Final Thoughts on Lockn Festival:
So I’m intrigued with the question I pondered here last week when I arrived at Oak Ridge
Farm to cover the Lockn festival. Have promoters Dave Frey and Peter Shapiro created the
ultimate festival experience?
Location, Location, Location!!!
Situated in the Mid-Atlantic region of the East Coast, just a mere 35 miles south of
Charlottesville, VA and approximately 100 miles south of our nation's capital city, the
farm is centrally located and easily accessible from all directions, and judging by
license plates, fans indeed came from all over the country. The privately-owned estate
property has more than 4,800 acres, plenty of size on which to grow the event in the
future. The lush, green, rolling hills and countryside that surround the grounds make it
stunningly beautiful. If you camped in the car camping section, there was quite a long
walk to get into the concert site, and rumors abound about five to eight-hour long traffic
lines to enter the festival grounds, but each of those dilemmas are to be expected with an
event of this magnitude.
The actual concert field is absolutely massive, stretching as long as six football fields,
and a good portion of the field was unused, certainly offering room to expand upon in
future years. With the two stages of exact size situated right next to one another, rather
than a stage here and another in a far off direction, festival patrons didn’t have to
choose between one or more of his/her favorite bands, nor rush to make a set time at
The concert field is surrounded on all sides by many kinds of festival merchandise, craft
beer vendors and wine and cider distilleries and locally sourced food vendors. One huge
tent, directly to the back of the concert field, housed local vendors such as The Rockbarn
Butchery, The Blue Toad and Blue Ridge Kettle Korn (yum!). Starr Hill Brewery and Wild
Wolf Brewing Company were two outstanding local breweries that offered delicious
beverages. Out round about the concert field you could choose from Asian Sensation, Jack
Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint or Outback Kate’s (delicious Three-Cheese Mac & Cheese) just
to name a few of the plethora of food choices. One never had to leave the concert field
from the day’s first act through the last.
There were no fancy art installations, carnival gimmickry or strobe flourishes or banners
to distract one on your way in or out of the concert site. And the entrance was wide,
which made for easy egress at the end of the concert rather than a massive bottleneck with
more than 25,000 fans leaving at the same time. There could have been more than one
entrance/exit to the concert grounds, but even the walk in through the security checkpoint
was never really an issue.
Besides the festival music, there were a plethora of other activities to partake from. The
Mobile Disc Golf Experience offered free loaner discs to play the six-hole course set up
on the festival grounds, shuttles shuffled folks to the scenic Tye River for swimming,
Dish Network set up a tent with wide screen TVs for sports fans to view their favorite
teams over the weekend and there was yoga provided in the mornings in the camping
Triangle, among other activities.
But to be sure, the Lockn’ Festival was all about the music. Without question, this was a
jamband and bluegrass fans’ dream lineup. Summer music festival mainstays such as The
Black Crowes, Widespread Panic and Furthur were outstanding headliners, though Neil and
Crazy Horse were certainly missed. The dual set between The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and The
Soul Rebels was a funk-tastic early afternoon dance-a-thon, and the early Sunday afternoon
jazz set from Col. Bruce and Friends was a great way to ease into the last day. And
beginning each day with a local bluegrass band was a super way to highlight the sound of
the Blue Ridge region. The question now is this: what bands will they invite to the second
edition of the festival and not have it be a repeat of the first year? The obvious choice
would be The Dave Mathews Band, with their Charlottesville roots. Or, with Frey’s obvious
H.O.R.D.E connection, maybe something a little more Phishy?
Lockn’ certainly delivered on its promise of sets of outstanding music and astounding
collaboration and artist interaction amongst band members. Oak Ridge Farm was a beautiful
and astounding location for a festival, and the weather could not have been better. Frey
and Shapiro have succeeded in their mission to create a music festival they would want to
attend, and approximately 25,000 festival fans agreed and came from far and wide. Have
they created the ultimate music festival experience? This longtime festivalgoer already
plans to attend again in 2014, if the event returns, of that much I am sure.