By Max Stewart
Atlanta’s own SweetWater 420 Fest has quickly become one of the most sought-after festival lineups in the country by attracting the most musically-capable lineups. Musicians with true talent and ability take songs to a whole new level, complete with unique live flavorings and epic improvisational jams. SweetWater has curated a great niche in the U.S. festival scene, one of which can oftentimes be watered-down with ‘trying-to-please-everyone’ lineups. After nearly 3 years (!), SweetWater 420 Fest is back in full swing. There are so many great musicians represented this year, but we wanted to highlight a few that we will most definitely be enjoying a SweetWater brew while watching at Centennial Olympic Park this year.
The weekend actually kicks off Thursday with a ‘Pre-Party in the Park’ with two sets from The String Cheese Incident, an Umphrey’s McGee cover set dubbed “All Night Wrong” with special guests, Dead & Company bassist / Col. Bruce Hampton alum Oteil Burbridge & Friends, and Tauking McGee. We caught the Tauking McGee (a musical collaboration of Tauk and Umphrey’s McGee) late-night during 2019 at the Variety Playhouse, and it was a joyous evening of tunes (Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” was unreal).
Colorado’s SCI will be well-represented throughout the weekend, also headlining Friday night with two sets. Friday will also feature Austin’s legendary blues guitarist and songwriter Gary Clark Jr., guitarist prodigy Brandon ‘Taz’ Niederauer, Lotus, and Karina Rykman (of Marco Benevento’s band), amongst many others. Another artist we are really looking forward to catching is the Richmond jazz outfit Butcher Brown on Friday afternoon. So much balance of great musicianship to start the weekend.
Saturday may go down as one of the most heavyweight days in festival history. Some fantastic bluegrass acts throughout the day (Kitchen Dwellers and Town Mountain), as well as some superb local talent including Atlanta’s own Bird Dog Jubilee. The rest of the afternoon lineup is so stacked: JJ Grey & Mofro, Spafford, two sets of Umphrey’s McGee, Goose (two-hour set) and then two sets from Trey Anastasio Band! If there is a NBA 1992 Dream Team equivalent for a festival, this may be it. Find a good spot, don’t forget your sunscreen, and get comfortable.
Sunday wraps with another epic day most notable for the return of the supergroup Oysterhead, who features Trey Anastasio, Stewart Copeland from The Police, and Les Claypool from Primus. The day also kicks off with a two hour set from 420 fest alums Big Something that will be a perfect start to the final day. Thievery Corporations, two sets from Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, and Snarky Puppy are other highlights to put on your schedule Sunday.
But honestly, there are too many great artists to count! Cannot wait to see everyone out there — daily schedules below! Tickets still available here: https://sweetwater420fest.com/2022-tickets/