August 5, 2012
11:00am- Last Day:
By day three we have a rhythm. I sneak out of the tent early to grab a shower, some coffee, & some alone time. Then, I hike up (with some hot coffee for my fella) and climb into our sleeping bags for warmth and cuddling. We visit with our neighbors, before pulling up the daily line-up on our iphones and make a snack.
Only, this is our last morning in the back 40 loop, so things are slightly different today. We’re sad to have it end, but we’re looking forward to our real bed. Loading the wagon neatly, we take a few last snaps of our neighbors, and pack it out. Goodbye Neverland. The air is fetid and our gear is cumbersome, but it’s easier trucking out than in… down the trails we go.
12:00pm: Gordon Gano
Now that the camp gear has been stowed, I’m sitting in the trunk of my Suzuki making a salami sandwich. It’s H-O-T out. We’re in the dusty parking lot and I’m wearing a frilly little sundress, flip-flops and giant shades. I’m sweating like a piggy and drowsy from heat, but pleased to have discovered that the trunk of my economy car makes a roomy makeshift kitchenette. We need to head back to Seattle soon– we both work early Monday morning–and decide to wing it for the last day. No schedule—just a couple of hours of whatever happens next. I’m sitting cross-legged against the backpacks.
What happens next is this: First, I hear a weird, ecstatic rumbling. Faintly…then clearly…I hear the Violent Femmes‘ “American Music” playing. “Which band is covering The Violent Femmes, I woner. Then Jamie says, “Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes front-man), do you hear him I forgot that he was playing.” We shove everything in the car, I grab the camera, and we run. I feel like Forrest Gump. Run…run…I’m running in my flip-flops. Jamie shouts…”go ahead without me (like we’re on a battlefield)…we’ll find each other after…go, go!” We miss all of “American Music,” but we soon hear the beginning of the Violent Femmes‘ classic “Add it up.” I run up to the stage and show my wrist-band. I’m filth and dust from toe to knee and my breasts are barely contained in a strappy sundress, but oddly I don’t give a crap. I am wildly snapping pictures and I’m standing like a foot beneath Gordon Gano screaming the lyrics to “Add it up.” I have no couth… I’m as geeky as I was at 12, screaming this song in my pre-teen bedroom.
Gano leaves the stage. I’m standing alone in a crowd and grinning broadly. This is a classic moment in my personal rock history. There were hundreds of great moments this weekend, but this moment alone would have made the trip worth it.
12:45: Y La Bamba / War On Drugs
I’m standing at the dual stage set up again. I’m oblivious, but come to and realize that my head is blocking more than one cameraman (mid-filming). Walking 20 feet to my right, I cop a squat in the grass in front of another band (Y La Bamba). Watching them complete their sound check, I realize that I have been hanging out near this crew all weekend. We haven’t met each other, but we have been watching a bunch of shows near each other for the last few days. These guys are nice. Geeze, I think, maybe their music is too.
Y La Bamba is a well known Oregon Band. Their style of folk rock is right on trend and infinitely likeable. Luz Elena Mendoza and the other members blend electric guitar with tambourine and accordion. T hey sing in both Spanish and English. They hit a lovely buoyant note. The sun filters through in keyholes throughout the awning. I’m doubling down and two fisting free backstage treats: A cool beer in one hand and an ice cream in the other. At this point in the weekend, things are blending together. I can’t focus on the music entirely. There’s an overwhelming good mood. It’s the feeling of the festival as a whole, not just the music, that transcends.
After Y La Bamba, it’s War on Drugs on the left stage. I could lie down in this patch of grass and catch awesome band after awesome band, without effort. Now, with barely a shift, it’s War on Drugs. I like this band, but they put on no show. Don’t get me wrong, it’s refreshing to hear a band that doesn’t choose a gimmick. Trendy clothes, fashiony haircuts, knowing tattoos, and quirky instruments are all absent. The music is steady and as good live as it is recorded. Their music is good. Yup. But, there ain’t nothing to see. This is a band for a long road trip, which we happen to have ahead of us.
2:30 – Two Man Gentleman Band part 2:
We realize that it has been a long weekend and that we have to get home to Seattle. We both work early the next morning. At this point, I want to stay an extra day, but it’s too late to make new plans. We’ll have to leave, and soon. It feels like the fading of just about anything that you don’t want to end. Like a fantastic meal… when you’re oh so full, but you just yearn to take a few more bites.
Jamie has promised an old friend that we’ll stop by in Portland on our way home; this makes the pressure tighter still. We have to leave and soon. We have to eat dinner with friends. I’d really just like a few more hours here. We decide to gorge ourselves on a few last festival bites.
I read that the Two Man Gentleman Band is playing at the Workshop Barn. We haven’t been to the Workshop Barn, yet, but the tiny venue has been hosting intimate gatherings and workshops with the musicians all weekend. I really enjoyed the Two Man Gentleman Band the day before and feel like dancing, so we walk down to check out the small stage. No more planning, we’re slapdash and fancy free. Walking up to the wrap around porch, we realize that the venue inside is comparably small. There are no places to sit, so we stand (and sometimes dance outside).
The Two Men are charming.
It’s hot. Yes, yes, yes, but we dance because there’s a little space here, and so do others. Jamie picks up the rock step quickly and holds me in his arms.
3:00pm – Circus Children:
We didn’t bring a kid with us this year, but have gleaned that the kid experience is as well-rounded as the adult one. I decide to check out the kid areas. This is a little preparation for next year (when I plan to bring my daughter). The grassy plot which is located near the kid stage hosts kids tightrope walking, nature activities, puppet shows, and crafts. The stage itself hosts Pickathon’s own Family Bar with delicious tacos and a deluxe kids circus school. We stay for tacos, beer and a performance of visiting children. Children attending the festival are invited to learn and perform stilt walking, clowning, juggling, and other assorted circus shenanigans (with aid and instruction from two real circus performers).
The hula-hoops are still spinning when we realize that its time to go. Begrudgingly, I walk toward the car. I’m tired, but I want more.
It’s been many weeks since Pickathon. Summer is receding. My life is jammed with work obligations, social commitments, and tending to the ever-expanding needs of a seven year-old daughter. Last week, I was invited to my friend Nacho’s 50th birthday bash. Imagine a classic Seattle craftsman home. Now, fill it with masses of delicious Hawaiian food, specialty cocktails, and grunge rock royalty: a great party with authentic people (exceptional friends that I’m elated to see).
I see Nacho across the kitchen. I hand him a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon and a box of Choco-Tacos. “Happy Birthday,” I say. “I can’t wait for the next Pickathon,” he replies. They’re the first words that he says (10 months and counting down).