Beach Road Weekend finishes with a flourish

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Sunday at Beach Road Weekend brought a larger crowd than Saturday, with Phil Lesh & Friends and Grace Potter headlining the day’s lineup. 

The Original Wailers took the stage after local band Brothers McMahon at 12:30 pm, followed by Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Matisyahu, and Galactic, with local acts the Outskirts, Phil DaRosa Project, Evan Dando, and Mike Benjamin Band filling in the sets in between, offering seamless transitions between acts on the main stage and the second Martha’s Vineyard stage. 

It was a sunny afternoon, amplified with groovy saxophone-heavy riffs of Galactic echoing across the Veterans Memorial Park venue in Vineyard Haven. The crowd swayed, sat, ate, and danced harmoniously, with the largest crowd gathering for the Phil Lesh performance, but not before Grace Potter set the stage on fire. 

Potter radiated honest, high-energy — addressing the thousands who stood in front of her like old friends. “I feel like I’m 16 again,” she said, referencing the many summers spent here as a kid.

And then there was the chops. Grace Potter was born to perform. If she wasn’t shredding guitar or tearing up piano, she was sending shivers down your spine with her rock-heavy vocal performance. Heavy drum downbeats introduced “Medicine” for the first song of the set. She continued with “Your Girl,” “Nothing But Water,” and more stretching sound that showcased her vocal range. Potter introduced a new song about her year-old son, Sagan. “I’m gonna be in tune with myself and nobody else,” she told the captivated crowd. 

It was an expert segue to Phil Lesh & Friends, who took the stage around 7 pm. Lesh, who wore jeans and a faded blue flannel, opened with “Help On The Way,” mobilizing a swaying sea of tie-dye T-shirts. Lesh didn’t introduce all of his friends, but he performed with five fellow musicians who played up to the original Grateful Dead bass player’s talent. The set continued with “Slipknot,” “Franklin’s Tower,” “Scarlet Begonia,” and “Uncle John’s Band” — which Saturday’s headliner Dispatch played the night before. Dispatch lead singer and guitarist Chadwick Stokes stood about four rows from the front during Lesh’s performance. 

The venue cleared out around 8:30 pm, with a number of shuttle buses ready to transport people to their various parking zones. Festival-goers filed out as the town bustled with an amplified, controlled energy — an after-dark liveliness that doesn’t hit Tisbury often. Some vacated with their blue Beach Road Weekend lawn chairs in tow. The air’s cool crispness hinted toward September — it also hinted toward a lingering, all-encompassing question: 

“Think they’ll do this next year?”