Travelers’ Rest may be the best festival for any indie music rock fan – period.
First off, it’s an artist-curated event with The Decemberists at the helm. Who knows how to select a festival lineup better than the artists themselves? No one, I say.
Next, it’s the perfect overall length and amount of music. With two days and start and end times of 3:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. each day, respectively, you get to see nine acts and not have to stay up all night. At times, the three- and four-day festivals are fun, but a bit long in the tooth on hot summer days.
As a bonus, you also get to see ALL the acts if you want. No overlapping artists and schedule conflicts. A music festival goer’s dream!
Thirdly, the festival location and size. Missoula, Mont., is idyllic with its big blue sky and majestic mountains in the distance, yet remote enough to not draw overwhelming crowds compared to festivals in large cities, such as Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles and Detroit. The Big Sky Brewing Company Amphitheater has the right-size feel for an outdoor venue that holds up to 5,000 people.
Finally, who wouldn’t want to spend two musically, fun-filled days with The Decemberists and their friends? For me, it’s a bounty of exquisite musicianship and artistry.
Nine years ago, I put in a copy of “The Hazards of Love” by The Decemberists in my Volkswagen Beetle’s five-disc CD changer and raised an eyebrow.
It wasn’t quite what I expected.
After listening to the entire album, I looked over at Brian and shook my head.
He replied to me, “This isn’t our style.”
At that time, we weren’t focused on rock operas and concept albums. We were the curmudgeons of pop, classic rock and power metal.
The Decemberists’ 2009 rock opera album pushed us out of our comfort zones musically, courtesy of my brother Steve. He included the album in a care package of music to hear before attending Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
The album’s storyline centers on a woman named Margaret who falls in love with a forest dweller named William. Throughout the album, William’s mother and a villain named the Rake bring conflict to the story.
Back then, “Hazards” was one of the first concept albums I had ever heard. While I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I sure do today.
I greatly appreciate the album and The Decemberists because they’re part of a special group of artists and music that inspired my initial love of concertgoing, vinyl and CD collecting, musical festival-ing (I know, it’s not a real word) and blogging.