Headstash On The Road: All Good Day 2
- By Brandon Chiat, Hannah Epstein and Nick Rhodes
- Published on July 16, 2011
[Special thanks to Carolyn Tunney for contributing to this update.]
All Good’s second day exemplified what the festival is all about, giving attendees a steady dose of bluegrass, funk and mind-blowing jams.
At a time when new events are popping up every year and electronic music seems to be permeating every genre, All Good remained true to its jam roots giving Furthur a four-hour timeslot with which to blow minds on the mountain.
The vibes at All Good are genuine – not commercialized or fabricated – and people both old and young join together to hear music from all walks of life.
The mood was relaxed for most of the day before the raging late-nights. People were sitting on the hill with umbrellas and tents to cool them from the hot summer weather and everyone was in good spirits.
Up-and-coming act, The Infamous Stringdusters, have taken over the bluegrass scene with their vivacious, spirited and technically sound live performances. The band combines artful compositions with impressive improvisation to keep the classic genre fresh.
One of the best aspects of their performance is when the band trades fours with each other. This allows for a dialogue of improvisation, where two members of the virtuosic band can communicate with one another through the language of music. Though the genre has been around for seventy years, bluegrass is still alive and well through bands like The Stringdusters.
Galactic upped the ante on the main stage with a high-energy performance that was well received by the now packed audience.
The large group on stage seemed more like a collection of old friends coming together for a jam in a garage rather than one of the preeminent funk bands in the country today.
Their playing was refreshingly passionate with true emotion present in each note. Members poured their souls into the music, gyrating profusely and laying down on speakers while wailing away on their instruments.
The audience seemed surprised by their fervor and unsure of how to respond at times. You got the feeling Galactic made a lot of new fans amidst the unsuspecting crowd.
Midway through the set, the band put their chops on display with some impressively complex compositions. Galactic’s playing exudes the relentless soul of New Orleans yet the band truly shined when covering Led Zeppelin’s “How Many More Times?” with the brass section trading sultry, downright dirty riffs. The set could just as easily have been a late-night as a relaxed afternoon experience.
Keller Williams’ one-man show took the main stage by storm with a goofy smile and a bevy of genre-bending songs. The set was a consistent blend of classic Keller favorites inspiring quite a number of people on the hill to get down for the first time all afternoon.
With a purple pick in his mouth and a wry grin, Keller looked over the audience proudly eventually saying, "Hey everybody, make yourself easy."
Despite his instructions, it was hard to chill as the set ended with a bombastic acoustic guitar jam that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
The main stage would see a ton of guitar talent on this day, as the Warren Haynes Band was next in line.
The man has played with two of the most influential jam-bands of all time in The Dead and the Allman Brothers Band – not to mention his rabidly successful band Gov’t Mule – and is undoubtedly a guitar god.
Yet despite carrying on the legacies of Jerry Garcia and Duane Allman, Haynes still feels the need to develop new creative outlets.
Haynes’ playing is second to none. His deep-fried Southern skills are unmistakable and his band is there almost exclusively to accentuate his playing.
The intermediary slot before the night’s headlining act can be precarious for any band but Walther Productions took a gamble by inserting Toubab Krewe before Furthur. The West African rhythms were merely backdrop music as a hill full of Deadheads waited impatiently for their aging idols.
And wait they did – 45 minutes to be exact. Phil, Bobby and the rest of the Furthur faithful took their time taking the stag while their roadies and instrument techs paid meticulous attention to set-up details. In some respects that attention to detail paid off – the sound was perfect and the vocal harmonies were transcendent.
And though they play the same songs and have many of the same members, Furthur is immensely different from The Grateful Dead, The Dead and all the other incarnations of the band.
Yet as one festivalgoer put it, the performance was less about what songs they played and how they played them and more about sitting on the hill listening to authentic Grateful Dead music from the legends that helped create it.
Furthur led off with “Jack Straw,” while not a surprising opener it was delivered solidly.
With Warren Haynes and Furthur billed on the same night at a festival like All Good, it was only a matter of when the grizzled former The Dead member would make his appearance. He came out midway though the first set and stayed on until intermission.
Warren Haynes elevated Furthur’s playing and is a powerful figure on stage. His presence both vocally and off the fret board challenges those sharing the stage with him. Without Haynes, the jams were spacey and harder to follow.
With Haynes the three guitarists, Hayes, Weir and John Kadlecik traded ferocious licks providing for the best jamming of the night.
A couple of well-timed fireworks riled up the crowd during "Terrapin Station." But the highlight of the show was a fluid three-song run consisting of “China Cat/Sunflower > I Know You Rider > She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” with Weir doing his best Paul McCartney impersonation on the latter.
As the tempo of the music picked up, so did the intensity of the lights and the roar of the crowd. Everyone present was an integral part of the show.
Overall, however, the song selection left something to be desired and the songs that went over the best were the classics in which hardcore and casual fans alike could sing along and sway to the rhythm. A late afternoon set could have made their soulful crooning a bit more effective.
As Furthur walked off and fireworks lit up the night sky, Big Gigantic took the stage and very quickly got people moving.
It was an interesting change of pace from the soft tones and low-energy of The Dead to the crunchy, hyphy electronic beats of the Boulder, Colorado duo. The crowd adapted and even a few minor technical setbacks couldn’t stop the dance party that had been created.
Playing in front of probably the biggest crowd of their careers, Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken delivered a set that will be talked about for the months to come. Big G has been taking the festival circuit by storm this summer, building a reputation for being a sleeper highlight on every bill. Slowly but surely, the band has developed a catalog of songs that are impossible not to get you moving.
Aside from the rarity of being an electronic group with a live sax player, the strength of Big Gigantic lies in their song creation. Their mix of clever remixes with soaring originals blasted the audience who had been chilling and sitting contently for hours. Finally, they were able to let loose and shake their bodies with no regard like they had been aching to do for hours.
Prog-rock jammers Umphrey’s McGee closed out Day 2 with an absolutely masterful set that proved their creativity and versatility as musicians.
The song selection was perfect all night. Their set ran the gamut of soulful grooves, raging peaks and terrific jamming.
Brandon Bayliss went sans guitar for Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” eliciting wild cheers from the crowd as he strutted around the stage wailing away. All night, Bayliss’ vocals were phenomenal, hitting each note with precision and showing his range as a singer – something that goes often gets overlooked.
Festival organizer Tim Walther jumped on the stage after the band walked off imploring the crowd to chant for more. It was one of those genuine moments of All Good that really sets the tone. The guy who puts in countless hours of work to plan this event is just as (if not more) excited to see that "one more song" as you are.
After a brief respite, Umphrey's returned with a few special guests including Dom Lalli and horn player Jennifer Hartswick who both added an amazing element to a cover of Michael Jackson's “Don’t Stop 'Til You Get Enough."
The set was everything the crowd wanted and more with covers that were familiar and fun. Few people exited the field before Bayliss dropped the mic for the last time and a long day of music was finally complete.
Saturday has a full day of music on tap with Zach Deputy, Marco Benevento, JJ Grey and Mofro, Rebelution, Yonder Mountain String Band, moe., Papadosio, Primus, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe and Pretty Lights.
Stay tuned for more coverage from All Good 2011.