Ahh, Pickathon. I had missed you. Returning was The Right Thing to Do. Might be stuck together forever now...
I stumbled in Friday. Evening, just after dark, and found myself quickly wrapped, entranced and enshrined in the spirit. To the Woods Stage to find the Music Editor, breathing in the fresh air, tramping through the dusty trails like a kid towards the tree on Christmas morning.
At best, Blitzen Trapper fill me with ambivalence. But damn. That air, those trees, the glow, the beer in the tin cup plus the wafts of smoke and all those smiling, hugging fools have my lungs open and heart pumping. Take a few shots. Keep moving.
Tramp over the hill to the Barn for Thee Oh Sees. Terrifically ripping. Electric coils bouncing warble through strings and springs. Bashing away with ham hock hands. More warm and melodic than I remember. Less grating. Active less dissonant. More washing peace. The barn too. In front of the speakers, my ears are ringing.
Find the Arts Editor for beer by the Main Stage. Cheers. The square dance beings and I take pictures. Get closer. Wobble through the crowd, bumping back and forth. A big dumb ping pong ball batted by the sweaty, dusty, joyfully heaving mass. I kneel down for a shot of stomping feet and a Hippie Girl falls into me. Apologizes profusely and offers a back rub. Soon after we dance. "Promise me we'll make love some day," she says.
Must see the Mean Jeans. SMMR BMMR. Where they would back Kepi Ghoulie. Still, not easy to leave. The mood is ripe. But I must. Saturday is the day. All the bands I have to see. The ones I love.
But the Music Editor insists I stick around for Barr Brothers. Bits of African rhythms, he said. And folk. He was right.
Fresh off the plane they mesmerize. Especially the bits with polyrhythm and picking. Effortless voice, talent and charm. Howling, coo, and guitar with a string like a bow as the harp twinkles with the midnight sky. Then up to a full throat. Like an axe to a stump.
They end and I tear myself from the Starlight Stage. the Hippie Girl, and the wonder wold and whip back towards town.
I miss the Jeans set but we drink Jager instead. Personal and the Pizzas are fun. No Jeans. But fun.
The contrast is at once startling and eerily benevolent. From the grassy rolling fields of Pendarvis Farm to the beer and piss-soaked floors of Plan B. Though not all is lost in translation.
The mosh pit feels like the square dance. Bodies bump together. Writhing in carefree ecstasy. Together. The music and the moment.