Reminiscing at 10KLF

10,000 Lakes Festival

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

July 18-21, 2007

 

Minnesota is known for many things, with lakes among the most popular.  Celebrating summer with good music has always been the way I like to remember my home state best, so heading back for 10,000 Lakes Festival is always a treat.  

This year marked the fifth 10KLF, with ticket sales at an all-time high.  I attended inaugural festival, so it was fun to come back four years later to see how the event had matured.  It was evident that plenty of progress has been made in developing and fine-tuning the grounds, an integral part of what makes the event special.  Surrounded by mature oak trees, green grass, and water, the temperature generally stays cool, making 10KLF an ideal summer fest respite for bands and fans alike.

This year the weather was warmer, but certainly not hot enough to slow the attendees down.  The festival grounds buzzed with seemingly non-stop activity that flowed through the huge festival field and the five campgrounds surrounding it and into the vending area, which was packed with a plethora of great food and craft vendors.

The four main stages were a good length apart, but not far enough that you get exhausted just thinking about moving to the next show.  But if a fest guest were too tired to walk back to their campground, a golf cart cabbie was readily available to give their dogs a rest.

The line-ups at 10KLF consistently provide something for everyone to enjoy.  I managed to take in 18 bands this year without seeing one mediocre performance; not a single show was even close to lackluster.  

I pulled in at dusk on Wednesday to the bluegrass-meets-rock sounds of Blueground Undergrass.  The first evening was mellow but very uplifting, and as the venue began to fill, it rippled with anticipation.

During the afternoons, the shows were played with plenty of verve under the blue and sunny skies.  Galactic, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Outformation, Everyone Orchestra, Keller Williams, Little Feat, and Toubab Krewe all brought an infectious enthusiasm to the midday settings. Crowds gathered early in front of all stages, and sheer ecstasy and rowdy applause could be found at every turn.  Even by day four, when you would expect partiers to show signs of fest weariness, the crowd’s energy remained surprisingly high.

 

 

 

The schedule for every evening was thoughtfully planned.  If someone truly wanted to see all of the evening bands, it was possible – providing, of course, you had the stamina to get you through it.  There was very little overlap of headliners, so you never really had to choose one over another.  Over nine hours of top notch performances were flowing every night

On Thursday evening Zappa Plays Zappa contributed two and a half hours of Frank’s tunes, played to perfection.  This delightful din, fronted by Frank's son Dweezil was followed by a very rambunctious two and a half hour set from Umphrey’s McGee. The Disco Biscuits finished out the night and provided a sort of pulsating electronic lullaby to those who went back to their camps to rest off the well danced day. 

moe. supplied just the right amount of Friday night spunk to prepare adoring String Cheese Incident fans for an emotional three and a half hour set. The usual celebratory weirdness you expect at a SCI show was present in full-force, and it was interesting to witness, knowing that the end of an era for both band and fans was unfolding right in front of me.

There was a sentimental vibe emanating from the audience, and the band was clearly enjoying the warm, err, fuzzies.  Anyone who wasn’t feeling too sentimental to continue rocking out went on to enjoy a riveting high energy performance by The Tragically Hip, but if pure stings strummed heavily in a foot stomping, front porch manner was more your style, the choice to see MN’s own Trampled by Turtles was also available.  TBT was extraordinary and it was pure pleasure to witness their exuberant fans enjoying the heck out of the show.  

 

Saturday night was definitely set up to be a grand finale.  Gov’t Mule started the evening off with every bit of force they are capable of.  The wind picked up and blew a refreshing breeze over the rhythmically warmed.  Just when I thought the show couldn’t get any better, Derek Trucks emerged on stage to add his slide on "32-20 Blues."  The band was in a rockin’ good mood and did not hold back as they prepared the crowd to embrace Bob Weir and Ratdog.  

Ratdog kicked off their set with "Help On The Way > Slipknot," and never looked back.  An absolutley unforgettable guest appearance by Warren Haynes on "Big Railroad Blues" closed out the first set, working the audience into a massive dancing frenzy in the process.  The second set saw Weir's playful side surface.  No Minnesota performance by any Grateful Dead member would be complete without a Bob Dylan tune, and "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" quickly turned into an enormous feel good sing along.  Ratdog has been on the road with Keller Williams for several weeks, and the one-man band joined his tourmates to close out the second set on "Bird Song," "Cassidy," and "One More Saturday Night." 

A 30 min fireworks display was launched after Ratdog’s last note and revved the audience into gear for a phenomenal midnight set from The Derek Trucks Band. The music sounded fantastic under the starry sky, and the band was in great form, smiles beaming from the stage for the entire show.  

The raw and raunchy funk of Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk was also available during the same midnight time slot to assure that all dancers with even an once of energy left could set their souls afire in front of any active stage.  And if one last set was what a lingering guest needed, a great late night/early Sunday morning set came from The Lee Boys.  Nothing is quite as satisfying as a dose of sacred steel in the wee morning hours to close out a phenomenal weekend.  

I left 10KLF feeling tired, yet rejuvenated all the same.  The mind set of the staff who run the show definitely contributed to the culture of the event, and I didn’t meet a single employee who was not glad to be there or enjoying their job.  If there really is such a thing as “Midwestern nice” the people who put on 10KLF fit the definition.  No details were overlooked at this party, and my, what a party it was!

 

All photos by Candise Kola

 

 

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