Everyone attending Lockn’ woke up Friday morning to already stifling temperatures before any music started. The weather definitely slowed some of the attendees from camping out at the main stage all day, but there were people right up front for over 12 hours by the time Phish ended their set after midnight. The field was not overly crowded, much like Thursday, until Phish hit the stage. This made it easy to move about and for people to set up shaded areas on the concert field without bothering other people’s experiences. Blankets, umbrellas, tarps, and tents were strewn throughout the field letting festival goers listen to the music and not be baking completely in the oppressive sun. The food tents and Participation Row saw much more action on Friday due to people wanting to get out of the heat, but it turned out to be good for business and information.
Moogatu, a band that was supposed to play last year but were washed out by the storms in 2015, started off the day with an impressive set. With only 30 minutes to play, the band wasted no time and went into some deep jamming right off the bat and eventually found their way into a “Hotel California” jam that sealed the deal for winning the audience over. If given more time they would have had one of the best sets of the day easily. As the stage rotated, Turkuaz emerged already playing with their signature high energy. Watching the group throw down at such an early time of the day was an absolute joy. The crowd responded with plenty of dancing, jumping, and screaming for the group during the entire hour they were on stage. They closed their set with a spot on cover of “The Shape I’m In” by The Band that led to smiles everywhere across the concert field.
Something Lockn’ does that most festivals don’t is allow a band to play more than one set. With the stage rotating back once again Vulfpeck started their second set of the weekend, but unfortunately they repeated some of their songs from Thursday night. While they did change it up slightly by playing some fantastic covers of “Up On Cripple Creek,” “Boogie On Reggae Woman” and “Tell Me Something Good,” they repeated some of their own material which seems wrong considering the crowd didn’t change. When you have this opportunity it should be taken advantage of completely and a band should show the audience everything it has.
The second Vulfpeck ended, White Denim began playing as the stage rotated and were the last band to really take advantage of what was supposed to happen every time. They ripped into “Real Deal Momma” and followed that up with “Ha Ha HA HA (Yeah)” with a sit in from Scott Metzger. The idea of Lockn’ was built around sit-ins and guest spots and having no breaks between bands. It was great to see that White Denim got the message of the festival and used every idea they could. With a new line up, they impressed the crowd with some quick but intense jamming and definitely won over some new fans.
Two amazing front men dominated the next two slots on the festival with Charles Bradley followed by Peter Wolf. Charles Bradley, who had some health issues earlier this summer, seemed to be all healed up and gave his usual amazing performance. Peter Wolf, best known from The J. Geils Band, came on stage with his usual energy and never stopped moving for the entirety of his set. Playing many hits from The J. Geils Band kept the crowd engaged while he inserted some of his newer songs into the set. While it seemed like an odd fit for the festival, Wolf fit right in.
Ween’s Friday set was as polar opposite from Thursday’s set as you could get. While the band showed off their weirdness on day one, day two was all about their catchier songs. Starting off the set with “Pork Roll Egg and Cheese” the crowd went wild and only continued to do so for the rest of their hour and a half set. Many people were excited about Phish and Ween being on the same bill because there was the chance of playing “Roses Are Free” together, but it wasn’t in the cards as Ween played it at the halfway mark of their set with no guest sit ins. The set was tremendous, but after it was over there was over an hour wait for Phish, which slowed the day down from the non-stop music that everyone had been experiencing.
No one was sure if Phish was going to be playing a festival curated set or a looser regular set leading up to the festival. While set one had its ups and downs, when the band dove into “It’s Ice” everything connected through the end of the set. The ending of set one was a huge highlight with the band doing an acapella cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” The second set started off with a blazing “Punch You In The Eye,” but the highlight of the set was a fantastic “Ghost”>”Bathtub Gin” combo that saw the band heavily jam after the composed parts of each song. When Phish get down to business there is nothing you can do, but enjoy it.
After they ended many people made the very long trek out to The Wood Stage for the debut of Circles Around The Sun. The band was conceived by Neal Casal to make the intermission music for the GD50 celebrations last summer. Watching the four musicians on stage play this music in person was stunning. Mixing in ideas from various Grateful Dead songs into the music they were performing was an absolute treat. It would be a shame if this was a one time performance never to be played live again.
While they were still playing, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead started up their second set of the weekend and didn’t disappoint. The band played a wild “Shakedown Street” teasing Phish’s “Bathtub Gin” and got some help from Nicole Atkins on “Dancin In The Street,” “Music Never Stopped,” and a few others. Having her up there to wail on vocals is always a treat. With two days down and two to go, the only hope is that the weather would cool down a bit, but the music would stay just as hot.
Article: Bryan Lasky