LOCKN’ Music Festival Review

Aug. 25-28, 2016, Arrington, VA

Written by Elisha Gud

Photos by Roger Gupta


Talk about hot…The heat in Arrington, Virginia at the end of August is in absolutely, no way a joke. “If I wanted to party in what feels like 106 degrees of straight heat…this is where I would come. Screw the desert I’m at freaking Lockn’!” I overheard one festival-goer say as I sat and waited to get my wrist band. Hot, sweaty, and don’t forget…dusty. We pulled in and were immediately greeted by two of my best friends from back home as they were working the front gate for RV camping. As soon as I saw them I knew it would be a wild weekend. As I walked around the festival grounds that first day I became overcome with the beauty of Oak Ridge Farm and everything it had to offer. The Woods, Jerry Garcia’s Forest, the Blue Ridge Bowl(with the farm being so close in proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway), and the main stage area which would soon be filled with thousands of people—all there for the same thing….music, and a good time.


The line up consisted of top notch performances by some of my favorite bands, early morning Grateful Grass with Keller Williams and Donna the Buffalo—Turkuaz, Moon Taxi, White Denim, Doobie Decibel System, The Wailers, Galactic, and two epic day time sets by Twiddle. Throughout the weekend, late afternoon into evening sets were when things started to get wild in the main stage area. This is around the time when people would descend down from their campsites, and wait in outrageously long lines in the sweltering heat to make it into the concert area before headliners would take the stage. I’d say waiting to get in and bouncing off of all the other hot and sweaty people was horrible…but it was actually where I found myself making new friends and enjoying some of the best conversations I had all weekend long. Everyone would soon be inside regrouping with rage sticks and flags—otherwise known as ‘friend finders’ claiming their dancing space, and preparing for four incredible nights of music.

Thursday evening started off with a little bit of crowd participation and one very “Funky Duck” by Vulfpeck which transitioned into a set by Umphrey’s McGee that put everyone into what I would call—straight rage mode. While Ween carried us on through the night with “Mister Would You Please Help My Pony?” and an incredibly weird but thoroughly enjoyable “How High Can You Fly?”, and” I’m In The Mood To Move”, with what I would call Primus-like visuals on the big screens attached to the stage. The night concluded with late night performances by EOTO in the woods and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead in the Blue Ridge Bowl on the Relix stage playing all of your favorite Dead tunes keeping it moving and grooving into the late hours of the night.

I spent most of the day on Friday hanging out in Garcia’s Woods meeting new friends from New York and relaxing in my hammock to escape the sun. Later in the afternoon as I walked around looking at different vendors I could hear the sounds of Turkuaz, Moogatu, and White Denim in the background. It was music to my ears…literally. After a good ol’ fashion get down to some hip hop at a friend’s campsite it was time for some Ween. Playing crowd favorites such as “Touch My Tooter”, “Roses Are Free”, “Bananas and Blow”, and “Piss Up a Rope”, had the crowd going crazy and ready for a wild night of two sets with Phish. With a “Wilson” opener into “Down with Disease”, and other favorites—”Simple”, “Punch You In The Eye”, “Fuego”, and “Bathtub Gin”—I was at the point where my face hurt from smiling so much.

Saturday delivered another great line up of music with “Moon Taxi”, and a sit in by Keller Williams during “Best Feeling” with Twiddle. Late afternoon you could hear Lee Oskar with Galactic radiating through the campgrounds sending people running to the stage for their set. Phil Lesh and Friends kicked off the evening and spinning straight into a phenomenal performance by the Tedeschi Trucks Band. My excitement for My Morning Jacket was growing out of control and I couldn’t help but jump around. They delivered hands down one of the best performances of the weekend (as I have heard many people saying for the past week since Lockn’ has ended). Playing covers such as “What The World Needs Now”, “Could You Be Loved”, and one of the best “Purple Rain” covers I have heard since the passing of Prince. MMJ sent chills running through the crowd. Saturday night ended with a huge turn-out for late night Lettuce.

Sunday…the best day. I woke up to the faint sound of Keller Williams getting down at the Blue Ridge Bowl. The Dharma Initiative kicked things off in the main stage area heading into another outstanding mid day set by Twiddle playing fan favorites; “Lost In The Cold”, and Daydream Farmer. Moving straight on into The Wailers and one of a kind performances by Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Phil Lesh and Friends. Meanwhile I was brushing up on my knowledge of Gary Clark Jr. because I had never seen him live before. I was beyond impressed and ready to boogie down to a Sunday night Phish show…You know what they say…Never miss a Sunday show. That proved to be more than true. With “Sample in a Jar” as the opener, a quick “Axilla”, “Halleys Comet”, “The Line”, “Tweezer”, and a rare “Fuck Your Face”. As they closed with “Loving Cup” the group of friends I was with all gathered in for a group hug, ending the weekend with a bang and memories that will last a lifetime.


Things overheard at Lockn’ 2016 and quotes from first time festival attendees:


“Dude did you see the head dude, guy, sir from Ween sit in with Umphreys? What’s his name? GENE!!!” -Anonymous


“I’ll show you my Ween if you let me get down on your Phish.” -Mario Spumoni


“Circles around the sun….interludes of the dead. Neal Casal is my new guitar hero.”

-Jesse Cooper


“The stage transition was so smooth, The first time I saw it was during Vulfpeck and Umphrey’s…I thought it was the coolest thing ever! A rotating stage? It was like lights on a lighthouse. So rad.” -Justin Zangerle


“The kindness of strangers was an enormous take away. How blissfully easy it is for me to express myself to others when I am removed from the pressures of reality. Other allows me to feel more free or fully myself than experiencing beauty with other like-minded music fans…and Phish.” -Sarah Uhl


“My first Lockn’ was met with the love of many. I was rejuvenated and joyful from the acceptance of every individual that surrounded me. The music filled my soul and warmed my heart, I will treasure that experience for the rest of my life…and Phish.”

-Shelby Abbott


“The energy in Garcia’s forest Saturday night was truly amazing…It’s what Jerry would have wanted.” -Sarah Sheriff


“Who mispronounces poor decisions….it’s Friday!!” -Anonymous