Lockn’ Day 1: Sweatin’ It Out With Vulfpeck, Umphrey’s, Ween and JRAD
Lockn’ kicked off the 2016 installment on Thursday with three highly anticipated performances by Vulfpeck, Umphrey’s McGee and Ween. The hot Virginia summer beat down on fans as they arrived throughout the day offering no quarter for thousands who sought shade while sweating the day out.
With a far greater ease of entry than last year (the lack of rain and mud helps for sure), Lockn’ had access to the festival simplified and streamlined throughout, even offering the opportunity to pay using a credit card attached to your wristband RFID chip.
Soaking in the heat, the crowd filtered in for Vulfpeck, kicking things off with “Conscious Club” and Jack Stratton dancing on a pivoted leg, insisting that the stage wasn’t the only thing rotating this weekend (more on the stage shortly).
Vulfpeck ran through a variety of songs familiar to their growing legion of fans, many catching them for the first time. After tossing chocolate bars out to the crowd to nosh on, and switching instruments throughout, Antwaun Stanley joined for “Funky Duck” and “Wait for the Moment.” Steely Dan’s “Peg,” with alternate lyrics referencing various Dennis’, “Beastly,” “Backpocket” and “Christmas in L.A.” followed, the latter two including crowd participation conducted by Theo Katzmann. The banter and crowd engagement, while a festival norm, was a little long-winded at times, but fans were thrilled nonetheless. Closing with an awkward outro after an upbeat “It Gets Funkier,” the stage rotated in a seamless manner and immediately Umphrey’s McGee began their set with “1348” -> “Attachments,” a strong combo to kick off their set and the latter a new fan favorite. There was no delay or hiccup or pause between bands; having one stage rotating all bands is topic for a music festival, especially given that fans will lose interest or head to another stage – here, there is no other stage during the day. “Triple Wide” -> “2×2” -> “Speak Up” > “Puppet String” was led into “Rocktapus” by Jake Cunninger, followed by Gene Ween joining on vocals for Billy Joel’s “The Stranger” and a brief Godboner reunion. As Gene left the stage, the band wrapped up “Puppet String” and closed the set with “All in Time.”
As the stage turned for Ween, “Transdermal Celebration” opened the set, a menagerie of selections across their catalog, including numerous rarities in the middle of the set, which sent some fans scurrying back to their sites to rest up for Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. Highlights included “Baby Bitch,” “Boys Club,” “Pushing Little Daisies,” “A Tear for Eddie,” “Beacon Light,” “Up on the Hill,” “Puerto Rican Power,” “Fluffy,” “I Play it off Legit,” “Poopship Destroyer” and “Zoloft” (with Gener using his hands to mimic the lyrics) among many others. The lively setlist that lost the crowd partway through played to diehard Ween fans who hung on every note and lyric from this non-jamband at a jamband festival.
Late-night had two options — Garcia’s Forest, open all day with music until 4am, or Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at the Relix Stage. Most chose the latter, filling the bowl to the brim, and were treated to A nice long slow spacey intro into “Truckin’,” followed by “St. Stephen,” “Brown Eyed Women,” “The Wheel,” “Estimated Prophet,” “Tennessee Jed,” “Viola Lee Blues,” and a full “Terrapin Station” suite. The extended interpretations of Grateful Dead numbers is impeccable and the members all look like they’re having the greatest time up there performing.
If 2015 at Lockn was a year to reminisce with tribute sets, 2016 is a chance to look at the future of jam bands and their extended family.