I went through a bit of a post-quatch depression this last week. I’m on the other side now, but here we go anyhow.
1. The Gorge
There are still a few things in the world that just cannot be described photographically. Like the view from the top of the CN tower or standing on the edge of the grand canyon or the “big sky” rumored to exist somewhere in between east and west. Or just stars. No matter how nice a photograph you take or how good your camera is (unless, maybe, it’s 3D) the scale just can’t translate to that medium. It’s that sort of distance and height that makes the horizon look like it’s a matte painting and not even a real, physical place.
So the Gorge is one of those places. I’ve seen it before, but one of my favourite moments of the weekend was walking to the crest of the hill and joining the line of onlookers stopped in their tracks and taking pictures with their point and clicks that will disappoint them when they get home. I was with two people who had never seen it before, and their reaction is exactly what I’d hoped for: nothing. They were just taking it all in.
Is there a more epic stage for a band to play in the world? Well, I hope so, because otherwise we just peaked.
2. The Car Fuckers
As we drove up to the camping lineup on friday night, guided faithfully by our boxish friend tomtom, we settled in behind a convey of cars packed clown-style with a group of kids who had started the party way too early and were clearly already fucked up on any combination of poisons you want to credit. The lineup was moving sometimes and others not, and between every slight burst of progress we made these guys would slide, slither, explode and erupt out of their car doors and windows and start ferociously dance-fucking between and sometimes with the rays of light emanating innocently from our nearest star. Sometimes they’d manage to find another human and would twistingly envelope each other’s bodies like the red and white stripes on a candy cane. Other times they’d just hump the shit out of their cars or whatever imaginary thin-air phantom being was addling their brain. Now I’m not against people getting fucked up at music festivals. If ever there’s a place for it, there it be. But in the camping lineup at 6 o clock? How the hell are you maniacs planning to set up your tents? By fucking them?
We would have none of this, we decided. We really didn’t want to camp next to these guys. Watching them pelvically maul inatimate objects in the lineup was enough. We didn’t want to be woken up each morning by the flourescent glowing of their dilated pupils counterrotating as they hysterically copulated with their car’s running exhaust pipes (which is what they were planning). So we pulled over, and we let many cars pass us. Many! We waived the cars by until there was at least twenty between us and we could see them taking the turn in the distance and merging with the other lane of camping traffic.
Surely, we would never seem them again. After a jubilant and carefree hour of waiting in line we arrived at our spot on the farthest edges of the regular campsite, emerged from our car, and there they were. The Car Fuckers. Somehow, despite our efforts we’d managed to be parked RIGHT NEXT TO THEM. What’s amazing is that they were in three cars driving bumper to bumper and managed to all stick together, which means that somewhere between the last time we’d seen them all the cars in between had been re-routed and diverted and the calm, orderly procedure of the lineup had only reasserted itself when we arrived.
We managed to escape, of course, but that’s a story for another time.
3. Crotch Hooch
The generous inclusion of in-outs this year made it seem almost pointless to try to sneak booze into the festival site. Sure, nobody wants to have to pay festival prices to be trashed all day, but there are always some breaks between bands where you can hustle back to the campsite pound five beer and be back in time for your next act. Most days, this is the case.
On monday, this wasn’t the case. On monday, there was The Sheepdogs, Walk the Moon, Gary Clark Jr., Cloud Cult, fun., The Joy Formidable, Feist, John Reilly and Friends, The Silversun Pickups, Tenacious D, and Beck. And there was not time at all. So we went with the tried and true method of packing vodka into ziploc bags and packing ziploc bags into… regions. Regions they’d fear to search. Was this wrong? Maybe. Will I be banned from future Sasquatches? I hope not. Please, nobody share this blog with the organizers. PLEASE.
So anyway, I packed about four ounces of vodka into a plastic bag and then hid it in my crotch. Not right in there, I’m not an animal. I doubled up on (CLEAN) underwear and placed it snugly betwixt. Why do I tell this story? Because it started to leak as I went through the lineup. The good news is I made it through and got to drink my three ounces of ill-gotten crotch hooch. The bad news is there was another ounce of crotch hooch still in the crotch, in the form of a wet and boozy sensation all over my underwear. I walked around in this state for some time, legs spread in a wide stance apparently to reinforce for onlookers my inherent masculine power (but really to assist the drying mechanism) and sometimes considering the possibility of ringing out the vodka from my underwear. Not to drink it, you see. That’s disgusting. Though it occured to me that having a vodka spunge for a crotch could make for some absolutely horrifying pickup lines. Maybe next year.
The girls fared better with their boob hooch, bee tea double you. Also, smuggling in a flask taped to the inside of Mark’s thigh turned out to be a success. However the heat of his loins (and the sun, we hope) made the whiskey inside drink like hot sake.
Why isn’t it socially acceptable to wear silly face paint in day to day life? It should be.
5. The Anthem-Off
Almost two hundred years ago an American man named Francis Scott Key wrote a war poem about the defence of Fort McHenry in the face of British bombardment during the War of 1812. That poem would go on to become the lyrical basis for a very popular patriotic song that’s still sung before hockey games today.
The War of 1812 is most commonly remembered in Canada as the one time that Canada and the USA went to war. Technically speaking of course Canada wasn’t a country yet; the war was between the USA and Great Britain. America was trying to annex upper and lower Canada for any number of reasons and Britain wasn’t willing to give them up.
Frank’s poem was a defiant one. It’s actually a pretty cool poem, if you can get past the jingoistic anthemicness of it all.
I imagine explaining some things to Frank. I imagine telling him that in two hundred years there would be a great gathering in the desolate west. Descendents of the nation that was trying to kill Frank would meet with descendents of the nation that Frank was risking his life to defend (or at least, to write about defending). They would be guided by tiny boxes full of moving pictures that would utilize beams of light shot into space and reflected back to determine the location of everything on Earth. They would come together under the influence of outlawed pharmaceuticals and medicines in packs of hundreds and thousands. The vibrations of instruments would be amplified by electrical currents to radiate deafeningly over the plains as the musicians danced beside gigantic two-dimensional doppelgangers constructed of coloured lights that would mimic their every move in real-time.
And when the last chord had been struck and the crowd was marching back to their campsite in a uninterrupted rank and file river of humanity thousands of people long, the poem he wrote would be sung to a tune he probably had never heard as a drunken competition between representatives of the very two nations whose war had inspired it two hundred years before. And the response to the challenge wouldn’t be violent; it would be drunken Canadians trying to outsing their American counterparts with their own jingoistic theme.
6. Whiskey Bottle Mornings
The next morning we were packed to go. The campsite was almost completely abandoned. We stood there at about eleven in the morning in the haze and the sun and killed the end of a bottle of scotch between Wes, Mark and I. There was more than a bit to go and we went at it to fast, but there was an unspoken agreement between us that at this time there would be no need for glasses. There’s a special kind of trashy decadence to drinking whiskey straight from a bottle in the middle of the day in en empty field and then casting the bottle aside after the final drop without a second thought.