The Nine Best Things We Saw at Mountain Jam: Day Three
On Saturday (June 4), Mountain Jam finally felt like it was in full swing. The dirt arterials leading up to the stages were choked with people and the weather was a little warmer — the sun even stayed out for an extended period of time. The music felt a little sunnier, too, from the Record Company's go-with-the-flow attitude to Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats' R&B rave-up to Beck's feel-good shout-alongs. We took it all in and more on the third day of Mountain Jam 2016. Check out all our favorite moments below.
The Colorful Campground
A key part of attending any festival is taking a cruise through the campground. Like most fest camp sites, the Mountain Jam situation is a little mini-civilization, and a colorful one at that, with all kinds of sweet tapestries hanging from the top of festival-goers' tents. We took a little tour and saw many swirls and mandalas, plus one very blunt Donald Trump truck decal.
Son Little Playing "Your Love Will Blow Me Away When My Heart Breaks"
We arrived at the Valley Stage just in time to see Son Little and his band embark on a soulful, soft "Maggot Brain"-style jam that transitioned ever so easily into the bar blues rumble of "Your Love Will Blow Me Away When My Heart Breaks." The energy of the mountain was sucked into the band's sphere — not an easy feat to pull off from the little Valley Stage.
The Record Company's On-the-Fly Improv Skills
It wasn't particularly easy to be the Record Company at this year's Mountain Jam. The cancellation of Gary Clark, Jr.'s set due to a family emergency caused some last minute changes to the daily lineup, and it forced the Record Company to play the bigger Mountain Stage, which is harder to own. But they did it with an easygoing energy — even after singer Chris Vos dropped a really nice-looking guitar on the ground, and probably broke it. "That's not gonna bum me out," he announced. And, amazingly, it didn't seem to.
Flying Out Over Mountain Jam on the Sky Line
Sometimes you're at Mountain Jam for three days and you forget that you're in the middle of the mountains and everything around you is very beautiful. When that happens, you should stroll over to the sky ride — which is basically just what they call the ski lift in the summer — and get the best view of the entire festival you're liable to get. It was beautiful. Also, someone flashed us on their way by. (We were cool with it.)
This Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
This buffalo chicken sandwich, from the Military Moms food truck, is the cheapest thing we've eaten so far this weekend, and it's also the best. The chicken is roasted and shredded, so it wasn't too greasy, and the bun was big and soft. And apparently they were on the Food Network?
Also, we ate a deep-fried Snickers for the first time. It was good, but it also kind of hurt.
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats Covering the Band
Rateliff finally played their hit "S.O.B." at near the end of their set on Saturday night, and when they did, the crowd went nuts. And then they went even crazier, as the band segued into the Band's classic "The Shape I'm In." Thanks to their horn section, it had that Last Waltz sheen. Guitar player Luke Mossman peeled off a frayed guitar solo that could give Robbie Robertson a run for his money. But their energy was a cut even above that — at one point, it felt like the band was about to jump right off the stage.
Nathaniel Rateliff's Insane Trumpet Player
His name is Wesley Watkins, and he has the absolute best vibe of any person at Mountain Jam. He basically ran in place for the entirety of Rateliff's set, even when he was playing. Dude probably breathes out of his ears. Thanks in part to Watkins, Rateliff's set had huge, happy energy. And he's a sick trumpet player, too. He made us feel like slackers.
Beck Having Fun
We've seen a lot of pretty amazing music this weekend. But we haven't seen anyone have as much fun as Beck seemed to be having last night. He whipped his mic cable. He skipped to the front of the stage to drop, like, three dance moves before he had to rush back to the mic stand. He did enthusiastic covers of Prince's "Raspberry Beret" and Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" (even though he didn't really have the words down). He told us he felt really comfortable and wanted to stay all night. We believed him.
Beck's 15-Minute "Where It's At" Closer
Beck felt as much like a headlining act as he did a really fun party host who just wants to manage your mood and make sure you had a good time. His hour-and-45-minute set flew by, through chunky jams and moody ballads. His single encore, "Where It's At," was the perfect peak. As he pointed out, the song and the album on which it was featured, 1996's Odelay, turned 20 today. But he played it with as much energy as he did "Dreams," his recent single. (Oddly, he didn't play "Wow," the single he released three days ago.)
But the best part was the several minute breakdown in the middle, in which he jogged around the stage, introduced every band member, and riffed on David Bowie ("China Girl"), Kraftwerk, and more Prince ("1999"). When you're with Beck, you just feel like he wants you to have a good time.