All photos by Laura Carbone
Burlington’s Waterfront Park was bristling with energy as people waited for the Harwood Union High School Assembly Band to kickoff the fifth annual Grand Point North festival. The crowd was sparse during the first few acts, but started to fill in around the time Amy Helm & the Handsome Strangers took the stage in the early evening. Mal Maiz, Maryse Smith with Michael Chorney, Madaila and Odessa were the preceding acts, with Mike Gordon, Shakey Graves and then Grace Potter closing out the night.
Potter, who created the festival and headlines yearly, truly outdid herself, grabbing the attention of most– if not everyone– in the crowd. As a Vermont native, Potter attracts an ever-expanding local fan base, but thousands of people came to the weekend festival, travelling from across the lake and well beyond to see her and the other talented musicians. Potter has grown tremendously in the past few years; in 2010, Potter and her former band released a self-titled album, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, which topped iTunes charts. Potter released her first solo album this past August, flaunting her versatile style and abilities.
The crowd was ecstatic as Potter took the stage Saturday night. The set was performed with intense passion, captivating the audience through a stimulating light show paired with spirited choreography. Performing an array of songs from her many albums, “Paris (Ooh La La),” “Low Road,” “Runaway,” “Stop the Bus,” “Hot To The Touch” and “Delirious” among them. Potter successfully moved the crowd when she sang “Stars,” a song written about someone close to her who passed away. At the end of the night, Potter pulled Mike Gordon onto the stage, where the two performed Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire.” In the biggest surprise of the evening, Kenny Chesney strolled onstage, joining Potter in a fervent rendition of their single “Wild Child,” which was released earlier in the year. The night came to a thrilling, satisfying end when the day’s lineup of musicians all joined Potter on stage to sing one last song, “Burning Down the House.”
– Alexandra Provost