by Laura Scheer
You never have to worry about missing a performance at the 16th annual All Good Music Festival and Campout, which took place over the weekend at Legend Valley Concert Venue in Thornville, Ohio. The All Good organizers don’t schedule any conflicting shows, so when one performance ends, the next one starts up. While the festival offers multiple stages, bands don’t even play simultaneously. This makes All Good the summer’s best music lovers’ festival. Gracing this year’s two side-by-side main stages were big names including Allman Brothers Band, the Flaming Lips, Phil Lesh and Friends, Bob Weir and Bruce Hornsby, and the Mickey Hart Band. For the gray-haired Deadheads in attendance, Lesh, Weir, and Hart’s performances brought them back to the legendary 1988 Grateful Dead concert that took place on this site.
On Friday night, the younger crowd enjoyed performances by the bluegrass group Yonder Mountain String Band and then by the Flaming Lips. The latter threw down a much-anticipated theatric performance that featured large cannons unloading endless confetti, streamers, and smoke that filled the air as front man Wayne Coyne surfed the crowd in his signature human-sized plastic hamster ball. With costumed fans on-stage, puppets, and Coyne’s giant hands, the Flaming Lips’ elaborate show was what everyone expected and wanted. Although the group embraced a more psychedelic sound throughout the show, it closed with an accessible fan-favorite, playing an extra-long version of “Do You Realize.” Ohio’s Papadosio followed the Flaming Lips and impressed the crowd with a mix of dance and rock music. Next, the funky jazz group Galactic kept the crowd dancing during its set, which included an impressive cover of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”
On Saturday, All Good veterans the Bridge, who had disbanded last November, came back for a one-night-only performance and kept the energy high before the Allman Brothers Band, who played a set of favorites that everyone in the crowd was singing along to.
Although All Good Music Festival 2012 may have just been “all right” in beer service and port-o-potty cleanliness, the music is what it’s about. In that respect, the festival truly was all good. The location might have received mixed reactions as people who attended past festivals said they missed the rolling hills of Marvin’s Mountaintop, the previous location in West Virginia. During headlining acts, lines to get searched before entering the venue area became clogged up, and once inside, the beer lines weren’t much better. But this is a music festival, and the lineup of all-star acts didn’t fail to impress. — Laura Scheer