Grace Potter and the Nocturnals rock Grand Point North

Vermonters had to travel no further than the Burlington waterfront for soulful local sounds.      On Aug. 13, Grand Point North Festival transformed the waterfront into a stage of setting sun, with an audience of varied ages antsy for headliner Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.   The five-person band with modern Tina Turner, instrumentalist Grace Potter, produced the festival in collaboration with Higher Ground. Without the usual festival chaos of sweaty campers and shady drug dealers, Grand Point North entertained instead with vendors and local acts alongside the purple and yellow Harpoon truck. From a baby with giant headphones to a group of gray-haired tipsies, all seemed eager for the final act. “She’s such a rock star,” junior Ailynne Adams said of Grace Potter, who stood out in a sparkly dress against the rest of the band dressed all in black. As they opened up with “Ah Mary,” the Grace Potter and the Nocturnals winged insignia framed Potter with her V-shaped guitar and long flared sleeves feathering out, a stuffed white tiger to her side.   She head-banged to the song about a cookie-making, fire-starting woman, then shed the guitar for the keyboards, smiling more as she sang.  In leather, the guitarists looked rocker-glam and wailed respectfully to pull it all off. The concert brought to mind Sharon Jones at Higher Ground last February, with UVM students grooving alongside others who could easily have been their parents or even grandparents, an indicator of the healthy community Burlington proides. Like openers Fitz and the Tantrums, Potter commented on the stunning sky, fiery orange and flecked with strips of clouds.  Hailing from Waitsfield herself, this was the perfect backdrop for the stage.   Potter spoke on their love of Vermont and the milestone now marked by this festival. It has been this past year with the release of their third album under Hollywood records that Grace Potter and the Nocturnals has received greater national recognition. “She has been compared to Bonnie Raitt of my generation,” said Adams’ mom, Julie, who had headed south of Montgomery Center to see Potter for her birthday. “She looks like she’d beat you up,” Ailynne Adams said. Out of nowhere her Joplin-esque screams and ghostly “oohs” rang out across the waterfront for “Oasis.” With the fast track lighting on her face, Potter looked possessed playing organ keys. From where a few slightly intoxicated older couples stood, comments on this new trippy and edgy sound were made, that this was not her typical Vermont country-infused style — that this was perhaps disappointingly different. But watching Potter swinging the microphone wire up in the air with hair almost always in her face, hiding a mouth which produced the soulfully aggressive voice for “Medicine” and cover of “White Rabbit,” Potter didn’t seem disappointing. She seemed badass.