This summer we embarked on a “Month of Music,” traversing the country seeing some of our favorite bands in a handful of the best venues out there. After catching Phish at Wrigley Field and Deer Creek, Umphrey’s at Red Rocks, and Widespread Panic in Vegas, we headed up to the Pacific Northwest for the next leg of the journey.
Seattle and The Gorge
The Gorge is our favorite venue in the country, but it’s not exactly easy to get to. The nearest major city is Seattle, which is still 3+ hours away. We managed to score super cheap flights up to the Emerald City from Vegas, so we ended up with a few extra days before the shows. We stayed with some old friends and visited others, and spent our time exploring the city’s many parks, taking a sunset sailing trip, and enjoying jazz and craft beers at night.
Next up was our third trip out to The Gorge to see Phish – our favorite band at our favorite venue. We’ve had a lot of epic campsites through the years, but it’ll be hard to top Gorge ’16. For the first time ever, we got to stay in a camper thanks to some great friends. Tents are fine and all, but it sure was nice to sleep in a bed each night.
It was also amazing to catch up with a bunch of people we hadn’t seen in years. Time flies, but it’s nice picking up right where you left off with old friends.
Phish always delivers stellar shows at The Gorge, and 2016 was no different. Both nights were great, especially night one with its 2nd set full of teases and quotes. It was the kind of set that makes it all worth while – all the miles logged and dollars spent catching so many shows. Two nights at The Gorge really fly by; if only they would do a three night run there!
Bend and Dead & Company Portland
Rather than backtrack to Seattle and fly out, we decided to enjoy a little vacation in Bend. A bunch of our friends moved out there a few years ago but we had never been able to make it for a visit. With nothing on our radar until the Dead & Company show in Portland the next weekend and friends driving there anyways, it was the perfect chance. We spent the week hiking, exploring the town, chilling in a soaking tub, and digging in to the great food and craft beer Bend has to offer.
Next up was a trip to Portland to catch the most recent version of the Grateful Dead. Dubbed Dead & Company, the band sees original members Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart joined by John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti. We headed to Moda Center early to revel in the usual circus-like atmosphere of a Dead show. On the way in, we even ran into Zane Kesey and the famed Furthur bus. As you can see from his outfit in the bottom right above, he’s clearly carrying on the Merry Prankster tradition his father started decades ago.
As for the show, it was one of the best we saw all summer. It was nice to catch an indoor show in the middle of July, so we were able to enjoy the light show and visuals throughout the entire performance. Say what you will about John Mayer – and a lot of people talked a lot of trash after he got picked up for this run – he’s worked his ass off to learn the catalogue, he’s a true fan, and he’s been doing a great job filling some very, very big shoes. The music of the Dead will live on for many years ahead thanks to younger musicians like him embracing it, taking the torch, and running with it.
Even though I’ve been to Chicago well over a hundred times, I had somehow never mad it into Lollapalooza. The fact that it’s towards the end of summer, it’s a massive festival, and tickets are quite expensive usually deter us from going. However, with Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem atop the lineup this year, it was time for us to finally check this one off the list. With the festival celebrating its 25th anniversary, we figured it was going to be a good one.
For the first time ever, Lollapalooza was a 4-day festival. Despite the fact that we didn’t know many of the artists on the lineup for Thursday, we still headed in to catch some new music. Rachel discovered a new band she really liked called The 1975 and we also caught a bit of the Kurt Vile, J. Cole, and Lana Del Ray sets as we figured out the lay of the land for this giant city festival to be better prepared for the big weekend days. A nice surprise came late-night on Thursday, as our friend Ryan got us into Cherub’s set – he is their manager, after all. These guys have really blown up in recent years, and they deserve all the success they’ve had.
The rest of the weekend went by in a blur. City festivals are fun, but they sure are a lot of work. While it’s nice staying at a friend’s apartment and being able to shower and cook, it takes a lot of time getting in and out of the site every day. Radiohead and LCD both delivered amazing shows, we discovered quite a few new acts, and we raged another late-night with friends at Lettuce, so in the end it was all worth it. That being said, I don’t see us shelling out $700 to attend again in the future. Once was probably enough for us in this case. That is, of course, unless Daft Punk decides to come back next year…
Our Month of Music took us to six different states, the two best venues in the country, and to some incredible shows. You’d think that after all that we’d be ready to kick back and relax a bit, but we weren’t even close to finished. After a few weeks of family obligations, we were back on the road for another nearly month-long run of festivals and shows. Check back for the next post about UM in TN, Lockn’ Festival, Phish Dick’s, and STS9 at Red Rocks.