Fortunately, Friday showcased a whole array of talent who brought their A-game. Hill Country Revue started the day off on the main stage with overdriven blues that brought several of its member's fame in the North Mississippi Allstars. Jackie Greene followed with a somewhat generic set that left folks wondering where this kid would be if it weren't for Phil Lesh's interest in him.
|Stanton Moore - Galactic :: All Good 2009|
Mike Silverman, aka That 1 Guy, played for twenty minutes before and after Galactic brought the Cajun funk on the main stage. Silverman may have been the second act of the weekend to work the one-man band angle, but this guy is on a different planet than Keller. He performs on his homemade "Magic Pipe," a two-stringed bass of sorts that features various effect buttons up and down the instrument's body, while a second pipe creates tones and various pitches based on the angle at which it's bent. Most of the folks who were familiar with That 1 Guy beforehand most likely knew him as a regular opener for Buckethead, but after serving as the bread of a crunchy Galactic sandwich odds are many in attendance grew to appreciate him in his own right.
Galactic's hour long set raged and boogied in all the right ways, getting bodies moving, but not too hard for a midday set under the scorching sun. Following their slot, while Robert Randolph & The Family Band performed "Billy Jean" on the main stage, Galactic's bassist Robert Mercurio told JamBase, "It's always tough in the middle of the day to get the same energy as a night concert, but it was great." As for the event itself, Mercurio said, "I was talking about it with [All Good Promoter] Tim [Walther] and I was saying what I really liked about this festival is you see the lineup and you get to see every band. You have two stages next to each other that don't overlap. It goes from one [performance] to the next. You don't have to go anywhere. It's just continual music. The crowd stays in one spot and instead of having to choose which band to see, they can sit and watch everything, which is unique at a festival." Ben Ellman, the group's sax player added, "It's a beautiful day in a beautiful place. We're here to have fun, so what more can you ask for?" As for his personal highlight, Ellman said without hesitation, "Getting to use the port-o-let right after they cleaned it. You have to hold it till you see them cleaning."
Although Les Claypool fans didn't really appreciate it, veteran singer-songwriter Todd Snider performed a brief set of his socially conscious tunes on the side stage before the bass virtuoso got freaky on the main stage. The highlight of Snider's set was a pseudo-spoken word song about Columbine and violence in America that brought to mind Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" through the almost-goofy, drawn out method of storytelling.
|Bob Weir - RatDog :: All Good 2009|
As for Claypool, he fucking nailed it, plain and simple. As he stomped on his monitor to the rhythm, while making goofy faces at his stagehands, Claypool hammered out lick after lick of the funky, mind-altering bass that made this once-metal icon an adopted idol of the jamband community. Much like the attendees, plenty of the acts on the bill have found themselves returning to All Good year after year, effectively building on the communal vibe a festival already delivers. Hence, Claypool roared into his mic, "Here we go again, All Good!" and his packed audience roared right back.
Bob Weir's headline slot gave him a solid two hours of time to dish out old Dead tunes, as well as a few of the covers he's been known to perform over the years. Every armchair Deadhead in the house was able to sing along to "Truckin'," which made it an ideal set opener. Weir followed with the first half of "Tomorrow Never Knows," the last track on The Beatles' Revolver, which he finished up later in the evening. It's easy to hate on Bob Weir, Phil Lesh or any of the remaining members of the Dead for continuously touring the country behind songs they wrote damn near 40 years ago, but the triple threat closer of "Morning Dew" into "China Cat Sunflower" > "I Know You Rider" puts these arguments to rest. Truth be told, you're not likely to hear anything written within the past twenty years at a RatDog concert (outside of the originals on their sole studio release, 2000's Evening Moods), but when the back catalog is full of trans-generational material, judging Weir over the freshness of the songs is irrelevant.
Although moe.'s set felt stale and far from trans-generational, the Bassnectar set between Weir and moe. was a weekend highlight. Fans were packed in front of the side stage, cheering for Bassnectar before Weir even finished his set. Every time Bassnectar, born Lorin Ashton, poked his head out from the side of the stage, the crowd went nuts. His set packed the most energy and produced the craziest glow stick wars of the weekend, and when his time was up moe. failed to take the stage, so Bassnectar announced that he was just going to keep playing and until someone told him not to.
Continue reading for Saturday's coverage of All Good...