It was no easy feat: three flights and 2,705 miles stood between myself and Legend Valley, new home to the 16th Annual All Good Music Festival and Campout. Nothing could stop me though… I ran through LAX, chasing my connection, Yonder Mountain String Band in my headphones (I think it makes me faster) trying not to stress about my mess of cancelled flights, because in less than 12 hours it would be all good.
Going into this year’s festival there was more anticipation than usual, if that’s possible. Last year’s All Good would be hard to top (thinking about moe. > Papadosio > Primus still gives me shivers) and marked the end of an era. It would be the last year we’d make the trek up to Marvin’s Mountaintop, home of All Good for nine years. Traffic issues and resistance from local government in Masontown, home of Marvin’s Mountaintop, largely prompted the move to Legend Valley in Thornville, outside of Columbus, Ohio.
Not only did the new venue prompt a lot of anxious excitement, but the line-up is one of the more impressive offerings in the Midwest this summer (especially for fans of the Grateful Dead). Instead of the usual Furthur headlining, they split it up into a night of Bob Weir with Bruce Hornsby and a two-and-a-half hour set from Phil Lesh and friends. Friday night brought the Flaming Lips and Yonder Mountain String Band, and Saturday featured the Allman Brother’s Band. Without even getting into all of the other amazing acts performing, the headliners were enough to draw people from far and wide.
Getting into the venue was much different than previous years. Right off of I-70, Legend Valley was easier and faster to get to than the mountaintop, though long lines were unavoidable. For the first year ever All Good implemented an RFID-chipped wristband system in which you have to scan in and out of the main concert bowl. The layout of the venue required that patrons cross the road to get to many of the camping areas and the Grassroots Stage, but it wasn’t much of a problem (at least to festival goers, I can’t speak for traffic, though it never seemed very backed up). There was more wooded camping than ever before which was a welcome change on Saturday and Sunday which were bright and muggy.
The gates opened on Thursday morning to a lung queue of early birds. A quick but intense rainstorm mid-afternoon cooled things down in time for campers to set up and get down to the mainstage for Trampled By Turtles. The bluegrass string band played a great set that led nicely into The Lumineers. All Good’s policy of no overlapping sets is one of the best aspects of the festival and the stage managers kick ass at keeping things flowing smoothly from stage to stage.
Bob Weir and Bruce Hornsby took the stage next, featuring many guest players during their set. The Werks kept the jams going into Phil Lesh and Friends who played for two and a half hours. Shpongle closed out the night with his awesome blend of electronic and world music, playing in a new projector/screen set up, The Masquerade.
Friday, like the day before, was cloudy and cool which made for an excellent day of seeing music. Rather than hide from the blaring sun under our easy-ups, we ventured out for a long day of dancing and fun. The first set that we hit was The Wood Brothers, a truly awesome experience. Their mellow acoustic songs were a perfect fit for the mid-afternoon set and a real privilege to see live. Matt Butler led the Everyone Orchestra with gusto, as always, and featured some new faces including the horns section from All Good virgins Rubblebucket.
Soja followed with a more rock and roll set than this author has ever heard from the reggae jammers, which was a nice change. Moon Hooch was an exciting and surprising set, with a crazy combination of intense, dance style drums with funky horns. G. Love brought the sauce, as always, and Rubblebucket kept the indie dance fun going. Their set was unusually loud, but otherwise an awesome showing comparable to their fantastic set at High Sierra.