Thanks for Dave Weissman, Live Music Blog was able to send two lucky dudes to see the 2006 10,000 Lakes Music Festival and report back on how it went. Enjoy John Benigni’s first review from the festival and keep checking back for more updates.

Anyone who has ever visited a major U.S. music festival is aware of the profound experience that is associated with attending such an event. The music itself is just the beginning; once you enter the festival gates you immediately become conscious of this whole new world around you, a true culture shock comparable to nothing else. 10KLF was no exception to this festival standard, and in a way it exemplified what I have come to know and love as the festival life and atmosphere. 10KLF had the best of everything; beautiful views from every angle, an eccentric crowd that never let the party stop, and of course, a line-up of artists that was sure to leave no music enthusiast disappointed.

Day one proved to be as eventful as expected, arriving in the hot sun of the early afternoon, we finally settled on a campsite in the Blue Ox campground after much debate over which small plot would be ours in the already-full grounds. We quickly made our way over to the concert grounds only to hear the last few seconds of Family Groove Company leaving the Saloon Stage, and I made the decision to leave the uncomfortable heat of the small wooden saloon and head back to our camp area to do some exploring; as to not burn myself out for The String Cheese Incident, whose headlining sets were just a few hours away.

I met our neighbors and had a few cold beers (which, for future reference, are limited to a measly 3.2% alcohol if bought from a chain store in MN), and at about 7:30 I headed to the stage for SCI. While approaching the stage, I ran into a few friends I used to go to school with, which turned out to be quite helpful. They easily had the best camping spot in Blue Ox, since they had gotten there at 8 am on Wednesday. The first set, though amazing, was bogged down by chants from the middle of the crowd to “Turn it up!” in regards to the band’s decision to use their own sound system, instead of the house system, which proved to not be loud enough. Luckily, I was close enough to not have any problems hearing.

The first set, for me, seemed to be your standard Cheese, highlighting it with a cover of The Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker”, and a set-ending “Bam” that had the crowd going insane. For the beginning of the second set, the skies exploded with neon colors as thousands of glow sticks were tossed skyward in what I can only describe as the most impressive display of a glow stick war that I have witnessed. SCI answered this display with a “Rivertrance” that was simply mesmerizing, at one point of which I decided to go to the back of the concert bowl for a full view, just to take in all of the great things that were happening. From this point, the show never stopped momentum, resulting in one of my favorite SCI sets to date, ending with an encore of “On the Road” that had to be left as the last song I saw that night, because I was convinced it could not get any better.

I headed back to camp with my friends that I had ran into, and stopped by my tent to find Kane sleeping. After forcefully waking him up, we proceeded to the other campsite which sat at the very top of the hill overlooking the entire Blue Ox grounds to play some festival beer pong, and pursue the usual mischief that ensues during the middle of a festival night. At one point we stopped at a drum circle at the Viking grounds that had a group of people vehemently chanting “OAR sucks!” to their beat. Haters. Of course, we joined in anyway. One thing lead to another, and the crew, minus Kane, who had left to “go get pizza” a few hours earlier, decided that we should probably watch the sunrise, which it did so beautifully, revealing the full view of just what we were overlooking at the top of the hill. After this we went our separate ways anticipating another day.