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Seismic Review: Doe Bay Festival 2010

August 20, 2010

       Written By: Jonathan Olken

As I stepped off the boat at Doe Bay Festival, I was greeted by several people swimming in the cove and the gorgeous sound of the band Fences floating through the trees. It was the perfect entrance to what was going to be an amazing weekend. I gathered my bag and cooler, and as I headed off to the main office to get my wristband and camping pass, I was greeted by more people, strangers and old friends alike, welcoming me to the festival and giving me high fives. You couldn’t ask for a friendlier crowd. It was like we were all friends already based solely on the fact that we were all at the festival. It’s an incredible feeling to step off a boat and be greeted like an old friend. It set the tone for weekend, and everyone shared in the communal vibe that was present throughout the entire weekend.  By they time I had set up my tent and made my way to the main stage, Portland Cello Project had taken the stage. As I sat and ate my dinner and drank some beer, I was entertained by covers of “Hey Ya” and “Habanera,” with the band urging the crowd to sing along while they played their classical versions of the popular songs. It was great dinner music, and the crowd seemed to agree as everyone was just lounging about enjoying their beverages and snacks. I couldn’t help but be excited when they announced that they would be joining other bands throughout the weekend. Hey Marseilles, recently back from an east coast tour, followed Portland Cello Project, and at the encouragement of some guy in a hat, the crowd got to their feet and swarmed the stage. We danced and swayed to the melodic music, as the sun sunk slowly behind the trees next to the stage.

With the sun now gone and the main stage closed, the party moved to the yoga studio, where Ravenna Woods treated us to a rocking set full of songs from their unbelievably good debut album Demons and Lakes. Their set was short and sweet and left us all wanting more, but unfortunately there were time constraints and Ravenna Woods, despite my proclamation that I had “People in High Places,” had to leave the stage to make room for the band The Head and the Heart, one of the darlings of the entire festival. I had never heard The Head and the Heart live before, but I was quickly smitten by their folksy country rock and couldn’t wait to hear them again. Thankfully, and unknown to me at the time, I would be hearing them plenty of times throughout the weekend. I dealt with the incredibly packed and extremely hot yoga studio for almost the entire set, and when I emerged from the show, I walked right into a full on party happening in and around The Maldives deck. It was an incredible gathering of artist, industry people, and fans. Everywhere you turned was a friend, current or soon to be, that was more than happy to talk, laugh, drink and chill. After hanging out for a while, I made my way to the beach and was greeted by skinny dippers emerging from the water. Those skinny dippers turned out to be The Head and Heart, and after drying off, they began what was a classic beachside a cappella sing along of “Ice Ice Baby” and other cheesy songs. Upon returning to festival grounds, I realized that the party had moved from The Maldives deck to the campfire. I made my way over there and found another sing along, this time with a guitar and lot more back up singers. It was a great ending to a great first night. I couldn’t wait to see what day 2 had in store for me.

         Day 2 started for me with a chill folksy set by Ivan and Alyosha on the small patio stage. It was the perfect music to help heal my hangover while I lounged in the sun. On my way to the main stage to see the Portland based band The Dimes, I was distracted by a volleyball game involving several members of several different bands, including Chris from Fences and every member of The Head and the Heart. By the time I made it to the main stage, The Dimes were in the middle of their set. It was what I can only describe as moustache rock, but with a decidedly historical slant, including a song about a guy with a bullet in his head that made him unable to sleep for 15 years. I spent the next couple of hours chilling with friends and bouncing between the main stage, where Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers and Curtains For You played, and the patio stage, where I got to witness Shenandoah Davis  play her piano pop with the Portland Cello Project.

          I returned to the main stage for good at the beginning of a rocking set by Drew Grow and The Pastors’ Wives. They had the entire crowd dancing in the sweltering sun as they unleashed a powerful set, topped off by an epic version of “Blister” with the Portland Cello Project. It had the entire festival nodding their heads in approval of the rhythm. I was so hot and sweaty from dancing during their set that I had to strip down to my underwear and go for a dip in the Salish Sea. It was a much-needed break in some icy water before I returned to the main stage for a beautiful set by Grand Hallways. Their infectious folk rock sound got the crowd, including the many children in attendance, dancing in the warm summer sun. It set the stage for a blockbuster of a set from The Maldives, who rocked out with enthusiasm. It was one of the livelier sets I’ve ever seen them perform, with their guitarists taking full advantage of the large stage by doing their best Slash imitations. It’s clear that The Maldives love playing at the Doe Bay Festival, and the crowd loved seeing them there.

          As the sun slowly started setting, it was announced that Grand Archives couldn’t make it and were going to be replaced by a band called Drone River, which turned out to be The Fruit Bats minus their lead singer Eric Johnson. It was a very chill set, and when Eric finally joined them onstage, the music turned from chill to rocking. The Fruit Bats delivered a knockout performance; playing a great mix of old and new songs, including a sweet Grateful Dead cover to finish their set. It was a great way to close out the main stage and prepare the crowd for one last night of partying.

          The late night sets were once again impressive. Kelli Schaefer started things off in the yoga studio, but I was only able to catch the last half of a song. The next band THEESatisfaction, brought the house down. Their bombastic hip-hop was a welcomed change from all the folk country rock that had been the prevalent genre of the weekend, and it got the crowd worked into a frenzy. After another sweaty night in the yoga studio, the crowd spilled outside to find a porch performance by The Head and the Heart. It was one of the highlights of the weekend, as they played stripped down versions of the songs we had heard the previous night. They were followed by a beachside performance by The Fruit Bats, which was also amazing.

          The next day was a much more chill day, with a bulk of the music already finished and most of the crowd leaving early to get a head start on the ferries. I used this lull in the music to leave the festival grounds with some new friends to go to Mountain Lake, where we jumped off a rope swing and swam to an island on an island. For those of us that stayed into the evening, we were treated to two gorgeous performances. The first was by Youth Rescue Mission, a family band with beautiful harmonies. The second was by reluctant rockers Indian Valley Line. They kept the vibe chill by having some of the other artists that were still there join them on stage for backup vocals. It was a fitting end to an incredible weekend.

          All in all, Doe Bay was one of the most amazing festivals I have ever been to. This article doesn’t even begin to describe how amazing it truly was. Everything from the setting on a beautiful island retreat to the incredible performances by the artists was truly outstanding. It was like a giant hipster beach party with egos checked at the door. When I was finally boarding the ferry home, there were people on the beach waving goodbye to us. And when we took off, Joe, the owner of Doe Bay who had been front and center for every performance of the festival, stood out on his deck to see us off. There was even people on the cliffs waving goodbye and telling us not to leave. I wish we didn’t have to, but at least I know I’ll be back next year. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. 

If you went…..tell us what you thought. Would you go again???

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 20, 2010 3:29 pm

    Jonathan – You are always welcome at Doe Bay. I flew home to Seattle on Monday night but flew back up this morning and will be listening to Carolyn Cruso at the Cafe tonight. Thanks for ytour great words and you are not alone … nobody can quite put into words what happened when 1000 people all got to share an idyllic weekend in paradise!

    JOE (Bay) Brotherton

    • August 20, 2010 5:36 pm

      Thanks for the comment Joe. I have no doubt Jon will be back. After hearing about how great it is…I know I wont be missing it. I rent a place up there every year…sometimes twice a year. I go by the resort all the time. Its a beautiful place.

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