AUTHOR'S NOTE: I provided all the merch for this festival this year
This was such a polarizing festival for me. On the one hand, the atmosphere was everything I hoped it would be. These hippie festivals always have great vibes, and from start to finish Pilgrimage certainly did not disappoint. However, at the same time there were a significant number of growing pains, and a lot of logistical details that made me want to pull out my hair and scream WHAT ARE YOU DOING? This review, since it's coming several weeks after the festival, will simply be a discussion versus highlighting the good and the bad. I do not feel I was able to see enough of the acts at the festival to create an ordinary festival review.
That said, I will say Beck was in an entirely different zip code than the rest of the acts of the festival, but this is more of a credit to how talented Beck is. If you ever get the opportunity to see Beck and enjoy live music, see him. Even if you hate his music, his show is more than worth seeing.
In stark contrast to 90's star Beck, you have 90's star Cake. I don't know what happened with this set, but John McCrea had clearly woken up on the wrong side of the bed that morning because he was extremely grumpy from start to finish during this set, and it really rubbed me the wrong way. I did not remember McCrea being that negative during his performance at Bonnaroo a few years back.
But I want to talk about logistics. So, I gave Pilgrimage a free pass last year. I don't think anyone anticipated them being as successful as they were, but then this year rolls around and naturally they should be ready for it, right? Well.....not quite. While there weren't any ridiculous decisions, there were a lot of things here and there that really didn't make sense. Like why was there only one single file stairwell to get to and from the Harpeth River stage? It made for some pretty ridiculous bottlenecks when those bands were just starting or finishing their sets. To make this decision even more ridiculous, last year there were two entrances to this stage, but....they decided that with the rise in popularity....they would shut down one of those entrances? Totally makes sense. Getting in and out of the festival was a little difficult too, but I think that was more the result of people not knowing where the additional exits were besides the main one. The crew also ran out of maps pretty early on, which was surprising.
Also, and this was by FAR the biggest complaint of most, was the water. There were only two or three water stations spread out across the grounds, and none of them had good water pressure. Not to mention the water was extremely warm. Festival planners (and The Park at Harlinsdale Farm) need to improve the water issues next year or the growth of the festival will definitely be stifled.
However, at the end of the day, Pilgrimage did make some pretty noticeable steps to improve the overall experience, and it's setting is still just a gorgeous as it was last year. Watching the sun set behind Beck and Jason Isbell was a site to behold, and easily worth the cost of admission by itself. The overall quality of the acts were definitely better than last year, with plenty of gems hidden on the off-the-beaten-path Harpeth River stage too. Even Darryl Hall & John Oats were a good festival closer, despite being a last second addition. Now that Justin Timberlake has bought a major stake in his hometown festival, I can't wait to see what's in store next year. I know I will be making the Pilgrimage again in 2017.
Oh, and the merch was awesome. In case you were wondering.
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Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: