Despite torrential downpours, a wet, heavy fog, plummeting temperatures and the general logistical confusion that is a return to in-person events, not a single soul at All Things Go Music Festival was dampened — not emotionally, at least.
When I arrived at the festival gates just after 11 a.m. on Saturday, I shuffled through the standard festival procedures (bag check, ticket pickup, the awkward tying of extra layers around my waist) and was almost immediately confronted with what would be the day’s most enduring theme; a pervasive friendliness.
“Is that a Micron pen?” A security guard asked me, peering into my bag. “Man, I love those things. Great choice.”
Jelani Aryeh, Isaac Dunbar
It seemed like everyone inside the festival gates wanted nothing more than to share a good time with their fellow festival-goers. From across the lawn I hear alt-pop singer Isaac Dunbar, a fellow Massachusetts native, jamming with a growing crowd.
The vibe inside the festival perfectly matched the lineup — breezy, indie, and eclectic, the West Gate opened up into a sunny lawn with main-stage opener Jelani Aryeh covering “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.” Aryeh is slender and well-disposed, and throughout the day could be seen bopping and weaving through the crowd, enjoying a drink while watching the other artists, easily identifiable by his halo of curls and brightly patterned shirt. When recognized, Aryeh always agreed to photos with fans, stopping and throwing out the brightest smiles of the evening.
Tkay Maidza, Del Water Gap
Tkay Maidza took the main stage shortly after Aryeh, playing opposite Del Water Gap. I settled in for the first half of her performance and found myself on my feet sooner than expected. Bubbly and energetic with sparkles high on her cheeks, Maidza was infectious — in the good way; vaccine checks and masks in indoor spaces were required by All Things Go. In platform white creepers and a frilled jumpsuit set, her Kim Possible inspired song “Kim” brought the highest energy I’ve ever seen in an early set.
Across the festival lawn and shrouded by old oaks, Del Water Gap crooned into a microphone under the festival’s Chrysalis Stage. A massive piece of urban art, the bright green stage soars 60 feet in the air and fits in perfectly amongst it’s forested settings.
Tai Verdes, Blu DeTiger
With storm clouds creeping in on the horizon, I made my way from the Chrysalis Stage back to the sheltered comfort of the Main Stage pavilion with a generously poured Bold Rock Cider, a Virginia local brew and one of the festival’s dozens of on-tap options. Triple projection screens behind the Main Stage broadcasted Blu DeTiger as she stepped onto the Chrysalis stage in a bootcut denim jumpsuit, electric guitar in hand and beachy waves flipped over to the side. “Are you guys okay in the rain?” She asked her crowd. “I’m fine, I’m covered, but I think this is kind of beautiful.”
The better prepared donned raincoats while she rocked alongside them, and I settled in to watch up-and-comer Tai Verdes. Verdes had an oh-so-2020 rise to fame, with his songs “Stuck in the Middle” and “A-O-K” going viral on TikTok, but his stage presence and performance speaks to that of a much more seasoned artist. Verdes’ boyish charm is palpable in his air guitars and ad-libs. About midway through his set, he seemed to step back and take a deep breath, before grinning at the crowd — and promptly hurling himself offstage. He was followed by a not so amused (and not quite as fast) security guard, making it back on stage just in time to wheeze into his mic, “I don’t even work out anymore. I just do this.”
Soccer Mommy, ROLE MODEL, Gus Dapperton
It was indie hour as the storm rolled in full force, blanketing sheets of rain on the lawn and Chrysalis stage while the temperature dropped from 80 to 60 degrees. Because I am bad at planning, I chose this moment to make my way over to one of the plentiful food stands. In the standard festival attire, I am woefully underprepared and angling for an Impossible Burger. But pervasive friendliness strikes again, and a couple standing in front of me usher me quickly under their umbrellas (thanks, Alexandria and AJ!). From underneath I watch 23 year old New Yorker ROLE MODEL dance across the Chrysalis stage, energy unhindered by the rain. He’s the smooth, slow-burning vocalist of your dreams, and his voice bounces off of Main Stager Soccer Mommy as she plays a largely ornamentless set, allowing her indie-rock lyrics and reverberating guitar to be the focus. Gus Dapperton thrilled with synth-pop in a schoolboy-esque sweater vest and collared shirt.
Beach Bunny, Cautious Clay
Beach Bunny plays opposite Cautious Clay, rocking through the storm with upbeat guitar solos and ultra-energetic music. She sports her multi-colored hair in two little pigtails, and they thrash with each movement of her head. Fan favorites like “Sports” and “Prom Queen” are well received on the main stage, where she has the crowd on their feet despite many of them being on hour four of standing. On the Chrysalis stage, Cautious Clay has his shivering audience wrapped up in warm vocals.
Girl in Red, Lauv
The penultimate acts before the festival’s headliners took their stages, Girl in Red and Lauv were sunset stunners. Jumping across the stage and bantering wryly with the crowd, Girl in Red played through her top hits “we fell in love in october” and “girls,” as well as “You Stupid B****,” a song off her new album. In between songs and crowdsurfs she dropped a huge bomb — that she’s officially taken — while turning down a fan’s request to marry her. The energetic set was mirrored by Lauv’s stage, where his hit song “Paris in the Rain” perfectly suited the weather, rain winding down into light mist and clouds parting for a spectacular sunset.
St. Vincent, Charlie XCX, HAIM
St. Vincent rolled on stage at 7 p.m., serving London rocker-chic in her white suit and matching curled bob. In front of retro-dressed backup dancers and a cityscape projection she was 100% rockstar, with passionate guitar solos and raspy vocal somersaults. While St. Vincent is effortlessly cool during her set, Charlie XCX is fully aware of her diva status. On the Chrysalis Stage she struts up and down in her black bodysuit and floor-length fur coat. All of our white wristbands are programmed to change light patterns with her set, and the result is intoxicating.
The three sisters of HAIM close the festival in a no-trick-spared set, drumming furiously along to their soulful lyrics. They’re every bit the headliner they’re set up to be, bringing an exceptional festival to it’s apt close. As the crowd streams out of the festival grounds and into the cold night, I’m struck once again by how light and happy everyone around me seems. The return of All Things Go is a celebratory beacon. Music lovers everywhere are back to doing what they do best; rocking out.
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