Thursday, July 28, 2011

East Coast Tour - OFEST Coastesville, PA 5.14.11

The drive from our state park camping spot to Osyrusfest was about 2 hours. The routing brought us through Gettysburg PA. We all looked out over the rolling hills as we drove through town, it was pretty intense to think of all the souls that lost their lives right there about 150 years ago. A little bit further along on the ride, we began driving up on horse-drawn carriages in the street. We repeatedly had to slow down and go around them to avoid an accident. Of course it wasn’t long before we realized that we were in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country. You quickly realize that everything around you is a bit off from everyday life as we have come to know it. The band stopped in to an Amish market to buy some provisions before arriving at Ofest. I bought little Amish peanut butter cups, and Mike got Amish wasabi peas. The dude at the counter thought we were crazy, but had a sweet Abe Lincoln beard, so he was cool with me. We jumped back into Precious and continued on. As we passed through the rest of the town, I marveled at devotion that these folks have to their simplified style of life. Men wore wide brimmed hats and suspenders and smoked big pipes, while the women wore blue and white apron dresses and bonnets. We whizzed by a few more horse drawn carriages, and just before we were out of town, with my image of the Amish and their minimalist lifestyle crystallizing in my mind, we saw a young Amish lass off to the left at the corner of a farm field dressed in her aforementioned dress and bonnet. She was churning up a crazy plume of dust and hay with a large gas powered weed whacker that she was man-handling like no one’s business. Apparently she was part of a reformed sect of the Dutch community that prefers Husqvarnas to traditional hand sickles. My passing thought was “you go girl!”




It wasn’t long before we were taking a few quick turns and rolling down a small dirt road into the Hoffman compound. It was slightly overcast, but the temp was perfect. We reached the front gate of the festival and looked out over the oasis of enjoyment that is Osyrusfest. For those unfamiliar, Ofest is an annual music festival put on by the brothers Hoffman. Paul and Preston are lighting designers for some wicked big bands, and each year they have their own shindig to celebrate their love of music and sick lights. We pulled our tour bus, Precious, up to the side of the road inside and hopped out. Friends and acquaintances from last year’s festival were roaming about the grounds. I took survey of the area once again, and felt that exciting “wow” reaction inside, like when you walk out of the tunnel towards your seat at Fenway for the first time of the season. The lush green lawn and towering quarry walls were as I remembered. The stage, off to the far left end of the field, looked like the perfect balance of concert style and function. LED cans were strategically placed, and an oversized disco ball hovered over everything. After some minimal setup of our campsite, we all cruised up towards the main house and grill for some grub and beer. We caught up with a bunch of friends, and made some new ones as well. Before too long, Max, Mike and I were hucking the disc around the field one-hand style. Folks joined in, and all of a sudden, it was a pahty!



The music got going in the early evening and continued on into the early AM hours. As the evening turned to night, the scene at Ofest went from awesome to absolutely amazing. I would never have thought you could transform the landscape of this quarry-bed backyard into surreal psychedelic kaleidoscope festival madness by simply dimming the sky. It really did. Lights bounced off of the disco ball and reached the far stretches of Ofest festival grounds in every direction. The music sounded so good. A superb Radiohead cover band headlined Friday night. I easily would have mistaken them for the real thing if they weren’t playing right in front of me. They closed their set with an inspired version of Karma Police. Awesome! An all night DJ spun records for the rest of the night. By festival standards, I had an earlier night that night, and tried to pace myself so I would be completely ready to rock n’ roll the next night. I crept into Precious, and “unts unts untsed” my way to sleep.






Saturday arrived, and I emerged from my Precious slumber in the early afternoon. The annual Ofest Chili cook-off was underway, and the voting was just finishing up when I arrived at the grill area. I felt obliged to try each of the 6 entries right away. They were all excellent, and each varied in style. I was too tardy to vote officially, but Chili #1 was my favorite. An excellent mix of meat and beans… a bacon hint to the flavor of the sauce, and not too spicy. Well done!After filling up with meat and beans, I headed over to the stage to check out the preparations for another day of music. While the sound guys were getting things together, another crew of Festies were preparing for the annual Osyrusfest Beer Tasting. In preparation for the fest, attendees were encouraged to bring their favorite beers from around the country for this big ole’ beer tasting. The goal is to arrive with something others might not find in their local area liquor store, and to try the rare offerings everyone else brought. This event was insane! If you love good beer, this was it! From the outset, you could tell that a number of Ofesters cared deeply for the fine craft of brewing, and they knew what they liked. There were a number of IPA-heads in attendance, as well as small communities of Stout lovers and Belgian aficionados. The bottles began racing around the tables for everyone to try. The contributor would shout out the brewery, name and style of the latest beer to be cracked, and the tasters would remark audibly in anticipation of the taste bud assault that was about to ensue. The tasting lasted for well over an hour, and there were smiles on the faces of all as the event winded down. Favorites for me were a beer out of NC called Hoppyum IPA, and a sour beer called Pumpkin jack something or other. I dunno, but that sour was something else!




After getting loose on oat soda, I joined a small crew for a short hike to the top of the quarry wall. Preston’s lady Alicia, her dad Tim, and few friends all made the trek up the steep path located around the back of the stage area. From the top of the quarry walls, you could look down on Ofest and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the festival scene. If you were afraid of heights, the edge was a bit scary. We took some pictures from the top and made our way back down after a short time. As I made it back down to the field, a band out of RI called Hip Bobsha took the stage and totally rocked it out. They sounded amazing through the big PA system.




Weather was on and off for the afternoon, and the hi8us dudes weren’t 100% sure we were going to get our set in…again! The previous year, we got cut short just as we got going. It sucked. This year, we were slated to go on before the headliner act around 8:30 or so. I tried to keep it a bit reigned in during the beer tasting, so I was coherent come show time. The weather ended up working out just enough that everyone got to play. We went on after a cool act from NYC called Turbine. The combination of misty air, an over cast sky, and the onset of evening was perfect for our set time. The lights were really starting to show up in the air, and I could tell the guys and I were really feeding of off this super cool playing environment. We played through our greatest hits with a vengeance, and had the Ofest crowd getting into it. Good times! The late night band Duende Mountain Duo closed out Ofest 2011 with a blistering display of break beat style and synth keyboard madness. It was excellent.




The next morning hi8us split out in the early AM and made it back to the Commonwealth by supper time. It was a sweet dash up the East Coast for sure. I was back in my cube on Monday. Zow!




"Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force"

jim

1 comments:

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