One of the largest audiences to ever attend Lockn’ poured into the festival grounds on Saturday, August 25th for a historic day of multi-generational jam band music. By mid-afternoon when the North Carolina band BIG Something took the main stage, five bands had already played, and a huge crowd filled the field and surrounding hills. The six-piece modern jam band fuses elements of jazz, funk, rock, and electronica into hypnotic dance trance music. Their hour-long set featured collaborations with DJ Logic and members of the band Spiritual Rez and had much of the audience dancing the entire time that they played.
Musical chameleon and Lockn' staple Keller Williams played next in a trio he calls The Keels. The group played bluegrass versions of Keller originals as well as an eclectic mix of covers, including the ButtHole Surfers song Pepper, The Eagles' Seven Bridges Road, Marcy Playground’s Sex and Candy and Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. The crowd responded like kids around a summer camp campfire, singing along to the well-known tunes.
The funky guitar-laden music of Baltimore’s Pigeons Playing Ping Pongs filled the festival next, bringing a dance vibe back to the large sweaty audience camped in front of the main stage. The young bands spirited set was a perfect segue into the next set of historic proportions. Billed as the Foundation of Funk, the next band featured two members of the iconic New Orleans funk band The Meters. Drummer Zigaboo Modeliste and Bassist George Porter Jr. have been the go-to rhythm section for almost every major New Orleans musician at one time or another for over 50 years. They were joined by most of the members of a next generation New Orleans funk band Dumpstaphunk. The players included that bands founder keyboardist Ivan Neville, son of former Meters member Aaron Neville, guitarist Ian Neville, nephew of Aaron Neville and bassist Tony Hall. That would have been enough players to create a monumental New Orleans jazzy funk jam. But the set turned into a historic collaboration with more musicians added throughout the extended jam. The band played some of The Meters classics including, The Same Old Thing, Just Kissed My Baby and Cissy Strut. The group was eventually joined by one of the original Neville brothers, singer Cyril. A huge roar went out across the crowd when festival-goers realized who was entering the jam for the second half. Modeliste quietly quipped, “The world is full of surprises and today is no different.” Then out walked Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart and John Mayer. Dead and Co. members then finished out the set with their New Orleans jam mates. The entourage first launched into Hey Pocky Way, followed by Iko Iko. After an extended jam, the band wrapped up with The Meters Fire on the Bayou and Ain’t No Use.
A beautiful sunset painted the high clouds just as the rotating stage turned to reveal the next band. It would be hard pressed for any band to follow up such a historic jam as the audience had just witnessed. But if any group could do it with style and passion, it would be the next band Tedeschi Trucks Band, playing their first of two sets at this year's festival. The band has also become a staple of Lockn' over the years, taking the baton from The Allman Brothers Band. Slide guitar master Derek Trucks, who played in both of these incredible groups could be the best living American guitarist of his genre. The band began their set with a tribute to Aretha Franklin, playing I Never Loved a Man The Way I Loved You. The song was a perfect vehicle for lead singer Susan Tedeschi to display her exquisite vocal skills. The band offered up their original material for over two hours with each of the 12 members showcasing their talents. They were joined for a couple of raging guitar jams by Ian Neville. The band ended the set with a tribute to one of the original Lockn' jam bands, with a searing version of The Allman Brothers' Whipping Post.
As the stage went dark, one of the first pauses in the music took place as an extended set change for Dead and Co. lasted for nearly forty-five minutes. But the band still played both of their scheduled back to back sets in their entirety by shortening their break and extend their second set for over a half hour. It is always a surreal experience attending a Dead concert with true Deadheads. The chatter all throughout the festival centered on which songs would be played. Not only can the fans identify the song titles from a seemingly endless catalog of songs that the band plays live, but many times they know what song will follow based on past concert history. The knowledge is all the more remarkable considering the band never plays the same set twice. A euphoric mood gripped the crowd as the Lockn' main stage came to life with a massive light, and video show and the band began their first set with Hell In A Bucket. The video included terrific high definition live video from multiple angles edited into trippy computer graphics, seemingly synched to every song in the extensive set list. The band continued with Dead classics for over an hour before taking a short break. The second set lasted over ninety minutes with another unique presentation of Dead songs. The band ended with a two-song encore featuring a classic cover of The Band's The Weight and another Dead classic a guitar-laden version of One More Saturday Night.
The members of Lettuce along with Eric Krasno had been patiently waiting on the Relix stage for over half an hour to begin their late-night tribute to the Jerry Garcia Band. The band was rewarded for their wait, first by an appearance by Dead and Co. bassist Oteil Burbridge, who was still celebrating his birthday from the day before. Then later the group was joined by John Mayer and Bob Weir exhibiting a roar from the large crowd gathered around the tiny stage. Many festival-goers kept their comfortable spots in front of the main stage and on the food court hill overlooking the festival. Thanks to a delayed sound system and live video music fans could watch the late-night set from nearly everywhere on site. Burbridge for his part in the jam sang lead on a cover of Peter Tosh’s Stop That Train. Then Mayer slid onstage for a blues-drenched guitar-driven cover of JJ Cale’s After Midnight. Then Weir joined the group for a super guitar drenched foursome version of Sugaree. The modified band continued with covers of Tangled Up In Blue and How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). The set stretched two hours into the early morning hours with the adulating crowd swarming the stage until the very end.