Atlanta will be kicking off its annual SweetWater 420 Fest this Friday, April 21 – 23. Ranking alongside Bonnaroo and Hangout Fest, SweetWater 420 Fest consistently pulls big name bands and new talent alike. The multiple-day event offers multiple-sized stages for musicians from all backgrounds to showcase new material and songs that will undoubtedly entertain. It’s set to be hosted in Centennial Park, an urban playground that skirts the city central. As for the performances scheduled for this year, check below. We know you’ll enjoy.
SweetWater Stage / Sunday, April 23 / 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
“Push th’ Little Daisies” became Ween’s biggest hit, but to their cult-like fanbase, it pales in comparison to their catalog. This experimental rock band draws their inspiration from funk, soul, gospel, country, and celtic reggae, among others. The world of music has been Ween’s oyster, and they’ve explored the depths of all genres through their albums. Impossible to adequately describe, Ween is a world apart from most bands you’ve heard. There is no single word that could adequately describe them, but hundreds that might pay tribute. “Adventurous” and “experimental” are two. This group, who’s been entertaining the jam base for over 30 years, will definitely bring a musical maturity to Sweetwater.
SweetWater Stage / Saturday, April 22 / 7:30 – 11 p.m.
SweetWater Stage / Sunday, April 23 / 6:30 – 10 p.m.
With two sets on Saturday and Sunday, Panic will both verify and expand the “420” festival’s namesake. Although drummer Duane Trucks officially replaced Todd Nance in early 2015, loyal and new fans alike continue to rely on the band’s extended interpretation of the blues. Singer/rhythm guitarist John Bell’s sweet Southern rasp is almost right where fans left it, getting caught between masterfully quick guitar licks of Herring, the usual love-it-or-hate-it crux of the band. Give these gray-haired hunks a few songs to warm up — the taste they offer is, after all, acquired.
Planet 420 Stage / Friday, April 21 / 6:15 – 7:30 p.m.
From his beginnings with Mos Def, to his recent collaborations with Kanye West and Pharrell Williams, Kweli has taken his conscious rap movement more than once around the block. He showed big support for future trail blazers J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar in their early days. The least we can do is show love back to this lyrical genius, born to two teachers, who uses his gift as a platform to confront real world issues and promote social awareness. Talib Kweli is an icon of an older rap world, the same one that Pac and Biggie were a part of, that preached that the pen was mightier than the sword during periods of explosive inner city violence. He’s got words to say. We suggest you be there to listen.
TREY ANASTASIO BAND
SweetWater Stage / Friday, April 21 / 7:30 – 11 p.m.
If you know Trey Anastasio, you know he’s the frontman of Phish. While they naturally perform some of the same songs, Trey Band explores more classical accompaniment. Female vocalists who probably shredded Les Mis in high school, with jazz pianists and horn players, Trey Band is a must-see live act. It’s proof that solid songwriting can translate into different interpretive styles and exude different personalities.
Planet 420 Stage / Sunday, April 23 / 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Next up on the colossal lineup that is SweetWater 420 Fest is the Brooklyn-based funk super-group, coming together under the veggie-friendly moniker, Lettuce. This musically mature band of brothers are out on the ‘Mount Crushmore Tour,’ a journey named after their latest EP. Lettuce mixes heavy funk with hip-hop beats and jazz-influenced funk. Get to ready to get, get down.
DARK STAR ORCHESTRA
SweetWater Stage / Sunday, April 23 / 1:45 – 3:30 p.m.
Dark Star is more than a Grateful Dead cover band. They play historic Dead shows from start to finish, note for note — and absolutely crush it. Dark Star shows are like a family reunion, attracting old-school heads — with their experienced musicianship and professional stage presence — as well as those poor but enlightened souls just now coming to the scene. Currently celebrating their 20th year of being a band, Dark Star Orchestra is fun for the whole family, heart, body, and soul.
THE HIP ABDUCTION
SweetWater Stage / Friday, April 21 / 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
If you came to Sweetwater to get away, The Hip Abduction will be the show that takes you there. This is what happens when traditional Reggae spends some time riding the swells of the Florida coast. It loosens up, pulls in a little jazz, sprinkles in a touch of synth-pop, and backtracks with the rustic sound of the kamale ngoni. The only other time you’ve heard a ngoni in your life was when you were in West Africa and the local tribesmen gathered to call the rain…you know, that time.
Lyrics and Laughter Stage / Friday, April 21 / 3:45 – 5:00 p.m.
If you haven’t heard of them, you will soon. CBDB released their third album, The Fame EP in mid-2016, and now the Alabama-based band is riding a wave of acclaim. Their style, a blend of progressive rock and tasteful lyrics, has been dubbed ‘joyfunk’ by a rapidly growing fanbase. Their musicianship is impressive, and it’s showcased not only in tight rehearsed sequences but also in moments of organic improvisation. Think of it as instrumental poetry that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Planet 420 Stage / Friday, April 21 / 2:15 – 3:45 p.m.
Samantha Fish is a white elephant. You’ll not find many others out there like her. A student of the edgy blues that were so commonly heard screaming from the guitar of Ray Charles, Fish is an artist with soul. She is, in a word, bewitching. Mark our words, she uses the twelve bars to show respect to her own roots and uses heartfelt lyrics to take her audience for a ride. Come time for her performance on Friday, you’ll understand why her newest album is titled Chills and Fever.
SweetWater Stage / Saturday, April 22 / 1:20 – 2:50 p.m.
Life experience and honesty permeate this Swedish musician’s music, who has long called the lively streets of New Orleans home. You might have already heard him hash out some old school guitar riffs or sing a ballad like a present-day shade of Bob Dylan, but one thing is certain: his performances have an uncanny knack to excite and entertain. Anders will be a true highlight of this year’s SweetWater 420 festival, and you’ll want to be front and center as he performs songs from his newest album, Flower Box.
TROMBONE SHORTY & ORLEANS AVENUE
SweetWater Stage / Saturday, April 22 / 3:10 – 4:50 p.m.
When people think of horn music, most can’t help but think of roaming the music-filled streets of New Orleans, and that’s exactly where this next crew is from. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue are a group of six guys who have not only honed their craft, but have also managed to find a sound that is uniquely their own. They run the gamut from traditional jazz to searing rock, sometimes dabbling in both. Troy Andrews, at lead, writes most of their material and performs keyboard, while the rest of the crew fills in with what they call the “chank” or funk. These dudes are sure to blow the Birks right off your feet!
Planet 420 Stage / Saturday, April 22 / 4:15 – 5:45 p.m.
When a band has a palindrome for a name, it’s almost required that you give them a listen. To ignore would bring worse luck than walking under a ladder or catching a glimpse of a black cat. This Boston-born band projects its soul at you through a four-piece, instrumental array, and has consistently pushed the boundaries of their sound to incorporate rhythmic lyrics with their signature acid-jazz-jam sound.
Lyrics and Laughter Stage / Sunday, April 23 / 12:45 – 2 p.m.
These up-and-coming funksters are sweeping the festival circuit with a stronger, more confidant sound than your typical frat-party funk band. Catch them on the afternoon of the last day of the fest, when being hungover ain’t that bad. (OK, it’s pretty bad, but these cats will make it better.)