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Sound Check: The Peaks Prevail 

It's almost impossible to pick out the highlight of any multi-day music festival, but at 4 Peaks last weekend, the pinnacle came precisely at the

click to enlarge Getting all blurry at 4 Peaks.
  • Getting all blurry at 4 Peaks.
It's almost impossible to pick out the highlight of any multi-day music festival, but at 4 Peaks last weekend, the pinnacle came precisely at the moment that Matt Butler climbed atop a specially designed pickup truck rooftop platform in the center of the crowd on Saturday night.

Conducting his Everyone Orchestra (consisting of damn near every musician on the festival lineup) Butler ordered two stages (separated by a good 100 feet) of musicians through sweeping, soaring jams that descended down low for spaced-out segue ways giving birth to explosive dance-your-ass-off moments for the crowd of some 1,500 revelers who made their way through the festival gates.

4 Peaks proved significantly larger and smoother than last year's inaugural outing - the most enchanting addition being the expansive 60-acre campground that took on a life of its own before the sun even went down on Friday night. But within the actual festival grounds, the music never stopped with the two stages firing off back-to-back performances. Throughout the weekend, Poor Man's Whiskey would take the stage three times (four, if you count a late-night campground appearance), dishing out some bluegrass tunes, but mostly unleashing their rock and roll funk machine on 4 Peakers and rightfully earning their role as the fest's host band. At the reigns of the festival was the Reverend Cleopheas (PMW's Eli Jebidiah) who for the second year both confused and delighted festivalgoers with his mile-a-minute Southern preacher ramblings.

Hot Buttered Rum fired off an hour-plus of high-octane bluegrass to highlight Friday night and was then followed up by Zilla, a project most known for its inclusion of former String Cheeser Michael Travis. Zilla climbed onstage for maybe 15 minutes of electro/techno jams before slowly winding to a close, leaving the stage and promptly returning within minutes after being awkwardly reintroduced to a befuddled, yet still-dancing crowd.

Saturday kicked off with a strong-as-usual set from locals Moon Mountain Ramblers, giving way to the arena-rock-meets-funk whirlwind that is Seattle's Flowmotion, bringing the late-arriving throngs wandering over the hill from the campgrounds. By the time Poor Man's Whiskey arrived for their main stage act, the festivarians were out en force. A festival is only as colorful as the people who come out to get down, and at 4 Peaks there were some dandies. We're talking people in face paint, walking on stilts and waving glow-in-the-dark wands - all at once. Of course, there were a lot of everyday people out on the grounds, but it's the freakers that really crank up the enjoyment level.

Backstage, ALO's bass player, Steve Adams, was sipping a beer and showing off his mustache and letting us know that he would be filling in with the Bay Area's piano-driven rockers Tea Leaf Green, as he'd been doing for the current tour. Tea Leaf Green, led by the ultra-crisp vocals and keys of Trevor Garrod, ratcheted up the level of the festival, backing up their reputation as one of the West Coast's premier touring acts.

Watching Butler bounce around atop his platform and his disciples (both onstage musicians and dancing fans alike) lapping up everything he had to dish out, there was a certain vibe in the air hinting that 4 Peaks, after two years fighting for ground in the festival scene, had finally arrived. While some 4 Peakers were bummed to hear that the event is moving from its intimate Tumalo farmland, it seems that this vibe will live on, because as long as there are 4 Peakers, there will be 4 Peaks. - Mike Bookey

If you need some visual confirmation of the insanity of the Everyone Orchestra finale, check out the video below.  But then again, maybe this was a "you had to be there" moment.



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