Day two of Pilgrimage was as steamy as day one, but we made sure to get there early to see 18-year-old blues guitar phenom, Kingfish, who hails from the delta of Mississippi and was raised listening to and playing the blues. The kid plays like a seasoned veteran and sings like someone who has lived through many hardships and hurdles. Kingfish woke up the crowd at the eleven o’clock set with his guitar turned up and the jams turned on. Solo after solo came and nothing else mattered in those moments, he was locked in and we were locked into him. Kingfish decided to leave the drummer and bassist in his band on stage, as he ventured down into the crowd to get closer interaction with his awe-inspired spectators. He walked among the fans as he continued to shred, one of the most memorable moments of the day. He owned the Pilgrimage stage and showed why this young gun has the prodigy reputation he carries.
At the Infiniti Gold Record Road Stage we caught Nashville gem, Langhorne Slim. As the crowd began to grow, anticipation followed suit as the hometown hero had quite the draw for his early set. Things kicked off with electrifying energy as Slim jumped and danced all over the stage; his folk pop tunes rang out over the grounds and people moved like the heat was a nonissue. Slim writes an array of songs ranging from slow introspective numbers to fast, lighthearted crowd-pleasers, and is quite the performer, using stories, antics, and charisma to draw the crowd into the moment. He mingled with us on the ground more than once and put on a fantastically well-rounded show.
We meandered through the village of tents displaying locally made goods to the main stage to witness Portland-based sister trio Joseph. The three voices combined is grounding and enchanting simultaneously, like seeing an old friend and experiencing a new high. Of course they can sing, but it’s their songwriting that makes them shine. Their beautiful melodies are full of doubt, hope, and life that reassure us we aren’t alone. It was definitely the hottest set of the day; the members were open about their exhaustion, but they gave every line and note every bit of themselves and it was evident. It was an unforgettable and inspiring performance.
Back at the smaller stage, we eagerly awaited a set from Amanda Shires, a Texas transplant who made her way to Nashville some years ago. Shires’ music is a style of Texas-infused Americana that tells stories thorugh witty songwriting to create emotional vignettes. Shires and company took the stage, and to the surprise of the audience, her husband Jason Isbell joined her on guitar. She has a fun and sarcastic personality, equal parts charm and sass, and entirely endearing. Her voice is soothing as she sings about lost love and humanity, her quivering vocal as honest as the day is long. The band took instrumental breaks as Isbell and Shires went back and forth on guitar and fiddle, dazzling the large crowd on the ground.
Back at the Infiniti Gold stage, Ryan Adams, a must-see in live music who has created a lasting career with an expansive catalogue, was about to delight the eager crowd gathered around the platform. Musical prowess aside, Adams’ stage banter and antics are some of the best and most entertaining in the business. The stage was set with multiple stuffed felines and ten-foot-tall amps–Adams has a thing for cats and loud guitars—and he played songs spanning his vast collection. Every song was performed to perfection, with amazing instrumental jams, and so much smoke, at times the band couldn’t be seen. Adams unleashed wonderful rant about a man in the back of the crowd up in a crane hovering the crowd, which turned into a song, and the entire band joined in. He played many songs off of his latest release, Prisoner, and the live versions of these songs were on a whole new level. It was an incredible performance as the entire band was in sync, playing off of each other’s every twist and turn. The set went by without a hitch, and was hands down one of the best shows of the entire festival.
[This amazing festival coverage was crafted by James Farley.]