Despite a rainy first day courtesy of Mother Nature, the folks at the Ardmore Music Hall and the Electric Factory were able to treat Philly to an amazing two days of musical bliss.
Ardmore Music Hall’s second annual Live From The Lot music festival had so many highlights, we’re still having trouble coming to terms with the fact that the weekend has ended.
For starters, the weekend began with a Friday night a pre-party featuring local powerhouses American Babies and Electron. Talk about a dance party! Both bands really brought enormous amounts of energy and fun, which would continue to flow all weekend. Tom Hamilton brought out the big guns, virtually playing all night at a level that had everybody buzzing.
On what would normally be considered a dreary Saturday, the Electric Factory turned into a ray of beautiful funky sunshine. With two stages inside of the venue, the day was a continuous circle of music. The music truly never stopped and seamlessly transitioned from the Prince Stage up front to the Bowie Stage in the back. Spot on the Lot contest winners The Phonies opened up the festival with a great set, followed by the Pimps of Joytime showing out with an early day jam packed performance.
Smack dab in the middle was jazz guitarist and professional face melter Charlie Hunter, who wowed all and more than likely created a lot of new fans during his set. This guy can play!! His live show fused elements of almost every fathomable genre making for a sea of impressed faces. Mr. Hunter made a perfect mellow introduction for the full force funky onslaught that was Foundation of Funk.
I’m just going to describe their set as the perfect mix of old and new school funk. Watching Zigaboo Modeliste, George Porter Jr., Eric Krasno, and Neal Evans blend their styles of music and their own songs together was an absolute joy to watch. The energy on that stage was hard to match, but the crowd received it well and with a huge smile. Legendary performances are generally tough to follow… or so we thought, until Superhuman Happiness took their turn on the Bowie Stage. In matching costumes. And they killed it.
Also slaying the Bowie Stage that day would be Marco Benevento, twice. Once with his band, including Dave Dreiwitz (JRAD and Ween), and another time doing a solo DJ set before the Everyone Orchestra after-party.
Between Marco Benevento and Superhuman Happiness came headliners The Revivalists. The band, who informed us that they did just come off of an early flight and got little sleep, showed no signs of fatigue with a rollercoaster show filled with slower jams, high energy solos, and some crowd participation. Lead vocalist David Shaw stole the show until they brought up “JJ,” an audience member who was wearing an oversized crown for a soulful rendition of their original titled ‘King of What.’
Capping off the first day with their first of two sets over the weekend, jazz-fusion masters Snarky Puppy went absolutely bonkers. Pulling songs from all over their discography, including some new ones, their set was one for the ages. Introducing two new members of their band, violinist Zach Brock and keyboardist Bill Laurence, as well as bringing up Charlie Hunter, Nat Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band), and Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band) for a few songs there couldn’t have been a better way to finish off the main event.
… and that’s only the first day!
With the concert moving to the original spot, the parking lot behind the Ardmore Music Hall and the weather holding up all day, things really came to life. Food trucks, Starr Hill Brewing, and two outdoor stages made for the real festival experience in our own backyard.
Every. Single. Act. Was. On. Point. But the thing that made Sunday a little bit sweeter was the local showout! Day 2 began by showcasing some crazy local talent and no shortage of Philly love. At this point, I’d like to shout out Darla and Swift Technique for the above statement and for making my personal first experiences with both bands something to be remembered. Big ups to the local talent, seriously.
Philadelphia love aside, my personal favorite set from the whole festival has got to be Greyboy Allstars. They brought the days’ second day to a massive crescendo with the help of Karl Denson’s immense talent …(and crazy jacked forearms.) From classic funk jams, original songs and everywhere in between the Greyboys showed their true talent.
Finally, Soulive & Friends played their hearts out to close out the ceremony. Let me say this… step aside Warren Haynes because I am crowning Eric Krasno the new hardest working man in the jam world. From Foundation of Funk, to sitting in with Snarky Puppy on Sunday and playing an insane set with Soulive, the guy just didn’t stop. To quote a close friend of mine, “everything he touches turns to funk.”
Soulive brought out some legendary talent for their set (besides the members themselves) like Karl Denson, The Snarky Puppy horns, and Nigel Hall. Highlights from the headliners include a spaced out ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and Nigel Hall singing Tears For Fears ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ and also scatting while Kras soloed along. I’m having trouble finding words.
This past weekend was a blessing and a celebration for all of those involved in the musical community in Philadelphia. Through the rain and the grey skies came a beam of light that shone upon the whole scene. We are all extremely grateful to have been a part of the coverage for the second year of Live From The Lot. This is why Philly has the greatest music scene in the country!