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Carnival time Gentlemen Of The Road

Mumford & Sons

The Flaming Lips


Jenny Lewis

James Vincent McMorrow

The Vaccines

Salida, CO
Vandaveer Ranch
Map of Colorado, USA
3.5 Stars
Celebration and community. Mumford & Sons are a favorite of my family — Aida’s a super-fan and my kids know all the words to the songs — so the announcement of this weekend-long festival brought a great opportunity for the lot of us to experience a concert together in a unique setting. Salida, Colorado, the host for this “stopover” (as the promoters called it), is a small but vibrant mountain town, and there couldn’t have been a better place to stage it. Local organizers and business owners gave us fans a warm welcome, presenting side venues, local food and beer, and family-friendly activities wherever you turned. The good vibes fueling the on-site camping grounds bled into the festival area, and embraced attendees like an old friend. The headlining band curated the lineup themselves: young up-starts like The Vaccines played alongside festival stalwarts The Flaming Lips and brothers-in-arms Dawes. Highlights for me were quirky sets by James Vincent McMorrow (that voice!) and Tune-Yards; Colorado’s governor introducing costume-clad Lips in front of a 3-story tall inflatable banner reading FUCK YEAH SALIDA; and Mumford & Sons delivering the electricity from <em>Wilder Mind</em> and with it laying waste to the hot and dusty main stage area. But the best part was the sincerity with which every musician interrupted their sets to acknowledge their hosts — Salida and Mumford & Sons — with huge smiles and full hearts. If the goal of a music festival is to spread art and fellowship to fans of both, then this one was a success, and one I was happy to expose to my kids. Setlist

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Carnival time One Big Holiday 2

My Morning Jacket

Band Of Horses

The War On Drugs

Dr. Dog

Dawes w/ Conor Oberst

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Riviera Maya, MX
Hard Rock Hotel
Map of Riviera Maya, Mexico
4.5 Stars
One big family. This was my second time attending this festival curated by and starring My Morning Jacket; a destination event where it’s easy to connect with like-minded friends old and new. I entered a card-carrying member of the coolest tribe of fans I’ve ever had the good fortune of meeting. Although there again with my brother from another mother Brian, the warm familiarity of the host country, the resort, and especially the people, made it a whole new experience. Showtimes would bring the two of us to the rail and we’d know everyone there; hugs and high fives all around. And the music, holy balls. The supporting lineup featured acts broader in range and higher in profile compared to OBH1, and that lead to some awesome collaborations with Jacket. Highlights included The War On Drugs’ Adam Granduciel guesting on Christopher Cross(!) and Bruce Springsteen covers, Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith reprising his New Basement Tapes role with Jim on “Down On The Bottom” and Conor Oberst duetting on “I Will Be There When You Die.” And you don’t realize what some feminine energy does for a band like Jacket until you hear Amelia Meath of Sylvan Esso sing and dance during a suite of Bob Marley covers. As for headliners, My Morning Jacket treated fans to three as-yet unheard songs from The Waterfall sprinkled among stellar and punishing sets spanning their entire career, and Band Of Horses played an afternoon acoustic set in addition to their second-night headlining spot. I speak for every smiling face I saw when I say that I can’t wait for OBH3; as one fan put it, “I’m never not coming here.” Setlist

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Carnival time One Big Holiday

My Morning Jacket

The Flaming Lips

Mariachi El Bronx

Guest: Bob Weir

Riviera Maya, MX
Hard Rock Hotel
Map of Riviera Maya, Mexico
5 Stars
A concert experience. This event changed my life. It’s a festival hosted and curated by My Morning Jacket, launched near my 40th birthday when I was shopping for a festival to attend with my best friend Brian. It fills an all-inclusive resort for four nights: 3 for Jacket, 1 for the Lips, each ending with a dance party. I had never been on vacation with a buddy, without kids, among music-minded and adventurous adults, and it was fucking awesome. The fact that everyone in attendance was as friendly and as stoked to see MMJ as Brian and me was gravy. The whole thing pushed my capacity to follow one band to a level I didn’t realize was important to me, and introduced me to a fan community that is so filled with love and camaraderie that I can no longer imagine my life without it. Bonus: Bob Weir showed up as an unannounced guest and jammed a bunch with the boys. Setlist

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Carnival time Lollapalooza 2013

Vampire Weekend

The Killers

Mumford & Sons

Jake Bugg

Family Of The Year

Local Natives

The Lumineers

Two Door Cinema Club

New Order

Knife Party

Chicago, IL
Grant Park
Map of Illinois, USA
4.0 Stars
festival-crazy chicagoans. My experience with festivals before attending Lollapalooza in Chicago’s beautiful Grant Park was limited to smaller regional stuff. This was my first big fest. The number of stages was a bit overwhelming but it offered an extraordinary range of experiences: from a little set in a cozy grove of trees to a massive, straw-covered meadow with no shade in sight; from a tiny stage set for a few scruffy rockers to a 100 foot-high DJ booth and light show. The lineup was plenty diverse, too, even if the constituency wasn’t (too many over-privileged college kids with painfully hip wardrobes). Aida and I caught huge sets from The Killers, Vampire Weekend and Mumford &Sons, and smaller ones from Ellie Goulding, Jake Bugg and Family Of The Year. We even caught an incredibly intimate set from the latter in a corner of the festival shop; we were 5 feet from the band and had a great chat afterward. And I managed to get a taste of some EDM from Knife Party, reminding me that I’m too old for this shit but still down for anything when it comes to live music. I’m not sure I need to do another big fest any time soon — too much strategizing and angling for space to be able to see your favorite artists — but the enthusiastic and welcoming local contingent (and their impressive skyline) made it worth the effort. Setlist

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Carnival time New Orleans Jazz Fest

The Black Crowes

My Morning Jacket

New Orleans, LA
Fair Grounds Race Course
Map of Louisiana, USA
3.5 Stars
What a place. The only thing not stunningly beautiful about this trip to The Big Easy was the rainy weather. No matter. The cobblestone sidewalks; the moss-covered trees; and the people, the friendly, proud, hospitable people. Such an amazing city. Oh, and there was a music festival. I witnessed some awesome shows by Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, a bunch of amazing gospel acts, The Black Crowes (my first time) and the Mighty Jacket. I was pumped to see Simon & Garfunkel but poor Art’s voice gave out after only a couple of songs. So what does Paul do? Treat the main stage crowd to an incredible set of his own classics. Sublime.

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Monolith Festival

Vampire Weekend

Silversun Pickups

Blitzen Trapper

The Photo Atlas

Morrison, CO
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Map of Colorado, USA
2.5 Stars
Lots to see. The love the folks that curate this festival have for indie rock is obvious; just look at the lineups they get for this thing. During the day I attended I elected to wander the Visitor Center’s conference rooms occupied by smaller indie bands like Blitzen Trapper and Denver’s The Photo Atlas, a hyperactive, sweaty punk band that are just fucking great. Nighttime brought out larger dance acts like Cut Copy and Justice but I was there to see Vampire Weekend who, at the time, were just starting to blow up and really get my attention.

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Mile High Music Festival


Commerce City, CO
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Map of Colorado, USA
3.5 Stars
My first fest. By the time this music festival had been launched I had always wanted to attend one. Something about the freedom to drift in and out of different performances from a range of artists has always appealed to me. That it was happening within biking distance from my house was gravy. Though I experienced plenty of great moments this July day—seeing John Mayer covering “Panama” for a frenzied main-stage crowd, floating through clouds of weed smoke in Lupe Fiasco’s tent—I have only this one photo of Spoon playing on the afternoon of the fest’s inaugural day. They were touring Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and were absolutely on fire. This performance is a big reason that album remains one of my favorites by any band to this day.

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