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Sweetwater 420 Fest Day 1- Atlanta, GA

Sweetwater 420 fest stage

My first festival of the year takes place in lovely downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Sponsored by the Sweetwater Brewing Company, the Sweetwater 420 fest features a stack of bands, a 5k race, artist tents, NGO tents, comedy tent, and a food truck food court all in the Centennial Olympic park downtown. All rather standard for a festival (although the 5k is new to me) and having it downtown means the music won’t go late. The last bands end by 11 pm so the neighbors can sleep. This makes a for a great warm up festival. I have tickets for seven other festivals this summer and most of them are 24/7 (in the sense that there is on-site camping and the party never stops).

For now, and my first visit to Atlanta, I am lodged in an Airbnb ten minutes walking distance from the park. The plan was to travel with a friend but he were responsible and redirected his finances towards surprise bills (lame!). Traveling solo is fine as the other upside to this event is the southeastern friends whom I rarely see. Five who I knew plus I get to meet all the significant others who are either new to the mix or weren’t present for our last adventures. 

A quick note about festival math. If there are enough bands I want to see for the price and the dates work, I’ll usually go. Often, there are bands I wouldn’t pay for to see solo but am excited to see in the mix. Also, I love to find new bands. You do (or would do) the same thing. All in, there are 9 shows added to my calendar. Today was Twiddle, and Trey Anastasio Band. The timing didn’t work for The Hip Abduction but I hope to see them soon.

Twiddle, like other bands at this festival (Widespread Panic, Moe., etc) can be contentious. Some people love them as passionate, die-hard fans. Some, however, are scared by those intense fans and run far and fast the other way. I have seen Twiddle a few times mostly at festivals and have made a point to listen. There are two songs I recognize as theirs and one that I really like plus they bring a solid set of music each time. One person suggested the music-math for them would be Dave Mathews + Sublime. They are a band that I would stick around for at a festival but not go far out of my way to see.

Speaking of contentious bands, I waited for a friend while Moe. played. I have seen them at festivals since the 1996 Gathering of the Tribe festival (which later became Gathering of the Vibes) and don’t remember a thing about them. Last time they played Vibes I went to see them with a friend who I trust musically (one of the few I know with Slayer, Sick of it All, and Grateful Dead tattoos) but sill didn’t connect. My last attempt was after the Peach fest last summer. I met a couple who seemingly only came for Moe. In talking with them, it seemed they didn’t like any other bands at all. The highlight of our conversation was, “The only reggae I like is Bob Marley.” To which I replied, “That’s like saying the only rock you like is the Beatles.” Anyhoo, in this case, while in the park downtown surrounded by CNN, the American Cancer Society, and the College Football Hall of Fame, Moe. made great hold music. Forgettable now but noticeable. I asked a new friend and he confirmed, “they were on fire!”

Our crowd grew and the scene coalesced as the headliner beckoned. Trey had recently played two sold out shows at the Capitol Theater but they had sold out quickly and a sold out show there is a tight squeeze. Plus, I knew I would see him here today. I had only seen him as TAB once and that was last summer. There was a mix of Phish songs, covers, and originals but what really caught me was the energy. While Phish has lots of high energy songs, Trey was most active on stage during his own shown. Jumping, headbanging, raising his guitar to the sky, and there were few slow tracks at all. This was no exception. He commented how great the venue was but otherwise dove into two sets of tunes. Some highlights for me included an instrumental version of Small Axe (by the Beatles of reggae), and 1st Tube and Sand from the Phish catalog. I don’t know enough of his solo songs by name but I heard a few that I will go look for.

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Comments (2)

  • George Eckenroth 3 years ago Reply

    I have really been digging on Samantha Fish lately. Did you catch any of her set? I don’t know what other fests you have lined up but I will tell you that The Philly Folk Fest just announced their initial lineup. Old Crow Medicine Show, Taj Majal & Keb Mo, Graham Nash. I guarantee a tremendous weekend and the best way to experience it is as a volunteer. It is the largest all volunteer run festy anywhere.

    aemandee 3 years ago Reply

    I do want to get to that one! I may be at a festival in Baltimore. Other ones on the list are MAY Fest, Beardfest, Mt. Jam, Camp Bisco, Peach, and Lockn’.

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