Scenes from Wente’s Front Porch Music Festival
The sixth annual music festival marked the winery’s most successful year yet, drawing large crowds to see headliners the Dodos and the Mountain Goats perform in the intimate Livermore venue.
All photos by Kristen Haney
Wente Vineyards’ sixth annual Front Porch Music Festival may have finally gotten Livermore the musical cred it deserves. While the winery has hosted big names such as John Fogerty and Sheryl Crow this summer, the September 1 festival transformed Wente’s Tesla Road venue into a prime destination for music fans from across the Bay, many drawn to the festival for headliners the Dodos and the Mountain Goats. Both lawns quickly filled with blankets and chairs, lines for wine and food (which sold out at one point) stretched back, and by the time the Dodos took the stage, a large crowd filled with eager fans had gathered.
(Left) The Dodos, (Right) The Front Porch
This sense of intimacy differentiated the Front Porch Music Festival from many of the Bay’s other musical summer gatherings, which is something organizer Karl Wente strived for. “I just wanted to set up a venue and a vibe of where I’d want to hang out with my friends,” he says. “The vibe is mellow—good music, good wine, outside on the grass, kids dancing, and hula hoops going.”
There were no gates or guards separating the musicians from the fans, many who snapped close-up photos and videos of the bands. John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, in particular, seemed to relish the crowd interaction, turning to them for the words to seldom performed numbers and offering tongue-in-cheek introductions to songs (“…because we all know, when you torture a man to death, you’re really torturing yourself”).
The success of this year’s festival may also mark a turning point in Livermore’s reputation, putting the city firmly on the map as a destination for more than just wine. Wente agrees the scene is changing. “I’ll be the first to say, I love the town, but 10 years ago there weren’t a lot of places I was excited to show my friends. But it’s really coming around and there’s great music coming out of here,” he says. “So, we’ve got good food, good wine, good music, and with those three things come good people. What else do you need?”