I didn’t want to overwhelm you with one huge post, so I split it between the music and the culture of the festival. Here is my play by play of who I saw over 4 days.
Thursday – After an excruciating 8 hour drive from Chicago, stuck in Indiana traffic for 3 hours, we finally arrived around 8pm. Checked out Disco Biscuits and Railroad Earth after we set up camp in the open 750 acre field of cars and tents.
Friday – After a late start on Friday after the stuck car incident, we checked out the last half of Snoop, who was both totally out of place and at the same time right at home with the pot smoking, life loving people of Rothbury. Snoop was followed by Keller Williams who proudly announced between songs “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULY!”, 311, and Modest Mouse who closed their set with “Float On”. The Friday night headliner was Widespread Panic, a jam band who’s jamming status is only surpassed by the legacy of Phish. We weaved in an out of the crowd to get as close as possible for the show. This was the reason Doc was here, his favorite band that he had yet to see live. We made 2nd row. Another sign of the great positive vibe of the crowd was the lack of pushing and jumping as people push towards the front. We made friends with everyone around us and even the security guy guarding the stage. The band was accompanied by an incredible violist Ann Marie Calhoun. She couldn’t have been much older than 30 and was a great contrast to the old rockers of Panic.
Saturday – Saturday was MY day, the day of all the bands I know and love. The day started with a solid set by State Radio, Chad from Dispatch’s new band. He’s got a great sound, intertwining reggae and rock without losing the tribal bongos sound of Dispatch. We made friends with some fellow frisbee players and threw the disc around in the massive field while Chad played. Good chill start to the day. We needed the relax before the next line of shows. State Radio was followed by Gomez. Anyone that knows me knows that I love this band more than most. They don’t have a huge US following and are a slightly older band but none the less they had a great time on stage for their small yet supportive crowd. I swear Ben looked right at me and smiled. I also learned that they are in Chicago for the summer recording their new album. My next mission will be to get into the studio!! Citizen Cope was after Gomez, followed by the much anticipated Black Keys show. Next was Derek Trucks and his wife Susan Tedesechi, who played an awesome version of Hey Jude for us. I fell in love with her voice forever and ever during this song. The Saturday headliner was Dave Matthews. Despite the preppy connotation with the band in Oakland County, I was psyched to see him for the first time. And he does not disappoint. He played classics like Jimi Thing, Gravedigger, and Satellite. He had dance moves to die for. And one of the best encore songs ever. Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You” with more sick dance moves.
After heading back to the camp site to rest and pull myself back together, we headed back into the festival for the late night shows. Little did I know the place transforms into a psychedelic glow in the dark night tripper party after the headliner is done. It was like Girl Talk meets Radiohead on ecstacy. At first I was ready to turn right around and climb into my sleeping bag away from all the crazy drugged out people of the night. But Doc assured me these were all the same people I was dancing with at the Dave show, just more pink and green lights illuminating them. I trusted his word and took his hand into the crowds of the STS9 show. But as I got used to the pulse and skat beats of the music I started to realize these people really were not on a bad trip and going to start licking my hair or anything, they were just still on a high from the music of the day and aren’t ready for it to end. My tiredness slipped away as I watch people let the music take over where their bodies left off. We walked through the trees (which went on a trip of their own after dark. Nothing will ever really describe the Sherwood forest, and I don’t plan on attempting) to see Crystal Method as well. We walked and sat and listened and watched until 4am when tired finally caught up to me and we called it a night. But the party continued for an uncountable number of hours after.
Sunday – Sunday morning brought bright new shiny things. The first was a new yogi when I took Doc to his first yoga class. The other new was something I was really hoping to take away from this week, a new band! We started our last day in paradise by checking out JJ Grey & Mofro. I fell in love with their head boppin soul tinglin swamp funk rock. You can feel the New Orleans roots and the smoky vocals remind me of The Wood Brothers. I cannot wait for July 26th when they play again block from my apartment at the Taste of Lincoln. God don’t you love that feeling when you find a new sound?! ANYways, after JJ and Mofro we stopped by to see a few minutes of Beth Orton, then headed over to see Trey Anastasio on stage for the first time in 2 years, after taking some time to get through rehab after the finale of Phish. With just him and his guitar, you could see a calm in his sound and presence after the epic run of Phish. I left Doc and the boys with Gov’t Mule (I sadly missed one of my favorite songs “Soulshine”) and headed over for some girlie time with John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston. In between radio acoustic lullabies he played some of his blues jams. I love that John Mayer keeps his blues side a secret even though he was born to play at Kingston Mines with the best of them. After John was the headliner for the night, Phil Lesh from the Grateful Dead. I wish I had more insightful comments about Phil Lesh, but I don’t know much about the Grateful Dead. But I do know I danced and moved with the music into the end of the weekend.
The whole experience was like living inside your iPod on shuffle. It’s amazing the giddy feeling you get when you realize you are part of something so centered around music. Knowing that 45,000 people traveled to this small town in Michigan for the same goal of soaking themselves in music for 4 days, and seeing that nothing could bring us down off this musical high, makes the butterflies in my stomach start dancing. I now know what music feels like.