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WERS Spends the Day at the Levitate Festival

Music Reviews :: 07.14.16

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Alex LaRosa:

This Saturday, the Levitate Music Festival took over the Marshfield Fairgrounds with three stages of music, dozens of vendors, and a sold-out crowd of 10,000 people. WERS was there, taking in all the sights and sounds of this event, from when the gates opened to when the Tedeschi Trucks Band played the final note of the evening.

Gates opened at noon, and spectators were greeted with an expansive, grassy field, strewn with vendor tents, food trucks, and various artists and performers. Among the attractions were a giant-sized chessboard, a small skateboarding half-pipe made of plywood, and of course, the music. Kicking things off at about 12:20 p.m. was Ron Gallo and his band, which took the stage, welcomed their audience, and then burst into a frenzied song called “Young Lady, You’re Scaring Me.”

Not long afterwards, at 12:45, the opposite side of the fairgrounds drew a decent crowd who had gathered to watch The Movement play. On this end of the fairgrounds, reggae reigned supreme, and a carefree attitude took hold, exemplified by picnic blankets and hula-hoop dancers who dotted the grass. The Movement’s phaser pedal-soaked jams kept spirits high during their show.

Over on the bluesy side of the fairgrounds, Moon Taxi was the next to take the stage. Evoking the Grateful Dead at times, they drew a larger crowd and kept the music loose and fun, with their alluring sound and tangible bass lines. Close to the end of their set, they played a tasteful cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” which clearly drew more inspiration from the Jimi Hendrix version than from Dylan’s original.

At 2:00, the reggae resumed, as Twiddle took the stage and played a set of cheery, laid-back tunes under a growing cloud of smoke. One of the best performances of the afternoon came from Nahko and Medicine for the People, who promised to use their music as inspiration in difficult times. As rows of fans sang along with the lyrics, frontman Nahko Bear and his group delivered an almost-religious moment that had people moving their bodies and raising their hands with hope.

Across the fairgrounds, Stick Figure kept the groove going, entertaining throngs of people as well as a cardboard cutout of Tom Brady, which had made its appearance in the haze of smoke. They closed out their show with an ode to the marijuana plant and praised the Levitate Festival for being “bigger, better, more beautiful” each year.

The North Mississippi All-Stars hit the stage next with a sturdy set of hard driving blues-rock. Replete with 12-bar progressions, they reminded the audience that today, their music would serve as “a prayer for peace.” Another reggae act, Lettuce, brought a bona-fide jam band attitude to their set, which kicked off at 5:45.

Los Lobos was next, and guaranteed “nothin’ but a party tonight.” They delivered on that, serving up longer versions of their songs, and a drum solo in the middle of “That Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore.” They departed with goodbyes in Spanish, giving way to the last reggae show, which saw Rebelution taking the stage. As they said in one of their relaxed refrains, Rebelution was there with a mission of “bringing only good vibes.” Their prominent horn section received much love from the audience as they led up to the night’s final show.

In the headlining slot was the Tedeschi Trucks Band. They started with the riff-rocker “Made-Up Mind,” and spent much of their set on extended jams. After inviting David Hidalgo from Los Lobos up on to the stage again, frontwoman Susan Tedeschi, her husband Derek Trucks, and Hidalgo traded guitar licks all night. For a full 90-minute set, much of which felt unscripted but all of which felt natural, they ripped bluesy solos, with Trucks utilizing many styles including some slide guitar and finger picking in his riffs. For the encore, the band returned with a rousing and lengthy rendition of the Joe Cocker version of “With a Little Help From My Friends.” Tedeschi put down her guitar and put all the effort into her vocals during that song, demonstrating her impressive control and range.

With that, a day full of music at the Levitate Festival had come to a close. Spanning 10 hours and several genres, Levitate served up a massive portion of music, leaving the sold-out crowd with enough peace, love, and happiness for all.

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