All Good Music Festival 2015
Festival Experience Archive
for The Lot Scene by Parker
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong - Elephant Revival - BoomBox - Keller Williams - Dark Star Orchestra
Saturn’s Day was nigh and that meant the third day of All Good was awake, alive, energized, and going strongly. Definitely the hottest of the three, we made sure to find the shelter of shade when we could throughout the day. Rising temps weren’t going to daunt the largest crowds to gather for this All Good, though. Ready and raring to go, we all filtered down past the Buddha and the soundboards (And how about a huge hand to all the fine sound, lighting, and tech folks helping make All Good so amazing while we’re at it?) to the Dragon Stage to hear us a little Pigeons Playing Ping Pong.
Although I had heard a lot of hype about Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, I hadn’t yet the privilege of hearing them play. And it was apparent pretty instantly why the hype rings true: this band is possessed of a playful spirit and boundless bright energy all mixed together with some seriously excellent musical skills. Their sound is immediately catchy, a mix of many genres and styles…and makes for a very, very entertaining show. As if frontman Greg Ormont’s fantastic facial expressions weren’t enough entertainment. Much like Grand Ole’ Ditch’s Jody Mosser, Greg wears his utter enjoyment for his job all over his face, all show long. Just him sharing that emotion with all of us seems to make the set just that much more incredible, more organic, more real, and more delightful. They opened things all up with the high-spirited and joyful feeling “Walk Outside” and I began to introduce myself to their sound, to the music of Greg’s vocals and the sizzling guitar work of Jeremy Schon. Next up was the slightly mellower but funky “Melting Lights” which we have right here for your enjoyment:
Pretty ridiculous right? Damn right. They took “Melting” directly into their next one, “Live It Up” featuring some monster drum work from Alex Petropulos. Absolutely fantastic playing here. Later on down the set we got a real treat: the island-like “Julia” with a seriously awesome and phatty “Under the Sea” smashed right in the middle. And not just a tease, either. The whole damn song!! Believe-you-me, we were all getting our Disney on together with this hilariously fun and crazy ass band from Baltimore. In fact, we at The Lot Scene were both pretty sure that was our collective first live “Under the Sea” — so we’ve got that goin’ for us, which is nice. Next up, Mario D’Ambrosio joined in on sax and Danny Davis joined on trumpet for “The Liquid”, their horns adding yet one more marvelous dimension to this already incredible band. Their last three numbers were all elided together and so that roller coaster just took us all right through “Spacejam” into “The Hope” and then into “F.U.” for the big closer, bringing the hammer down on a quality, quality one hour All Good set. Very much looking forward to my next time seeing these guys, no doubts there. But, as is with All Good, the closing of one band’s show meant the beginning of another: this time Elephant Revival over on the Crane Stage. Thanks for all the fun, Pigeons! Catch you around soon!!
From neighboring Nederland, CO, Elephant Revival have been a favored band of mine since I moved back to Colorado over six years ago. Embodying so much of what that unique and wacky and wonderful little mountain town is all about, both musically and energetically, Elephant has been wowing and wooing audiences with their singular sound for many years now, with aplomb and skill and humility and attitude. After Cabinet and Greensky and Ditch I was really ready for more grass and the familiarity of Elephant Revival’s take on the string band. Kicking things off with “Sing to the Mountain”, the band sounded just lovely from the get-go:
Ah, how nice, right? They followed next with the reassuring but also doubtful lyrics of “Hey Alright”, the repetitive chorus and ghostly harmonies hammering home the song’s lesson. I’ve only heard that song twice now in concert and I really just love it. There is something special about it…makes me really grateful to have heard it here at All Good. So far, so great, guys. The pensive and lovely “Birds and Stars” came after, followed by a sincerely beautiful instrumental featuring each member of the band on their respective instruments. Oh, and just for those in the crowd who are unfamiliar with Elephant’s lineup, here you go: Bonnie Paine (washboard, djembe, musical saw, stompbox); Bridget Law (fiddle, octave fiddle); Charlie Rose (banjo, pedal steel, guitar, horns, cello, double bass); Dango Rose (double bass, mandolin, banjo); and Daniel Rodriguez (guitar, banjo, double bass). Did you get all that? I know it’s a bunch of info, but really helpful when seeing or taking a listen to this band. Bonnie took lead vocals on the subsequent “Remembering a Beginning”, a gorgeous slightly swung number — of course, any chance to hear her sing being a privilege and an honor. And how about some washboard sass and sizzle in your life? Later down the set we got a lovely bunch of that and so much more with the raucous and moving “Rogue River”. Nothing like some phat a cappella plus various hand percussion all being steered by musical captains such as these, no? Finally, sadly, it was time for Elephant to close things down with Bonnie playing the musical saw for us. Unique to the very end, right? Wow. What a damn good All Good set!! Thank you ladies and gents so very much — t’was a pleasure as always!!
BoomBox. Poor guys. And I mean that so sincerely. The sun was just hammering down on the stage as they came on and began immediately frying their computers and electronics. This, of course, being a big problem for a jamtronica duo. Some stage hands helped them shade things and get back up and running, however, I feel they may have lost the already small crowd for their afternoon set. That was another problem: this band should have been scheduled for after dark. The first real case of bad scheduling that day. Anyways, they did throw down some really fun dance tracks once they got going. Here is one we managed to snag for you:
Keller played a nice solo looper show that evening for us on the Crane Stage. He brought a really mellow vibe to the whole venue area, choosing some lower energy songs and numbers that grooved but definitely slowed things down a bit. The John Denver’s “Country Roads” opener was wild and wacky and really well-suited to our way of thinking at the time. It was no surprise that Keller was happy All Good had returned to West Virginia as well. Why not take a quick look and listen for yourself?
We got a really nice “She Rolls” as things rolled along as well a super-looped up and funky “Celebrate Your Youth”. Up next he threw down a recent favorite of mine, a commentary on the open carry issue in our nation: “Over the Should Rocket Launcher”. Funny and slightly political, this is one whose lyrics you’ll want to listen to. Then it was time to dance again with a Keller-ed up “Best Feeling” — dancing and singing, too, this is always a crowd pleaser and certainly pleased this All Good crowd. In my opinion, the very best part of his show was up next — a little Joe Walsh cover (of my fave Walsh songs, no less), “Life’s Been Good”. And what a version of it, too!! Following that we got another cover, weird and weirder still: “Mountains of the Moon”. All told it was a good Keller show and a good addition to the line-up for the evening. In the end, I just wish he had picked more upbeat, more danceable repertoire. C’est la vie, eh?
Ah, the Dark Star Orchestra. Just the kind of band, just the kind of music that I was needing that Saturday evening. I’m not sure which show they covered, but whatever one it was, it was just the perfect set. “China Cat Sunflower” was an early and awesome addition to the mix…man, that song always gets me happy or happier as the case may be. More Dead hits came along down the pike with “I Know You Rider” followed by a really tight “St. Stephen”. The middle portion of this one contained a severely and delightfully intense and spaced-out jam, one of those that loses you completely and you forget what song it is. Incredible! Got us all dancing and grooving and loving life on our feet under the West Virginia stars — not to mention singing along with the band at the tops of our collective lungs. Hells to the yeah! More dancing was around the corner with “Turn on Your Lovelight” which sounded well-nigh perfect. Finally, they finished this really stellar set off with the double-barreled whammy of “ “ taken directly into Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”. One pill makes you larger, eh? Un-freakin’-believable!! An all-around rock solid, top-notch show. Bravi, Dark Star!! Thanks for the journey!!
So, I would be remiss if I didn’t address one final issue in parting. Sadly it feels like saving the worst for last, but it cannot be skipped for the sake of joy and laughter. This issue was the heavy-handed and overbearing police presence at All Good this year. From the moment you got close to the venue, perhaps about 15-20 miles away or so, you began to see examples of this intensive presence at every turn, with dozens and dozens of cops stationed along the roads leading to Berry Hill Farm. The very thorough and very slow moving security at the gate helped to further this feeling but, really, it was the omnipresence of law enforcement officials inside the festival grounds that really made for a grayer ethos and overall feeling to the place. Seeing fire teams of three officers in jumpsuits with firearms strapped all over them constantly roving the campsites, vendors’ area, and major pathways on ATVs was disheartening to say the least. And that’s not even mentioning the horde of remaining uniformed officers ever watching from behind their sunglasses as we attempted to enjoy ourselves despite. I have read several other articles citing festival organizers hiring all these thugs and quoting various amounts paid for such a presence, but I don’t have that data and don’t want to speculate. I have also read about all the busts that occurred as a result with cash being seized, etc. Can’t speak directly to that, either. All I know is that it made for a lesser festival experience overall and I would caution folks in the future to consider how this might affect your own All Good experience. I, for one, most likely won’t be going back until they sort this nonsense out. Festivals are places to unwind and enjoy yourself, not ones where you should be fearing local law enforcement Gestapo crap. Let us hope they get this all figured out in the positive for next year.
The Lot Scene’s Co-Founder and photographer, Will, had this to say about the entire situation: “I encourage Tim Walther or someone on the All Good team to address these concerns head on rather than letting the resentment stew and the worst be assumed in the eyes of All Good's paying customers. Was this militaristic police presence a hardline stipulation for holding the festival in Summit Point or on Berry Hill Farm? Maybe the local politicians strong-armed him last minute, and it was either play by their rules or cancel the festival. Maybe they had credible intel which led them to believe All Good Festival was a prime target for a terrorist strike. If they were pulling over cars randomly and going through every bag in our vehicles in order to find anthrax or perhaps weapons grade plutonium, I think that's understandable. But, if this was somehow the vision that Walther has for All Good now and in the future, I will not be returning.”