crowd of diehards in attendance sang along with songs whose gentler tones were perfect for the mild morning air.
After a brief DJ set, California coastal jam band Animal Liberation Orchestra or ALO treated the crowd to a non-sweaty daytime festival set of favorites including Plastic Bubble that had guitarist Dan Lebowitz throwing out some hot licks. I was excited to hear crowd favorite Barbecue, into which was sandwiched Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger. However, the results were somewhat weaker in comparison to the same BBQ > EOT >BBQ sandwich at their Bonnaroo set five weeks prior. Still, it is always hilarious to hear ALO perform their song Jericho which vividly describes the outdoor camping and music festival experience, and it wasn’t lost on the All Good audience. A brief set followed by Minneapolis bass drum-heavy band 4onthefloor, whose Springsteenesque vocalist brought rocking earnestness to their early afternoon slot. The Wood Brothers entertained the crowd with their roots rock sound including a sit in by All Good Artist At Large Roosevelt Collier, who plays peal steel guitar with the Lee Boys.
- All Good Diary: FestivaLog Thursday – Phil Lesh and Friends, Bob Weir w/ Branford and Bruce Hornsby, Trampled By Turtles
I had the chance to chat briefly with 2012 All Good Artist at Large Roosevelt Collier about his experience so far and festival sit-ins. Collier expressed his appreciation for a wide array of musical acts, from the Wood Brothers to jam bands like Tea Leaf Green to the Allmans. “It’s this amazing feeling when all these people come together as one – everyone is just a unique piece of the bigger pie,” Collier said about the All Good experience. He added, “We all feed into this energy – from the crowd going crazy to the band doing their thing and me bringing my vibe, it’s like a big potion and we’re mixing that big moment. That’s what it’s all about – creating that moment.”
Dub reggae festival mainstay SOJA brought their praise of Jah to the afternoon for a suitably scheduled 4:20 timeslot and consciousness seemed to be raised among a large portion of the crowd as evidenced by the smiles plastered on many a face.
Philadelphia alt-hip hop act G. Love & Special Sauce followed on the main stage with a set that didn’t differ much from many prior festival appearances, but was nonetheless entertaining as the All Good audience dug the more laid back vibe. A forty-minute set by Chicago band Rubblebucket followed, again driving up the crowds energy as horns and guitar, bass, drums blended in captivating beats. Lead singer and baritone sax player Kalmia Taver’s intensity was inspiring and the band’s energy infectious, showing why they’re quickly becoming the darlings of many festivalgoers.
Longtime All Good mainstays Yonder Mountain String Band had the primetime spot at 8pm, and as with most years, they probably earned some new fans from those in attendance. Favorites like Traffic Jam were appropriate given the hillside seating of the larger part of the venue, while newer tunes like Pocket were also well received. In great festival tradition, the Colorado quartet closed with a cover of Talking Heads’ Girlfriend Is Better that featured Roosevelt Collier on pedal steel guitar which made the transition into evening almost imperceptible as the party had a radiance of its own (or at least an exhaust). The Pimps of Joytime also turned some heads and gained the appreciation of many with their self-indulgently funk-effect laden grooves that can only be best described as (sorry) pimped out.
I must admit that of all the bands at All Good this year, the one I was probably most excited to see was the Flaming Lips, if only for the sheer spectacle and eye candy that the improvisational-minded experimental rock veterans are known to lay out for the crowd. I was not disappointed. Although I can’t say that I was a giant fan coming into the set, I am a far bigger one after having seen (and been in the middle of) their spectacular stage production that included confetti jets, dancing girls (dressed as Dorothy), and the reliably cool moment of Wayne Coyne crowd surfing in a giant plastic bubble. Closing their set with a super extend-o version of Do You Realize, the Flaming Lips’ gave their pop hit a big treatment. I must say, the jaded 37 year-old music critic in me couldn’t help but feel like some of the younger members of the audience were acting like they were watching a TV show stoned on their couches. Following the Lips were jam wunderkinds Papadosio who threw down a wallop of dance and a lot of rock on the side stage before NOLA’s Galactic took the stage for a late night set that included a cover of Paul Simon’s Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.
Okay, for anyone who’s checking back from yesterday – here’s the RFID rant:
I am uncomfortable with the advent of RFID chips in festival wristbands. Although it makes clear logistical sense in many regards, there is great potential for abuse. Despite festival organizers assertions that they don’t use the data (yet), I hate the idea that my comings and goings are being tracked, or data related to my behavior is being sold without so much as a privacy notice to click past. I mean, who has ever heard of unscrupulous concert promoters unfairly profiting from others or cutting corners? Although RFID provide a greater insurance against unticketed festival entry, it also often poses a headache for fans and staff alike, as problems have been reported with the system at All Good from the start of the festival. That said, RFID tags are likely here to stay – I’m hoping that they figure it out faster than communications between parking staff, security and local police. On the other hand, I also think there’s amazing potential for utilizing the data for academic and research purposes. Any sociologists or social psychologists out there need a cool project? I think that most festival promoters would be receptive to partnering with research to ask some interesting questions.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for highlights from Saturday.