Throughout the four days of All Good Music Festival last weekend, many of the 20,000 hippies, hipsters, bros, flower children, aging vacationers, ravers and college folks were seeing things. They just weren't sure if it was the psychedelics or the heat. Aside from a late afternoon shower on Friday, the festival, held on wildly remote Marvin's Mountaintop near Masontown, W.Va., was a dry, hot affair. But music fans persevered, sweat and heatstroke be damned.
Dark Star Orchestra played the first killer set of the fest Thursday night as most attendees were still filtering into the campground; with mostly dirt roads leading to the site, traffic was backed up for hours. By Friday morning, though, All Good was exactly what its name states: The Bridge blazed through bluesy guitar rock in an early afternoon set, paving the way for the jerky afro-beat of Femi Kuti and laidback bluegrass of Old Crow Medicine Show. But the afternoon belonged to Pimps of Joytime, a largely unknown funk act that owned its only-30-minutes set, treating the crowd to Prince-gone-jammin' music. Look out for this band rising on the festival horizon soon.
By Friday night, All Good's music was unstoppable. Furthur, the band featuring Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, noodled through a 3-hour set that got the crowd spinning, leading into a late night set from big bass electro producer Bassnectar to knock 'em down. His set was nothing short of explosive -- loud, corrosive beats that pushed the crowd to a dance-mosh frenzy. How no one was completely crushed is beyond me. Throw in a few thousand glow sticks flying through the air, and the whole thing turned into a spectacle from any vantage point. Electronic jammers Lotus closed out the night (finishing up by 4 a.m.) with propulsive grooves and a laser show ensuring that anyone not already on a trip would soon leave earth.
Saturday saw All Good's only taste of indie rock when Dr. Dog attempted to convert the throngs of jam fans with its Beatles-y pop. Mission (at least sort of) accomplished. My mostly-hippie friends, none of whom had ever heard of Dr. Dog, bobbed along approvingly. Like Friday, though, the afternoon belonged to one act: the Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band tore through classic rock-leaning jams and confirmed to any doubters that Trucks is the pre-eminent guitarist of his generation.
Saturday night headliner Widespread Panic proved slightly divisive, though -- beloved by older, Allman-loving jam heads, the band is somewhat foreign to younger fans. Still, the band's marathon set kept the fest dancing.
Jamband lifer Keller Williams kicked off Sunday morning to a mostly sleepy crowd with his "Moonshine Breakfast" set of bluegrass covers (dude made "Sex and Candy" sound less old!), waking them up by actually passing around jars of moonshine. Tasty.
Promoters said this year's All Good was the biggest ever. Might've been the best, too.