Alright, here’s the cliff notes in case you don’t feel like reading the freakin’ novel below: kickass music, amazing people, way too many rad things to pack into a single day (for three straight days), many new frends, and one very soggy ride home. Now for the unabridged version…
Thursday: The drive down from Stowe was beautiful. Southern VeeTee gets a bad rap from those of us living in the shadow of Vermont’s tallest peak, but I’ll tell you what: it’s real pretty country down here. So, southern Vermonters, my apologies. Anyway, we arrived at Magic Mountain, got our tickets and parked without issue. On a more self aggrandizing note, I must admit it was pretty awesome to go to the “Guest List” line at the ticket window. One thing for future Frendly Gathering attendees to note: this is not a car camping situation: prepare as if you’re hiking (because you will be) and pack as if you have to carry all of your gear up a mountain (which you also will). We learned this as we were unpacking the car and watching people load up as if they were headed out to hike the A.T. But I digress.
The shuttle dropped us off at Timber Ridge right at dusk and we took a stab in the dark (literally) at picking the best (read: flattest) campsite we could. No easy task as Timber Ridge is an old ski resort. We found a little perch and floundered our way through setting up the tent in the waning light. Off to a good start. Once we set up camp, I headed down to the venue and happened to catch the Smooths (Twiddle’s Mihali Savoulidis jamming with Todd Stoops formerly of Kung Fu). Holy crap was that good. After that Moon Hooch blew my mind on the main stage. Not since Morphine or maybe the Violent Femmes has a three piece band done so much with so little. Check out their Tiny Desk concert for a smattering of what these dudes are all about:
That night, or really I should say Friday morning, we were treated to a late-night rendition of Sublime’s entire body of work by the heavily medicated group camped next to us. I’ll admit though, it was pretty damn good. Even for 3:30 in the morning…
Friday: Despite some pretty hard rain Thursday night we awoke eager and anxious to check out the venue and get frendly with all of our fellow festival-goers. We headed down to grab some ocoffee from one of the many super rad vendors and food trucks on site, only to bump into the man himself, Mr. Danny Davis. Danny and I had spent a lot of time on the phone leading up to the show, but heretofore had never actually met. You’d think he’d be an easy guy to pick out in a crowd, but the crazy thing is that half of the males at this show dress exactly like him. Hair, hat, overalls, the whole outfit. So there he was, hiding in plain sight.
Anyone that knows me knows I’m a hugger. We hang out for more than a few minutes and chances are you’re getting a hug when we’re done. So I was stoked to learn first hand that Danny is a fellow-hugger; my handshake introduction was pushed away in lieu of a good solid hug. Your stock is rising Mr. Davis. We shot the shit for a few minutes and recognizing that Danny had a lot more to do at the moment than we did, we set our sights on some of the day’s activities.
First up was a meditation hike up Timber Ridge. Try to cast aside the fact that that statement fulfills every hippie-concert stereotype ever and bear with me. This was a hike up Timber Ridge that culminated in an hour or so of guided meditation accompanied by the musical stylings of Devesh Duo. The pictures do it no justice, but I’ll tell you that there was some heavy thinking going on. Pretty special to have a chance like this: perched atop a beautiful mountain in Vermont with my wife, some sunshine, a few like-minded individuals and the most enchanting sitar playing I’ve ever heard. So screw your stereotypes. It was rad.
Anyway, after our hike we rubbernecked around the venue a bit more, meeting too many cool folks to count as we wandered, then headed back up to the tent for some lunch. Now that the Friday afternoon crowd had begun their migration to Timber Ridge, our formerly isolated location was now completely engulfed by other tents. And when I say engulfed, I mean tents literally leaning agains ours. As luck would have it, all or our neighbors turned out to be awesome people and we partied and hung with them all weekend. TJ, Liz, Abe, Kyle, Samaria, Cassandra, Nick, Krystal, Tom, and all the rest, if you guys are by chance reading this, you’re amazing people and I can’t wait to see you guys next year.
Friday was less about the music than it was about just hanging out and meeting people. We spent some time chatting with Kevin Pearce–all around good dude, and the brains behind the Love Your Brain campaign (see what I did there?). After that we uh…I don’t know, did tons of rad stuff. There was seriously so much cool stuff going on that this play by play recount of the weekend just ain’t gonna work. So here are a few more highlights:
Nahko’s acoustic performance: If you’ve never heard of Nahko and Medicine for the People, check ’em out. Great music with a really positive message. But Nahko’s solo acoustic performance at the Burton TeePee was a highlight for sure: great mix of music, stories from the road, wisdom gained from experience and all that.
Twiddle’s Saturday performance at the pond: Twiddle is pretty much my new favorite band (see below). Their bassist channels Les Claypool or something. This show at the pond was about as quintissentially Vermont/hippie/festival as it gets…which I suppose is part of the reason it was so good. Anyway, Twiddle is a really talented group of dudes and if you’ve never heard their music, check ’em out:
Mihali Savoulidis impromptu performance in the Martin Guitars tent: When the skies opened up Saturday afternoon people sought shelter wherever they could. We ended up in the Martin Guitars tent chilling with some other people. Out of the blue, Twiddle’s lead singer Mihali Savoulidis grabbed the mic and started jamming with three young girls (real young, like 7 to maybe 12 years old). These little girls knew all the words and they rocked it out. At that moment I became Twiddle fan for life. This guy just busted out a four-song set to about a hundred people with three ‘tweens as accompaniment, despite the fact that Twiddle’s night set wasn’t going to start till almost midnight. That kind of experience can change a kid’s life. Kudos brother.
Saturday night’s rain: It was plentiful. As was the wind. Do the math.
The Frendlygram area: Just plain fun. Some good ol’ photobombing and some fun snaps from the weekend.
Overall, this experience exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. I’m really humbled to have been a part of it. If you find yourself with a couple days to kill in late June next year, buy your tickets and go make some new frends…
The 2015 Frendly Gathering poster design original illustration is copyrighted 2015 by Evan Chismark Art