In August 2021, going to shows still seemed like a risky proposition. But the Dundee Lodge Campout—a small music and art festival located on a farm in Gaston, Oregon—looked like a fairly safe bet. Presented entirely outdoors with plenty of room for art projects, camping, and nearby swimming, Dundee amassed a crowd of 450 casually hip-looking attendees and their free-spirited children.
There was a beer barn with quality local brews, indie vendors slinging a variety of foods (Neo-Neapolitan-style pizza, tacos, empanadas), and a small stage that musicians set up and performed on at a fairly tight clip. One band member carried his bass drum over his head, through the buzzy crowd.
Some groups seemed kind of awkward in the light of day. Others—like Sad Horse—fully committed and rocked the crowd from a foot off the ground. Dundee has a strong Luddite, lo-fi feeling—with a definite lack of cell service—like Pickathon in its early years.
"I think it's fair to compare us to Pickathon," Erik Trexel, the festival's co-founder, told the Mercury. "That's probably the closest to what we're doing. We're a little rougher around the edges—sticking to a more DIY ethic—and we can't grow much bigger than we currently are."
Though Dundee was new to this writer last year, the 2022 incarnation—which takes place Friday August 19 and Saturday August 20—will be its fourth fest and the organizing team's most ambitious one yet.
Trexel co-founded the Dundee Lodge Campout in 2018, after attending a small Bluegrass Festival on the farm. Witnessing the area's eerie beauty and small but respectable stage, his imagination started spinning. "I thought 'wow, we need to get people out here because it's just a really special place."
Abronia's Keelin Mayer joined him in the project, co-curating the bill. Dundee's organizing team has since added Fran Bittakis (of Joop Joop), Beckey Kaye, and Brianna Peasely to its ranks—adding aspects of diversity and visual arts to its vision.
In 2020, they were forced to cancel a fairly ambitious two-night bill, and in 2021, they kept the campout small, with just one night of programming. However, this year Trexel says the team pulled together almost exactly the same line-up that they wanted for 2020, with two additions: Chicago composer Circuit Des Yeux and Michigan noise rockers Wolf Eyes.
The bill is a dazzling survey of diverse and fascinating artists: Space Lady, Orquestra Pacifico Tropical, Sir Richard Bishop of Sun City Girls, Light Asylum, Grouper's dream pop project Helen, Zomes, and more. Peasley put together a Spotify playlist with the most recognizable tracks for each artist. With bands like this, though, they're always going to be most impressive live.
"We're trying to have a wide variety of bands," Trexel said. "But the bands that we pick are definitely on the fringes of their respective genres. There's a strong unconventional, psychedelic vibe, but I would say that the majority of musicians come from the punk scene or were in it at some point. They all embraced the DIY spirit [of Dundee]."
Since first announcing 2022's music line-up, the fest has filled out its visual art and performance coffers, with beloved locals like Cinema Project, Roger Peet, and duo Arta Marie Powers and Gabriel Luis Perez—who will construct a shrine to their departed dog Jax. We're also excited to see the works of out-of-towners, like San Francisco muralist Locust.
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While the fest won't allow campfires at sites (August in Oregon, after all) they do have an impressive selection of food vendors lined up, like Gather Around Nutrition, Ricky's Tacos (out of Newberg), and Portland coffee favorites Deadstock Coffee. We also hail the triumphant return of PDX Empanadas—last year's festival heroes, who kept cooking after many carts ran out of food. Trexel says the vendors have a better idea of crowd size this year, so that won't happen again. The fest will also reprise its full bar barn.
Dundee Campout aims to stay at around the same size it was last year—it can't grow much more due to space limitations on the farm. Trexel says the team has many more ideas that they want to try, in the future, such as a Pickathon-esque kids' stage. He also wished they could have a shuttle to the Elks Recreation Area swim spot to make it more accessible—it's only ten minutes down a backroad, but it did involve shimming over a gate. Overall accessibility is high on his list of issues he wants to address. The festival's camping area is located down a series of uneven, grassy hills, but Trexel says they also have places people can receive special permission to camp that are closer to the stage and don't involve steep gradation.
Initially, the festival wanted to only sell weekend passes for $150, which covered both nights in one lump sum. However, now you can buy single night passes—for $90—that include a single night of camping after.
Just today—Wednesday August 17—purchasing a record at Mississippi Records allows you to also purchase a weekend pass for $125, with no online fees.
"It's also tricky because we need to sell all those tickets to make our money back," Trexel said. "We do have a goal of paying the organizers something someday, but right now it's everybody's labor of love."