When I started putting together this post I thought for sure I'd written a post about our adventures to see Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge Amphitheater Labor Day weekend 2013.
I didn't find a post but you can check out how I documented the trip in 2013 in Project Life® here.
Last year was my first time traveling to the Gorge ( ended up there twice last year) and my first time seeing Dave Matthews in concert.
It was all Aaron's fault.
I think he's been to the Gorge five or more times now and seen Dave at a couple other places as well. He's an experienced fan and man do I love getting to go with him.
Here's a look at our adventure via iPhone photos:
It's a long drive from Eugene to the Gorge in Washington. Think 6+ hours depending on traffic. We drive up to Portland, head East along the Columbia River (what I usually think of as the Gorge before these trips), cross over into Washington at Biggs Junction, and then head north towards Yakima and then Ellensburg before reaching the Gorge Amphitheater outside George, Washington.
It's totally a long haul but it's a really beautiful drive.
We left early on Friday morning in order to make it there around 1pm before the opening-opening bands started at 3pm.
At the Gorge they have a few different camping options and we go for what's called The Terrace. It's an upgrade but so totally worth it. It's quiet ( meaning people go to sleep vs. staying up all night in some of the other areas). Each site includes grass and a picnic table. There are showers and toilets without super long lines. There's a shuttle that drives you over to the venue. And they have coffee and doughnuts in the morning.
Coffee and doughnuts for the win of course.
After getting all settled in we headed over to the venue to check out the bands that were playing before Brandi Carlile and Dave.
First on my personal agenda was to check out the merchandise. I was hoping for a new hat and was freaking-out-happy to find this blue trucker hat.
I really need to stop this craziness with using the flip around feature on my iPhone (lower resolution that way).
Maybe it should be brown eyes for the win.
As you can see, there weren't a ton of people hanging out to see these opening-opening bands.
Aaron was totally into one of them called Moon Taxi.
I decided I needed a temporary tattoo for the weekend adventure and happened to have this one from Kal Barteski. She's got some of her awesome script phrases available as tattoo's and she's getting ready to re-launch her shop soon. Follow her on Instagram for all the latest details on when that will open again (think neon).
I imagine if I was ever to get a tattoo that would be the place I'd get it and it would be some sort of life-reminder phrase or word. Maybe length and width or open.
When the opening-opening bands were done we headed down to the main stage to catch Brandi Carlile. She opened for Dave all three nights and I loved, loved, loved hearing her sing a cover of Fleetwood Mac's The Chain. So good. I also loved her song Keep Your Heart Young.
One of the magical things about the Gorge is the changing light throughout the day.
And then there was Dave. Each night they started with an acoustic set as the sun went down.
Before meeting Aaron I was already a Dave fan - but definitely not a super fan. I listened to him most when I was in college. And then a few years ago - probably before Anna was born - Chris and I happened to be flipping though the channels and came across a Dave & Tim acoustic show on PBS - I think it was Live At Radio City Music Hall (you can see some of those videos/songs on you tube here). I remember it so specifically how I was mesmerized again by his music - one of those take-my-breath-away-because-it-was-so-awesome moments. We ended up staying up super late because it was so great.
Life is crazy people.
I'm telling you. If you ever get the chance to experience music in this place you must do it.
Okay, forget about Dave, check out that sky.
Back to Dave. He plays different songs all three nights, which is pretty great because you almost always get to hear what you might want - and that's why we go all three nights.
Now I'm sure there are a lot of you out there who totally don't get this Dave love. Like I mentioned above, I liked him before but I like him even more now after seeing six shows (three last year and three this year over the course of the two Labor Day weekends). And it's not just him (but man, it's him - the words, oh those words) - it's the other guys in the band too. I have a much greater appreciation for each of them as musicians from watching them at the shows. Boyd with his violins. Carter on the drums. Stefan on bass. Jeff on the sax. Rashawn on the trumpet. And Tim on guitar.
I like that fans talk about them like they know them.
And these guys look so darn happy up there. Big smiles between all of them and I enjoy watching how they communicate together on stage.
Again, this is all Aaron's fault.
Favorite Friday night songs | Oh, Stolen Away On 55th & 3rd, and Crush
Photo I wish I had | Aaron in the trucker hat. He never wears hats and I don't know why because it looked so great on him.
On Saturday we slept in and then spent most of the day lounging and chatting with our camping neighbors.
We had reserved seats on both Saturday and Sunday nights in section 203 (center section, left side). It's a great spot - the only thing I missed was being able to look back up and see up into the general admission/grass and the sea of people in the dark. Next year we need to get tickets to the right of center to be able to get that view when you turn around to see all the thousands of people up on the grass (the Gorge holds 27,000 people). It's so awesome.
Favorite Saturday night songs | One Sweet World (this was actually a new-to-me song), Sister
We hung out Sunday morning around the campsite again and then headed over right at 3pm to catch the opening-opening bands.
I might of had a few fantasies about being a music photographer as I watched these guys capture the action.
The line-up today included David Ryan Harris, Dumpsta Phunk (who rocked - they are in that photo above), and Blind Pilot (an awesome Portland band - photo below). Seriously, just clicking over to these bands sites and seeing some of the photography - so rad.
Took this shot of Blind Pilot with the panorama feature on my iPhone. Why don't I use that more?
So yeah, we were in the front row dead-center for the opening-opening acts. Here's the story about that: I was buying a beer and the woman at the counter told me that supposedly Dave & Tim were going to show-up and play on the smaller stage in just a few minutes. You better believe I hustled back over to Aaron and told him we needed to get up to the front immediately. Unfortunately that ended up being only a rumor but it spurred Aaron and I to action to move ourselves right up to the front which wasn't difficult because there weren't a ton of people there at that time.
It was so fun to watch both Dumpsta Phunk and Blind Pilot from the front row.
I gotta make that happen for Dave one of these years.
After we finished up with the opening-opening acts we headed back over to the main stage for some more Brandi and eventually, Dave and his band.
The Sunday night show was the best of the three.
He played a bunch of my personal favorites including Loving Wings, Crash Into Me ( which he didn't play last year), Lover Lay Down, Grey Street and The Stone.
The one song he didn't play that I love is #41. Aaron really wanted to hear Laying In The Hands Of God.
So good. So good.
On the way home we talked about what we wanted to remember.
Aaron calls them "micro stories" - those little stories that make up the one big story of our shared experience.
I sent him a text message last night and asked him to remind me of what he wanted to remember. A few hours later he sent me a message that was so awesome I got weepy. He gets details. He pays attention (even when I don't think he is). He gets moments. He collects them just like I do - even if he doesn't say them out loud.
Here are some things from our combined list of things we want to remember from this weekend at the Gorge:
- Our wonderful campsite neighbors who came all the way from Maryland - Chris & Ruth. Part of what we've enjoyed both last year and this year is meeting people at the event whether they are our camping neighbors or our seat neighbors during the concert. Chris and Ruth were the kind of people we wished lived a whole lot closer. It's so great to just sit around and talk about our lives at home and Dave and music and kids and what we hope to hear and all that good stuff.
- Experiencing the box seats on Friday night to try something different. It was pretty cool but I think we both prefer to be even more in the action. You miss a bit of the intensity of the crowd when you are in your own little space.
- Having awesome seat neighbors and great conversations before the music on both Saturday and Sunday. We know this isn't always the case.
- Front row for the opening-opening acts on Sunday after the tease of Dave and Tim.
- Dave singing Loving Wings. "My heart was made of broken bones // My Soul's a bag of stick and stone // And out along this dusty road // You have come my love to take me home"
- The wind. Whoa. Watching the lights sway on the stage. Seeing it blow through everyone's hair. It was intense.
- Meeting Rachel and her husband on Sunday. Hi Rachel!
- Hearing our seat section roar and cheer on Sunday night each time Aaron tried to throw one of his many glow-sticks at a glow stick spider hanging from a pole about 15 rows ahead of us to the right (between Dave sets). Then happening to bump into that guy later on when we walked back to the campsite and realizing that he was the guy we had walked back with the night before who had gotten one of Carter's drum sticks at the end of the show on Saturday night.
- Aaron wearing the trucker hat. Aaron liking wearing the trucker hat.
- A conversation about being "that guy" over lunch at Burgerville on the drive home.
See you next year Dave. Thanks for sharing your creativity with the world.
My thought for you today is to invite the people you love to contribute to your memory keeping, to your details of life collection, to your photo taking. They might just surprise you with the things they notice and the things they want to remember.