When it comes to a festival, the headliners create the aesthetic of the entire weekend, contributing to the experience of thousands of fans. This year at Roots N Blues N BBQ, the headliners managed to bring a strong personal vibe onto their stages, as diverse as they each were.
To start off, Patty Griffin brought a mellow twang to the night. Her soft, steady voice matched the warm colors of her clothes and the countless guitars sitting around her, which flowed together on stage.
The warm colored guitars, the steady drumbeat and the lighthearted addition of the guitarist next to her created a calming effect for those around. People were swaying, tapping their hands against their legs and enjoying the beautiful sunset around them. Griffin's red knee-high boots paired with her light purple dress, her long curly hair and light bounce in her presence all added to the tranquil atmosphere on stage and amongst the audience.
Next up and across the venue at the Missouri Lottery Stage was Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, which had a different kind of steady nature amongst the band members. The beat of the drums, strum of the guitar and close-knit feeling the band gave on stage made the hundreds of audience members feel more like a gigantic family than a gathering of strangers.
The black shirts, sunglasses and big hipster hats pulled together the group's eclectic sound and homegrown feel of their music. Jean jackets and button ups, black jeans and big grins, this band was an ocean of warm, dark colors and deep sound. Their long hair and beards only added to the raw feel of their lyrics.
Down to the straps of the guitars and front of the drum set, each small flair of style generated an upbeat calm amongst the engaged and energetic crowd. A semi-famous band became a feeling of home and familiarity as their expressions showed their intention and charisma.
Thirty minutes later, back across the long alley of food and drink, John Prine brought in dedicated fans at the Great Southern Bank Stage. The fans, excited at the beginning of each new song, shouted their joy into the night. The all-black pants and shirts added a level of seriousness to this already soulful artist. The backdrop — the most captivating one of the night — included an expansive tree with light cascading through.
That backdrop said it all, Prine is a soulful, deep and inspiring artist who shone through the darkness. His smooth and casual performance matched the dark, low-key outfits of the band. Though his stage presence was a light form of energy, the audience brought a loud and energetic energy to the mix.
As he calmly strummed his guitar, the violin danced in the background, the cello and drums set down a strong and steady beat, and the crowd hollered and danced like fools. Subtle, thoughtful and captivating: That was the scene at Prine's stage. He in his element, and the audience in theirs.
The end of the night showcased a new face to the festival, Maren Morris. The blue lights and fog that caressed the Missouri Lottery Stage before she made her appearance set the scene for what was to come. The pre-pump up music told the audience that this fierce woman meant business. The excited chatter from the audience took over the area, filling up the space with a positive force of energy.
As the dark atmosphere lingered and people eagerly waited for her to appear, a steady increase in volume slowly sprang to life through her lead guitarist as the woman herself ran on stage. The band wore all black, and Morris donned a grey bodysuit, black skinny jeans and shiny heels that added a little sparkle to the chaos.
As she roamed around the stage, shaking her hips and pulling the crowd into the music, her casual outfit left the focus on her lyrics and the harsh beat of the drums and multiple guitars on stage. Her sparkly mug full of who knows what added an extra bit of glimmer to her outfit, showing a bit more personality.
Music meant to be sung by all and the elaborate and colorful backdrops and lighting set the stage more than the choice of wardrobe. Her and the band's outfits were less of a vibe than her presence on stage. While the band stayed steady in their spots, Maren ran around between them, pumping people up and thrashing her hair around.
It was a night filled with interesting outfits, beautiful guitars and lyrics that could resonate with anyone and everyone.