ALL GOOD BRINGS OUT THE HEROES

Overheard loudly Saturday morning: "E is Dick Chaney's middle initial!"

There's something that clicks by the second day of a festival, something in your body that makes you say, "This is the good life." Maybe it's a combination of sleep deprivation, lack of food, or intake of substances, but you start to feel that a weekend like this can take on spiritual proportions. As I stared out across the West Virginia hills I contemplated that this is my worship of choice and musicians are my gospel.


Brendan Bayliss :: Umphrey's McGee by Jake Krolick
Umphrey's McGee was the first show I made it to on Saturday morning, and boy what a treat it was. I felt like a kid with a new toy on Christmas morning as I watched these Midwest rippers break down an old Fugazi tune called "Waiting Room." Other highlights were a "Utopian Fir" sandwich that had a great bit of peanut butter and strawberry JAM holding it together.


The Burning Spear by Jake Krolick
The talent only increased as Soulive brought us into the mid afternoon. This was such a relaxed Soulive--no vocals from any guests, just stripped down, bare bones, jazz-e-funk. A far cry from the hip-hop flavored remix album, but man Eric Krasno and the Evans Brothers were on. I took a break from the main stage for ekoostik hookah and napped at camp only to stumble down to the tribal sounds of Burning Spear. This was the perfect setting to skank away the late afternoon. The roots reggae beats filled the valley with joy setting up a perfect evening for Leftover Salmon.

Overheard by the chair massages: "This is great but does it come with a happy ending?"


Leftover Salmon by Jake Krolick
The memories of days past flooded in with David Lowery and Johnny Hickman's Cracker set and I was even more impressed then I had remembered. LoS meandered out and I found enjoyment sitting back with a good group of friends listening to Drew Emmit rip the mandolin electric guitar style. During Salmon's set, I was drawn back behind the stage to see the workings of the large screens set on either side. Scott and Jon from HPX Media were mixing visuals like a DJ mixes records... controlling the images quickly, but with a delicate touch. Morphing pictures of old cartoons with a camera shot of the antics on stage. The crowd ate this up all weekend and more then once I caught folks just staring at the screens in amazement. Salmon finished strong and the pumped crowd trekked off in all directions.

Overheard midway through MMW: "It's Saturday night. I don't know about you, but I want to dance."


Chris Wood by Jake Krolick
Sure, there were moments with a glimmer of hope. But Medeski Martin & Wood had poor placement as the headliner for Saturday night. If they had been in the late afternoon and perhaps switched with Soulive, it would have been on. All three are such incredible musicians, but perhaps they were just experimenting a bit too deep, and they never really fell into a solid groove. Thinking back on it, no one had a rock solid groove. No one at least until later that night when the Disco Biscuits manhandled the crowd.

Disco Biscuits by Jake Krolick
Unlike the cool damp air of Friday, Saturday night was warm and dry. The DJ set slipped and scratched through, readying folks for the craziness that was about to ensue. After the first few minutes of the Biscuits, I knew something was up. They started with a version of "Hall of the Mountain King" that was tweaked to almost sound like the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy." Stage lights gave the whole venue an eerie fluorescent glow. The performance was like a horse out of the gate, and before we knew it they had kicked into high gear. People all around me had trouble staying connected with the earth. Bodies were flying, writhing, and grabbing onto anything just to balance the mayhem of sound. I focused my gaze to the pit and the crowd. It was incredible, people seemed to be swallowed up only to be spit back out glowing and beaming from ear to ear. The crowd started to take on ocean-like qualities, as they would surge against the front barrier. In doing so they would catch the stages colored lights, each person changing colors as the stage lights changed. Turning from purples to greens to yellows, some were blinded by the lights while others seemed to gain energy from them.

Disco Biscuits by Jake Krolick
I'm not a huge trans-rock fan and at times would have walked away uninterested. However, this show rocked my face off. Set two walloped in with a "7-11" into "Helicopters." By the time the encore set in the sun had started to rise. Morning came with freaks rolling barrel style down the now seemingly monstrous hill. It was time for my three hours of sleep before the giant glowing alarm clock in the sky popped and I was cooked thoroughly in my tent.


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