First things first. The Phish set was the most fire set since Oct of ’63 when Jan & Dean sat in with them for a cover of Surf City.
All Good was an awesome time and everyone I talked to will be back next year if at all possible. Entry into the venue was far easier than Marvin’s. We did see a big “glass” jar of herb get pulled from the RV in line in front of us. They did search the hell out of my backpack when entering. I left it out real inviting and all on purpose. I knew there was nada in it except my tooth brush, a bag of lighters, a notepad and stuff like that. Then he opened one cooler, asked if I had any glass bottles, and waved us thru. I bet the guy in the rv had his jar in a really obvious place and it was a GLASS jar.
The VIP experience was entirely satisfactory. On the plus side the check in at the high school went smooth. We all waited in line until they opened the doors then we were in the hallway out of the sun. Beat the hell out of last year when someone stole a bunch of VIP bracelets and caused the whole process to come to a standstill and we were out in the sun.
I think there were about 800 people in VIP. That is about the size fest that I really enjoy. It was like camping at a small fest but you would step thru the gate into a 20-25,000 fest.
The camping area was convenient to the concert field, at least for us. We rolled in early and grabbed 4 spots together and set up our base camp. I set our hammocks up under a nice shady group of three trees all the way at the back of VIP camping. It was a little bit of a stroll back to base camp but not outrageous. It was a nice spot in the morning because it was so far away. Didn’t hear sound check at all and slept till 11:00 most days.
The VIP johns were close enough to the stage area that you could head back there to piss and get a cold beer or a couple more bottled waters without missing anything. The walk up the hill to VIP was WAY easier than trudging up that hill at Marvin’s. I never had to hit a blue porto all weekend.
On the down side, in previous years they had a couple on call cleaning the johns pretty much 24 hours a day. They got mad tips at the end. This year they handled it with WET folks. Not as fastidious. The sightlines of the stage were non-existent. You could hear well enough from our camp if you were paying attention but it was a far cry from the setup at Marvin’s. Camps farther away had even less of a chance to sit all day in camp and listen. It was probably 50/50 on hearability but I didn’t hear anyone bitch too hard about it.
The weather cooperated for the most part. We got in set up ez-ups, tents, hammocks & screen house and got most tarps up before it rained. It came down HARD but then quit. We got the rest of the tarps & tapastries up before the next shower. It stayed overcast Thurs and all day Fri with only a morning shower on Fri. Half of Sat was overcast and it didn’t really totally clear out until mid afternoon. Sun was bright and hot. Mon was back to overcast and it did rain right as we were breaking camp and leaving.
The concert grounds were far superior comfort and layout wise. I know some people didn’t care for the gravel area out front but I was ok with it. It was a bit tough on the feet and barefoot really wasn’t an option. But if it would have rained much at all that would have still been cool to dance in without it turning into a bog. The vendors were ok but we didn’t buy much at all. We cooked almost everything we ate back in camp and I only bought 2 beers inside, 1 from the Lucky Cat VIP lounge and one at the VIP/Media lounge that was to the side of the second stage. T he sound in the concert grounds in front of the midfield towers was plenty good. If you were just beyond the midfield it got muddy but if you went further back it cleared up again. Up by the lounge it was a good sound. The lights were cool and the Buddha was a nice visual under certain conditions. The ambient lighting (trees and shit) was the work of Chris Kuroda and was pretty cool. Not sure if there was anything out in general camping but one whole forest wall in VIP was lit up.
Kind of bummed that Phil & Allmans didn’t sell instant downloads but so it goes.
As far as police presence goes, I never felt overwhelmed at all. There was a sheriff golf cart that would roll thru the campground a couple times a day. You could hear it coming and it would have taken some bone headedness to get popped for anything. There was enough of a presence to keep it from getting totally shady but wandering vendors did manage to find me whenever I was in need. I never saw any horseback patrols but then again I never wandered out in to general camping. Also never saw too much, if any, official police inside the concert grounds. People were generally doing what they do but keeping it on the down low.
There were quite a few dogs and kids but that is another thread. More dogs than at Marvin’s I would say.
The music was outstanding all weekend long. From TbT to Franti I was constantly happy with my choices of who to see. I agree that the DJ Who sets were lame but it gave me an excuse to head back to camp and rebake before the next act. Highlights for me were Trampled by Turtles put on a blistering opening set. Bob, Bruce & Branford was the best setting I’ve seen Bob in for a while. Phil and Friends/Sons I’ve talked about. Elephant Revival was a cool surprise. I really liked them as an opening set. ALO is a favorite and they have been playing great lately. Wood Brothers completely tear it up. I love those guys. Yonder show was good but I spent too much time hanging around behind the soundboard thank you very much. It did prompt me to stroll up between the soundboards at just the right time to run into an old friend from AGs past. Galactic set was one of the best of the weekend. Hadn’t heard them for a while and was very surprised and pleased. Jerry Joseph rocks harder than anyone else on the face of the Earth. DSO turned out a great original set. ABB was on fire. Derek Trucks is a god. Lettuce completely blew me away. Nasty. Corey Harris was another great opener. Mickey Hart was a fun show to catch. Schools smells like cheese. Greensky is another fav and didn’t disappoint. And Franti had my wife shaking her ass so that is about all I need. Lips aren’t my cup of spit and now that I’ve seen them I don’t have to do that again. I didn’t even give G. Love a chance. One of the better SOJA shows I’ve seen but I didn’t care for them the first 3 times. Lotus was good and I still had a head full so that went well enough. Conspirator sounded good from camp but I was not quite functional enough to get to the show. Tea leaf, RRE & Big Gigantic all put on respectable sets but not special.
We left out Monday and took the long way home. Drove by the Camp Barefoot venue in WV just to check it out. Looks like a great place for a fest. Got home at 2 and had an 8:30 meeting Tues morning. I was hurting.