Even though my first concert was technically a festival [Tangent: Nashville River Stages 1998! What! What! I was in the thick of it during a Foo Fighters pit session...which might have been the coolest event of my teen years! Don't be jealous that I also saw Fastball, who were a thing for 5 minutes.], I have always found them terribly off-putting. I tried to ignore these voices of "this is a terrible idea" when I decided to attend Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival a couple weekends back...and I'm glad I did.
Because I love a bargain and a time saver, I love the idea of seeing lots of bands I love in one convenient place, but they normally carry with them lots of variables that make me nervous.
What if it rains?
What if the bathroom situation is unsavory?
What if parking is a nightmare?
Ughhh. So many crowds. I will never see.
What if my old lady kicks in and I am tired by 8 o'clock and don't want to stay for headliner?
What if someone super wasted is seated next to me and gets a little too hands on?
Based on my prior experience with all-day outdoor shows, these are ALL valid concerns and can truly harsh my music buzz. When rough terrain, freakishly hot weather and loads of people are who are similarly sweaty and possibly intoxicated are thrown in, I usually opt out because age has dropped by bullshit tolerance significantly. This is why I have never been to Bonnaroo. [Tangent: Oh...that and the camping. Kimmie don't camp. I cannot begin to explain the reasons that is a terrible idea.] Thankfully I doubled down and bought a ticket to Pilgrimage Fest.
The fest, now in it's second year, takes place on a horse farm in near downtown Franklin, Tennessee and is organized by Kevin Griffin of Better than Ezra fame and got a producer credit from new middle Tennessee resident, J. Timberlake. There were a couple key selling points that got me intrigued and made me think "Hmmm...maybe I could do this."
- The Saturday show featured Violent Femmes, Cake and Beck, which is a lineup that a younger Kimmie would be super jealous of...to be quite transparent- 33 year old Kimmie was equally psyched about it. [Tangent: Kiss Off is a song that will take me from 0 to 60 so fast. It was a dream to see it live...and after seeing Cake live a few years ago, I couldn't wait to do it again. Although the Sunday Americana-heavy lineup was incredibly tempting, we knew Saturday was the way to go.]
- The drive to the festival from my home takes maybe 15 minutes
- Day passes were under $70 (day passes aren't even always an option for some fests!)
- The headliner goes on at 6, which means I could be home and in my jammies in time to watch the nightly news. Old woman level achieved!
I had been to Harlinsdale Farms once before for an AmericanaFest event a couple years ago, so I knew the layout was well...a farm...but luckily I am filled with misguided senses of security to do things like off-road. I imagine it would have been not-so-fun in a manual or if it had rained [Tangent: Mud is the enemy so I did many an anti-rain dance to stave it off.], but overall the accessibility options BLEW ME AWAY! I took full advantage of all the VIP disability access options. [Tangent: Even though Jamie and I had to pee side-by-side in the double-wide port-a-potty and I had to go shoeless while inside the plastic poop box to best leverage my mobility. I never said I was super classy. Luckily, it was day one and the facilities were surprisingly clean and it's mostly the fault of my enormous and unweildy chair!]
The ADA seating was on a raised platform adjacent to the paid VIP section...in fact it was higher therefore better than the VIP section, so our view was possibly better and without the surcharge. Also, it was generally vacant except for Jamie and I so we felt pretty pleased with ourselves [Tangent: The well-intentioned ADA seating options do not always pan out so golden. Read about one of the nightmares at the riverfront here.] that we could sing along loudly to Blister in the Sun and not be judged....and furthermore didn't have to listen to other people doing the same. [Tangent: Speaking of blistering in the sun, it was disgustingly steamy outside that day at 92 degrees. Swamp ass for days. It was awesome to see they had water bottle fill up stations to keep folks hydrated, which trust we took advantage of...along with the retro-sno truck. I'll wager they made bank at the festival!]
Probably the act I was least excited about out the 3 must-sees was Beck. I've always liked Beck but I was worried it was going to be all sad Sea Change stuff and I feared that would not play well on an outdoor stage. Thankfully I was dead wrong. Beck is a teensy sex beast of a human and I was perma-smiling the entire time. [Tangent: At one point during the overlap of the Beck and Cake shows, you could hear a weird unintentional mash-up of The Distance and Loser. At this point my head exploded.] I was so impressed with his musicianship and dancing, and CONTROVERSIAL STATEMENT- he had an undeniable Prince quality. I cannot be certain, but he was so convincing and had everyone hyped to such a degree...I would not be surprised if the Scientology center in Nashville gained some new "personality test" participants after the show.
The shows and vibe were awesome. Although I don't know if I would bring my children (if I had them...because I feel I would need me time if I indeed had hypothetical kids), there were loads of families there. When we were walking out to our car well before 9 PM, I overheard from the people in front of us how relaxed it was and how it had a good crowd, but never felt "crowded." I honestly can't wait to go back next year.