The Mempho music festival made another triumphant return to the Memphis Botanic Gardens with its most diverse lineup to date. Rock and roll ruled Friday’s opening night. Headliners The Black Crowes tore through their long list of classics to the delight of throngs of mid southerners who have made the festival a permanent addition to their concert calendar.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead made their Memphis debut with a setlist that would have any deadhead drooling. From the opening “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” to a shortened “Throwing Stones” because they ran out of time, the band delivered one of their best festival sets in ages.
The ladies were not to be denied on day one. Lucius literally ventured into a welcoming crowd towards the end of their set. Without question, Larkin Poe opened the eyes of lots of new fans with a roaring rock and roll blues set that was the surprise highlight of the day.
The musical vibe shifted in the pop/alternative independent direction for day two of Mempho. Dinosaur Jr woke up the crowd and surrounding neighborhood with the loudest set of the festival. Things settled for alternative greats Ween, Band of Horses, and Paul Cauthen.
But day two was all about headliners My Morning Jacket. They easily matched the overwhelming abundance of energy and anticipation coming from the crowd. Their two hour set did not disappoint. Especially with sit ins from Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses) on “Wonderful” and J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr) on “One Big Holiday” and “Dancefloors.”
The final day of Mempho 2023 was more Rock and Soul than Rock and Roll before wrapping up with some country flair. The Zyn stage took care of the soul with performances by Billy Allen and the Pollies followed by The War and the Treaty. Lake Street Dive changed course and closed down the Zyn stage for
the year with a country flavored rock set. That country vibe and electricity immediately shifted to the Adams Keegan stage as the Turnpike Troubadours closed out the festival in grand style.
Here’s a gallery of photos from the 2023 Mempho Festival.