Mother Nature wasn’t too kind, but Father John Misty made Newport shine. Sure, you can call him “Nancy From Now On”, but I would prefer to call him Newport’s savior. Newport Folk Festival ’13 always had the tough task of following up last year’s euphoria. Stacking up Conor Oberst, Jackson Browne, the Punch Brothers, The Tallest Man on Earth, Dawes, etc. on a scale would have any drug dealer begging for more money, but I’d be lying to you if I said Father John Misty, Feist, Blake Mills, Justin Townes Early, Jim James, The Felice Brothers, Andrew Bird, etc. didn’t do their best to level out the scale.
Unlike last year’s festival, Friday started off with a bang. With the likes of Malibu boys Dawes backing former bandmate Blake Mills followed by Phosphorescent, who played a set consisting of most of of their highly regarded album-of-the-year candidate, Muchacho.
Some things didn’t change, though. It poured throughout Friday and Rhode Island native John McCauley of Deer Tick played a lovely set for the millionth time at the festival. This year he played alongside Vanessa Carlton, his mother, and a glass of water (For McCauley, the water was a bit of a change of pace).
Saturday brought the sun and Father John Misty; or is it the other way around? It’s almost as if Joshua Tillman, formerly of Fleet Foxes, stepped out of Mick Jagger’s body and into Father John Misty’s. He danced, he drank, he smoked, he joked, he borrowed a girl’s iPhone and filmed himself (she was none-too-happy), but most importantly, he and his band played the hell out of their “MP3s”. He paved the way for a perfect Saturday featuring new Americana golden boy Justin Townes Earle, mainstays The Avett Brothers, and many more.
Sunday continued to bring more of the same. Ian Felice and Christmas painted their faces with mud before taking the Quad stage inside of the fort with The Felice Brothers. After a successful few years of touring with the likes of Dave Matthews and the Killers, it seems as if everyone knew the lyrics to “Whiskey In My Whiskey” and “Frankie’s Gun!” Following the brothers from upstate New York was Chicago-native and insanely good violinist Andrew Bird, whom dazzled the crowd with his finger picking, whistling, and vocal-range. Finally, closing out the festival was longtime rocker Beck on the main stage, a guy falling off of his kayak, and people hurrying to chug their local Newport beers before the gates closed (thanks Newport for your kind breweries). I’d focus more on Beck rather than the beers, but I’d rather not get a bad name among Scientologists.
Based off of reputation, Newport sold-out their 2013 Folk Festival before the lineup was even announced; damn was it worth purchasing that blind ticket. If you feel like enjoying the friendliest festival in the world during the summer of ’14, I’d recommend getting your tickets on the day they go on sale! Spoiler alert: the lineup will be amazing.
– Gregory Crotty