Festival preview: Five Can’t-Miss Acts at All Good

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From the July 18, 2013 edition

Yes, the All Good Music Festival is designed to appeal to fans of the jam band scene, and the lineup is dominated by acts prone to losing themselves in long, improvisational passages.

“[All Good founder] Tim Walther grew out of that Grateful Dead scene and he really taps into that audience,” said event publicist Dave Weissman. “So there's certainly a hippy ethos to it.”

This isn't always a bad thing, either. Headliners Furthur, anchored by former Dead bandmates Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, have a way of making these musical explorations feel like spiritual journeys.

With that in mind, here are the five acts we're most looking forward to catching when All Good takes over nearby Legend Valley for four days beginning on Thursday, July 18.

Furthur

Even though music fans have spent decades trying to locate the new Grateful Dead, the old guys remain a far better option than most of the alternatives. In Furthur, onetime Dead mainstays Phil Lesh and Bob Weir embrace their former band's improvisational roots, working with a talented array of contributors to pump fresh life into assorted Dead classics. Expect the location—the Grateful Dead played a handful of highly regarded shows at Legend Valleyto bring out the best in the group.

Pretty Lights

Derek Vincent Smith, the Colorado-based electronic dance musician who records and performs as Pretty Lights, takes his stage name seriously. Smith's live performances double as elaborate light shows, incorporating strobe lights, video projections and more laser beams than the most high-tech bank vault security system. His music only adds to the sensory overload as he piles on booming basslines, hip-hop breakbeats and synthesizer effects that mimic robot warfare.

The Stepkids

During a 2012 performance at the South By Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas, the Connecticut trio dressed head-to-toe in white, looking something like shaggy, guitar-toting milkmen. But while the crew's onstage ensemble might have lacked pigment, its music tended to be wild, untamed and colorful, straddling the line between ’60s psychedelic rock and ’70s funk.

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue

Trombone Shorty's music can most easily be compared with jambalaya, a creole recipe famously dished up in his hometown of New Orleans. Both draw from a multitude of sources—jambalaya from French and Spanish cuisine and Shorty from jazz, hip-hop and rockand both have a noticeable kick.

MarchFourth Marching Band

The sprawling Portland crew clearly loves a parade, and its boisterous, big-band stylings would undoubtedly feel more at home winding through populous city streets than jammed onto the stage in some cramped concert hall. Fortunately, Legend Valley's spacious outdoor setting should allow the group ample room to cut loose, and it's brass-heavy output should serve as welcome tonic to the assorted jam acts otherwise dominating the bill.