Life is good Festival, September 23rd and 24th - Canton, MA
In its third year, the Life is good Festival was once again graced with absolutely perfect weather. The beautiful concert fields at the foot of Blue Hill in Canton, Mass. were filled with sunshine and temperatures in the mid 70′s each day. As was the case the previous two years, the festival ran extremely smoothly with ample staff, volunteers, concessions, restrooms, and good vibes to keep the throngs of festival goers extremely happy. Sets alternated nicely between the two main stages and ran pretty well on time all weekend making it possible that you didn’t need to miss a single note of music. Despite being sold out, thanks to the large draw of Dave Matthews, there was ample space to enjoy the vast festival grounds and the shows without feeling crowded.
Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds were certainly the largest draw and biggest names the festival has booked in the past three years and helped the event sell out completely for the first time. Likewise, it was the longest set that the festival has featured, clocking in at two and half hours and containing 23 songs. Similar to the Ray LaMontagne set from last year’s closing performance on the main stage, the performance felt extremely intimate despite the large crowd. Wistfully sharing stories, talking to the crowd as if it was a club show, and stitching together spirited Dave Matthews Band classics with Dave and Tim favorites, the setlist flowed well from the opening notes of Everyday through the closing number in Ants Marching.
After spirited versions of Everyday, Crush and Save Me that had much of the crowd singing along with sound and rhythm as large as many full bands are able to muster, the duo settled into a quiet and poignant take on Daniel Lanois’ Still Water. And likewise for the rest of the marathon set, Matthews and Reynolds nimbly switched from high energy songs like Don’t Drink the Water, Gaucho, Jimi Thing, Bartender and Satellite to wistful ballads like Oh and Mercy, beautiful covers such as John Denver’s Take Me To Tomorrow and a Matthews and Reynolds debut of Broken Things. Wrapping up the set and the festival was Matthews solo on Some Devil before Reynolds returned for the always infectious and spirited Ants Marching.
Just as last year’s intimate LaMontagne festival closing set followed a handful of more electric and powerful sets, Matthews and Reynolds were no different in this regard. Previously on the main stage was Trombone Shorty’s second appearance at Life is good. While he ran into flight delays getting out of New Orleans in 2010 forcing him to appear on the Kid’s Stage, 2012’s return was triumphant with a massive crowd enjoying Shorty and his band, Orleans Avenue, treat the capacity crowd to a set of rock and funk with a fiery passion that was white hot. Ripping through numbers off his latest album such as Encore and R&B classics such as Ray Charles’ I Got a Woman, Shorty soloed brilliantly on both trombone and trumpet.
Unfortunately for many of the Dave Matthews fans that didn’t want to give up their prime real estate in front of the main stage following Shorty’s set, they missed perhaps the best set of the weekend on the “Good Vibes” stage in Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Not a single moment was wasted in Jones’ high energy sixty minute set. After the ten-piece band got the crowd energized, Jones appeared in a bright yellow dress that seemed to give off as much energy as the sun. When I Come Home was particularly impressive as she had the entire crowd dancing along as she demonstrated dance moves like The Bugaloo, The Twist and the Funky Chicken. Simply a high octane set for Jones, her backup vocalists, horn section and two guitars.
Previously on the “Good Vibes” stage were the Infamous Stringdusters who thrilled the crowd with a take on Phish’s Free. The six-piece string band constantly moved around on stage depending on which member the jam was featuring on who was leading that portion of the hoe-down that had the crowd stomping and dancing.
Infamous Stringdusters 17 Cents and Free (Phish Cover)
Another highlight from the main stage was ALO who have a long history with Life is good having performed at their very first festival in San Francisco as well as an intimate, acoustic in-store performance earlier in the summer at the company’s flagship store on Newbury Street in Boston. ALO performed a handful of tracks from their recent release, Sounds Like This, in Falling Dominoes and Speed of Dreams. Also performed was an apt cover of Joe Walsh’s Life is Good and their own classics like Barbecue, I Like Music and Mashed Potatoes.
Highlights from Saturday included the always high energy Michael Franti and Spearhead, who also returned to the festival for the second time. Franti was joined by Dave Matthews Band violinist Boyd Tinsley, who was in town for a screening of his new film, Faces in the Mirror, for a few songs. Hometown favorite Ryan Montbleau Band as well as Soulive, Allen Stone and Sara Bareilles also performed on Saturday.
[Lebo of ALO]
Each day also featured The Fresh Beats Band, who regularly sell out venues and perform for the younger set, opening the Main Stage and a “Good Kids Stage” with Kidz Bop and Dan Zanes getting the youngsters as riled up as the adults at the other stages.
Browse through the gallery below to get a sense of this well received festival and the extraordinary performances from the weekend. As always, be sure to click on the photos for a full sized images. Pictures include highlights from Saturday: Michael Franti and Spearhead with Special Guest Boyd Tinsley, Ryan Montbleau Band and Sara Bareilles and from Sunday: Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, ALO, and Trombone Shorty.
The festival raised over $1 Million for Life is good Playmakers, a charity for children in need.
Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds “Broken Things” and “Oh”