The days are shortening, the school shopping is already underway, but there’s still some summer to be had. One of the last big music festivals of the season is almost upon us. LOCKN’, or the Interlocking Festival if you’re not into the whole brevity thing, will take place Thursday, August 25 through Sunday, August 28 nestled amongst the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Central Virginia. And if brevity truly is not your thing, than this truly is the festival for you. There will be jams, jams on jams, jams on toast, and toasty jams. In this, its fourth year, the festival’s propensity for booking the top names in the jam band world has reached epic heights. Just looking at the schedule is enough to make your head spin, your eyes glaze over and your chin to become wet with drool.
There’s really nothing to complain about with a lineup like that, in that location at this time. It should prove to be an incredible weekend. It’s all so exciting! But here are the 10 things we are MOST excited about:
- No Decisions Necessary
Festivals are a great way to see a ton of music in a short period of time, but they come with a hefty price. You’re always left with some difficult decisions when multiple bands on your list are playing at the same time. It can be a source of great stress. Not so at LOCKN’. There are no overlapping sets at the main concert field, so every incredible band on the schedule can be seen guilt and stress free.
- Playing Dead
From the beginning, LOCKN’ has had a strong ever present connection to the Grateful Dead, and this year is no different. It isn’t a question of IF we’ll pull into Terrapin Station, but how many times? Appropriately in August, the all-important month in the life of Jerry Garcia, there will be more than enough opportunities to celebrate the big man. LOCKN’ might be 2016’s best chance to do so, in fact. Two nights of best-in-class Dead cover band Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, two nights and two unique lineups of Phil Lesh and Friends (including Page McConnell, John Fishman, Joe Russo, Anders Osborne, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Chris Robinson’s Brotherhood), two different tribute sets by Keller Williams, and the first-ever performance by Circles Around the Sun, the band behind the Dead-inspired music featured during the set breaks of the Fare Thee Well broadcasts last summer. All that, and you can also head to Garcia’s Forest to listen to classic recordings of the man himself.
- Rock and Roll All Night!
Top-notch rock and roll music fills out the later night time sets at LOCKN’. With My Morning Jacket, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gary Clark Jr., Peter Wolf (from J. Geils Band), Chris Robinson Brotherhood and two full nights of the recently reunited Ween, get ready for a heaping helping of guitar shredding and fist-pumping anthems. Just take Saturday for example. You’ll get to hear Jim James, Derek Trucks and Anders Osborne (with Phil Lesh) show off their guitar mastery in consecutive sets to close out the night. And you don’t have to miss a single second due to point number one above. Let that settle in, then we’ll meet you down there at number four.
- Party Every Day
In order to get to the evenings’ rocking climaxes, a funky get down will be had. Your LOCKN’ days are filled with the likes of New Orleans funksters Galactic, classic soul-stirrer Charles Bradley, reggae giants The Wailers, the raw funk of Vulfpeck, New York City’s colorful dance partiers Turkuaz and on and on. Dancing will not be optional.
If there’s one thing LOCKN’ delivers on, it’s guest artists. Unlike in past years, this lineup is fairly light on the planned sit-ins. Harmonica legend Lee Oskar is set to join Galactic during their set, and Gary Clark Jr. will play some with Phil Lesh on Sunday (whose entire bands could be considered sit-ins). It wouldn’t even be considered gambling if you were to put money on there being more mixing of the artists, though. It’s as good as guaranteed. Speculation is fun in this regard, and the possibilities really are endless. So many bands are familiar with each other in this lineup, and those that aren’t would sound so good with each other. Hey, if Page McConnell can sit in with Twiddle anything is possible, right? And maybe there’ll be a repeat performance? Feel free to share some of your guest predictions with us!
- Super VIP Sets
If you are attending LOCKN’ as a Super VIP you’ll have access to the super-special intimate performances listed above, including a Saturday night triple-bass attack from three of the best in the business, Phil Lesh, Mike Gordon and Dave Schools. If this is too good to pass up, don’t fret, tickets are still available, including the possibility of upgrading your current ticket.
- Blue Ridge Bowl
Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, the Blue Ridge Bowl is the place to satisfy your desire to fill every waking hour with live music. Boasting early morning sets from Upstate New York’s zydeco-inflected folkies Donna the Buffalo and the aforementioned Keller Williams Dead tribute sets. Late night brings Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and Boston funk stalwarts Lettuce.
Despite what your cousin’s friend’s girlfriend told you, Khruangbin is not Incan for “Secret Phish Set.” In fact, it is Thai for “Engine Fly” but the band actually hails from Texas. The music is inspired by the psychedelic sounds of 60’s-era Thai funk, and this is the loungy groovy late-night set you’ve always wanted. They’ll be at the small Woods Stage on Saturday night. Circles Around the Sun will grace the same stage Friday night, while EOTO gets the late night segment of the festival started there on Thursday night.
- Contemplating the Universe Under Nature’s Light Show After a Long Day of Jamming
Yeah, we just went there. Have you seen where you’ll be?
LOCKN’ encourages attendees to bring their bikes to get around on site, and/or just to go joy-riding on the miles of trails meandering around the beautiful environs. There will be guided rides, rentals available, the opportunity to demo an Orbea MTB, and even free maintenance. Bikes can be ridden to the concert site, but not in the concert site, and racks will be available to park your bike before entering. All biking activities originate at the Wheelhouse.
- Wait, Did We Forget Anything?
Oh right, save some room in the tank because Friday and Sunday nights finish up with full two-set shows from Phish!
And we’re still completely glossing over LOCKN’ ‘lumni Umphrey’s McGee, back for the third straight year, Twiddle, Hard Working Americans, Brandi Carlile, White Denim and all the fresh young talent opening up each day. The promoters have left no stone unturned, buckle up it’s going to be one hell of a ride.