Lockn 2014 Review
Sept. 4-7, 2014, Arrington, VA
written by Adrianne Nichols
photographed by Roger Gupta
As we get in line at 5:40 A.M. Thursday morning we are full of excitement, with a touch of nerves about the entry process. The worry was all for naught though, we were parked and setting up by 8:00. Lockn’ stepped up their game with improvements and I heard nothing but similar, positive accolades all weekend. I tried to catch a nap after we set up, but I had been waiting all summer for this festival and there was no way I could sleep now.
Umphrey’s McGee first set was a scorcher. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like the UM and String Cheese Incident alternating sets, but in the end I did. One of the bonuses of Lockn’ is that there is no break between bands. This unique experience is loved by most, but it definitely tests your bladder limitations. SCI played a dance-friendly set and then UM was up again. UM played a monster Puppet Strings> Higgins> Puppet Strings and finally ended with a stellar cover of Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.” SCI closed the main stage with a tribute set honoring Kool & The Gang with original band member J.T. Taylor joining. It would have been hard to find a face without a smile as they covered classics like “Jungle Boogie” and “Ladies Night.” As they closed with “Celebration” I couldn’t help but look around and think this is what it’s all about; this is why I do this. Every person there was smiling, dancing, singing along and, well, celebrating. My only complaint with the schedule is getting to the late-night stages. I got to Taj Mahal just as I thought it was over, so I hurried to Dumpstafunk to beat the rush. I found out later that Taj played well past that and I was bummed I missed out on this legend.
Friday was incredibly hot but I made it down for Drive-by Truckers, SCI set #3 and last minute addition Bill Kreutzmann’s Locknstep Allstars. As many of you know Lockn’ was thrown a curveball when Bob Weir cancelled all of his upcoming shows including Ratdog and Furthur sets at Lockn’. Kreutzmann excelled with a set of mostly Grateful Dead covers, including “Help> Slip> Franklin’s” with an instrumental “Dark Star” and “Wharf Rat” blended in. Busiest man of the weekend Keller Williams sat in for “They Love Each Other” and “Birdsong.” SCI’s final set closed with one of my favorites “Texas.” Phil and Friends opened the next set with “China Cat Sunflower” and then set tongues wagging by covering Traffic’s “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” and soon “Dear Mr. Fantasy.” Some wondered if there was any ill intent here since Steve Winwood would be here tomorrow playing with Widespread Panic. Others argued this was meant to pay homage to the legend. The rest of the set saw Phil at center spotlight with many of his contributions to the dead catalogue including “Unbroken Chain” and my favorite “Box of Rain.” I hauled ass to the Derek and Susan late night set but still only caught the last 3 songs. But any second of magic I get from these 2 is worth the price of admission. Chris Robinson Brotherhood closed out the evening with one of the best sets of the entire weekend.
It was as hot as ever when I watched Tedeschi Trucks band Saturday. But the wind started picking up and the skies grayed as Phil Lesh took the stage and performed classics like “Mississippi Half-step” and “Eyes> Dark Star.” Then a voice came over the microphone ordering the field evacuated due to severe weather. After a short shower we got the all clear via text. Within seconds we heard the sweet sounds of “Junior” and panic set in (pun intended) as we made a mad dash back to the concert field. After a couple WP staples the legendary Steve Winwood appeared. As a diehard WP fan it was so special to watch the band glow as they shared this moment with one of their idols. It would be almost impossible to be a jamband fan and not be familiar with the many gifts Traffic has given us. And there aren’t words to explain the awesomeness of seeing those songs performed at their best, by the master himself and with my favorite band. To quote Dave Schools as they came back to encore with “Gimme’ Some Lovin’,” “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this!” Tom Petty closed the main stage with countless, sing-a-long classics sprinkled with material from his new album. I then headed straight to Bustle in your Hedgerow and thanks to a tip from a friend, got right up front. BIYH absolutely killed it and earned my award for best new thing I’ve seen all summer.
Church services were full Sunday morning with the Reverend Keller Williams delivering a soul-cleansing sermon in the form of “Grateful Gospel.” Continuing the theme was Grace Potter’s touching tribute to Brian Farmer, “I Shall Be Released.” It was one of many tributes to Warren Haynes’s late guitar tech. Musicians wore shirts bearing his face (and fingers) and shared memories all weekend. Susan Tedeschi joined Willie Nelson and then WP for a particularly amazing “Use Me.” Finally it was time for The Allman Brothers Band. I love the ABB and knowing this may be the last time I see them for a bit weighed heavy on my heart. I took in each note as they wailed through the classic live album “At Fillmore East.” I think if there is a heaven “Mountain Jam” plays as you approach the gates, so I can’t think of a more appropriate way to end Lockn’ 2014.