From the Friday ‘LOCKN’ Times’: Come Together
photo by John Patrick Gatta
As the sun rose on Thursday morning at Infinity Downs, music lovers were awoken by sunny skies and warm weather. Everyone was ready to boogie to a full day of live music, and enjoy what LOCKN’s seventh year had to offer. Mother nature, however, had other plans.
“Due to the potential of heavy precipitation and lighting detected in the area, we are holding entrance into the Show Field. Please seek shelter in a nearby vehicle, stay put, and stay safe. We will continue to update you,” officials said around 3 p.m. via LOCKN’ social channels. And as heavy wind and rain blew through the festival, fans and staff alike found cover.
“I am just very happy everyone is okay,” festival co-owner Peter Shaprio said in the midst of the delay. “The energy on this land is clearly very strong. The LOCKN’ spirit prevails.”
Doors finally opened at 6 p.m., and by the time the most aggressive part of the storm cleared, the campgrounds were littered with crumpled canopies and toppled porta-potties. Sadly, in the reformatting of Thursday’s schedule, Audacity Brass Band, Andy Frasco & The UN and Midnight North’s sets were cancelled.
Nevertheless, water-logged music fans assembled on the farm and remained optimistic. As day become early evening, they gathered at the main stage for a Grateful Dead-infused Jerry Dance Party and, eventually, Khruangbin for the first official set of the day.
The psych-funk trio took the stage at 8 p.m. and after opening with a trio of originals (“Maria Tambien,” “Dern Kala” and “August 10”), Khruangbin welcomed Trey Anastasio for LOCKN’s first unexpected collaboration of the weekend.
“We’re going to bring a very special guest onstage… Needless to say we are very honored and very surprised. Let’s see how this goes,” guitarist Mark Speer told the crowd before Anastasio emerged from the wings.
The Phish guitarist—who is slated to perform several times over this weekend, with his own Trey Anastasio Band on Friday and Tedeschi Trucks Band on Saturday—joined the group for a lengthy, multi-song sit-in, adding his guitar to Khruangbin originals “Lady and Man,” “The Infamous Bill,” “Evan Finds The Third Room” and “People Everywhere (Still Alive).”
That final tune saw Anastasio and Speer trading licks and bathing in the white light of the main stage, much to the delight of the crowd. Afterwards, the two guitarists hugged in celebration.
And while Anastasio was fully prepared to leave the stage, and unplugged his guitar, he was goaded by the trio to stick around for one more tune. The newly formed quartet closed their cosmic single set with Khruangbin’s “Bin Bin.”
“Thank you so much for having us. This has been a magical experience,” Speer said before departing the stage.
From there, LOCKN’ fans were treated to a rocking set by Gary Clark Jr., bookended by the classic blues cut “Bright Lights, Big City” and a guitar-laced version of The Beatles’ “Come Together.”
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead closed out the main stage on Thursday with two full sets, and as the festival’s signature rotating stage turned to reveal the quintet, they alluded to the day’s dicey weather with a dynamic, uptempo take on Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.”
Jerry Garcia Band’s “Reuben and Cherise” followed, making the subsequent “New Minglewood Blues” the first Grateful Dead staple in the set.
Later, the band got weird with a spacey, tension-filled “Playing in the Band,” and they closed their first half with a far-reaching “The Other One,” which contained a full segue in and out of an instrumental “Immigrant Song,” nodding to the band members’ time in the Led Zeppelin tribute act Bustle In Your Hedgerow.
“Thank you so much. What a fuckin’ blast,” drummer-bandleader Joe Russo said before setbreak.
JRAD’s second set was highlighted by an opening “Casey Jones” as well as their second-ever version of “Jolene,” a song from guitarist Tom Hamilton’s American Babies project.
A mid-set version of “The Wheel” also saw the band taking the song’s circular lyrics literally, and covering a just a little more ground by rotating the stage 180 degrees, revealing an empty couch as the jam kept going.
The band then took the rotating stage gag to the next level, turning the stage once again during the instrumental intro of “Eyes of the World” to reveal Bob Weir lounging on the previously-empty couch, reading a book. (At LOCKN’ 2017, Weir jammed with JRAD for a batch of tunes which included “Black-Throated Wind,” “Good Lovin’,” “Jack Straw,” “Samson & Delilah” and “One More Saturday Night.”)
JRAD closed their second set outing with a contemplative “Morning Dew” before encoring with “Never Been to Spain.” LOCKN’ attendees then began making their way to Garcia’s Forest to enjoy a late-night performance by Circles Around The Sun while a raging community bonfire near the festival’s iconic “LOVE” sign, reflected the crowd’s burning passion for music of all stripes.