Arrington, Virginia once again had thousands descend upon the beautiful Oak Ridge Farm, home to the Lockn’ Festival. Now on their fourth year, they switched gears by opening a day early to let RVs onto the venue to avoid traffic snarls and long lines upon entry. Day one was pushed back to start at 7:30 in the evening so attendees wouldn’t miss out on any of the music. After last year’s storm, that cancelled the first day of the event, obvious changes were made to avoid the majority of the crowd missing out. The oppressive heat on Thursday made for a chill day around the venue as fans got settled in and caught up with friends, or checked out the full layout of the grounds.
Vulfpeck opened the festival with a smashing performance. Vulfpeck is known for having crazy good shows and they did not disappoint. They had a changing of the guards as the band did a switcheroo on instruments into the second song. The crowd was ready to get the party started and reacted to the opener with definite screams of joy. Antwaun Stanley, also known as the Funky Duck, joined the group on stage for the majority of their set. The weather was hot and steamy but that didn’t stop fans from packing the field. They are an interactive band that encourages fans to join in with the songs. They pulled out a Steely Dan cover, “Peg,” before breaking out one of their fan favorites, “Back Pocket.” The crowd joined in to sing in different keys, depending on what side of the field they were on, and nailed it as the band stopped playing so the harmonizing from the crowd could shine. Super chill melodies, and splashes of funky goodness, had the crowd on their feet the whole time. Towards the end of their set, bassist Joe Dart, was literally sweating all over his guitar. The remaining members of the band cleared the stage while he slapped out to the crowd, then joined right back in to bust out a super funkafied “Beastly.” They finished out their set with “Christmas in LA”, getting crowd participation once again, followed by an energetic “It Gets Funkier”, that was crammed with solid beats.
The new stage this year was impressive as it turned right into the beginning of Umphrey McGee’s set. The turntable blows away the side by side set up they had in previous years. Good call with the change up. Every year this festival gets better and better and continues to impress. UM wasted no time blazing into their set. The crowd was revved up and ready to go. They played super tight, flowing from one song to the next without skipping a beat. As they do so well, UM switched from a relaxed melody and slammed into a super heavy beat in two seconds flat. Billy Joel’s “The Stranger” popped up midset, surprising everyone to this unexpected tune. They blew the doors off for the remainder before Ween came on to take over the stage as headliner for the evening.
Ween packed the house. These guys always impress and they did not disappoint. Midway through, they took the crowd on a ridiculous ride with their steamy jams that sliced into the energy and brought the heat up to insane heights. They then cooled it off and let the fans breathe with a smooth finish. Full of surprises and delights, Ween crammed a whole lot of fun into their massive set. Throwing in mild, kick back tunes then mixing it up with get off your ass and dance jams really kept the vibes on super max to end out the night at the main stage. These guys ripped it. Their set list was chock full of die hard Ween fan favorites, and did not hold back one bit.
Over at the Blue Ridge Bowl, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead busted out the grooves as the opened with a killer “Space>Trucking” mega jam. The crowd was so ready to hear their kickass set to close out the night. Meanwhile, EOTO was over at the Woods Stage cranking out the sick vibes. No matter where attendees went on the grounds, good times were guaranteed to follow. Psychedelic sounds soon followed as they morphed into a trippy jam midway through “St. Stephens” early on. What’s not to love about this band? Several dancing bears were seen waltzing through the venue during the show.
A groovy tone was thrown out to the crowd early on, creating a mood of tranquility and peace before blasting into extraordinary melodies. Fans were going nuts from the intensity they were throwing out. Goddamn these guys know how to rock a venue! Cheers and whistles came from the huge throngs of fans on the hill. As the steamy night continued, their music had the crowd forgetting about the heat and danced their ass off regardless. The delicate dance across the guitar strings led into ever growing intensity throughout their set. JRAD was clearly having a blast onstage. At one point, Scott Metzger lost himself in a trance during “Brown Eyed Women.” He was so into the music that he went into another dimension as Tom Hamilton cranked out on his guitar. Dave Dreiwitz seriously worked his ass off, as he went from his headlining set with Ween to JRAD within the hour.
The set cooled off as they eased into “The Wheel.” This trippy jam was perfect under the cloudless, star filled night sky. Marco Benevento had a chance to show off his chops on the keys, as the band sat back, with the exception of Russo, while he tapped his fingers out across the ivories. When they busted out “Estimated Prophet” the crowd went absolutely nuts! Back and forth play between Metzger and Hamilton was crazy good, as they lobbed the tones to each other, only to come back together and jam out in a tight interwoven magical moment. The dance ended as they grooved right into “Tennessee Jed.” The incredible end to the evening at Blue Ridge Bowl came with “Terrapin Station.” Let’s see what Friday has in store during yet another steamy day on the grounds. Stay tuned!
Information about the Lockn’ Festival can be found on their official website.
Vulfpeck Set List:
Conscious Club, Fugue State, Rango II, My First Car, Jam, Funky Duck, 1612, Wait for the Moment, Peg (Steely Dan cover), Back Pocket, Beastly, Christmas in L.A., It Gets Funkier
Umphrey’s McGee Set List:
Nipple Trix, 1348, Attachments, The Triple Wide>2X2>Speak Up>2X2 Reprise, Puppet String, Roctopus, The Stranger (Billy Joel cover)>Puppet String Reprise, All in Time
Ween Set List:
Transdermal Celebration, The Grobe, Mister Richard Smoker, Mister Would You Please Help My Pony?, Happy Colored Marbles, How High Can You Fly?, Beacon Light, A Tear For Eddie, Baby Bitch, Boy’s Club, Up on the Hill, Nan, I’m in the Mood to Move, Pumpin’ 4 the Man, Puerto Rican Power, Fat Lenny, Japanese Cowboy, Fluffy, Push th’ Little Daisies, I Play It Off Legit, Someday, Sorry Charlie, Ocean Man, Poopship Destroyer, Zoloft, Pandy Fackler
JRAD Set List:
Space>Jam>Truckin (SM)>St Stephen # (All)>The Eleven (TH & JR)>Brown Eyed Women (TH)>The Wheel $ (All)>Estimated Prophet (SM)>Tennessee Jed (TH)>Viola Lee Blues % (All)>He’s Gone (TH)>Terrapin Suite ^ (TH)
@ – Technically started on the morning of Friday, 8.26.16
# – With a “We’re Gonna Groove” (Led Zeppelin) Jam (Band) & a Dave Dreiwitz Bass Solo
$ – With a “Duo Jam”, “Fat Mama” (Herbie Hancock) Teases (MB), a Hell in A Bucket Tease (SM) & probably a bunch more from MB
% – With unknown tease (Band) & a “Heartbreaker” (Led Zeppelin) Tease (SM)
^ – With “He’s Gone” lyrics sang over the intro, another “Fat Mama” Tease (MB), & another Duo Jam
Words by Sarah Bourque. Follow on Twitter.
Photography by Sam Shinault Photography.