As we rode up from the Gorge pit for the last time, I couldn’t help but get a little nostalgic watching the view from the back of a golf cart traveling to the General Parking area. It is time to hang up my Dave Gorge shoes for a little while. The band played their 50th show at the Gorge this weekend and its not too many of those shows that I didn’t attend. I think the only three pack of shows I missed entirely was 10 years ago when I was in China.
Giving up the Gorge has been on my mind for a few years now, really since having children, but the addition of Liam makes it simply too long to be away from your family. Four (for some five) days away from your kids is a lot of time– sure people do it all the time, but these little guys– I miss too much being gone. I missed the life that we have now– and I would say I also missed my wife, but she was able to sneak away for a night, which was perfect.
And that is the other reason why this is specifically the year to say goodbye. Perfection is every way– it took many years of going to the gorge, sleeping in the shithole that General Camping used to be, then moving to Vantage and sleeping down the road at Getty’s Cove, then sleeping in the hippy hills to the left of the Gorge until finally finding Wildhorse. Wildhorse in the real Mecca– and Dave is the Jesus that we follow. I use that term because there isn’t anything I have done so many times (82 shows in 20 years, which equates to about 4.2 shows a year). Every year at Wildhorse, it is much like the last– good friends, good fun, great music and a chance to let it all out– party up however you choose, there is a bus (DO-NUTS, DO-NUTS, DO-NUTS) to take you to the show every night and get back to the campground, where they are serving Burgers (WILDBURGER!!!) and Chicken, Garlic Fries, etc– and its not even that much of a rip off!
This year of course, was perfect. My buddy Sully and his amazing wife held me a spot since they decided to arrive on Wednesday and we couldn’t get there until Thursday, so he held tight to a spot right across from them. I went up with my buddy and brother, Sam Ali. Sam knows how to throw down proper. I couldn’t have asked for a better co-pilot on this last Labor Day– we did it right. Upon our arrival at the campsite, in the dusk of the setting sun, we quickly set up our camp and got down to business. We loaded up the battery, turned on the tunes and let the party begin! The night before the show, the campers are always a little looser, wanting to get to see everyone together, to say hello to old friends and our camp was one of the places to check in and do that. Dance party at 1am was pretty epic. And that is a big part of it all– the camping and just hanging out with friends without a care in the world, except how much ice is in your drink or cooler at any given time.
But I started to notice that the shows themselves have a lot of lulls for me personally now that I used to look past as additional songs would play. I have now seen Ants Marching performed 40 times, Billies 39 times, Two Step 39 times– you kind of get my point. Every show has its moments, but having seen DMB for 20 years now, there isn’t enough new stuff for me to keep seeing them multiple times a year– which is where my other problem lies– I am not a fan of the newer stuff. The last album, Away From The World is a good album to listen to, but the songs live just don’t seem to do it for me. All in all, there are about half the songs in the catalog I really like seeing live and about half that I never heard them again, it would be okay.
Which is where I started to notice the difference in my personal view of the band and other fans. I don’t need DMB to liberate songs that suck just because they haven’t played them in awhile. A bad song is still a bad song, so the last few years have brought back some songs, particularly from the Stand Up days, that I would have preferred that they stay in the archives. People want to hear stuff they haven’t heard before– I get that — and that’s the thing– I have pretty much heard it all, and in some cases 40 times! Now that being said, 40 times over 20 years isn’t terrible, but I think its enough. 🙂 The community in the DMB has changed dramatically over the years, in the original days, it was the frat dick partiers who would constantly scream “HAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOWWWWEEEEEEEN” and that took a LONG time to die off (and then I tried to bring it back #zerofucksgiven) With the onslaught of the internet, the band is much more viral than they used to be– and constant new groups polluting the web talking about anytime any band member does anything– its crazy and overwhelming. Keeping up with groups and information and coordination can be a full time job with no pay if you let it– and you have to have a thick skin for all of the drama that comes out of people– but for all of that, good things happen.
Take for example the outpouring of support for someone in our community that died suddenly a couple of weeks before she was set to come and get married at Wildhorse Campground. I had the pleasure of knowing Carrie and Jeremy over the last couple of years and having a lot of fun with them as a couple– when she died suddenly, the group stepped together and got some fundraising together and followed it up with an auction of items to help pay for costs — and Jeremy decided he needed to come out, which he did. They held a simply beautiful memorial for her, planting a tree and a dedication plaque at Wildhorse. That was a highlight of all the years– to see a group of people coming together to help support Jeremy and Carrie in such a great time of grief– I am sure he will always appreciate that and I know she will always look down and smile upon all of it. The community is a lot like your own family– there are some that are pure love, some assholes, some people you would rather not talk to, but most of them are people you would loan money to or give the (Dave) shirt off your back.
It really comes down to my kids, my family. 5 days away from the kids is tough, even if you are partying down and having a good, good time, I realized this weekend that I am taking time away from all of them and that’s not fair– they are young guys and Elliott said he missed me and you could tell that he meant it. He doesn’t get it and he shouldn’t — I should be here for him, going to the park or whatever it is that he wants to do– and I realized that this weekend, like an epiphany.
It’s been a great run. I have seen some REALLY amazing things in my 70 or so shows since that first show in 1995, but its time to find new adventures on Labor Day and commit myself to seeing only one DMB show a year at most. I have met some GREAT people over the years and we will keep in touch and hopefully camp and do all the things we enjoy. Who knows, maybe in 13 years, they will still be doing the Gorge every year and Elliott and I can go for the weekend… but I will be 56 years old then and Dave will be pushing 60… God help us.