the triad music scene

by Ryan Snyder

the triad music scene

Ill-preparedness deflates Music on the Mountaintop

The greening movement in the summer music festival circuit has quickly evolved from trendy-if-you-do-it to taboo-if-you-don’t over the past couple of years and with good reason: Large gatherings of people can consume a lot of resources and quickly accumulate a ton of garbage. The intuitive drive to sort plastic and metal refuse, even in a state of inebriation, has become predominant as the message as been hammered home in festival recidivates, so it’s both disheartening and off-putting that some festivals continue to pat themselves on the back for doing what has become their ethical and civic obligation to do. While the second installment of the Music on the Mountaintop festival in Boone did deliver on its pledge to be an ecologically responsible and educational event while delivering a good lineup at the same time, it was some of their methodologies that created frustration among many attendees. One of the most crucial components of any multi-staged music festival is a schedule handout; they’re kept handy to know what band is playing where at any given time. In the spirit of reducing waste, Music on the Mountaintop provided none of these. A novel idea, surely with positive intentions behind it, but there also wasn’t a schedule posted anywhere. One of the most common conversations overheard in the crowd went as follows: “Do you know what band this is?” “I don’t know. I haven’t seen a schedule.” “Me neither.” It would have been possible for the truly-forward thinking fan to memorize the schedule in advance, but a last minute revision to set times would have completely undercut those intentions. But the music was good, even if it was unfair to those playing that means of being identified were absent. Forgive local favorites Badoofus ( for their inclusion of MGMT’s “Electric Feel” in their set, a great song victimized by monumental overexposure in television and film. It has to be assumed that popular culture is far slower to matriculate into the mountains, but cover versions are akin to anti-Ted Kennedy rants: Way too soon.

The main stage was packed with excellent acts, particularly later in the evening, and posting up all day in the hollow was a good move thanks to the adjacent stage that made for a seamless transition from act to act. It was refreshing to hear the more focused sound coming from Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band (; the move to pure funk suits them well. Steep Canyon Rangers ( were there usual excellent selves, though it was unfortunate that this particular show came before actor Steve Martin joined their tour. The negative impact from the schedule shake-up didn’t occur until later, as a promised two-hour Sam Bush set was abbreviated. Headliner Keller Williams was even threatened with having the power cut by local police if he didn’t “vacate the premises” 30 minutes earlier than the original and most-viewed online schedule indicated. There was an extra dose of Williams at the end of Bush’s set, who later returned the favor as he joined the one-man band midway through the evening’s final performance. As Williams rushed to close out the evening with local police looming, an agitated crowd screamed for an encore to no avail. The set was done well before the time promised, bringing a somewhat disappointing close to an enjoyable, yet problematic festival.

Keller Williams (left) and Sam Bush jam at Music on the Mountaintop (photo by Ryan Snyder).