Staying up until the sun had risen was a great idea at the time, but about 2 hours later, when your tent has become a makeshift oven forcing you to crawl your aching body outside for some relief, you regret every second of it. Camping in the middle of a treeless field with no shade sucks. Eventually you become accustomed to lying in the grass, clinging to the small shade that your tent has created, slowly bringing yourself in closer and closer as it approaches 11 am and the shade has entirely been depleted.
After these brief moments of misery, Kane and I decided to take ourselves into town to go on another beer run, and to check out the area. Detroit Lakes is your typical town full of summer vacation homes. They have a small, old fashioned downtown area teeming with what appear to be small novelty stores, a nice beach, and a handful of beachfront hotels and bars, one of which welcomed the festival by having a special low price on “Phish Tacos”. We made a short stop at the beach, which was becoming overrun by festival-goers trying to escape the heat, before heading back once again to Blue Ox.
Once back, I took advantage of the campground’s showers, and then made my way to my friends’ shady site to have a few beers and burgers before the Keller Williams Incident began, something that I was highly anticipating after such an amazing SCI show the night before. I met back up with Kane and we quickly headed over at 5:30, since they had announced earlier that they would be getting an extra 15 minutes to perform by starting at 5:45 instead of 6:00. Within seconds of the show starting, it became apparent that this show was going to be remarkable. Michael Travis’ drumming ability became obvious as he laid down a constant, upbeat, dance-inducing vibe throughout the entire set. “Freeker by the Speaker” came out early, quickly showing the benefits of Keller having a full band playing with him, rather than just by himself. (Not to say that he’s not amazing by himself, but this made for a whole new Keller experience.) A few other crowd pleasers popped up, such as “Alligator Alley” and the given KW Incident song, “Best Feeling”, before ending with a strong “Fuel for the Road”, which just happens to be the first song I ever saw Keller and SCI play together back in the day. All in all, this was an extremely enjoyable show. It was the first time that I have ever seen a whole KW Incident set, and when all was said and done, this ended up being one of my favorite shows of the weekend; next year I would love to see them take a full 2 set headlining spot.
After The Incident, we regrouped (read: drank a lot) to get prepare for Phil Lesh and Friends’ two headlining sets. I’ve seen Phil before, and at the time, I didn’t dig it; not to say that it wasn’t a good show, but I just didn’t go nuts for it. I can honestly say that this was by far the best of the three headlining shows at this festival. Phil was the master of his domain that night, totally owning the songs with his bass playing, which seemed to overpower every other instrument on the stage. The first set seemed like a constant flow from jam to jam, seemingly never stopping long enough for the crowd to stop grooving. Joan Osbourne was there for support on vocals, and I can honestly say I was quite impressed with her, she really has a great voice, and definitely adds a new twist to the old Grateful Dead songs that I was familiar with. Speaking of the Grateful Dead, the second set was a near constant flow of Dead song after Dead song. It was fantastic. By the time that we had reached the concert bowl for the second set the band was already into a rousing rendition of “St. Stephen” which had evolved into “Dark Star” by the time that we settled into the crowd. A few jams later and after a short tease of it, a great “China Cat Sunflower” kept every one enthralled as glow sticks began to fill the air. Near the end a “Help on the way” > “Slipknot!” > “Franklin’s Tower” came out, ending the set on an extremely high note. Kane had been calling it all weekend as well, so it couldn’t have worked out better.
Right around this time is when it happened. I saw him. BANANA MAN WAS THERE. I chased him down, trying to get to the bottom of who this mystical figure was, but I was only able to snap a few pictures of him before he danced ritualistically away into the crowd.
After my brief brush with the pseudo-celebrity of Banana Man, Phil and Friends encored with a “Truckin'”, a great song to end this already magical evening. The shows that night were a non-stop party, and I couldn’t have been left more satisfied. I headed back towards camp and split from the group, because I was totally spent. After getting virtually no sleep the previous night, the only thing that I could do was buy some $1 grilled cheese sandwiches and crash. Tomorrow, after all, would be the final day, and I want to make sure that I am well rested so that I don’t miss a moment.