Long, five-car-caravan convoys, open air, live music, face paint, dehydration, hordes of howling drunks with beers in hand and marijuana smoke rising in plumes above their heads: These are the tropes of summer for those who love music festivals, and there’s no shortage when it comes to these monstrous gatherings.
In Oregon alone, there are quite a few festivals worth checking out this summer: Among them, MusicfestNW — which certainly holds the most urban setting, taking place at various locations around Portland — has a pretty killer lineup this year, ranging from Dinosaur Jr. to Beirut to Yelawolf, and there’s an assload of smaller acts waiting to be discovered as well. If you’re not looking to travel too far, this is a great option, although it’s no overnighter — be warned, you’re not going to find a campground full of wasted people to frolic with suddenly popping up in downtown Portland.
Pickathon is the most unique of the Oregon festivals that you can hit, considering its beautiful setting, great lineup and reputation for incredible fun. Pendarvis Farm is a gigantic and idyllic rural location in the midst of lush greenery, and the folks behind the scenes display a deft idiosyncrasy in the lineup they choose each year — apparently based entirely upon musical prowess rather than name recognition. This not only makes for a largely unknown lineup of damn good new music waiting to be checked out, but it means that the big names making it out there are to be revered and savored. This year you can catch Blitzen Trapper, Neko Case and Dr. Dog, to name a few.
Unfortunately, EMRG+N+SEE, which is normally an absolving (albeit underground as shit) highlight of the Oregon festival circuit, will not be happening this year. Sorry folks. This stands as a reminder that it’s very important to support music as well as the people who allow us to watch it live, no matter how underground — because if not, it all hits the endangered list sooner or later.
Sitting across our border like a noisy neighbor, California sits puffing out its chest and yelling “check out how big my balls are.” It’s no secret that our pals to the south know how to party — we can all thank 2Pac, who incidentally made an “appearance” at this year’s Coachella festival, for that knowledge — and they have some awesome music festivals: Outside Lands, Earthdance, et al., but importantly, the Rock the Bells hip-hop festival has, as always, some of the most ridiculous artists on its lineup this year, including Deltron 3030, Ice Cube and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
The Earthdance Global Festival for Peace is also well worth attending: Set in sunny Vallejo, Calif., this three-day September festival is held simultaneously all over the world, and serves as a linking prayer for peace — a message that most should have no qualms getting behind. While exact details on this year’s festival are still TBA, Earthdance is one you should keep an eye on.
So yeah, grab your camping shit, prepare the hot dogs and crack open the Hamm’s, go clear out a big ol’ chunk of your summer schedule and start planning. You definitely won’t regret it. — Andy Valentine