SweetWater 420 Fest staged its final day of music for 2022 on Sunday at Atlanta, GA’s Centennial Olympic Park. The sendoff to the 18th edition of the SweetWater Brewing Company-sponsored festival featured highlight sets from OysterheadJoe Russo’s Almost DeadSnarky Puppy, and many more.

Trudging into downtown Atlanta in yet another day of sweltering summer heat was no simple task, but waiting on the other side of the gates was an intimate beer tasting with The Nth Power. The band celebrated the launch of its limited-edition SweetWater elixir, Holy Rain Pale Ale Lager, one of several bands to partner with the brewery including Big SomethingBoomBoxTropidelic, and Phish Radio host Ari Fink, who also served as emcee throughout the weekend. The crisp, fruity taste of Holy Rain served as a palate cleanser heading into a full day of music.

BoomBox set the tone for the early afternoon on the H.A.Z.Y. Stage, rhythmically easing in the remaining festival-goers with steady beats and late-night licks. The duo, consisting of guitarist/vocalist Zion Godchaux and Kinsman MacKay, welcomed the BackBeat Brass for the entirety of the set, with the saxophone and trumpet adding to a full-band sound for the duo.

Over at the SweetWater StageThievery Corporation put out remarkable energy compared to the very same people who had seen the ensemble walk off the Variety Playhouse stage barely 12 hours prior at a late-night show. The collective centered around Rob Garza and Eric Hilton rode the reggae dub grooves of their expansive lineup into another hot and sticky afternoon, with tree-lined shade at the very back of the crowd coming at a higher premium than space on the rail.

SweetWater 420 Festival: Livestream From Atlanta, GA, Sunday 5/1/22 – SweetWater Stage

Tucked away on the Happy Ending Stage, the tide began to turn heavier with The Nth Power. The trio balanced delicacy with its raw power, as guitarist/vocalist Nick Cassarino served as a cosmic foil to drummer Nikki Glaspie. Our Sunday soul arrived courtesy of Cassarino with his lament, “Only You” before delivering the sermon of perseverance, “A New Day”, with its command, “Don’t you dare give up this fight.”

As if there wasn’t enough spirit on that stage, announced special guest Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band) made it a quartet, turning the performance into a full-blown Sunday service. Bassist Nate Edgar took his well-deserved spot in the limelight during a Meters-like swamp crawl ahead of the band’s most celebrated track, “Only Love”. The expansive live rendition wound its way through a Glaspie/Edgar breakdown, into Bob Marley‘s “War/No More Trouble”, and back into “Only Love” to throw one final spark on an incendiary set. The rhythmic dominance of Nikki Glaspie was just the beginning of a loaded lineup of drummers for SweetWater Sunday, followed by Joe RussoStewart Copeland, and Snarky Puppy’s holy trinity of Robert “Sput” Searight, Jason “JT” Thomas, and Larnell Lewis.

Back on the SweetWater Stage, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead steadily rolled into its second set. With the sun finally starting to make its descent, the stage was set for an afternoon of blissful Grateful Dead tributes. With bassist Dave Dreiwitz out for Ween‘s two-night run in New Orleans this weekend, his part was dutifully played by Jon Shaw who provided the bedrock alongside drummer Joe Russo for guitarist/vocalist Tom Hamilton‘s delicate delivery of “They Love Each Other”.

The set and setting of Sunday’s JRAD show called for lighthearted selections from the extended Dead catalog, and that’s exactly what fans got with the proceeding “Reuben and Cherise”. Marco Benevento‘s heavenly keys climbed the glorious ascension through the Jerry Garcia original before Scott Metzger snatched the mic to bark out “Throwing Stones”, slightly deterring from the bliss.

It was at this time that the extensive cavalcade of musicians known as Snarky Puppy took the H.A.Z.Y. Stage. The Grammy-winning ensemble touched on myriad moods, toggling from “I’m supposed to like this” jazz to hot and sweaty bounce music and even some stadium rock thrown in for good measure. There’s something for everyone with a band that has everyone in it. The band’s ornate instrumentation met its match across the park as JRAD closed out its set with the grandiose Dead epic, “Terrapin Station”. Back at Snarky Puppy, the group brought out Jen Hartswick for the idyllic Sunday garden party music, providing a final soul cleanse before the darkness of Mr. Oysterhead descended upon SweetWater.

Sunday’s show marked the final Oysterhead engagement on the books for a reunion that began back in February 2020. Les Claypool and Trey Anastasio acknowledged this long, drawn-out goodbye as the Phish guitarist at one point said to the Primus frontman, “I haven’t seen you in, like, ten years?”

The opening soundcheck jam soon evolved into a full-blown stomper courtesy of Les’s muddy bassline. Alongside Stewart Copeland and Claypool, Trey’s guitar tone–while essentially the same as with his solo band and Phish—takes on a much darker tone. The opening improv ultimately turned into “Mr. Oysterhead” as Trey and Les exchanged machine gun back-and-forth riffs, while Stu hung back fanning the flames.

“Oz Is Ever Floating” came next as the trio’s musical gelling solidified, prior to “Rubberneck Lions”. Oysterhead touched on a number of classic rock topes, with each member adding something from his unique stylistic purview. This opened up into a highly involved musical conversation, as the three icons communicated at frequencies far above, or below, our perception.

“Little Faces” followed with a Les bassline that could’ve just as easily landed on Frizzle Fry, with Trey pulling out his Phish scales for frenetic runs in a major jam. Audiences lined up for the “Grand Pecking Order”, with Copeland hanging back on his mammoth percussion setup for the sing-song march. Trey put his low-end MIDI pedal to good use, as Claypool laughed maniacally from stage right.

The proceeding “Polka Dot Rose” heard improv from Trey straight out of the Phish playbook, but it is ultimately Copeland who conducts Oysterhead, though here he allowed Anastasio to steer the locomotive through a brief “First Tube” hint.

Oysterhead – “Polka Dot Rose” – 5/1/22

[Video: vitaminrenergy]

Though audiences know Oysterhead must mainly stay confined to the 13 tracks from The Grand Pecking Order, that doesn’t make the vamps in between songs any less suspenseful, as the band emerged into “Armies On Ecstacy”. Copeland provided a rumbling platform for a push-pull jam between Les and Trey before things went from “weird” to “Oysterhead weird” as Claypool and Anastasio brought out their respective Whamola upright bass and Matterhorn antler guitar.

The antler jam gave way to “Shadow Of A Man”, as Trey played the unique theremin-guitar hybrid off into infinity while Copeland provided color commentary on percussion. Those who attended TAB’s Saturday concert got a double dose of “First Tube”, a song so nice Trey Anastasio played it twice, before closing the set with “Owner Of The World”.

Returning to the SweetWater Stage one final time, Claypool asked, “Did you enjoy yourself?” Though the crowd belted out its approval, Les clarified he was talking to Trey, who did indeed have a good time. Anastasio went on to inform Claypool (as if he had forgotten), “When I was in high school, Stewart Copeland was the greatest drummer in the world, and he still is.” To which Les responded, “I can introduce you,” before the man himself counted off into “Psuedo Suicide”, the epitome of Oysterhead’s stated prog-rock mission.

Oysterhead – “Pseudo Suicide” – 5/1/22

[Video: vitaminrenergy]

With a tip to the cap from Les, band introductions by Copeland, and Claypool introducing Stu as Alex Van Halen, Oysterhead walked off stage, putting an end to the triumphant return of SweetWater 420 Fest.

Check out photos from Sunday at SweetWater courtesy of Bahram Foroughi and Christian Stewart. Full audio of Osyerhead’s set is available here. Revisit Live For Live Music‘s coverage of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the festival.