NY’s instrumental progressive rock band, Tauk, opened the main stage with an insane breakdown of The Beatles’ “She’s So Heavy”. Tauk kept fans cool with fluid segues and refreshing grooves, which have appeared on Sirius/XM JamOn. When asked about plans for fall tour, bassist Charles Dolan beamed that they have shows booked until January, with a Halloween gig being announced soon.
Friday began steamy, as the 6 piece bluegrass plucking madness of Cabinet took the stage, followed by Del McCoury Band, who dressed in their finest suits to play harmonious and authentic folk tunes. Drive By Truckers brought a classic rock ‘n’ roll sound with the help from four screaming guitars and simple lyrics. Their “Grand Canyon” set closer sent layers of ringing guitar riffs echoing across the field.
The String Cheese Incident returned to the main stage for a second night of two sets, much to the delight of fans. This Colorado band rarely tours the East Coast, making their appearance at Lockn’ even more special. The set was light and breezy with caribbean vibes that drove the crowd wild. The set took a turn towards electrified bluegrass when Sam Bush joined in on fiddle for one of their more popular new songs, “Colorado Bluebird Sky.”
A last-minute addition to this year’s lineup was Bill Kreutzmann’s Locknstep Allstars, stepping up to fill the gap left when Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir cancelled his appearance. The Allstars included keyboardist Aron Magner from Disco Biscuits, guitarist Tom Hamilton from American Babies & Brothers Past, ace guitarist Steve Kimock and the legendary bassist Oteil Burbridge of the Allman Brothers Band. The musicians shared intense chemistry, gliding through the set of Dead classics, with sit-ins by Keller Williams for “Bird Song” and Taj Mahal for “Further on Down The Road.” Kreutzmann’s set closed with “Franklin’s Tower”, a Dead cover played later by Phil Lesh and Friends (one of many “cover collisions” throughout the weekend).
The last main stage act was Phil Lesh, Grateful Dead bassist and founder, along with his Friends, drummer Joe Russo (Furthur), keyboardist John Medeski (Medeski Martin & Wood), legendary jazz guitarist John Scofield, and guitarist Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule, Allman Brothers) for a two hour set of improvisational spacey jams. They kicked off the party with a festive “China Cat Sunflower”. It was refreshing to hear other band’s covers such as Traffic’s “Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys” and Cream’s “Sunshine of your Love”. Deadheads rejoiced to hear familiar favorites such as “Shakedown Street” and a lengthy “Unbroken Chain”, a dark and mysterious “Mountains of the Moon” and a furious “The Other One”, followed by Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy”. Curiously, Phil Lesh and Friends closed with “Franklin’s Tower”, which was also played earlier by Bill Kreutzmann’s Locknstep Allstars.
The warm summer night was capped off with a beautiful acoustic Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi set on the Triangle Stage, and Chris Robinson Brotherhood on the Relix Shakedown Stage, who performed one Black Crowes cover, “Tornado”, and mostly originals, such as “Shore Power”, from their new album, Phosphorescent Harvest, along with a smokin’ version of “Never Been to Spain” (by Hoyt Axton). Chris Robinson closed the evening with an intense version of Slim Harpo’s “Got Love If You Want It.”
Saturday brought blazing sunshine and high humidity for Lockn’ fans, eager for two more days of incredible music. It was so hot that even the speakers were sweating. The steamy afternoon started on the Oak Stage with the bluegrass expertise of Larry Keel & Sam Bush, joined by Larry’s wife Jenny Keel on upright bass. The music shifted to upbeat rock, as Ween guitarist Aaron Freeman (aka “Gene Ween”) took the Ridge Stage, playing a new song (as of yet untitled), starting off with the crowd scratching their heads. He rocked through “All the Way to China”, and “Covert Discretion”, the latter a song about saving himself from his chemical dependency. He played most of the songs off of his new album, Freeman, which are very philosophical stories of his life and the battles with various influences of fame.