Fire In the Mountains

6/30/18 Saturday

Woke to find it rained heavily last night, and the steep driveway leading into the festival grounds was a slick of mud, not allowing anyone to get up or down without a heavy duty 4wd vehicle.  Made me worry about more rain and potentially getting stuck here.  Eventually I clomped my way over to the campgrounds to take some photos and saw some sadly soggy people and tents.  But at least the morning was magnificent and sunny, even though it was still pretty cold out.  Spent the morning wandering and taking photos, chatting with a few people, and editing photos from yesterday.  Around 2:00 they started serving their farm-to-festival meal, and I was stoked to find that media and bands ate for free.  It was pretty frickin’ good too.  Music was due to start at 4:00, and the crew had still been trying to finish building the stage all morning.  Not sure why they didn’t do it yesterday, but whatever. 

Aerial Ruin

Aerial Ruin

Things started a little late, and the show opener was my old friend and former Epidemic bandmate, Erik Moggridge, who performs as Aerial Ruin.  It’s mournful acoustic music, with layered vocals that bring to mind monastic chanting and mideval hymns.  With the Tetons in the background and a cool breeze blowing over the assembled audience, it was quite a beautiful moment.  There were a slew of Black/Doom/Whatever metal bands playing throughout the day, and though sometimes they can be interesting to photograph (sometimes they’re boring as shit to photograph), the music does absolutely nothing for me.  I wandered back and forth from the van to the stage throughout the day, feeling grateful I had homebase so close by.  I wish I’d had a pedometer running today, because I probably walked a dozen miles between the ranch (where I had a little cell reception), the stage and the van. 

The evening culminated with my longtime favorites Wovenhand, playing just as the sun dipped behind the western hills (if only they’d started 30 minutes sooner the lighting would have been perfect).  David Eugene Edwards is mesmerizing to watch, and his performances are never, ever faked.  His music took a stylistic shift a few years back, going from  a beautiful and melancholic goth-folk to driving hard rock, and I hate to say it but I can’t connect with the new music at all. His older work lives in my bones and has been the soundtrack to the last 20 years of my life, but I suppose that musical era is over now.  I appreciate his sticking to his creative drive and doing what feels good, but I’m a bit sad that his new stuff doesn’t move me.

As it got dark, the cold settled in and I retreated to the van, the heater, and a good book. 


7/1/18 Sunday

I was awakened at 1 AM to someone knocking on the van door.  I didn’t answer it, feeling a bit freaked out and not knowing who the hell would be knocking on my door.  The cops would have identified themselves, but all I saw was a flashlight beam bouncing off the windshield and two male voices talking.  Probably just drunk assholes.

Woke to a grey, quiet morning feeling pretty burnt out and not that excited about spending another day watching bands I don’t give a shit about.  There wasn’t anyone on the bill today that I felt psyched to watch.  After breakfast I took a walk up to the lodge to get some cell service and check texts/emails, then back to the van to edit photos from yesterday.  What I really wanted was a goddamn shower, seeing as I haven’t had one since Monday.  It’s not a huge deal, as I’m not much of a sweater and don’t really stink ever, plus the weather has been on the cold side which is helpful.  Unfortunately, there aren’t any facilities available to non-ranch guests, so I’m gonna have to figure something else out. Maybe actually have to shell out cash for a real campground with real showers.  Yuck. 

Early afternoon they fired up the farm-to-festival food situation, and again it was really good.  Got to spend some time hanging out with Erik and catching up some, then the Black Metal resumed.  There was actually a country-metal band who were interesting, but that was about it. I feel kinda bad I’m not a bigger fan of this particular brand of metal, but oh well. 

Just before the last band started I had a guy come up to me and ask me if I was Bobby.  When I responded I was indeed Bobby, he replied that he’s inspired by the photography work I do and he has to try hard to not copy my style.  It was an incredibly wonderful thing to hear, to know that other photographers appreciate what I do and find inspiration in it.  Panopticon was the last band, and the audience was pumped to see them.  The sun finally went down behind the mountain and the mosquitoes came out in full force, but didn’t last for long because it soon got pretty damn cold.  Just as the band started their last song, a bonfire was lit in the middle of the field and people swarmed around quickly, warming themselves and soaking up the undeniable pagan vibe.  Pretty spectacular.  I decided it was a good time to wrap up the evening and headed back to the van for some food before snuggling up into bed.