SATURDAY :: 07.16.05

All Good by Sam Friedman
Saturday brought the heat and a certain group of folks blaring metal early, offering the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the earplugs that many brought along with them for protection from the monster stacks. This year's All Good featured a hearty camp-side vendor line-up with a guy wedged between the sugar shack and pizza vendor who made a mean breakfast sandwich with hot or sweet Italian sausage, eggs, cheese, peppers, and whatever other goodies slipped in from the grill. You couldn't pass these up, but you had to take your life and your sandals in your hands crossing the mud pit of no return.

Due to an incredibly late evening and plans for another this evening, we decided to take in many of the afternoon shows kicked back at our camp. From the sounds of New Monsoon's morning set, we could tell we'd probably made a poor decision. They woke the festival righteously as the sounds of a triple threat pounded the WV hillside. Drummer Marty Ylitalo, tabla ripper Rajiv Parikh, and Brian Carey on congas were putting on a clinic.

Ozomatli Parade :: All Good by Jake Krolick
We finally made it down for Ozomatli, and it's a good thing we did because these fellows definitely got the party started. If you haven't yet taken in the high energy horns of Ulises Bella on saxophone, Asdrubal Sierra on trumpet, and Sheffer Bruton on trombone, you need to soon. The set also included some amazing percussion banging and tossing by Justin Poree. It ended with a makeshift jam circle in the pit with a crowd of hundreds packed deep around the blasting musicians. They jammed for a good fifteen minutes, pulling out wild classics such as the "Sesame Street" theme song, before parading the music towards the campgrounds.

We soaked in the sounds of New Monsoon acoustic on the Funkbox stage and were happy to see the band joined by Billy Nershi early on. The good sounds lead right into Yonder Mountain String Band's set, which included guests Michael Franti for a spirited "Death Trip" sandwiched between a broken "Ramblin' In The Rambler." At one point, Jeff Austin referred to the Big Summer Classic's mascot, that giant blow-up sumo wrestler, as "Ziggy on crack." Keller Williams seamlessly segued directly into his set on guitar with the Yonder fellows in a robot jam.

Michael Franti & Spearhead
All Good by Krolick
Michael Franti, how you feeling? The answer to this was obvious - the man was en fuego, and despite the misting dew, he was uplifting - kind of like the jam world's version of Tony Robbins. Highlights from his set included a fantastic pairing of the Williamses. Keller and DJ Williams joined the mix for a lively "Stay Human" broken apart by a huge family jam.

Saturday night was fairly fly, but the mud seemed to suck much of the spirit from the crowd. The MVP of the evening was an easy choice. The little band from Baltimore simply called The Bridge stepped up and played like a band possessed. Hell, I should probably scrap the rest of the review and only focus on their two performances, but that would leave out an amazing Sunday and Umphrey's McGee's hot set later in the evening. Chris Jacobs is the man. His heart was out, and no one else had sleeves large enough to hold it. He ripped notes off his guitar faster then a cocaine heartbeat. The band tore apart the Allman Brothers' "Whipping Post" so well you could feel it in the droplets of sweat pouring from the band. Most folks didn't notice or care to notice that SCI was about to take the main stage. Those that did, well perhaps the mud had crept up to their ears. The Bridge's first set of the evening was just a wee warm-up for what was to follow later.

Nershi & Herman :: All Good by Jake Krolick
The Kanger, Kyle, Billy, Keith, and Michael paid a bit of homage to the stage as they rode in on the good vibe of the summer classic. It was unfortunate that they were dealt such lousy weather. I hadn't seen The String Cheese Incident since the last time they played All Good, so I was open to the new sound and the changes in energy. Vince Herman gave them a warm welcome, and the group slipped right into "Come As You Are," which featured a few decent teases of "Cross-Eyed and Painless" by Billy. It wasn't long after that when the sky opened back up and smacked us in the face. I stuck it out through Cash's "Ring of Fire," which I found to be pretty satisfying - in fact the horns of Ozomatli really added some burn, burn, burn to the dulling evening, but it was short-lived. I was in desperate need of a change of clothes and a shot of whiskey to set my night back on track, so back to Camp Soggy Bottom I went.

The Bridge & Dancers :: All Good by Jake Krolick
With a few shots in me, it was time to get back to the smack-down with The Bridge. For a crowd that was struggling, you know the music had to be good to pull a huge second round late night crowd by the side stage. At one point, some local girls jumped up on stage to shake what their mamas gave them. At first, security tried to rain on their parade, but a nod from a sweaty Chris Jacobs sent security away with their tails tucked between their legs. The group ran with the night and did a few more tunes, including a sweet little broken-string beat box. Kenny Liner can beat box like a mofo and after just seeing Matisyahu puff the check, I'd love to see a battle royal with these two in that wrestling ring. The Bridge continued the high energy, intense jamming straight through to the end of their set. The last jam they played, "Jomotion," was fucking crazy. The Bridge formed some amazing connections between themselves and the audience and absolutely saved us after String Cheese. Their hour of shredding pulled us from our tents and kept us around for the Umphrey's late night.

Umphrey's McGee with Kang :: All Good by Jake Krolick
Umphrey's McGee laid down an extremely diverse late night set. Jason Hann of SCI joined in early for a strong "Triple Wide" > "Jazz Odyssey," and then Kang jumped in for some old school WWF fiddle vs. guitar and bass. He was tag-teamed by Brendan Bayliss and Ryan Stasik in the ensuing battle that left the stage in ruins. The guests were a fun kick-off, but the show really took off with Joel Cummins taking on Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." He sang his guts out and injected one of the few much-needed adrenalin shots of the evening. Around this time, an impromptu dance party broke out in the photo pit that stretched back around the stage and into the crowd. It was one of those moments where the band and the crowd merged as one. The band busted through a catalog of music until about five a.m., finally encoring with Fugazi's "Waiting Room," which I first heard them do here last year. The walk back to the camp after Saturday's late night was like traveling through a demilitarized zone. On one side of my trek were folks passed out in the mud, and on the other side was a churned-up pond that could have contained weapons of mass destruction or some naked skinny dippers - who knew.

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