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Lockn' Festival. Arrington VA. Sept. 6th


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I was there, so I should be able to share some words. It was a long day and night of music (was still there listening to Bustle at 3:00 a.m.), and I didn't write anything down so best of memory of songs played in no particular order:

 

Misunderstood

Shouldn't Be Ashamed

Shot

Impossible Germany

Red Eyed

I Got You

Laminated Cat

Handshake

California Stars

Forget the Flowers

Jesus

Kingpin

Whole Love

Dawned on Me

 

A pretty standard festival set , but make no mistake, Wilco was great. A very well played set, high energy and very tight. We were down front, don't know how they were received by the masses, but a good Wilco crowd filled the infield up front. Some Jeff banter about the rain(had a nice sunshower during their set) and resulting rainbow.

 

Wilco returns to the stage at same time today. I'll try to do a better job reporting but no promises!

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It's so much fun to listen to this show again, all thanks to NYC Taper.

 

I haven't posted about my experience at Lockn' because it was just so overwhelming, in both good and bad ways. Actually, the only bad was stuff that I guess is par for the course at festivals--no Internet connectivity, so I kept getting separated from my friends, kept getting lost trying to get to my car in the parking lot, trying to decide whether to hang back and enjoy the music with friends from a distance or get up front and feel more of a connection with the band. I just don't go to that many big festivals and these seem to be frustrations inherent in events like this. The biggest annoyance was the VIP sections right up front. This probably wouldn't have mattered at all if I were hanging back away from the stage and just watching on the big screens, but I found it super annoying to find the first 2 or 3 "rails" sparsely filled with frat boys and preppies who were paying only scant attention to the band. I kept thinking that if it was frustrating for me, it must have been even more so for the bands, to be looking out and see the first several rows filled with inattentive assholes.  It's not like that at Solid Sound and it wasn't at Newport Folk Fest either, but I understand this is the norm for most big fests. Doesn't mean I have to like it. I really hope Solid Sound never does something like this.

 

Having said all that, it was just magical seeing the boys back together onstage again. They looked and sounded happy and completely natural--you'd never have guessed that they hadn't played shows for a year. I managed to get right on the rail for both shows, with my eyes locked onto Jeff's (and OK, the rest of the band, too) and I was surrounded by old and new friends, so it was great. It was also overwhelming, though, which is why it's particularly enjoyable to have a recording. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I bought my four day Lockn pass when they went on sale not knowing my coworker was getting married and planning her honeymoon for that week. Plan b was to fly down Friday and just go for the weekend and catch Wilco and the Allmans etc. decided instead to drive down Wed night and stay in a hotel about an hour away. I worked in the hotel until 5 on Thursday and then headed down.

 

What a freaking zoo. The VIP and the aptly named Super VIP made this one of the more segregated fests I've ever attended and I've been to quite a few. I too weaseled my way to the front of the stage for Wilco and it was worth it. I had a better viewpoint than the VIP section as they were stuck in the center section between the stages. The super VIP got treated to a front of the stage spot and they would look back at the huddled masses and I detected an air of superiority in their demeanor. If I paid two grand for a freaking festival I think I'd be trying to justify the expense by convincing myself I was having more fun than those paying a fraction. Saw some true wilco fans in their midst (vintage shirts) but man, a few of them were doing their best Elaine Benes imitation and their daylight dancing was embarrassing.

 

It was a zoo and I'm glad I went the first two days because it took me that long to get the lay of the land. No signage anywhere and the fest workers were no help at all. Met a few strangers including a 27 year old drug dealer from Richmond who started chatting me up. Had an interesting time and at the end of the weekend I thought I could do this again, especially if I brought my RV (needed the hotel wifi this time so that wasn't an option). No comparison to Solid Sound, the coolest fest ever, or even Stagecoach which despite some of the worst in country music on the main stage, dedicates some of my favorite stuff on their two side stages.

 

I guess the VIP thing is part of the equation when you have so many large acts and you need extra revenue. I am glad I went and even though it was the least enjoyable Wilco shows I've been to (not an afternoon band and set too short) there were some aha moments for me.

 

Allmans doing the Fillmore album was a treat and then they played most of Eat a Peach. A young guy was handing out peaches to random people before their set and told them to"Eat a Peach." That was hysterical. I was right up close for their set too.

 

Tedeschi Trucks played a killer version of Keep on Growing from the Layla album. Wow. Petty was ok but I was too tired and it was a set that had no spontaneity. Each song mirrored the record.

 

The jam bands didn't do much for me. String Cheese were great but they did like five sets over two days. Too much cheese can leave you blocked up you know. Widespread Panic were great doing Traffic with Winwood but bored me to death on their own. Ditto Umphrys McGee. The various Dead incarnations were a mixed bag too. One night I enjoyed Lesh doing the dead but when the rain interrupted his set the next night I was the one who was grateful.

 

I have tix for the Ryman shows, if they had been announced earlier I would have skipped Lockn but I survived and have stories to tell. See you in Nashville!

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There is no argument. VIP section generate plenty bananas. Festival yurt with shower also big bananas, but best by percentage margin is merch stand with tote bag.

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Gee, I am so thankful, my Lockn' experience was very different from Wilco Me's and Alex's.  Confess (without any shame whatsoever) right up front, we did the VIP (non-camping) package.  Went with 2 buddies, one of my best friends in Boston for 34 years, and one of my best friends from home since 7th grade who came in from LA. He and I started seeing Hot Tuna, the Dead and the Allmans together in '73, so to be at Lockn' together in 2014 was truly special.  At ages 56 and 57, was no way we could do this without the VIP pass (which I think was only $100 more as an early bird than a standard 4 day pass).  

 

I had cell service the entire time (AT&T), the sound system was the best I've ever heard at a festival, and the music over 4 days was fantastic. My only negatives musically were Willie Nelson and Petty. Thought the second Phil set was weak at the time, but have since listened to it and it sounds much better than I thought at the time. Having side by side stages was amazing, never a break in the action.  For comparatively old timers, we managed to be out listening to acoustic Derek and Susan, Hot Tuna and Bustle at the camping stages until the wee hours on 2 of the nights.  I thought the festival was run exceptionally well, especially after all the crap they went through last year.  No traffic getting in and out every day (we hoteled it in Lynchburg), food and breweries galore, people were awesome everywhere.  Having the VIP lounge serving free food until 2:00 a.m. every night definitely helped.

 

I had no issues with the location of the VIP area in front of the stages.  Obviously this was not a Wilco show or festival, so to think you're going to have the same experience as Solid Sound is not reasonable.  Wilco had 5:00 p.m. sets both days, definitely not headliners but there was plenty of interest in their shows as the attached photo will attest.  The photo taken on my phone without zoom on the rail towards the stage Wilco was on, so you can get a sense of the VIP viewing area.  I had no complaints whatsoever.

 

Ready to do it again next year.

 

fotor_(2) (2).jpg

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I don't know, I guess it's a different experience for everyone, I had no VIP, just went Saturday and Sunday and thought the Lockin' crew did an awesome job!  I'm not a rail rat, I'm an old retired sound engineer, I "hear" a band I don't "see" a band, besides I can't stay in one place all day, I need the freedom to get a drink or eat and not deal with a crowd of sardines, so we went straight to rail behind VIP, the crowd was manageable and the sound was great, I loved the whole deal, they did this one right, if it were closer I'd go every year.

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I don't know, I guess it's a different experience for everyone, I had no VIP, just went Saturday and Sunday and thought the Lockin' crew did an awesome job!  I'm not a rail rat, I'm an old retired sound engineer, I "hear" a band I don't "see" a band, besides I can't stay in one place all day, I need the freedom to get a drink or eat and not deal with a crowd of sardines, so we went straight to rail behind VIP, the crowd was manageable and the sound was great, I loved the whole deal, they did this one right, if it were closer I'd go every year.

"so we went straight to rail behind VIP", I probably walked right by you many times.

 

thought the sound was great wherever I went.  I'm not a retired sound engineer, so I don't know how to describe it or how they got it so good, but it was that good.  The bass/low end had our shirts physically vibrating, without any distortion. 

 

I tip my hat to Peter Shapiro.  He runs a first rate operation at Brooklyn Bowl, the Cap in Portchester (from what I hear, making my first appearance there for Wilco) and now got their act together at Lockn'.

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