About This Festival
The Interlocking Music Festival—or Lockn’, as it’s known—launched in 2013 when Dave Frey (who founded the H.O.R.D.E. Festival) and Peter Shapiro (who owned the legendary NYC rock club Wetlands Preserve) decided they wanted to create an event embodying this theme: “When something ends, another begins.”
It’s a powerful and simple motto, one that calls to mind sustainability, and it guides all facets of Lockn’, including the entertainment itself, but also the camping, lodging, food, and beverages. Frey and Shapiro said they set out to establish “a uniquely welcoming gathering place for an underserved community of music lovers. We knew they would respond to our creative approach.”
True to the founders’ theme, there are just two main stages set up side by side, so fans never have to make a choice as to which artist they want to see. The music is uninterrupted, and the performances are indeed interlocking.
Lockn’s first year brought 25,000 people and saw the participation of 16 nonprofits and more than 80 food, beverage, and artisan vendors, with 28 musical acts performing. Most obvious was the event’s ability to draw—to “interlock,” as it were—many different artists from different generations and genres, thereby “interlocking” the audience together too.
Lockn’ owes a bit to legendary events such as Newport, where artists are constantly popping up and surprising fans, and a laid-back vibe permeates—it’s all about the music. Lockn’ also offers meaningful nods toward artists who have shaped much of contemporary music. Guests who came for the first year would have seen a fair bit of collaboration, some of it as advertised, some of it purely serendipitous. Artists in that inaugural lineup included the String Cheese Incident, Gov’t Mule (Grace Potter made a special appearance during the performance), the Wayne Haynes Band, Furthur, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the Trey Anastasio Band, the Black Crowes, Jimmy Cliff, and the Zac Brown Incident. You may have caught John Fogerty sitting with Widespread Panic or Phil Lesh and Bob Weir playing Workingman’s Dead.
The setting itself is as much a draw as the lineup, and one the best ways to experience them is cycling: Lockn’ encourages bicycle use, both for practical and recreational purposes. The grounds are extensive, with 30 miles of biking trails of varying degrees of difficulty. There’s a selection of mountain bikes available for borrowing—no fee required. Have a breakdown or need some direction? Visit the Wheelhouse, built in conjunction with Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club, for repairs, guided rides, and just to talk about the trails.
The Local Angle
In 2014, this fest began inviting local musicians to participate in “Rockn’ to Lockn’,” whereby fans chose their favorite Virginia band to appear. Over several summer nights, bands perform, fans vote, and two bands nab coveted spots on the Main Stage.
Many festivals dedicate space to substance-free camping zones, or at the very least, quiet areas, but how many go as far as Lockn’, with programming to support it? Sober Lockn’ acknowledges the hard work some folks have done in order to live drug- or alcohol-free, and even provides meetings twice a day in a church across the street from festival grounds.