I could tell you about the time my roommate’s haircut got us backstage with Lil’ Jon, but that wouldn’t be my story. I could tell you about my travels to Vegas to see Kaskade’s Fire & Ice Tour at the Marquee, but that also wouldn’t really be my story. My story is from the heart. It’s not glamorous and it’s not covered in glitter…well sometimes it is, but mostly it’s about the time spent waiting for my favorite producers to come on stage. At the time I thought it was insignificant, but now that I’m older I realize those moments happen less and less with age, shifting priorities, and responsibility. The group of friends I went to Paradiso with will never go to another festival together and I think that’s what makes those memories so colorful.
In late June of 2012 we packed a pickup truck with gear, strapped some extras to the top of the closed truck bed, and set off for the Gorge. Our VIP campsite was a must, but with temps crawling into the mid-90’s and lines for the shower over an hour and a half long, we opted for the dirty hippy look and spent the weekend exchanging cold beer and shade for walks around GA. When the sun finally set on the first night we were beyond ready to rave. Water bottles were full, tents were pitched, and the walk into the festival seemed like a breeze because there actually was one. The heat made for a strange environment. I remember my friend pointing to a completely naked girl walking around aimlessly and two guys dressed as hammerhead sharks doing handstand holds. The next thing I knew I was on shoulders during Porter Robinson’s set and by the time my friend put me down Tiesto’s fireworks were well underway. I hugged each of my friends before returning to the campsite that night and passed out with a smile on my face at 3am…but all of that was small in comparison to the next morning.
A heat lightning and thunderstorm woke us up at 7am on Saturday. It was powerful and all encompassing, creating a sense of community between campsites with mutual laughter and screams exchanged. You can’t recreate that kind of thing. Where nature and music collide to create a piece of art you’ll only witness once. Ever. I will never regret the money I spent to get there or the way that summer shaped my friendships for years to come. I think you have to make sacrifices to find that kind of peace.