In just two weeks, one of the most anticipated live music events of the year comes upon us: the inaugural Sacred Rose Festival. Scheduled to take place from August 26 to 28 at Seatgeek Stadium Campus in Bridgeview, Illinois, Sacred Rose is presented by the team behind beloved music events like Hulaween, Summer Camp, and North Coast Music Festival, and promises to bring a similar experience as the first of its kind to the Chicagoland area.
At the top of the festival’s heady mountain of a lineup is perhaps the most exciting collaboration set to happen: “Phil Lesh and Friends AKA Philco,” which will witness the dead’s luminary bassist play two full sets with none other than Jeff Tweedy and Nels Cline of Wilco. Other guests joining Lesh, Tweedy, and Cline will be Lesh’s son Grahame Lesh and Elliot Peck, Bay Area guitarist Stu Allen, Dead and Company keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, saxophone wizard Karl Denson, and longtime Phil drummer John Molo.
Those sure to be memorable sets are going down Friday night, but for the rest of the weekend there’s a whole lot more massive music offered up in the way of rock, folk, bluegrass, funk, and more.
In addition to the festival’s on site scheduled performances, we’d be remiss not to mention that there are some pretty stellar aftershows, presented as The Midnight Garden Series. The real kicker here is a 50th anniversary allstar tribute to The Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72, which will feature members of Soulive, The Disco Biscuits, and more, but there’s also special late night performances from Dawes, White Denim, and Umphrey’s McGee.
The Seatgeek’s main festival site, meanwhile, promises to be a beautifully laid out, multi-faceted experience of art, visuals, and entertainment. As far as the musical acts go, here’s some of the gems of Sacred Rose’s debut lineup we are most excited to see.
1. Artist at Large: Margo Price
Artists at large, performers that sit in with multiple bands across the span of a music event, are really usually dynamic performers, with a wide range of musical abilities across an array of genres. For the first ever Sacred Rose, that’s without question Margo Price, the progressive country world’s most recent icon. One likely prediction here is Price will most certainly join Phil and Friends for some songs, as the Nashville-based singer-songwriter has collaborated with Lesh a few times in the past. But did you know that Price is also a seriously talented drummer? Maybe’ll she help throw it down with the rhythm sections of Umphrey’s McGee, Greensky Bluegrass or Joe Russo’s Almost Dead? Or perhaps she’ll lend her pristine vocals to the harmonies of Chris Thile and his bluegrass supergroup The Punch Brothers.
2. Jams, Jams, and More Jams
Maybe more than anything else, Sacred Rose will be a weekend in hippie heaven for jamband freaks of the Chicago area and far beyond. They’ll be especially busy on Saturday: Leading up to two sets from Umphrey’s McGee are back to back sets from Goose, STS9, The Disco Biscuits, Lotus, Sunsquabi with special guest Kanika Moore, and not to mention newcomers Lespecial. The amount of face melting improvisational jams that will be thrown at Seatgeek stadium in the span of 12 hours is crazy to think about. With all these bands stacking their sets before and after one another, who knows what kind of once-in-a-season, had-to-be-there collaborations go down.
3. Up and Comers: Sierra Hull, Freekbass, Karina Rykman, Dawes, and More
We’re stoked to see that alongside some giants of the scene, Sacred Rose is also scheduled to be featuring many amazing newcomer artists and bands. For starters, we have Sierra Hull—find a more promisingly talented mandolin player in the country right now. You’d be hard pressed. One of Hull’s most recent accolades was touring shows with Cory Wong, the Vulfpeck member and funk music virtuoso that is also on the Sacred Rose lineup. No doubt the two will come together again during either of their sets at the festival.
In addition to Uncle Phil helming the headlining wheel, there are some other commendable low end masters set to make appearances at Sacred Rose. Freekbass, maybe most widely known for his work with members of Parliment Funk like Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell, has developed his own head-scratching concoction of dynamite grooves, quirky personality, and live energy. Karina Rykman, another rising bass prodigy, is most noteworthy as the most recent member of Marco Benvento’s band, keyboardist for JRAD who will be lighting up Sunday night with two huge headlining sets. However, her own music is a deep, danceable force to be experienced live, and she’ll be helping to kick off Sunday in strong fashion.
It feels wrong calling Dawes an up and comer, seeing as they’ve given the folk rock world over eight magnificent albums across the last ten years. But with their brand new record, the jam-heavy head trip Misadventures of Doomscroller, coming out just in time for Sacred Rose, it feels like the band has recently made a resurgence for itself that will surely be on display at the festival.
4. The Rareities: Hiatus Kaiyote, Kamasi Washington, Animal Collective
The icing on the cake here for Sacred Rose’s debut lineup is its fascinating inclusion of a number of brilliant artists who have, historically speaking, NOT done a lot of festivals. Take Hiatus Kaiyote, pretty much a white whale of a live band, especially at a music festival. This chameleon-like band of prolific writers and multi-instrumentalists has cemented themselves in a high tier of recognition and influence for the way they’ve blended jazz into soul, R&B, and pop.
Right up there with them, Kamasi Washington is another visionary artist of the jazz world who, with both his staggering compositional masterpieces and the formidable army of musicians backing him up, will stand out even against all of the extraordinary noise happening at Sacred Rose. Washington is another artist that has previously shared stage with many artists of the likes that are set to perform at the festival, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see him make some collaborations happen here.
Lastly, experimental brainchildren of Baltimore Animal Collective are an absolute Do Not Miss live artist, and if you go to Sacred Rose, you’re going to want to witness what they contribute to the weekend. Fusing psychedelic, indie, and dance rock with etheral, sonic experimentations in a way not quite like any other group, this is a band that many old and new heads alike have been heard to say played their favorite live show ever.
Below is the official schedule for the inaugural Sacred Rose Festival. Three day and Single Day GA and VIP tickets for are still on sale. To purchase and to learn more information, head to the event’s official website here.