Festivals are always tough. The Newport Folk Festival is damn near impossible. The amount of top-tier talent packed into this weekend was overwhelming. There was just no way one could take in all of the brilliance shining from the stages at Fort Adams. Surely, something was going to be missed. With that in mind, these were my five favorite performances from the first day of the 2014 Newport Folk Festival.
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Surely this was the loudest, most brutal set to ever grace the Newport Folk Festival. Jordan Cook's heavy blues-rock guitar playing paired with his animalistic stage presence made for the most memorable set of the day (and weekend) for me, and one that would be talked about all around the fort for the remainder of the festival.
2. Ryan Adams
I went into Ryan Adams' set wanting to hear two songs. He only ended up playing one of them. However, everything he did play, paired with his attitude and banter made for an impressive display of post-depression angst and self-realization that elevated Adams to a new level for me.
3. Jenny Lewis
Jenny Lewis was one of the only sets this weekend where I just sat back and soaked up the sun and the sounds. A much better overall experience than her set at this past May's Boston Calling Music Festival.
4. Band of Horses
Probably the best build-up of any set of the weekend. Band of Horses eased into things at the Fort stage, starting out slow and ending up leaving us all in awe.
5. Jimmy Cliff
I saw Jimmy Cliff open for the Dave Matthews Band a couple years ago. I was uninterested and unimpressed. I was stupid. This set was all kinds of fantastic, and Cliff was as energetic and fun as can be.
Bonus: Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer
I just couldn't go without mentioning these two. Their take on traditional folk songs was absolutely gorgeous, and I couldn't think of a better way to kick off the main stage at this year's Newport Folk Festival.