It's simply not summer in the US until Memorial Weekend, the official inauguration of the season of grillin, chillin, and overconsumption of the vice of your choosing. This year we decided to start our summer off right with a trip to Osyrusfest 2009 in Coatesville, PA.
We'd attended this event two years ago, and it was great to see how it's grown. Started a few years back by the illustrious Preston and Paul Hoffman as a way to celebrate jam bands (and an excuse to drag millions of dollars of lighting equipment to the quarry outside their old family homestead), Osyrusfest has evolved into one of the premiere small music festivals in North America. The schedule was jam-packed full of excellent bands from all over the country. Even for someone who gets easily bored with the never-ending wiffly-wafty nature of jam music -- ehm, that would be me -- the jaw-dropping lights and striking Ofest setting kicks the whole thing up a notch or ten.
Learning from past mistakes with leaky tents, this year we decided to rent a big honkin' RV and drive up from DC. Several participants flaked out at the last minute, which just left more room in the RV of Love & Justice for me, Mark, and our friend Josh (better known in some circles as The Minister of Intoxication). We got the exact same model we'd rented last year for Burning Man, and the minute I stepped inside to load up our gear I had a huge flashback to our dusty, surreal adventures on The Playa. And, sniff, I missed Crystal and Foreward and the rest of the GBOF crew! Nevermind, we were about to create a whole set of new memories with a new cast of characters.
We finally hit the road around 8:30pm on Friday, which meant missing most of the hideous weekend traffic, but it also meant arriving just before midnight. After taking a wrong turn at Gum Tree and almost taking out their neighbor's mailbox, we rolled into the Hoffman Estates just as the Mobias Project set was ending. I wiggled the Mothership into position, and we cracked open a frosty beverage to celebrate our successful arrival. The party raged deep into the night, complete with a DJ set and a neverending supply of Fisherman's Brew beer. (Sponsorship is goooooood!)
The rest of the weekend was somewhat of a blur, albeit a totally mellow and relaxing one. Daytime consisted of parking ourselves in the shade outside the RV and interacting with our neighbors, sharing beverages and tasty treats. If we were so inclined, there were several sporting options to partake in... everything from whiffle ball to bocce. Mostly we just sat around chatting and enjoying the continuous current of music from the DJ tent, live guitar and drum circles, or our own RV sound system. It was chillaxed to the max!
The highlight of the weekend was indisputably the stellar set by Eclipse, a Pink Floyd tribute band from Nashville. They totally stole the show. Mere words can't quite convey the exhilaration of standing on the overgrown quarry floor, surrounded by lights and fog, listening to this band belt out Pink Floyd favorites like "Comfortably Numb" and "Wish You Were Here." If I closed my eyes, I coulda sworn I was actually seeing the Floyd live and in the flesh. It was truly breathtaking. The band has seven members, including one vocalist who sounds more like Roger Waters and one with more of a David Gilmour sound, plus a hot female saxophonist/keyboardist, and another hot female vocalist who can belt out "Great Gig in the Sky" like nothing I've ever heard. So they can really cover the full gamut. If you are the least bit fan of the Floyd, make it your business to see these guys in concert. They blew us all away.
And then, the icing on the cake: we got to hang out with most of Eclipse after the show. Such is the benefit of having a ginormous mothership of a vehicle... you get to host the best parties at the festival! We never quite matched the 20-person pileup of BM 2008, but we certainly did circulate a lot of folks through the RV of Love & Justice on Saturday night. And I have to say, in addition to being a phenomenally talented bunch, Eclipse are also outstanding peeps to hang out with. It was a pleasure getting to know them. The absinthe was flowing, the hookah was fired up, and the steady stream of innnnnnnnnteresting people kept the conversation lively, to say the least. Good times.
By the time Monday rolled around and it was time to roll on home, everyone was a bit rough around the edges, as you can imagine. Preston was overhead to say something to the effect of "I can *feel* how much fun I had this weekend. Even my teeth hurt!" Amen, brother. We were all using our inside voices the following week at work. No matter, it was completely worth it! Kudos to Preston and Paul for a tremendously successful Osyrusfest 2009. Oh, and on top of all the fun, we raised a bunch of money to help provide clean drinking water to Varkhadiya Village in Gujarat, India, via the fabulous folks at 1Well. Gotta love fun that benefits a great cause. Summer 2009, here we come!
PS. All Ofest pics can be found here. Anybody who wants originals, please visit the Flickr set and help yerself! (There are a few additional photos posted there.) I didn't get everyone's email addies, so kindly help me spread the word to the rest of the 'Fest folks.
PPS. Hippie-ravers HEART oktapodi, big time! Here's a small sampling of the new friends our groovy cephalopod made at Ofest: