2013 Newport Folk Festival: Day One

All photos by Joy Asico (joy@chunkyglasses.com/www.asicophoto.com)

On Friday afternoon, under a cloudy and drizzly sky, Kingsley Flood kicked off the Newport Folk Festival from the Fort Stage to a crowd that couldn't wait to get started. Almost as soon as the band began to play, the crowd began to dance along. "Sun's Gonna Let Me Shine," "Pick Your Battles," and "The Fire Inside" were a perfect antidote to the damp weather. It was the perfect way to begin a festival and created pretty high expectations for the rest of the weekend.

The six-piece band hailing from Boston and Washington, DC, kept the momentum strong throughout the set, even while pausing to dedicate "Battles" to a friend, or ask if anyone liked country music, because "Devil's Arms" was a country song for people who don't like country. Lead singer Naseem Khuri and Jenée Morgan, on violin, saxophone and vocals and occasionally tambourine, were almost never still, radiating an energy from the stage that the crowd picked up on and echoed back. People put small children on their shoulders to dance in front of the stage. "I Don't Wanna Go Home" closed the set on a rowdy note, and a perfect sentiment for the rest of the festival day.

Following some stellar sets from The Milk Carton Kids, songwriter extraordinaire Blake Mills and Seattle’s Hey Marseille, The Mountain Goats, (guitarist/singer John Darnielle accompanied by bassist Peter Hughes and drummer Jon Wurster), took the Harbor Tent stage at Newport Folk Festival. The day’s steady drizzle had finally become a full rainfall, but that fact seemed lost on the overflow crowd that packed the alcove by the stage, with festival-goers sticking it out in the rain without raincoats, umbrellas, or in some cases, shoes to witness the impassioned performance. Mountain Goats closed their set with fan favorite, “This Year.” An anthem of survival, its line “I’m going to make it through this year if it kills me” was appropriately celebrated by the audience by dancing in the mud, free of any encumbrances like umbrellas, raincoats or shoes.

After a quick break Phosphorescent took the stage to deliver a raucous, feedback laden set, and then it was time for hometown boy done good, Deer Tick’s John McCauley closed out Day 1 of the Quad Stage. He announced to the crowd he'd been on the Board of Directors ("or whatever") for the Festival, but other than taking a few calls, he couldn't take much credit for the success of things. The tent was packed, but so silent when he wasn't singing that you could hear the rain on the tent. 

In addition to covering Deer Tick favorites like "The Bump," "Art Isn't Real," and "Houston TX," McCauley invited guest Vanessa Carlton to the stage to sing "In Our Time,” a track from the bands upcoming release Negativity. Later in the set the crowd went nuts when McCauley teased lyrics to the classic “Margaritaville” and then brought his mother to come to the stage to perform the track proper.

Old Crow Medicine Show played the final set of the day. As they closed their set with Tom Petty's American Girl, the setting sun broke through the day's rainclouds, spreading light, creating the perfect Newport moment. Music and dancing with the natural beauty of rainbows across the harbor, sparkling in the setting sun. Despite the dampness from the rain and the long grey day, the crowd left elated, eagerly anticipating another day of this most magical of festivals.

Click to see the full gallery of photos from Day One of 2013's Newport Folk Festival