The wait to get into All Good on Thursday afternoon was around three hours. My group spent the better part of one hour at a total standstill surrounded by open fields and secluded homes on a winding, hilly road that appeared to lead to nowhere. After 20 minutes of not moving, people grew restless and started getting out of their cars to converse with one another, make new friends, and try to find out what the hold up was.
Later, around 6 o’clock, we were guided to the very northern edge of Marvin’s Mountaintop and all the way around its perimeter. We parked on a hill (literally, with no other options) and set up camp. At first seemingly far away from the main stages, a shortcut along the eastern woodline and through the Grassroots Stage area let us bypass the main path to save a few extra steps and yield a less-crowded walk.
This three-piece “electro-acoustic, experimental, and dance” group from Oakland, CA played ribbiting low-end bass and rumbling lines of dub from producers David Satori and Sidecar Tommy. Integrated with live belly dancing by Zoe Jakes, the Beats Antique experience was heavily influenced by Middle Eastern culture and down-tempo bass beats. Jakes, a mesmerizing exotic dancer (dressed in an antler headdress, exposed midsection, and long flowing skirt) combined traditional belly dancing with modern pop-n-lock technique- resulting in sexy robot-esque moves in the arms and torso.
JOHN BUTLER TRIO
In what would prove to be the best performance of the weekend, the first half of John Butler Trio’s set was expressive, benevolent, and bubbly. Early songs included opener “One Way Road” and Grand National favorite “Used To Get High”. In honor of the festival lifestyle and mindset, Butler explained the meaning behind a lot of the songs they played- blatantly stating “If you can’t lose your mind here, you can’t lose your mind anywhere” and singing songs about stripping oneself from reality.
On All Good’s first night, the audience was lively and the weather was perfect. Butler commented on the vividly bright full moon, as well as a decorated inflatable whale being bounced across the audience. “I hope that psychedelic snail-slug thing is helping the night,” he joked with his audience. Later, during a lively rendition of “Treat Yo Mama”, a large, white, multi-person Chinese dragon costume wove through the crowd directly in front of me.
“We’ve been on tour for the last month and a half,” Butler explained half-way through the set. “So, I recently met with my cubs and my queen in New York and they’re here tonight!” He continued to talk about the side project that he and wife Danielle Caruana (whose stage name is Mama Kin) write music under, Brave and the Bird. He called her to the stage and they performed a beautifully written folk tune called “Jenny”.
The remainder of the show was a whirlwind of classic favorites dressed up with special solos and contagiously high energy. Speaking and playing with genuine inner peace and positivity, the John Butler Trio poses the power to please in a special way- a way that leaves fans feeling invigorated and copiously happy.Cited by many as their favorite show of the entire weekend, the Thursday night headliner unquestioningly exceed expectations across the board.
Aside from music-talk, the biggest item of news appeared to be the installation of a Ferris wheel on the northern end of main road All Good Avenue. “I’ve been here for the last seven years and there hasn’t never been a Ferris wheel!” I overheard an excited All Good veteran as I headed to catch the first round of shows. It was a fine addition to the already-breathtaking All Good scenery, especially at night when it’s flashy and bright light show could been seen in the distance from atop the giant hill in the concert bowl.
During that same walk, I also noticed groups of smart campers huddled around maps discussing landmarks nearby their site (giant sign, red jeep, flashing lights, etc.) to identify their home amongst the hundreds of tents. On a festival’s move-in day, this simple (yet very important) trick is how to differentiate the vets from the rookies.
Early weather forecasts predicted rain on Marvin’s Mountaintop Thursday and Friday but we completely avoided precipitation through the weekend. The sun shone bright during the day, but temperatures dropped rather drastically when the sun set each night on the mountain- often calling for a change of warm clothes in a matter of minutes.
Stay tuned for more All Good coverage in the coming days!