A gentle breeze wafted across the festival grounds to keep festival goers cool on Saturday for the third day of LOCKN’. Nashville group Los Colognes helped start off the day at the Relix stage a bit before noon, with a few enthusiastic dancers already in the mood to move. One older gentleman with a silver ponytail beneath a weathered safari hat and donning a brown kilt pranced around the gravel pit directly in front of the stage.
Not to be outdone, a toddler sporting a billowing batman cape and brandishing a brightly colored parasol flitted about observing the black fabric flap wildly behind him. Los Colognes conducting their own dance on stage, showcased their instrumental finesse in the way they would carefully build up the momentum in their sound, which kept the crowd engaged in their performance.
A very enthusiastic crowd flocked to the field to see Pigeons Playing Ping Pong fly away with some energetic funky grooves that got the entire pit jumping to the beat. Ping pong balls were flung through the air in every direction, just as some toss glow sticks during their favorite jams. Lead singer Greg Ormont adores his flock, as Pigeon fans are fittingly named, as evidenced by the warm gratitude he expressed to the crowd throughout the set.
Attendees raged to their animated cover of “Psycho Killer,” and solicited loud cheers when Ormont, Jeremy Schon (guitar) and Ben Carrey (bass) all spun in unison with their instruments, clearly having as much fun on stage as the crowd was below. At one point Ormont proudly decreed, “I think it’s officially FLOCKN’!” Their performance of “Couldn’t We All” immediately brought Charlottesville back to people’s hearts as the band repeated the line “couldn’t we all just get along” before Ormont, arms outstretched, paused briefly and smiled widely before diving back into their spritely brand of jam.
Virginia native Keller Williams took up residence on the main stage with a guitar and some pedals to loop in his own effects. He put forth a low key, but upbeat set as people mulled about, many lounging happily in the dusty grass. A woman tapping on a hand drum offered it to the curious toddler gazing in her direction, mesmerized by the toy, but unsure what to do with it. The scene painted a heartwarming snapshot of the countless friendly interactions igniting across the festival grounds as complete strangers crossed paths and became friends.
The energy shifted drastically as Greensky Bluegrass emerged, standing almost shoulder-to-shoulder armed with their instrument of choice, emitting their powerful barrage of mountain music. Some audience members displayed their sense of humor carrying poles with an assortment of figures mounted atop. One of the most recognizable was none other than the beloved character Wilson, the white volleyball marked with a blood red handprint from the movie Castaway. It’s owner freely passed Wilson on a stick to anyone desiring to dance with it.
Lead vocalist Dave Bruzza took a moment to appreciate playing the festival and commented, “This is awesome. I watched this from my couch last year.” The crowd laughed and cheered in response, recognizing Bruzza’s supremely upgraded festival experience from last year. Greensky closed out their set with “Atlantic City” to loud cheers of the crowd, beautifully timed with the sunset as their last views of the crowd were awash in glimmering golden hues.
Once again the main stage rotated to unveil John Butler Trio, who opened their set with “Cold Wind.” Butler then addressed the crowd stating, “Before we go any further, we’d like to pay our respects to the Native American people whose land we’re on today,” referring to the lands of Nelson County that the Monocan tribe originally called home. Butler is well-known for tying social, environmental and political issues into his songs, and his audience enthusiastically responded. He dedicated his next song “I’d Do Anything (Soldier’s Lament),” expressing, “To all the soldiers, may they call come home.”
Following that he lightheartedly explained, “The intro to this next song is called ‘My Little Pony on Crystal Meth.’ I want to see that image at least once in my life. I dunno why I want to see that, but I just do.” He then quickly transitioned to “Better Than,” followed by “I Used to Get High.” Again Butler addressed to crowd to say, “On the day we arrived in your country we witnessed a whole bunch of bigotry… So we dropped this new song and it’s very fitting. It’s called “Bully.” The tune embarked with an electric guitar distortion that sounded like an emergency siren before engaging in a heavy hard rock sound.
Next Butler brought out his acoustic for his meditative solo of “Ocean,” a full hand of long fingernails picking furiously as the crowd swayed. Butler continued to tie political awareness into his performance, at one point stating, “This is a great time to be playing music,” in reference to the power of creativity to fuel positive change within the community.
Classic rock legend, John Fogerty, singer and songwriter of Creedance Clearwater Revival, pulled out all the hits in an explosive set opening with “Green River,” “Born on the Bayou” “Suzie Q” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain.” A jovial gentleman then trotted across the stage for an accordion solo as the crowd cheered him on. The band followed with “Lookin’ out My Back Door,” and Fogerty continued to wow the crowd with his non-stop energy, building momentum and at some points mixing rapid elements of punk rock into his performance.
Widespread took to the stage for a jam that pushed into “Fishwater” which included Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” “Who Do You Belong To?” and the ending of “Fishwater” to start the night off. Other highlights of their energetic headlining set included Dylan’s “A Hard Rains Gonna Fall” and a monster verison of “You Should be Glad” to end it.
When Joe Russo’s Almost Dead took the stage, Bob Weir joined shortly after “Althea” for “Black Throated Wind” and a “Jack Straw” that pushed Bobby’s limits as he was sweating and gave a look of relief when the build up finally paid off and he could simmer things down into to end “Straw.” A stellar version of “The Wheel” included a ‘Benevento/Russo Duo-esque’ jam for the ages and Weir joined the band for the finale of the expected “One More Saturday Night.”