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All Things Go Music Festival 2023 Review


Altosaxo News All Things Go Music Festival 2023 Review

The All Things Go Music Festival returned to Merriweather Post Pavilion with the first two-day lineup (September 30 - October 1, 2023) in the event’s history. At this year's festival, all the headliners were women and non-binary artists. Festival-goers said that made for a more relaxed and inclusive audience mood at the two-day event.


The first day was headlined by Maggie Rogers and Carly Rae Jepsen, and also featured sets from Dayglow, Fletcher, Sudan Archives, Lizzy McAlpine, Mt. Joy, Peach Pit, Tegan and Sara and more.


Sudan Archives performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Sudan Archives performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.

The multi-talented Brittney Parks, also known as Sudan Archives, was (perhaps unjustly) granted only a 30-minute set, but she made every minute work for her. Donning a violin and a sharp voice, she mostly performed songs from her impeccable 2022 album Natural Brown Prom Queen, opening with an odd but mesmerizing choice of ‘Milk Me’, turning up with ‘Freakalizer’, and ending with ‘Selfish Soul’. The best moment came when she sang “NBPQ (Topless)”, and during the iconic bridge, she turned her self-empowerment anthem over to the crowd: “I’m not?”, she posed, “Average!” we all answered; “You’re not?” “Average!”; “We’re not?” “Average!”

Carly Rae Jepsen performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Carly Rae Jepsen performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.

The best set of the night, hands down, belonged to Carly Rae Jepsen. The ‘Call Me Maybe’ star of course sang her flagship hit (and everyone in the crowd knew every single word), but also performed upbeat synthpop from her two most recent albums, The Loneliest and LoveliestTimes, respectively. One particular run — ‘Surrender My Heart’, ‘Talking to Yourself’, ‘Shy Boy’, ‘Western Wind’, ‘Kollage’, then ‘Psychedelic Switch’ — showed her prowess of kicking it up, then taking it down with vibey, relaxing hits. Even campy songs like ‘Beach House’, not much when in an album, was extraordinarily fun live. Jepsen is an incredible performer, and you can tell she has a blast on stage — especially with some of her best songs, like ‘Run Away With Me’, ‘Want You In My Room’, and the closer ‘Cut to the Feeling’ (yes, she got a sword with this one!) I’d seen her once before, for the Dedicated tour in 2019, but it was like an entirely new experience. She’s a must-see for a spectacular night if she’s anywhere near your city — the pure joy she radiates is infectious. I left as an even bigger fan of her music and her as a person (if that’s even possible).

Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.

The Canadian duo Tegan and Sara took the main stage early on Saturday and sang a collection of songs from their more-than-two-decade-long career, including hits like ‘Boyfriend’, ‘Back in Your Head’, and, of course, ‘Closer’. I wasn’t too familiar with the band before this, but they were great live, showcasing a fun performing ability and great energy. It was a special moment for Sara, too, who admitted that because they were on so early, her 15-month-old was able to see her perform. Music for the whole family!


Maggie Rogers performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Maggie Rogers performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.

The headliner of the night, Maggie Rogers, closed out Day 1 with some songs from her rock-heavy latest record Surrender, whose massive production and angsty hits lent itself perfectly to the stage. ‘Anywhere With You’, ‘Want Want’, ‘Shatter’, and ‘That’s Where I Am’ were, as predicted, perfect for a large stage like the Merriweather Post Pavillion, and she even took the time to preview two upcoming songs, ‘Sick of Dreaming’ and ‘Don’t Forget Me’. I saw her at the Santa Barbara Bowl in 2019, promoting her folky album Heard It In A Past Life, but touring Surrender is a different animal, one where Rogers feels completely at home.


On the festival’s second day, several performers acknowledged its long-standing commitment to female and queer artists. Pop-punk revivalists Meet Me @ the Altar tweeted in celebration of “GAYCHELLA,” while MUNA lead vocalist Katie Gavin called the festival “Lesbopalooza” during her band’s set. “So many great things happening today,” said Alvvays bandleader Molly Rankin. “I feel like I’m at Lilith Fair.”

Edith Victoria and Téa Campbell of Meet Me @ the Altar perform live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Edith Victoria and Téa Campbell of Meet Me @ the Altar perform live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.

The spirit of that touring festival, which broke through the male-dominated music world in the late ’90s, was alive and well at this year’s edition, as was the organizers’ ability to curate a bill of indie-sounding artists (in total, 32 acts across two stages) spanning pop, rock and folk that are at times jangly, dancey, melancholic and jubilant was on full display. As always, All Things Go offered attendees the ability to — as a sign for a drone-shot photo op promised — “own the vibe.”



Midday acts Alvvays and Arlo Parks typified what the blog turned promoter has cultivated for nearly a decade. The former dealt in propulsive pop full of reverb, whammy riffs and shimmering keys. Parks, one of the day’s few performers of color, updated yacht rock for Gen Z, her wispy whispers and bedroom raps bouncing off soothing grooves and her band’s undulating clatter.

Fletcher performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Fletcher performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.

A highlight of the day, Ethel Cain provided a reprieve from the festival’s overall sunniness with a wave of summertime sadness. Cain specializes in slow-burn, Southern Gothic singalongs, and it was uncanny to hear her dirges in the daylight, even if her wide-open songs ably fill an amphitheater’s spaces. Early in her set, she kicked off her boots and socks, as if to get closer to the earth from where her songs seem to emanate. Whether sitting on the edge of the stage or at the barricade, her every gesture received a rapturous response, as crying fans reached out with bouquets, letters and trinkets, seeking to touch the hem of her garment.

Ethel Cain performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Ethel Cain performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Molly Rankin of Alvvays performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Molly Rankin of Alvvays performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.

On the side stage, Alex G represented another change of pace, both as one of the event’s few male-fronted acts and as a singer-songwriter with a gift for finding beauty amid dissonance and unease. A longtime DIYer, the 30-year-old artist has spent the past few years bringing his bedroom pop to bigger stages, layering on loops and tape-melted samples in the mix. His distinctive voice is often a pinched falsetto, or on Springsteenesque standout, “Runner,” a bared-teeth scream, At one point, it was also “buh-buh-buh” baby talk as he parodied typical stage banter.

Josette Maskin and Katie Gavin of MUNA perform live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Josette Maskin and Katie Gavin of MUNA perform live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.

Co-headliner boygenius also dabbles in irony — from the name of the all-female supergroup to bracketing their set with Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town” and 100 Gecs’ “Dumbest Girl Alive” — but make no mistake: the trio of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus is serious. Back at Merriweather for the second time this year, boygenius reasserted why it is one of the most beloved acts in contemporary music.

Lucy Dacus of boygenius performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Lucy Dacus of boygenius performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.

Recalling legendary groups like Fleetwood Mac and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, each member of the trio is an accomplished singer-songwriter on their own, but shines even brighter in a group, the members’ collective talent shoring up blind spots and taking each other into new realms. From gently swaying, fingerpicked folk to triple-ax attacks for happy headbangers, boygenius played nearly every song in its arsenal. As is often the case, “Salt in the Wound” closed the set in a frenzy, with Bridgers and Daucus worshiping Baker during a metal-as-hell solo, a “We’re not worthy” pose shared by the audience.

Julien Baker of boygenius performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Julien Baker of boygenius performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Phoebe Bridgers of boygenius performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Phoebe Bridgers of boygenius performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.

Nearly 10 hours after the first band took the stage, it was finally time to hear the gospel of Lana Del Rey, an American pop star unparalleled in her expression of America, pop and stardom. For Del Rey, the stage was the latest incarnation of her neon dream fantasy, equal parts Grand Ole Opry, Graceland and Vegas strip, with 20-feet-from-stardom background singersand a troupe of dancers bearing candelabras and riding on swings.


More than a decade and eight albums removed from her viral breakthrough, the 38-year-old singer-songwriter’s voice has grown to fit the world she’s created, with Disney princess trills, gospel runs and a chill-inducing higher register. Performed live on an amphitheater, her songs are even more epic.

Lana Del Rey performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.
Lana Del Rey performs live at All Things Go Music Festival 2023.

Halfway through the set, Del Rey surprised the crowd with an appearance by Jack Antonoff, the pop super-producer and her frequent collaborator. The pair played a pair of songs, but with the venue’s hard curfew fast approaching, Del Rey improvised again, flipping her set around “in case they cut the lights at the best songs.”

She took to the swing herself to perform “Video Games,” which still sounds as evocative as it did when it debuted, and after a few catalogue favorites, closed with “Hope Is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have — But I Have It.” As Del Rey ended the quietly devastating song, dancers dressed as orderlies wrapped her in a straight jacket-like shroud and dragged her offstage, an unsubtle metaphor for how America treats a woman who self-describes as “near sociopath” and “24/7 Sylvia Plath.”


For some, going to a two-day festival for 11 hours a day, braving the elements and mile-long lines for food, drink and a bathroom, and getting swept away in a sea of humanity is a form of near sociopathy. But for All Things Go attendees, the appeal is the crowd, the crush, the community — the communion with those that share a gender or sexual identity, a favorite band or even just a vibe. Muna, who headlined the side stage with a pristine set of electro-pop-rock maximalism, captured that spirit with “I Know a Place,” a song singer Gavin said the band wrote when they were just “three queers in a college dorm room.”

“We were full of a kind of hope that we could find a space where we could feel totally safe to just express ourselves,” Gavin said, “and that is totally contingent on everything you guys bring here.”


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