Typical festy wake up on Saturday – I busted out of my tent sweating profusely, feeling confused and groggy and wishing I could sleep for another 5 hours. I stumbled from camp to the gates for Conspirator, all the while wondering why they were playing so damn early. Unlike the day before, which was gradually brought in by Elephant Revival and The Wood Brothers, Conspirator’s drops seemed out of place so early in the day, but the crowd did not seem to notice, and neither did the band, although I could never really get to into it in the hot sun. Although I would have been happy to see these guys even around 8 or 9pm, it was just too weird trying to get down and rage spunion-style at 1pm.
Another seemingly out-of-place act (regarding timing) happened later that day when Big Gigantic took the stage at 8pm. It seems as if Big G is at every festival in the states this summer, and they typically play late night sets, including when they closed out Electric Forest earlier in July. I thought of their unusual time slot as recognition of which artists were going to be more popular with the All Good crowd versus that at EFF, but I don’t really know if that was the case or what. Either way, Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken did what they usually do and received a lot of crowd-love for it, and although their talent is undeniable, I have become less and less impressed with their sets I have seen over the past year or so.
The first time I saw Big G, I was in awe of how seamlessly they blended their live instrumentals with produced material, and marveled at their uniqueness and ability to get me to enjoy a type of electronic that I typically don’t get down to. At EFF in 2011, I thought they were going to become one of my favorite live acts, but each time I have seen them since, I am let down a little more by just how produced they now sound. Although Dom showcases his talent on the sax with a lot of other artists as well, I feel like they started on a path leading them to a fresh, unique display, and now they are beginning to blend in with other artists, and every time they disappoint, I desire to see them less and less.
The Allman Brothers
With their horns and bluesy guitar, The Bridge’s short set was a good transition to the main headliners of the festival, The Allman Brothers. I was super excited to finally see this ever-evolving group for what was realistically probably my first and last time. Unfortunately, a personal height challenge prevented me from ever really getting a good look at Gregg Allman behind a massive keyboard, but through the few glimpses I got, I was impressed at the energy he still put into the keys despite how aged he looked. The other members were a blast to watch, and the interactions between Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks signaled two uber-talented musicians who fed off each other’s playing for the benefit of everyone. The definite highlight of the set was when Roosevelt Collier joined for “One Way Out.” His presence seemed to revive the band, who had started to lose me after a while of non-climatic jamming and brought them through a bluesy end to the set. After two hours, they played one encore of “Whipping Post,” that had everyone screaming for more, and myself satisfied at finally becoming one of the millions of people who has seen this legendary group in some form during their lifetime.
LETTUCE. Lettuce! My god, I have to say that this brief set was probably my favorite act of the entire weekend. Fireworks at the end of the Allman Brothers got everyone amped up proper, and they took to the stage for a tight 45-minutes of horn-heavy, funky awesomeness that left me wondering when the next time when I would get to hear more. I could barely stop dancing to shoot, and lead bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes front and center was a ton of fun to watch. All in all, these guys held their own in a very impressive lineup and more likely than not, gained quite a few fans after Saturday night’s show.
Despite a few acts to look forward to on Sunday, Lotus’ late night set seemed like the end of the party. They opened familiarly with crowd favorite “Spiritualize,” but spent the next 2+ hours showcasing a wide and unpredictable range of sounds that really exhibited their ability to break the barriers of the jam genre. As always, their simple but beautiful light display seemed to reflect the soft and floaty feeling gifted to the crowd during their long improvisational jams, and after a long day, we happily drifted out of the venue for the night.
I was looking forward to The Devil Makes Three as I had enjoyed an amazing, sweaty, whiskey-filled first-time experience with them at Bonnaroo, but absolutely failed at making it to the stage in time after the bliss of the night before. I made it down in time to catch the end of Mickey Hart’s set, the last member of the Grateful Dead to play that weekend in a venue they have graced many times before.
Greensky Bluegrass’ set brought some energy into the lazy feeling of Sunday with some heavier-than-bluegrass vibes, especially when joined by Roosevelt Collier on stage. Like many of the other artists displayed this weekend, Greensky showed All Good that they are continuing to evolve and break genre stereotypes and expectations.
Michael Franti & Spearhead
All Good’s lineup hit hard in the beginning of the weekend and ended very anti-climactic for me. I was surprised at the organizers’ choice to pick Michael Franti as the closer of a festival with such esteemed headliners, and his stage definitely seemed the most elaborate with a giant banner displaying “Michael Franti & Spearhead” across it for anyone who might have forgotten. That said, Franti’s positive energy was abound and felt nice during the hot Sunday sun, but his borderline cheesiness was a bit too much for me after such a long, amazing weekend of undeniable talent being shoved in my face. Although I was not nearly ready to leave Legend Valley and return to the real world, my disinterest in his set definitely helped ease the pain.
This being my first year at All Good, I can’t compare differences between the previous venue and Legend Valley, but most veterans didn’t seem to have many complaints. I will say that the walk from the camping area to the venue could get annoying, especially as crossing guards had to be posted up 24/7 to let people cross a two lane road, but I have yet to find a good festival where distance between these areas is not an issue. Other than that and some neighbors playing horrible dubstep next to my camp at full volume until 9am despite recommendations from many polite patrons to please cut that shit out, I have no complaints. The lineup was my all-time favorite of any festival I have been to so far, and combined with no stress caused by overlapping sets and a beautiful crowd full of lovely people, All Good was (as Lettuce had us chanting on Saturday night): “all good, all the time.”