Beach Road Weekend returned to Martha’s Vineyard the final weekend of August for the first time since its debut in 2019. With COVID delaying it for two years, the big question was if the island, a prohibitive location (and a pricey trip), could still support the festival. The bill was stacked—especially for a festival of this size—with artists like The Avett Brothers, Beck, Wilco, Billy Strings, Lord Huron, Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit, Khruangbin, Caamp, and many more.
The answer was a resounding yes. Beach Road Weekend was a success by any measure. Amazing music filled two-and-a-half days (Saturday started late to dry out from a storm the previous night), while a great crowd full of positivity and a small festival with a true identity combined to set the bar for a festival on the more exclusive side of the industry.
Friday’s highlights included a rocking set from Shovels & Rope that got the crowd geared up for a groovy, psyched-out set from Khruangbin and a memorably epic set from Lord Huron. The evening culminated with The Avett Brothers taking the stage and ending the night with a 12,000-person attendance high.
Torrential storms came through just after the night ended, so Saturday was delayed which cost a few artists their sets. Crooked Coast was a local casualty with a large native fan base. Fortunately, when Dawes opened the day, the band split its time with Bahamas before they played a few songs together. Guster, too, brought out Bahamas after charging to the VIP stand to commandeer the “millionaires’ yachts.” By the time Billy Strings and Beck performed to the sold-out crowd, it was an all-out party. The two didn’t miss a note and combined built to the highest point of the entire weekend.
Sunday came with early highlights from local boys Neighbor and Boston-based Dalton & The Sheriffs. Livingston Taylor and Emmylou Harris both provided a more chilled-out time to bask in the island sun and relax before Caamp, Jason Isbell, and finally Wilco closed out the night in style. Wilco even brought out Isbell for a collaboration that felt like the cherry on top.
Beach Road Weekend isn’t a festival that’s out to compete with Lollapalooza or even Boston Calling. It has a strong identity tied to the island it calls home; it feels unique and self-sustaining at this point. The festival knows what it is and nailed it. There may not be a lot of room to grow past the 12,000 capacity/day, but it feels like it doesn’t need to.
Dawes – “Ghost In The Machine”, “If I Wanted Someone” – 8/27/22
Billy Strings – “Train On The Island” (JP Nester) > “Highway Hypnosis” – 8/27/22
Billy Strings – “Hide & Seek” – 8/27/22
Billy Strings – “Fishing” (Widespread Panic) > “Ice Bridges” – 8/27/22
Emmylou Harris – “Old Five And Dimers Like Me” (Billy Joe Shaver) – 8/28/22
Emmylou Harris – “The Boxer” (Simon & Garfunkel) – 8/28/22
Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit – “If We Were Vampires” – 8/28/22
Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit – “Decoration Day” (Drive-By Truckers)– 8/28/22
Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit – “Cover Me Up” – 8/28/22
Wilco, Jason Isbell – “California Stars” (Woody Guthrie) – 8/28/22