Recap: All Good Festival Day 3 & 4
Photo by Jeff Myers
All Good delivered yet again on Saturday, with a third-day lineup as good as any you may see all summer long.
Larry Keel & Natural Bridge was first up at the main stage on the day. Among the tried-and-true flat picked Americana classics performed throughout the hour was an unlikely cover of Grandmaster Flash’s 80’s classic “The Message” that Keel effortlessly made his own.
Soon after on the Dragon Stage, Marc Brownstein and his collab-happy project Conspirator played a drum and bass heavy set of livetronica that made 1:30 PM feel like more like 1:30 AM. It’s usually tough for bands of their genre to get people moving so early in the day, but thanks to the willing crowd and a powerful P.A. system, they managed.
Dark Star Orchestra didn’t do a verbatim Grateful Dead archive emulation like they are known for doing on occasion, but did provide an incredibly faithful representation of the Dead sound and experience. Their set saw them retreading tracks that proved well-represented by the end of the Dead-heavy weekend (“Bertha,” especially), but also had them claiming the exclusive version of the single “One More Saturday Night” as their parting song.
And what a Saturday night it was: the evening held arguably the best consecutive cluster of acts of the entire weekend, starting with a gargantuan two-and-a-half hour set by festival headliner The Allman Brothers. This was the set to see for most All Good-goers—a classic rock high watermark in a weekend filled with pioneers of the genre—and the show was packed with standards like “Midnight Rider,” “It’s Not My Cross To Bear,” and a flooring one-two ender/encore of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and “Whipping Post” respectively. A sit-in by All Good artist-at-large Roosevelt Collier only sweetened what stood out as a definite festival highlight.
But at 12:30 AM, the night was far from over. Horn-heavy funk-heads Lettuce exploded onto the Crane Stage soon after the Allman Brothers wrapped up and set the tempo for a frenetic late night. With just 45 minutes to show their stuff, Lettuce’s set was tight in comparison to what one would expect from one of their headlining sets, and it worked in the band’s advantage: abbreviated jams meant more songs, lending to a consistently exciting and engaging show.
Lotus rounded off Saturday night’s excellent trio of shows in fine form as well, building off of the restless energy that Lettuce established, guiding an already glowing audience to the next hip-shaking plateau. Their two-hour set came to a close remarkably fast, leaving eager fans with satisfied smiles and the promise of a soundboard recording to look forward to until next time.
With the bittersweet last day of All Good came the disbelief typical of the end of any great music festival: the weekend was somehow already over, and in a matter of minutes, it’s back to the real world where talking to strangers is discouraged and the odds of hearing world-class live music every hour of the day suddenly plummets.
But with the bitter comes the sweet, and like the three days that preceded it, there was plenty to savor on Sunday.
After the fittingly bluesy beginning-of-the-end that was Corey Harris & The Rasta Blues Band, Devil Makes Three delivered on the buzz they’ve gathered on the festival circuit this summer. The bluegrass three-piece plucked out tales of debauchery rounded out by bassist Lucia Turino’s gorgeous harmonies that struck a chord with the audience (“Shades” lyric “And what the hell am I doing drunk in the middle of the day” seemed particularly relatable).
The unmistakable drum intro of “Samson & Delilah” signaled the fourth and final Grateful Dead alumnus had taken the Dragon Stage at All Good 2012. Mickey Hart Band played a set split between Dead covers and tracks from his intergalactic-inspired new material. Hopeful fans holding out for a surprise Furthur collaboration were disappointed, obviously, though Widespread Panic fans took heart in Dave Schools’ contribution on bass.
After opening their set with the American-songbook classic “How Mountain Girls Can Love,” Greensky Bluegrass’s Paul Hoffman praised the All Good program’s spot-on description of their sound: “In the program, it says band: Greensky Bluegrass. Music: Death metal. Here’s some Greensky Bluegrass death metal for you guys.” Don’t be surprised if drops of death metal do surface in the band’s “newgrass” pool of influence; after seeing them tear through an inspired rendition of Paul Simon’s “Gumboots” with Roosevelt Collier, it’s clear the band is capable of some serious genre melding.
Odds are, any All Good-goer who’s been to a music festival in the last ten years knew exactly what to expect from Michael Franti & Spearhead’s festival-closing set. Like much of Franti’s catalogue, his set was fun and breezy, and as packed with positivity as it was predictability. Regardless, the man can still lead quite the sing-a-long, and he proved it Sunday afternoon.
Sadly, thus ends our coverage of All Good 2012. Were you at the festival? Tell us your favorite moment in the comments section.