Continuing on with our in-depth coverage of the 10,000 Lakes Festival this year, enjoy Kane’s review of Day Two and keep checking back for more updates.
10,000 Lakes Festival – Friday
Friday, in retrospect, was easily my favorite day of the entire festival. I explored the campgrounds in the day, and from 6pm until 2am danced non-stop. Three of my favorite performances for the weekend were that night, between Phil Lesh and Joan Osbourne keeping the crowd going until midnight, right into two incredible late-night performances by Green Lemon and Great American Taxi, Vince Herman’s new crew. Read on to see what else the day had in store.
Getting Baked In The Morning:
We awoke early on Friday to find out that, as we suspected, setting up in the middle of a field *was* a horrible idea. Upon being baked to a crisp inside of our tent, and waking up soaking wet, we decided to grab a few water bottles and head over to our friend’s camp, which was fortunately hidden underneath some trees, a rare treat in Camp Blue Oxen. I should note now, if you intend to catch 10,000 Lakes Festival in the coming years, make sure you decide early and invest in camping space in Northwoods, VIP, or Lake Sallie. All of them offer close proximity to the concert grounds, Lake Sallie has an area to swim in, and most importantly, all of them offer shade. Blue Oxen/Viking/Eagle and the others have good vibes as well, but are easily 15 degrees hotter and in the direct sun.
The Music Begins:
After getting my wits about me so early in the morning, I trekked over to catch Railroad Earth‘s early set at the Barn stage, since I had missed them the night before. I’m also sad about missing Mutaytor, since I’ve heard good things. If anyone caught that show I’d love to hear about it. On the walk to the fest grounds I could hear Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey finishing up their live jazz rendition of The Beatles’ “Happiness Is A Warm Gun.” It’s a standard for their live sets but still a treat to catch in person, check out the studio version on BurningOak Podcast #2. Anyways, Railroad Earth offered a good start to the day, and the Barn Stage is the perfect place to start in the mid-afternoon. One of 10K’s many genius features is a large sun-blocking net covering all of the Barn stage area, as well as trees along side. Here’s some pictures from 10KLF.com’s gallery. The Barn Stage was also dutifully hosted by The Wizard throughout the weekend, who introduced the bands and kept the crowd movin’ when the acts were on break. (Picture by Latrisha) Also there is tons of seating at the top area of the stage for sitting, a coffee shop and full bar, and plenty of benches and tables. Very well thought out on the planner’s part, this would have made a world of a difference at some of the Summer Camp “Sunshine Stage” shows back in Late May. Woof that was hot.
Sweatin’ To The Sounds Of WBPN and Stealin’ Strings:
Along side the Barn Stage area is the Saloon Stage, home to all who love being packed like sardines and dancing in the sweat of the guy next to you. That said, it had a full bar, a huge fan aimed at the front of the crowd, and allowed for some very intimate shows you couldn’t get at the other stages. I think some of my favorite shows this weekend were at the Saloon Stage in fact, one of them being later on Friday night, which I’ll get to later. As Railroad Earth jammed to the masses outside, the Fargo, North Dakota, based WBPN played a very energetic set to a good-sized crowd at Saloon. Being my first experience with the band I wasn’t familiar with their tracks, but they had a strong rock sound that offered up some variety to the weekend, I’d definitely go see them solo if they ever came around the midwest.
After WBPN left I decided to explore Northwoods until Stealin’ Strings came on later. Definitely a laid-back campground, beautiful rolling hills with shade all around, and probably where I’d choose to go if I ever came back to the festival. It’s located just North of the Barn and Saloon Stages so it’s also very close, albeit up a hill to get to the music. I wasn’t able to catch much of Stealin’ Strings, the Wisconsin-based bluegrass party, but what I did catch was solid, as a bunch of shirtless dudes kept the crowd packed and grooving. Check out a sample of the band on BurningOak Podcast #2.
Throw My Legs Up In The Air, Like I Don’t Care-Uh:
After taking my gander at Stealin’ Strings, I headed back to Blue Ox to recuperate and before the highly anticipated Keller Williams Incident show. I was unable to catch The Everyone Orchestra or Shooter Jennings, both whom I’ve heard much about, but the little bit I heard of Everyone Orchestra from the campgrounds was pretty good. I’ll point out now that I say anticipation of KWI for a particular reason. While 90% of the shows I’ve seen KW or SCI perform have included one another, they usually consist of Keller as a guest for “Best Feeling” or one of SCI jamming for a bit with KW. The Keller Williams Incident, however, is a-whole-nother treat. Keller drops the loop act, loses the drum machine, and adds all six members of String Cheese Incident to his arsenal. I suppose you could also describe it as String Cheese Incident with a lot funkier covers.
KWI hit it off with Keller’s “Breathe,” which didn’t inspire any particular feelings from me but was a decent warm-up for the band, I suppose. Afterwards, however, the show really got started, as the band jammed out of “Breathe” right into an exceptionally good “Freeker By The Speaker,” played in a very-danceable sped-up tempo. This set the crowd up right for the evening, as the band took it right into a common Keller Williams cover of ACDC’s “Hell’s Bells,” compete with a very solid “Team America, Fuck Yeah” jam in the middle (right at 7:00 in the FLAC torrent). I’ve previously seen this jam on April 2nd, 2006, at Keller’s Urbana, IL, Canopy Club show, but nevertheless it’s a treat for the audience to scream along to. The middle of the set was alright, with highlights while the crowd was treated to a Keller vocal jam during the track “Freshies,” and a solid electronic jam through the last half of “Sing For My Dinner,” during which the benefits of having a full band backing KW was very apparent. The band pushed it right back up to full speed during a stellar “Alligator Alley,” which, while it’s admittedly a favorite of mine, was a rare treat with a reggae vibe from the guitar and an upbeat tempo, and you could really hear Keller get into it as he sang. Personally, this was the highlight of the show. “Vacate” was a little slow, until the last moments of the track as the band revved up before pulling out the crowd favorite “Best Feeling.” A great song, but one I’ve seen quite a few times now. Seeing the band bring it into “Fuel For The Road” was good, though, and not a bad end to the show. Overall, I’d say the set served as a good warm-up act for Phil Lesh & Friends, but wasn’ very impressive on either acts part. While just as expected as some of the other tracks here, I think a “Franklin’s Tower” or another Grateful Dead tune would have been a fitting jam and a great homage to Phil. Guess the band wasn’t feeling it, though.
Bass Great, Lesh Filling.
Afterwards we headed back to camp to refuel for Phil Lesh & Friends, as we expected big things, in part due to the announcement that “the Umphrey’s McGee and Great American Taxi late-nights will be pushed back to Midnight instead of 11:30. I’m sure you can all figure out why (Hint Hint Hint).” Having listened to the Phil Lesh & Friends New Year’s Eve 2005 set for the last couple weeks, and seeing as this was the end of their tour, I’m sure you can imagine all the ideas running through my head at this points. Dreams of “China Cat > Riders” and “Slipknot! > Towers” filled my head, and whispers of “Eyes Of The World” and “Sugar Magnolias” barely escaped my lips, for fear of jinxing what would turn out to be the best headliner of the weekend, hands down.
The first set opened with a nice “Jam > Cumberland Blues,” and to my surprise Joan Osborne was still helping out Phil on vocals. I haven’t caught Phil since last fall when he was touring with her and Ryan Adams, and I wasn’t expecting to see her this last weekend. The band played a couple more before continuing into “Cold Roses > The Wheel > Shakedown Street > Passenger” to close it up before coming back for set two. The “Cold Roses” cover was a big one for me, since Ryan Adams’ release Cold Roses from 2005 was probably my favorite album all year. I would have loved “Magnolia Mountain,” but who could get that picky at a time like this? I think this jam, as well as the one coming along in the second set, really nails why I love Phil Lesh & Friends versus other big jam acts. They always play right through one song into another – for nearly the whole show, mind you – and they love to go from crowd favorites into more obscure tracks and jam right out of it into another hit. Phil in his decades of touring experience has really pinned down how the take the listeners on a roller coaster ride, up and down, in and out, all throughout the show. Trey can’t even do that for me usually, but I’m not sure if that says more about Trey or more about Phil.
While set one was a good warm-up, set two blew. me. away. We scooted back to the campground during set break, and on our walk back I immediately recognized “St. Stephen” as it began. However, none of us expected the behemoth of a jam that it would become. I’m going to create a new paragraph for this bad boy:
This is one of those beautiful events that almost make young fans like myself feel OK about never seeing The Grateful Dead before 1995. That’s a bold statement for me to make, and not one I take lightly, and I will stand behind it. I knew big things were coming from the moment I heard “St. Stephen” fading into “Dark Star,” but then all of a sudden I heard one I didn’t recognize (“Stars Go Blue”) before “Dark Star” appeared again. At that point it’s hard to expect much else from a band, but Phil & Co. couldn’t stop at this point, and delivered three more show stoppers. Fully expecting the band to walk off stage before an encore at this point, I checked the time and realized that the band still had almost an hour before they were to finish.
Now I need to preface the next part of the show by saying that all weekend long, there was one song I was dreaming to be played. “Franklin’s Tower.” I’m not a greedy person, I wasn’t asking for a “Slipknot! > Tower,” or even a “Help > Slipknot! > Tower.” Hell, I wasn’t even expecting it to be done by Phil Lesh. Keller Williams Incident are known for playing the track when they get together, I was really expecting them to do it. But for Phil to close his headlining set at the end of his summer tour with “Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower” put me into a dancing frenzy unmatched by any there that night, and I swear the grin just from that jam didn’t leave my face for days. So shocked and ecstatic at this point, I barely heard a thing as Phil came out for encore and reminded us all to become Organ Donors, and then proceeded to lead the band into one last song, of all things, “Truckin’.”
I would like to point out that Phil is so good, he even managed to split the show perfectly onto three discs without having to interrupt music at any point. It just so happens that The Behemoth Jam fits perfectly on one disc. God that man has talent. Make sure to get the whole show from Archive.org, you won’t regret it. I should also note all of the streaming tracks above are linked from that Archive recording. Now, on most days I would just pack it up, call it an evening, and go to sleep happy. But this wasn’t most days. This was Friday night at a festival, and this just happened to be the evening that I had a late-night agenda.
When Life Hands You Green Lemon, Dance Your Ass Off:
One of the handful of smaller acts I was highly anticipating this weekend was Green Lemon. I heard them the first time while doing research for the aforementioned BurningOak Podcast #2. Their track “Flight of Manwe” was enough for me to disregard all other activities Saturday night and get my butt over to the Saloon Stage for some DANCIN’. There’s simply no other way to describe it, since their show is so electronic and energetic. After walking in to the band covering The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence,” they band proceeded to play a handful of originals, all culminating into an incredible “Flight of Manwe,” before going into a couple more originals if I recall correctly. Overall a very intense show that lived up to all of my expectations for the band. If I ever receive a copy of this, though I doubt I will, you can expect it to be up on this site immediately.
Vince Herman Is A P.I.M.P.:
There really is no better title for this part of the article. Upon walking out of Green Lemon’s Saloon Stage set, I managed to catch the end of Great American Taxi, which, to my extreme delight, includes Vince Herman! Vince Herman, for those who don’t know, was one of the Leftover Salmon frontmen, and an all-around bluegrass-playin’ badass. He’s the kind of guy who will have more energy than you when he’s 80 and on his death bed, so imagine what that means when the guy steps up to the stage with a microphone and a guitar. My first live experience was listening to him MC at Summer Camp 2006, where he single-handedly kept nearly 10,000 people entertained with just a guitar and some stupid covers and jokes. Not just entertained, I think I may have enjoyed him more than moe. While, I’ve now earned the hatred of everyone moe.ron on the internet, I make the statement to illustrate a point: The guy is frickin’ awesome. The Barn Stage they were playing at, sadly, was not very crowded due to Umphrey’s McGee playing the Field Stage. A show which I made a point to miss. Yeah that’s right, in one lone paragraph I’ve stated that I’m just not that into moe. and Umphrey’s anymore. So sue me. My stance on UM is a whole separate article from this one that Justin and I have spoke about before and I’m sure we will touch on it at some point in the future, but, suffice to say, I preferred to check out Great American Taxi.
I walked up to the stage just as Vince and the boys began playing an extremely danceable “Do You Wanna Dance?” by The Ramones. Awesome – simply awesome. The band took the song for at least a 10 minute spin before dropping it into double-time, then amped it up even faster ’til our heads were absolutely spun. The band continued to rip through a track simply introduced as “a song about going to see Widespread Panic in Las Vegas.” The chorus wasn’t too difficult:
“Too much molly and I’ve had enough,
Too much molly and I’m all singed up.”
“Molly,” in this sense, refers to ecstasy, as I’m sure none of you crazy hippies knew that. Anyways, quite an entertaining song, at the least. From there the band played on that I’ll refer to as “The First Part of Dubyah is Duh,” a wonderful commentary on a certain political figure that had the whole audience singing along. The band closed the night out with an encore song which was basically a chant of “We’re gonna rise up… Wake and Bake!” repeated a thousand times by the crowd as the band left the stage. The wizard helped the crowd keep up the chant for probably 5 minutes until the crowd dissipated, happily chanting and murmuring the song all the way back to their campgrounds.
Back Home For More Wakin’ And Bakin’ In The Sun:
I stuck around for a few moments to listen to some of Assembly of Dust before calling it a night and heading back to my campground to relax and chat for a few hours before retreating to bed. Overall, I think the hours spent between Phil Lesh, Green Lemon, and Great American Taxi could very well be one of the best concert days of my life thus far. Nonstop pure goodness for nearly 6 or 7 hours I think, it was incredible to behold. At the end of this night I was convinced, 10,000 Lakes Festival is the best summer attraction of its sort, considering the size of the acts, the recent events surrounding Wakarusa, the shift in focus and crowd at Bonnaroo over the last couple years, and the fact that the people that went to Detroit Lakes last weekend were the purest, kindest fans I’ve seen at a festival yet.
Look forward to a review of Saturday in the next couple days, and until then, check out these 10KLF links:
Anyone else with pictures online, send ’em my way.