It’s difficult to overstate the impact of returning to live music after a year of relative silence, but Amy Fradley summed it up well.
“I’ve had this recurring dream,” the executive director of the Teton Valley Foundation said. “I’m standing on stage, I look out on a huge crowd of my community, and they’re standing there clapping and cheering when I say … ‘Welcome to Music on Main 2021.’”
That dream came true Thursday night, when hundreds of Jackson Hole and Teton Valley, Idaho, residents took to Victor City Park with blankets, camp chairs and high spirits for the opening session of the free outdoor summer concert series, revitalized this year after a pandemic-prompted hibernation.
The Tetons’ own Lonesome Gold opened the show with a set of head-banging rock covers and a few originals off their new album.
Free-spirited children cartwheeled in front of the stage, and a few took home lucky sticks after drummer JP Gallagher tossed them to the crowd at the end of the set.
“It marks people’s freedom again,” said frontman Casey Kristofferson, who was able to share the show with his wife and their 7-month-old son, Brooks. “I’m really stoked about it.”
Originally, Brooks was going to sport noise-canceling headphones, but the tyke immediately ripped them off.
“Clearly he wanted to rock,” said his mom, Amber Kristofferson.
The openers tossed things to headlining soul group The Broadcast after nearly an hour and a half. Casey Kristofferson, thoroughly exhausted, collapsed in the snack tent, a performance glow lingering on his face.
“We’re really lucky to be the first band out,” he said. “Enough can’t be said about the organizers.”
The Teton Valley Foundation has put on the outdoor series every year since 2007, but this summer Fradley is trying to pass the baton to younger blood, namely one Kate Driscoll, who also works at Victor’s Highpoint Cider.
Jenny Hawkins has managed the festival’s beer concessions for 12 years, and on Thursday she helped Highpoint co-founder Alex Perez navigate the crowd with a precarious stack of cider cans.
Hawkins said the audience this year was larger and more exuberant than ever. She acknowledged that this year’s COVID-wary swap from kegs to individual cans created a bit of a bottleneck, but said, “We’re super appreciative of everyone’s patience.”
Beth Byrd, manager of Grand Targhee Resort’s Trap Bar and a longtime Music on Main volunteer, implored folks to join the vital setup and breakdown crew that mostly works behind the scenes each event but is treated to free Pinky G’s pizza and some snazzy light blue T-shirts for their effort.
One such volunteer, Emily Meyer, was one of the more popular folks at the festival. While most carousers had to wait in a long, snaking line for drink tokens and beer, Meyer shouldered a full sack of cold ones packed in ice that she handed out for $5 a pop.
“Everyone is so pumped,” she said. “The energy is incredible.”
The Broadcast — guitarist Aaron Austin, keyboardist Mike Runyon, bassist William Seymour, percussionist Tyler Housholder and drummer Michael Davis — got going at 8 p.m. with a soft, building groove, before lead vocalist Caitlin Krisko took to the stage. From the moment the spotlight found Krisko, the Asheville, North Carolina, singer was a beacon. She swung her hips, spun her hair and filled the evening air with full-bodied emotional sound.
“We’re going to get really rowdy tonight,” she said after the opening song.
Rocking a Key West hat and an extra-large can of Miller High Life, Victor resident Scott Taylor was immediately taken by the frontwoman, and infatuated with the groove.
“We all waited a long time for this,” he said.
Bill Cheney, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort lift maintenance manager, bounced his youngest son, 1-year-old Will, on his shoulders, blue eyes beaming and a euphoric smile painted on his face.
As The Broadcast played through a golden sunset, a younger crowd filled City Park, pressing up tight against the stage barriers. And just as Krisko predicted, the rowdiness let loose shrieks and toasts, while she writhed around the stage, equal parts enchanting and effervescent.
“I’m gonna jam your face off,” one spectator screamed. “No, I’m gonna jam your face off,” another fired back.
The Broadcast booked a spot at Music on Main last year as part of an album release tour for its 10-track record, “Lost My Sight.” But the tour, along with the rest of the 2020 Music on Main lineup, was nixed by the coronavirus pandemic.
After a two-hour set Thursday, The Broadcast was summoned back to the stage by shouts of “encore,” and obligingly brought things home with a resounding Southern soul tune.
“Anything to linger in this gorgeous, connected experience,” Krisko told the crowd.
Music on Main runs through Aug. 12, with Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers on deck for June 24 and, after a week off for Fourth of July festivities, crowd-pleasing Irish rockers The Young Dubliners on July 8. Go to TetonValleyFoundation.org/music-on-main/event-information for details.