[Hype Hype Hooray] Ranch Fest: The Secret Idaho Music Event of Your Dreams Pt. 3

Every [two weeks?] Jamie Hale takes a long, hard look at the music industry and the blog scene that feeds it. Here, he releases those findings and makes snarky, sarcastic remarks. Admittedly, both Jamie and Knox Road are a part of this scene. So sue us.

Last time on Hype Hype Hooray: Brittany and Jamie get invited to a secret Idaho music festival, discover it’s going to be freezing cold, see some great bands, sleep through a few others and sit in a shack/sauna until sunrise. Read about the end of our tale this week in Ranch Fest: The Secret Idaho Music Event of Your Dreams Pt. 3!!

We woke up to a beautiful warm spring morning on the ranch. Birds were chirping, dogs were chasing each other around our tent and some young hipsters were brewing tea, eating hummus and talking about Portland weed. Oh, it was a northwest music festival all right.

We walked up to the ranch where there was a promised pancake breakfast waiting for our hungry mouths. After eating some dry, delicious pancakes and drinking several cups of Arnold Palmers, we sat back and relaxed. Music wasn’t going to start for another hour or two, so we took advantage of the warm sun and lay down and nap in the grass.

One of the coolest things about Ranch Fest is that it’s 100 percent dog friendly. In all, there were about a dozen dogs at the event. Since they all kept each other occupied, they just ran around the property, leash free. A giant lion-esque husky would lie next to us and let us pet it’s thick coat before trotting off after a dropped pancake. A hyper-active, thin black dog, Luke, was the best though. We would just be walking around, minding our own business, when Luke would pop up out of nowhere, always happy and always inexplicably soaking wet.

The music kicked off at 1 p.m. with the absolutely phenomenal Larkspur. Their brand of sweet, authentic country was perfect for our relaxed, sappy mood. With Child and Youth Lagoon played sets as we filled our cups a second and third time. By the time 4:00 rolled around, we were doing great. We weren’t really drunk, but decided to take it easy on the beer anyway. Atomic Mama (made up of two of the guys from opening act Talk Math To Me) were just KILLING it onstage as Brittany and I made up a two-person dance party at the front of the crowd.

The planned dinner for that evening was a potluck, for which everybody was supposed to bring something. Brittany and I constructed some awesome cucumber/bell pepper/hummus/hot sauce tortilla wraps that were gone in about 15 minutes (food success!). The potluck had everything! There was barbecue, Asian quinoa salads, potato salads, pasta salads, bean salads, rice crackers, and cupcakes. I went for the old “healthy portions of a few things” while Brittany took the “small portions of everything” route.

We downed our international food selections with beer and carried on. At least we tried. As it turns out, Brittany’s food selection choice wasn’t the best idea. An hour after we ate, she was in trouble. We left the crowd and sat on a log next to a port-o-potty. Now, remember that at this point we were: A. several beers in B. running on about four hours of sleep and C. freezing our asses off. Adding, D. horrible sick, on top of that was no picnic.

Right after I suggested Brittany puke behind the log, she ran into the toilet. I don’t want to get all TMI here, but I’ll just say her body had trouble choosing an exit, so it chose both. It was horrible. It was miserable. It was also maybe the coldest we’ve ever been. Our options were to either walk through the cold darkness to the tent or beg for help. We chose the latter. We found a woman working the festival and asked if there was any chance we could go into the house on the ranch. Oh, generosity smiled upon us, friends! Within 30 seconds we were sitting on a warm, comfortable leather couch indoors!

As my body adjusted to the warmth and Brittany closed her eyes on the couch, I took a look around. The house was really nice! It looked like your typical mountain vacation home that’s always nicer than your own house. To our left a woman sat silently on a love seat, her husband asleep face down next to her and her son dozing on her lap. I smiled at her, but she only scowled. I turned away.

Thank god the ever-friendly Phil, who we met at the Ranch Fest gate, walked in at that moment. “Oh, hey guys, is everything ok?” he asked. “Welllll,” I said, “looks like she ate some weird food or something, she got pretty sick.” “Bummer,” said Phil. “Well feel free to chill in here as long as you need.” What a great guy, that Phil! I smiled and turned again to the scowling woman. She was still scowling. Great.

The experience in the house was odd. We were finally free from the frigid cold, but from inside we heard the muffled sounds of some of the bands we went to Ranch Fest specifically to see. Jared Meed and the Grown Children wrapped up their set as the hosts, Finn Riggins took the stage. Phil suggested to scowling lady that she go see the band play. “Yeah, I should probably see my brother’s band,” she said.

So that was it! Scowling woman was related to the band, therefore this was her family’s house and we were, to her, some foolish, drunken intruders. Well this made a lot more sense, but still, did she have to scowl? When she and Phil came back he told us she was a nurse and she could maybe help. As kind as Phil’s intentions were, this did not help.

We overheard a muffled conversation from the other side of the room. Phil was asking her questions and giving her info. All we heard was her voice: “No. They just drank too much. That’s it.” Now hold on, lady! I went to college and I know very well the difference between drinking too much and getting horribly, horribly sick. Suddenly, we felt VERY unwelcome in that haven.

I convinced Brittany that once we got to the tent and she fell asleep, everything would be fine. We thanked Phil and scowling lady and slowly made our way back to the tent. As we walked into the darkness, we heard the crowd cheering on Boy Eats Drum Machine, another of our favorites.

We woke up to a gray, misty sky and, as usual, dogs chasing each other around the campgrounds. Brittany felt fine so we packed up our things and drove home. On the way we talked about the whole experience. She felt bad for being sick and causing us to miss all the bands we wanted to see, but I didn’t see it that way. There were downs, sure, but there were also plenty of ups.

After all, the two of us, essentially strangers from back east, had infiltrated the tight-knit Idaho/Portland music scene and survived a freezing cold, but ultimately amazing, summer music festival/party. We couldn’t be more outside our element, and yet we (almost) thrived among all the Portland and Boise hipsters. Besides, she couldn’t help getting sick and what kind of boyfriend would I be if I ditched her?

We both fell silent as we drove the open Idaho wilderness. Despite the cold and the drunken sauna asshole and the sickness and the horrible scowling lady, I had an amazing time at Ranch Fest. It wasn’t one of those picture-perfect music festival experiences, but I think I liked it better that way. Sometimes it just takes your girlfriend getting violently ill in a public port-o-potty to figure it all it.

(Part 1 and Part 2)

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