All Good Festival 2009 | Review
The journey to All Good began by taking several meandering West Virginia roads. The only sign of a 4-day concert being this way was the countless police officers patrolling the road. As I got further and further down the rabbit hole signs started to pop up, marking the way to All Good, and also to respect the private property of those fortunate souls that live along side the road. Another repeating sign reminded motorists to stay in their vehicles; apparently people have chosen to hike the 3 miles rather than wait for the traffic to clear. I was stopped by a kindly 20 something year old who directed me to parking; there were still NO signs of the vast crowds promised. “Just down at the bottom of the hill,” she said, so I began my descent to where she pointed. To the left and right were West Virginia hills, spectacular in their own right, but I was here for the music. Then it hits you, kinda like your first shot of vodka that doesn't go down quite right, dizzying but reminding you of what's to come. The trees clear to reveal a valley full of cars, tents, RV's, trailers, booths, people... ALL GOOD! I make my way past the final gate, leave my car, and take barely enough with me to survive the oncoming madness. I had arrived late, 10:30am, but was apparently early in comparison to the order of events. Walking to the Grass Roots Stage, marked by an arch hailing “The Village,” I saw only a handful of souls who had managed to recover from the night before, and had already began to intake the daily vices. The main stage was erected at the base of a U-shaped hill, the land formed a natural theater to stage the bands.
The performances began with the Fear Nuttin' Band, reggae style with some hip-hop beats. The crowds began to form, but still nothing close to what would come later on. Cornmeal and The Bridge followed after, a nice contrast to the heavy sounds of the first show. Steve Kimock's Crazy Engine was a crowd pleaser, now with the main area gaining followers. The band's sound was much more on par with what I was expecting with the concert. It's rhythmic tones and gradual progression of beats links the Crazy Engine's sounds with its name, comparing its sound to the mechanical beat of psychedelic motor. Jeff Austin and Brendan Bayliss are always crowd favorites, with their acoustic songs and witty banter back and forth. The next band of the series was Buckethead, the solo guitarist which I will say now is probably one of the most technical guitarists I have ever seen. I will also say that I don't feel he was an appropriate choice for the festival. Amazing band, amazing sound, however it seems like he would have been a better fit for a Nine Inch Nails oriented concert, not one dedicated to good vibes and traditional sounds. However, Buckethead drew in the crowds, not until the later evening would you see the amount of people in the pit. After his performance the mass exodus began back to the campsites, and the crowds lessened up. Assembly of Dust and Yonder Mountain String Band were again much needed contrasts to the prior act, and you could tell as the patrons really started to get into the music, or maybe into something else. Lake Trout was a fantastic pick to get for Saturday evening, and really brought back the numbers. As the night sky grew, so did the crowd, and the overall atmosphere. Up to that point the day had been pretty tame from what I was expecting, but as the sun began to set, the crowds really stated to liven up. More and more signs began to pop up with the message “Everyone gets naked at midnight.”
All Good was now getting underway. STS9 was a sight to see with the lights and techno beats being encompassed into the show. Ben Harper and Relentless 7 really got the night well underway, with the excitement and shear awesome sight of the whole spectacle. SOJA and Umphrey's McGee let the crowds into the night. Everyone was present now, and the whole mountain was full of people involved in the music. All Good lasted well into the hours of the next day.
This festival stayed true for the most part with past years. It was noticeable that some persons weren't there for the music, and came more so for substances. But almost everyone else was there for the good time and amazing music. Never once did I see anyone angry or upset, but always content, with smiles and a real relaxed appearance. All Good is, and still remains, an amazing festival with a solid crew behind it and a massive following.