As the sun lowered behind the Blue Ridge Mountains, bathing the show field and it’s patrons in an opulent cloak of sun-kissed finery, the Mount Zion First African Baptist Choir paraded onto the main stage to welcome patrons to the 2017 LOCKN’ Music Festival. A sense of contentment swirled with eager anticipation permeated the crowd as the National Anthem and “Amazing Grace” drifted through the air.
A moment of silence in honor of recent events in Charlottesville unified the respectfully silent crowd before local group Kendall Street Company took to the stage to get into the festival groove with some homegrown, incredibly danceable tunes. Their tight instrumentation and seasoned rock sound defied their youthful visage boldly displayed on the larger screens bordering both sides of the stage. Lead vocalist Louis Smith uttered the lyrics, “We are here now, so come along,” an inviting sentiment as patrons continued to accumulate near the stage. At one point Smith exclaimed, “I need to get things that fit tighter on my head. I’ve lost my glasses, I’ve lost my hat.” It was a fair representation of his energetic performance.
Luckily LOCKN’ provides a general store on the grounds with a variety of essentials for anyone, musicians and attendees alike, if they find themselves lacking something they can’t do without. Umphrey’s McGee did not seem to forget anything behind, producing an incredibly lively follow-up to Kendall Street Company. As night fell, the show field continued to populate with head banging humans, approving with jovial cheers and applause as Umphrey’s flooded the audience with dazzling lights and heart pumping jams.
As Umphrey’s first set concluded, the stage gracefully spun 180 degrees as The String Cheese Incident flawlessly picked up where Umphrey’s left off, with no time wasted. Lead vocalist/guitarist Keith Moseley donned a flat brim with a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses, as if trying to remain incognito while playing their unique brand of bluegrass rock to thousands of spectators. During their set, some crowd members couldn’t resist the urge to release handfuls of vibrant glow sticks through the inky air despite being banned on festival grounds. They are a time-honored tradition that will die hard despite known environmental and personal health hazards. During their performance of “Texas,” the rhythm provided an almost salsa-like feel that even reflected in the bouncy footwork of the more enthusiastic dancers in the crowd.
Umphrey’s and String Cheese each produced one more set seamlessly sharing the stage as festival goers danced, mingled, sampled the vast assortment of food and brews provided by local restaurants and breweries. At the conclusion of String Cheese set two, another seamless transition to the Relix stage took place as The Disco Biscuits took up residence to carry on the heavy and never-ending musical stimulation that LOCKN’ executes so well.