So next Wednesday I’m flying up to Portland to hang out for almost a week, the central event being Halleluwah, the music/art/movie/literary ‘festival of enthused arts’ organized by Yeti magazine main man Mike McGonigal along with various like-minded spirits. I had to miss last year’s inaugural festival due to a previously scheduled trip home, but I made sure that things wouldn’t overlap this time and I’m already looking forward to a wide number of the performances, especially since a large number of the bands are either unfamiliar to me beyond the name or simply unfamiliar, period. Sure I could look ’em all up on Myspace or the like but there’s something about being surprised.
I’ll probably have the occasional post on the festival here as it happens — no liveblogging or anything (I’m not THAT crazy…yet) — and will have plenty of photos as I can. Yes, I know that means I’m part of that allegedly evil plague of people out to take pictures rather than ‘simply’ enjoying the show; however, I’ve always enjoyed taking what photographs I can at performances and more than once have surprised myself with the end results. The discovery years ago that the better thing to do is to turn off one’s flash in favor of the swirl of natural light was one of those “Oh, RIGHT” moments for me, and you can see the results in a few sets I have on Flickr for Terrastock 6, the first ArthurFest, ArthurNights and Bottling Smoke.
A few of those photos were used on pieces I’ve written for Plan B magazine, or more specifically its website, on these festivals. Though I’ve not attended an overwhelming amount, I first got the hang of ‘rock festivals’ as such with the very first Lollapalooza — more extended thoughts on that and similar get togethers can be found in this old Freaky Trigger piece from 2001. Since the writing of that essay I haven’t been to big-ass open air festivals much — yes, that means I have never been to Coachella, and frankly I think I’m kinda glad. There was the Italian rock festival back in 2005 that I saw Jennifer Gentle at, but I was only there for JG — all the other bands on the bill, to put it kindly, were substandard. (The bunch of Stabbing Westward wannabes who sang an amazingly awful and heavily accented version of “Black Hole Sun” provided endless comedy for me, though.)
However, ever since I attended the second Terrastock festival back in 1998, I’ve gone fairly regularly to a variety of indoor festivals that are essentially small scale scene gatherings, the number of which has increased more and more with time as such scenes have been able to become more self-perpetuating thanks to the Internet, direct CDR sales, a vision of music as less a full-time music business career and more of a lifestyle decision that fits in with other commitments as one decides. I think this is a healthy thing in general, an extended realization that the brass ring of worldwide fame is further away from general achieveability than ever with the continuing slow-motion collapse of the industry. (It is far from dead yet, of course, but the death watch has been running for years for good reason.) So as a result these kind of more direct ways of working and recording and touring and so forth will have more viability — today Idolator looked at two separate examples of how this will play out, more are forthcoming.
But this steers away a bit from the point of my post — my pieces for Plan B are each different in their own way even as they address essentially similar get-togethers, however driven by varying philosophies and approaches. I think each improves on the other, and I’m quietly proud of my most recent one in particular, which was an experiment that turned out well. In order:
- ArthurFest 2005 — with, it turns out, a line about Labor Day weekend that proved to be untrue but is now applicable to Halleluwah, so hey
- Terrastock 6, 2006
- Bottling Smoke, 2007
I need to check in with Plan B to see if they want a Halleluwah story, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t — I’ll try to find some way to sum it up, to my satisfaction at least!