The eighth annual Levitate Music Festival took place July 7 and 8, hosted by the Levitate Surf Shop at the Marshfield Fairgrounds. The two day event featured three stages, the Soul Stage (smallest), Style Stage (mid-sized), and Stoke Stage (main); each stage featured killer musicians, both local and national touring acts. The weather remained hot and sunny all weekend, which the festival aided with free sunscreen dispensers all across the grounds.
One of the coolest parts of this year’s Levitate was their move towards an eco-friendly festival experience. Attendees could purchase metal cups to use at the Reverb water-filling stations, or at the many beer tents around the grounds, receiving a $1 discount for purchasing the cups. There were also several compost tents, and some food vendors even served their food on biodegradable plates. Spread across the grounds were numerous local food trucks, one of the most popular being the Sweet Tomatoes pizza truck, which constantly had a line longer than the bathrooms.
Samantha Fish was one of the more surprising sets of the first day, bringing her soulful blues playing and outstanding voice to the Soul Stage, surprising many festivalgoers that were passing by. Immediately following her and her band’s performance was Vermont-native jam band Twiddle, who seemed to have drawn their fans from all over New England. The quartet played the recently dusted off “Frankenfoote,” much to the crowd’s bemusement, and clearly seemed to enjoy being back in their home field after their recent cross-country tour with Stick Figure. Robert Randolph & The Family Band brought their gospel-blues fusion sound to the Soul Stage following Twiddle’s performance, and among their many covers, brought out Samantha Fish for a fiery rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s famous “Voodoo Child,” which had the crowd dancing and singing along all the way back to the soundboard.
Slightly Stoopid and Stick Figure brought their reggae stylings and roots music to the Style and Stoke stages before the main event of the fest, Trey Anastasio Trio, took to the main stage. Trey’s trio actually became a quartet for the set, featuring Ray Paczkowski on the keyboards for his second show back since the recent removal of a brain tumor. The quartet played a mixture of Trey Anastasio Band and Phish songs, opening with the uplifting summer jam “Blaze On,” a song about being carefree and keeping on, which fit the atmosphere of the fest well. Trey was visibly excited to be onstage, probably due to having just played in Central Park the previous night, and the forthcoming start of Phish’s annual summer tour. After a unique rendition of TAB’s “Cayman Review,” the group broke into even more Phish classics, such as the jam vehicles “Gotta Jibboo” and “Sand,” as well as the fan-favorite “Farmhouse.” The highlight of the set was the segment of “Bug > Undermind > First Tube” at the end of the set, featuring the deepest jams of the night. After the usual climactic ending of “First Tube,” Trey came out with an acoustic to perform solo versions of the bittersweet love song “Waste” and the joyful “More,” and asked the crowd to cheer as loud as they could for Ray when the rest of the band came out. The deafening roar of the attendees seemed to embarrass Ray—-though they made Trey smile and laugh—and the group broke into their final song of the evening, “Push On Til’ The Day.”
On the second day of the fest, the Style Stage featured a lot of the best acts. The day was kicked off by Spafford, a first timer at Levitate, who have been on fire all summer long. The group played a near-20-minute version of their heavy hitter “Blackfoot Funk,” and a stellar version of one of their newest tunes “Broken Wing,” the fast paced rocker that heavily showcases the rhythmic abilities of bassist Jordan Fairless and drummer Cameron Laforest. The group closed out the set with “Space Gadget,” a more progressive song that features the famous main melody of Inspector Gadget theme, a request made by a fan who recently released an Inspector Gadget pin. Following Spafford were Brooklyn’s favorite funk group, the 9-piece Turkuaz, who got everyone up and dancing in the warm summer heat. Their set featured the always-entertaining “Percy Thrills, The Moon Dog,” as well as the Sami Garrett-led “Tiptoe Through the Crypto,” a song that really exemplifies her impressive vocal range. After Turkuaz came the popular bluegrass group Greensky Bluegrass, whose set featured a couple sit ins from some big names. The first sit in had singer-songwriter Ryan Montbleau sitting in on Coolio’s magnum opus, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which had a bit of a Greensky flair on it. The whole crowd was singing along with the rap anthem, really enjoying the group’s interesting take on the song. The second sit in featured guitarist Brian Moss of Spafford on their original “Kerosene,” which was taken over by Moss towards the end with an impressive solo on his beloved guitar “The Raven.”
Of all the big names that were featured on the main stage, Lake Street Dive stoke the show as always with their upbeat, soulful swing sound. The set showcased many of the group’s popular originals, including “I Don’t Care About You,” “Good Kisser,” and “Baby Don’t Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts,” as well as an impressive cover of Shania Twain’s “You’re Still The One.” Over on the Soul Stage, Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle hosted a “Mihali and Frends Community Jam” set to close out the festival, which featured a hefty lineup, including Eli Winderman and Rob Compa of Dopapod, Zdenek Gubb of Twiddle, Russ Lawton of Trey Anastasio Band, and many, many more. The set consisted mainly of covers, most impressively John Lennon’s “Stand By Me,” led by a guy named Hitch on acoustic guitar, and Alanis Morrissette’s classic “You Oughta Know,” led by Rob Compa, whose vocals were eerily similar to Morrissette’s.
The eighth annual Levitate Music and Arts Festival was a major success, especially in the way of their green initiative. The festival will return next year and years to come, most likely with an even more impressive lineup and even better food. Check out the photo gallery below for a taste of what the weekend was like.