LOCKN’ LOADED: Four Amazing Days at the Sixth LOCKN’ Festival

Peter Shapiro and Dave Frey’s LOCKN’ Festival has become one of the most anticipated events on music-lovers’ calendars each summer, and this year’s installment delivered another incredible weekend with a stacked lineup featuring jam-bands, funk, bluegrass and more. For its sixth year the Arrington, VA festival announced it would feature two headlining performances by Dead & Company, a fitting top of the bill for this festival honoring the legacy of the Grateful Dead. Attendees were treated to an incredible schedule of music on one stage - a trademark of the festival - and perfect weather throughout the weekend.

LOCKN’, originally named Interlocken Music Festival, has become known for its turntable stage. There are no conflicting sets and no gaps to set up between bands. As one band performs, another is setting up on the back of the stage, and once a set is finished, the stage literally spins with the next band ready to go. On night one of the festival, Lettuce and Umphrey’s McGee used this feature to incredible effect. The bands each played two sets, alternating with one another, and as Lettuce finished their second set with the Herbie Hancock classic 'Hang Up Your Hang Ups,' the stage began to turn with the band still playing, and then stopped halfway through its rotation. What ensued was one of the magical moments that makes LOCKN’ so special, as Umphrey’s McGee joined in the jam until members of Lettuce crossed from one side of the stage partition to the other, leaving more than a dozen musicians on stage playing the tune together as the Umphrey’s set officially began. It was a stunning example of the kinds of collaborations that have made LOCKN’ a true gem of the festival circuit every summer.

Widespread Panic ft. Margo Price

Widespread Panic ft. Margo Price

Friday featured a number of sets with members of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (JRAD) who have become late-night staples at LOCKN’, playing two nights each of the last three years. Tom Hamilton brought his new band Ghost Light, featuring Holly Bowling, Steve Lyons, Raina Mullen and Scotty Zwang, as Joe Russo, Dave Dreiwitz, and Scott Metzger joined Chris Harford’s “Band of Changes” for afternoon sets, before playing late-night again after George Clinton and P-Funk and Widespread Panic - highlighted by an incredible performance of Janis Joplin’s 'Take Another Piece of My Heart' with Margo Price on vocals.. Among the most anticipated sets that day was an announced collaboration between Umphrey’s McGee and Jason Bonham, the son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. This set offered some heavy rock and unexpected sit-ins, as Bonham joined Umphrey’s to play five Zeppelin tunes, bringing out special guests Taylor Hicks and Derek Trucks to join on 'When the Levee Breaks' and 'Whole Lotta Love,' respectively.

Dead and Company

Dead and Company

Dead and Company

Dead and Company

Once the weekend arrived, the festival completely changed, with nearly an additional 10,000 fans joining the fun for the two nights of Tedeschi Trucks Band and Dead & Co. that would take place on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday’s Dead & Co set was especially anticipated with a full set featuring Branford Marsalis on saxophone. Both of these bands were well worth the trip, with Tedeschi Trucks Band in particular delivering two of the best sets of the weekend. The first glimpse of the headlining musicians would come during the outstanding “Foundations of Funk” set, celebrating 50 years of the Meters. This set included original members Zigaboo Modelist and George Porter Jr., as well as collaborators Cyril Neville, Ivan Neville, and Tony Hall. The New Orleans funk legends brought Dead & Co guitarists Bob Weir and John Mayer, along with percussionists Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, on stage for several songs out of the Meters catalog, marking another incredible and memorable LOCKN' moment. Weir and Mayer would also join an outstanding late night set by Lettuce with guitarist Eric Krasno celebrating the Jerry Garcia Band. The memorable set included a myriad of sit-ins from serious players including John Mayer, Bob Weir, Oteil Burbridge, Kofi Burbridge, Mark Rivers and Alecia Chakour that gave way to high-energy funk party that lasted until 3 a.m and was one of the most talked-about performances of the festival.

Beyond the music, LOCKN’ offered endless delights between the around the clock party in Garcia’s Forest, dozens of craft beers, artisan food and craft vendors, and boundlessly warm and welcoming crowd. The festival also continued to give back to the DMV music scene, featuring four Virginia acts who earned their spot on the lineup through a fan vote with the annual ROCKN’ to LOCKN’ competition – The Fuzz Band, Disco Risque, Firecracker Jam and The Judy Chops.

Audio Recordings

Audio Recordings

Audio Recordings


LOCKN' Scene-In-Review Podcast:

Full Set Recordings:

  • thu. - Aug 23
  • FR. - AUG 24
  • SAT. - Aug 25
  • SUN. - AUG 26

Enjoy audio recording of the performance recorded by our collaborator Will Urquhart.

  • BUTCHER BROWN
  • ERIN & THE WILDFIRE
  • FIRECRACKER JAM

DCMR Staff Reflections:

Seth Gordon-Lipkin

Jason Bonham

Wow! Another incredible year at LOCKN’. This was my third summer in a row at this festival and it just keeps getting better. The collaborations always make the moments that stand out for me, and this year was no different. As a huge Umphrey’s fan, I was on cloud nine during that incredible transition from Lettuce playing 'Hang Up Your Hang Ups' to both bands playing it as the stage finished turning to the next set. Then I basically lost my mind during the set with Jason Bonham. Umphrey’s drummer Kris Myers can pull off a SOLID Robert Plant impression. There were so many musical moments that I’m going to look back on in awe, from JRAD’s 'China Cat Sunflower > I Know Your Rider' with a “National Anthem” (Radiohead) jam, to the Meters’ set-opening 'Africa' and Tedeschi Trucks Band’s outstanding rendition of “Whipping Post.” Never miss LOCKN’. It’s the best festival there is.

Jason Bonham


Karin McLaughlin


Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

For fans who might not have been tempted by the glow of Garcia’s Forest every night, or possibly had been and were still able to rise early enough, plenty of daytime treats awaited them out in the sunshine. On Friday, Nashville natives Moon Taxi, who also played Lockn back in 2016, seemed to draw a great crowd that was excited to see them back. They were followed by Toots and The Maytals with Taj Mahal giving the festival a jolt of reggae vibes that, by my account, was incredibly welcome. Saturdays day sets included festival staple Keller Williams as front man to Keller and the Keels, taking the stage as the first of two big acts during the daylight hours. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong shined bright as their first chance on the main stage at Lockn allowing thousands of loyal fans to share the Baltimore based sound with new ones who found the funky sound a great segway into what came next. Sunday’s daytime performances showed the wide diversity of music that the organizers of this amazing festival give to the attendees. Kicking of the day with a performance to never be missed was Keller Williams’ Grateful Gospel causing the masses to rise earlier than expected and wait in a very long line to go to church. Spafford, Matisyahu, Blues Travelers and Sheryl Crow threw the music far and wide and none disappointed the crowd that showed up to stake out a good spot early. Crow herself even noted that she has experienced an unexpected resurgence as of late, for those who might be wondering why she was picked to be added to the lineup, as she spent her summer playing some pretty big stages at Bonarroo and taking a spin with Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters who have also graced the Sunday stage in Arrington. Since there was no late night on the Relix stage the closing day of the festival, Garcia’s Forest was the place to be for anyone who simply didn’t want this incredible weekend to end.  A favorite for many, the dancing, D,J and new friends that were made, were some of the best moments that the festival had to offer. 

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

As my third LOCKN' I can easily say that this was my absolute favorite and in the top three festivals of all time for me.  Skipping 2017, I hadn't been back to the farm since the redesign and ​let me tell you, it made a world of difference!  Not having to treck all the way through the horse track from the campsite made coming and going multiple times a day so much more likely.  The team at LOCKN' really knows what they are doing and the crowd was absolutely amazing!  I didn't meet a single person who I didn't have a pleasant exchange with and made festie friends that I already have plans to meet again.  The music was mind blowing and LOCKN' is one of those festivals where arrival on day one is almost necessary.  The incredible Lettuce/Umphrey's​/Lettuce/Umphrey's battle of Thursday made it worth the ticket price alone.  2018's lineup could blow any live music junkie out of the water and when you add the weather, late night Relix stage and Garcia's Forest, you are in​ a music festival utopia.   I saw a t-shirt that ​said "John Mayer is DEAD to me" and that sums up my live Grateful Dead experience so I was completely blown away by both Dead and Co. and Tedeschi headlining both nights and have been living on a LOCKN' high ever since!


Will Urquhart

The Judy Chops

This was my third year in a row at LOCKN’ and it’s a tradition I’ve come to love so much. The music is always some of the best of the summer and most of the people there are some of the sweetest you’ll find. This year I also attended the ROCKN’ to LOCKN’ finale held in Garcia’s Forest and that was such a blast getting to experience an intimate mini-fest down at the farm. For those that don't know, the ROCKN' to LOCKN' contest provides a chance for some locals bands to win a coveted spot playing on the main stage. It's awesome that LOCKN' does that, and I really enjoyed catching a bunch of those ROCKN’ to LOCKN’ winners playing on the main stage! Other highlights for me included Ghost Light, Pigeons, the late night sets, and as always, Keller Williams' Grateful Gospel on Sunday morning. As someone who has never experienced a truly dead headlined festival, it felt right having Dead and Co there this year, and I'll never forget that experience.

The Judy Chops


Josh Brick


Tedeschi Trucks Band

LOCKN' 2018 marked my return to the farm for the first time since 2015 and it confirmed my previous beliefs: LOCKN' is the best festival. The updated grounds layout is superb and the production of the festival (sound, lighting, etc.) is absolutely top notch. My LOCKN' MVP is Tedeschi Trucks Band who has a history of epic performances at the farm. This year was no different, as TTB threw down two powerful sets that featured an Aretha Franklin cover, guest sit ins by Ian Neville, Ivan Neville, Eric Krasno, and Branford Marsalis, and flashback to 2015 with a Sunday set-ending 'Space Captain' for the books. Dead and Company's 'Morning Dew' was a top moment for me with exquisite playing by John Mayer that was beautiful watch. The Lettuce late-night JBG tribute set was also a sure highlight - 2+ hours of bliss that included Nigel Hall's initiation of Mayer into Lettuce fam. Cheryl Crow was the sleeper set of the festival which surprised many, including myself, while the Turkuaz, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Spafford and Big Something all get kudos for fire sets. 

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Videos

Videos

Videos


The following videos are provides courtesy of Tedeschi Trucks Band's YouTube Channel.

Tedeschi Trucks Band opens their  set with "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)," in loving tribute to Aretha Franklin.

Looking Towards the Fall

Those of you with the post-LOCKN' blues, don't fret! Rudi Greenberg of the Washington Post Express has you covered with a roundup of a bunch of upcoming shows from bands who performed at LOCKN' this year. We have a ton of great acts, such as Dead and Co., Lettuce, JRAD, and so much more coming back to the area, so you can look towards fall with excitement.

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery


Enjoy photos by our photographers Josh Brick  of Josh Brick Graphics and Caitlin Moore  of Caitlin Moore Photography. These photos are in reverse chronological order. 

Soundboard Recordings

Soundboard Recordings

Soundboards


About the author
DC Music Review Staff

DC Music Review Staff

Two or more DC Music Review staff members collaborated to deliver you this content. We hope you enjoy this collaboration.