Photos and story by: Ellie Salrin
All Good 2013 was a colorful explosion of flawless performances and an experience full of many beautiful sights, sounds, and people. Located in Legend Valley near Columbus, Ohio, the festival drew people from all over the country with its bonkers lineup of legends like Furthur and Primus, electronic superstars STS9 and Pretty Lights, and bluegrass powerhouses Yonder Mountain String Band and Keller Williams with the Travelin’ McCourys. The incredible variety of music was what made the crowd here a unique and outrageous bunch; we all seemed like old friends being reunited.
The majestic hillside was one of the best aspects of the festival. The two main stages were set up side by side in a natural outdoor amphitheater. The venue has been hosting concerts since the late 70’s, with artists like the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, AC/DC, and Def Leppard gracing the stage. I haven’t been to any of All Good’s previous venues, but Legend Valley is an amazing home for the festival. You can see the stages well from anywhere on the hillside, even from the top where the glorious giant white Buddha sits and smiles over the festivities.
Music began at , allowing everyone time to arrive, set up, and get the good vibes flowing. Toubab Krewe warmed everyone up with their blend of West African desert blues and surf rock as the sun began to descend over the beautiful hills. Papadosio hit the stage with their galactic, trippy grooves and psychedelic visuals. They fused guitar, bass, drums, a two-headed keyboard and synth attack seamlessly, taking us on a kaleidoscopic journey. Funk masters Lettuce put on a rowdy set that sent everyone into a boogie frenzy, before Yonder played two hours of knee-slappin’ bluegrass while I sat at the top of the hill watching with Buddha and my big, bearded partner-in-crime who goes by Parky.
rolled around which meant time to go down the musical rabbit hole with Beats Antique. Talented musicians met sensual spectacle with David Satori’s world music expressed via guitar, synth, drums, violin, trumpet, and banjo (yeah, the guy’s a genius), Zoe Jakes’ large marching band drum, mischievously seductive belly dancing, and “what-the-hell?” creepy fingers dancing behind a screen, topped off with Tommy Cappel’s perfect percussion. They have such a sexy, intriguing sound that is purely exotic and utterly genre-defying. Essentially, All Good didn’t waste any time in getting the party started.
The sun was scorching most of the day, leaving us attempting to stay cool under our easy-ups. Thankfully, the outskirts of a storm blew by and with it completely removed the heat and left a nice cool breeze that stayed with us throughout the night. I had preserved my energy during the day, absolutely euphoric due to the preposterous fact we were going to see two hours of Primus and two hours of Tribe that evening. Time to get weird. As evening approached, Digital Tape Machine entertained with dancey electro jamtronica. Made up of Kris Meyers (drummer) and Joel Cummins (keyboardist) of Umphrey’s McGee, as well as members of four other bands including Strange Arrangement, this group thrives in the festival environment and knows how to have fun.
Primus was up next and if you haven’t seen them, please do. This was my second time, having seen them once before when they demolished Summer Camp Music Festival in 2012. They’ve been a rock band since the 80’s and these guys are legends. Les Claypool has the strangest, most commanding stage presence of any artist I’ve seen. They have a penchant for wearing creepy masks and have bizarre yet amazing visuals splattering behind them as they wail heavy heavy twangy bass riffs among wobbly accented sounds and vocals. Quite the set, illuminated by a big beaming moon shining overhead. They left the audience not knowing what to do with themselves until fireworks began shooting off, making the moment even more epic. The Bridge began playing on the other stage with great energy and groovy danceable funky bluegrassy rock.
Suddenly, we were in between artists which meant it was Tribe time. They came out to Damian Marley and Nas’ Welcome to Jamrock, immediately got down to business and as predicted, tore the entire hillside apart. The intergalactic electro rock jamband they are, they took us on a trip through heavy throwdown anthems, softer smooth, sexy grooves, hand-drum heavy hip swayers like Rent, and beautiful ballads like Circus. My heart skipped a beat everytime Murph would slap that bass and when their set ended at we were all left to our own devices, high on the enchanting evening we’d just conquered together. I certainly wasn’t going to bed anytime soon, so we tromped over to the Grassroots stage on the other side of the campgrounds to check out Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad. They were the cherry on top of a perfect day, throwing down Rastafari inspired reggae dub, singing about ganga and good vibes, with that characteristically calming syncopation that only reggae can effectively execute.
Raindrops lulled me into a deep sleep around dawn , pouring down from the gray clouds for most of the morning. It cleared up for the most part in the afternoon, making way for another lovely day of music. Grace Potter belted out the lyrics with that phenomenal voice of hers, finishing strong with Rolling Stones cover Gimme Shelter.
Furthur began their four hour set at dusk and the anticipation was palpable. Comprised of Grateful Dead members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, Furthur perpetuates the Dead’s music. Their role in the jam band genre as well as music festival culture is unparalleled, and the boys always bring crowds of thousands to smile for hours. The sky shone hot pink as we were dazzled by classic favorites and some fantastic covers. Grace Potter made two cameos, playing guitar and singing in Friend of the Devil then singing and smoldering in Turn on your Lovelight. As Further left the stage, the firework show began for round two. The Werks were up next and played what could be described as dance party jam music with some fabulous improv.
Pretty Lights concluded the festivities with a two hour set. He blasted away some favorites from A Color Map of the Sun, with sounds of sexy female vocals, hip hop samples, and horns encapsulated in full-bodied, bass-heavy electro soul that made the entire hillside bounce. He also paid homage to his roots with tantalizing Cold Feeling, classic Finally Moving, and switched things up with Grateful Dead/Furthur shoutout Shakedown Street. The valley was illuminated by purple and green lights and lazers from the stage, as well as hundreds of LED hoops, fire dancers, various glowing objects, and a fat silver moon to top it off - some very pretty lights indeed. Stomping in my rubber boots and wrapped in an American flag, I vibrated and gyrated as Derek’s momentum built. I contemplated how at that moment, I had found my American Dream...the wonder and freedom of being in such a beautiful place with thousands of magnificent people, dancing, drinking beer, laughing, and getting to see some of the best musical acts out there today while debaucherous shenanigans ensue. It was fucking paradise.
This was the 17th annual All Good, and it was evident by the overall organization. The beer situation was fantastic - a great selection of beers including a few types of Sierra Nevada, Yuengling lager, and Budweiser varieties all for $4-5. Plastic All Good tumblers for $1 were used to serve the beer, which you kept to refill, leaving the grounds free of plastic cups and giving the attendees something to take home. There were mist tents that were lifesavers as it did get hot the first couple days. Walk through one of those bad boys and you were ten degrees cooler and feeling like a million bucks.
I cannot advocate the stage setup enough. With the two main stages side by side, you did not even have to move to the other stage to see the next artist. With no overlapping sets, there was no need to choose between two shows, keep track of who was playing where, or even know what time it was. No need for hundreds of artists on 10 stages...I would prefer a festival to spend their dollars on a more succinct lineup of stellar, quality artists.
From the gray-haired hippies in tie dye to the new dubstep kids in their fishnets and neon, there was fun for everyone. All good things at All Good.
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