Boston is an awesome place to live. It really is. The music scene is diverse, the sports are unmatched, and the spirit is very much alive. It’s just that sometimes, the littered streets, the traffic jams, and the MBTA rats don’t always scream ‘good vibes.’ Well, I guess that’s why it was all the more gratifying to ditch the city life last weekend and head out to Blue Hill for the second annual Life is Good Festival.
As a blogger, it’s easy to get caught up with the bands that are cool. At the Life is good Festival, however, it is even easier to feel like each band that was playing was the best band in the world, regardless of genre or lack of ‘cred.’ There was something about the atmosphere last weekend: the kids, the nature, the smiles, the food, the tasty local beers, the overall charitable attitude. Everything about this festival radiated happiness. To make matters that much better, both days were packed morning to evening with some great talent from around the country. As beach balls bounced and children fluttered around the grassy fields, Allston Pudding was there to capture the whole thing.
Before I get down to the nitty gritty with the whole music thing, I must extend a sincere compliment to Life is good and every person that went into the making of this festival. For only being in its second year, it was truly a well-oiled machine. We never had to wait for music, every festival worker and volunteer was friendly and helpful, and every single inch of the festival grounds was filled with some sort of activity, vendor, free sample, or other form of entertainment. Do yourself a favor and make it to this event next fall.
The following were some musical experiences throughout the weekend that made me smile:-Levon Helm’s entire set: A mish-mash of Helm originals, Band covers, and other scattered covers, his voice may not be where it was some time ago, but he is still a goddamn metronome when it comes to pounding the skins. An acoustic “Attics of My Life” with the Boston Pops, and an exceptional “Tears of Rage” with Ray LaMontagne on vocals were perhaps the highlights of the festival for me.
-Michael Franti & Spearhead’s attitude: I’ve seen Franti many times before and have always joked that he spends half the set asking everyone, “How you feelin’?!” Truth is, his set was one of the most enjoyable. His stage presence, the positive vibes tossed back and forth between him and the crowd, and the fact that the sun came out for his set. All of it just couldn’t have been more perfect.
-Raphael Saadiq: Have been a fan of his for a while, but never got to check him out live. Turns out there was a lot more funky jamming than I expected, which was only heightened by a sit in from one of my favorites, Robert Randolph.
-The Imagination Movers in the kids tent: Okay, before you start calling me a creep, just listen. The kids tent was an awesome idea, and seeing Keller Williams roam the festival grounds with his own kids in tow was a cool experience as well. The Imagination Movers, however, were a perfect concoction of Ritalin, hand-clapping, running-in-place-while-rubbing-your-tummy, and kindergarten party-jams. While parents were smiling to the band’s Van Halen references, the little ankle-biters were getting wasted off of the gnarly licks of a band that could very well be comprised of Raffi’s stoner grandsons.
-The Avett Brothers: Their latest album didn’t do as much for me as Emotionalism did, but their live show still rips. Seth and Scott’s harmonies are top notch and you get a sense of their punk roots in the recklessness of some of their more energetic material. “Laundry Room” really tugs at the heart strings, too.