Photo from The Gorge website
Journey to the Gorge:
My adventure to The Gorge was no simple feat. I had to strategically plan how to meet 7 friends in George, Washington on Friday, August 4th for Pretty Lights Live: Episode 6 The Gorge. The task ahead- How do we bring all of our camping gear to The Gorge when none of us live in Washington?
My friends and I have traveled across the United States for multiple shows/ events/ festivals, but this one took the cake. It should be noted that there is no simple way to just get to The Gorge. From Seattle, it takes about 2.5-3 hours to drive and from Portland, it is 4.5-5 hours. We were traveling from San Francisco, Las Vegas, Denver, Chicago, and San Jose– nowhere close!
Since I was the closest (located in San Francisco), I decided to turn this festival into an adventure. I left the Bay on Wednesday morning and took Interstate 5 along the Pacific Northwest. I stopped in small towns like Weed, CA to buy tourist shirts (because why not!?) and geeked out at the beauty of Mount Shasta and how it was still covered in snow. Traveling through Northern California was jaw dropping and quickly reminded me how lucky I am to live in a state so diverse in habitat. Plus, it made the road trip pass by quickly.
My Tourist Souvenir T-shirt
Mount Shasta, California
Once I crossed the state line into Oregon, the eagerness of The Gorge set in. I stopped over in Portland, Oregon for the night to grab some friends, see the city, and pack the car for the next days’ adventures to Washington.
HOLY HELL!! The Gorge is not only the most BEAUTIFUL festival campground in the continental United States but the grounds are run by professionals. My group of friends and I opted for Premiere Camping, but there were tons of different options. Below is a simple break down of each option:
Glamping– I had 2 friends opt for glamping since they were flying from Chicago and Denver. Glamping offers festival goers a furnished, pre-set cottage set in the terraces which offers FREE ICE ON DEMAND and morning food. The big draw for Glamping is that if you are traveling from out of state- you can show up and everything you need is set!! Just bring your clothes and your dancing shoes!
Premiere Camping– This is what I did at The Gorge and would recommend to everyone! Premiere camping offers festival goers spots that are 18ft X 35ft to set up, has a special shuttle that will pick you up from your camp site and drop off right outside the venue, as well as superior views of The Gorge from your camps! And how could I forget the best part- AC bathrooms and nice clean showers! That was a game changer for me!!! The second best part was my Shiftpod. The shiftpod 2.0 was easy to set up (under 2 minutes… seriously, my friends timed me!), filtered out the smoke from the fires, and kept my tent nice and cool from the sun! Call me pampered but after 10 years of going to festivals, I think I’ve finally figured out what I need!
Standard Camping– As with any festival, the real fun is meeting people in the standard camp grounds. You can walk around, meet new friends or run into old ones that you didn’t know were attending! In fact, that’s exactly what I did and ended up running into friends from high school/ college and friends of friends. If you are more ‘local’ to The Gorge- I would suggest this option.
Here is where something unexpected happened- wildfires! The Wildfires in British Colombia turned the whole Pacific Northwest into smoke covered states. I was pretty nervous when we pulled up to The Gorge on Thursday night to find out that we even couldn’t see down to the Colombia river let alone 6 cars in front of us. The smoke was thick! It should also be noted that there were some serious health advisories being sent out about not being outside, but we were determined to make the most out of our adventure.
Air Quality Warning August 3rd and 4th
The Gorge allows festival goers to set up camp starting Thursday, August 3rd after 4 pm, so we decided to arrive to the venue right as the sun was setting to avoid the heat. Once our camp was set up, we ventured around to meet our neighbors and learn the lay of the land. The weekend was about to start and we were going to be ready!
The Gorge offers not only a scenic venue, but it is also located incredibly close to great places to jump into the Colombia River to cool off during the day. Some friends from our camp site decided to drive 5 miles down the road (The Gorge allows re-entry to your camp spots) to play in the water and on their way back to the venue they stopped at a Winery!!
When have you ever done that at a festival????
Colombia River swimming spot
Wine Tasting while at Pretty Lights Live: Episode 6 The Gorge
The festival spanned two days with multiple artists performing each night. Night 1 opened at 4 pm and the camp ground started emptying out as everyone wanted to witness the whole event! Marvel Years started the night followed by Chali 2NA &Krafty Kuts, Cherub, Tipper (twilight set), Sound Tribe Sector 9, and Pretty Lights Live.
One major highlight from Night 1 was Cherub’s set getting everyone in the crowd pumped up for the evening. If you aren’t familiar with Cherub, they are an electro-indie duo that has some incredibly popular songs such as “Doses and Mimosas” to which I’m convinced that everyone from Frat Bro’s to flower loving hippies know the lyrics. Every single person in the crowd was on their feet singing along! This definitely set the mood for the evening.
Tipper took the stage for his Twilight set, which let’s be honest– the smoke covered any sight of the sun and greatly impacted the ambiance that Tipper was going for. BUT, that being said- Tippers performance was transformative! He took us on an ambient journey through music and really reminded everyone why we love Tipper!!
Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9)! Okay, I need to be 100% honest- I went to The Gorge to see STS9. Some of my friends call it an obsession, but I call it a healthy love. STS9 had never performed at The Gorge before and therefore I knew they were going to do something special– and man, was I right! STS9 delivered the crowd old favorites with EHM, The Rabble and more.
STS9 surprised us all by transitioning from a crowd (and personal) favorite Instantly into a remix of Lorde- Green Light! WTF– A LORDE REMIX IN A TRIBE SET?!?!? Let’s be honest, I broke out into “happy” tears because STS9 threw it down and made the trip to The Gorge worth it!
Pretty Lights took the stage in what can only be described in a unique way. He started his set by playing 1 song (almost a white noise sound) for an extended period of time! Everyone was confused, eager, nervous as to what PL had in store for us! His set unfolded and was more in line with his newer sounds than his old.
Night 2 was drastically different from Night 1. The crowd was larger and everyone was ready for the Saturday Night performances! We all know that Saturday performances at the festival are THE BEST!
Atmosphere took the stage before Pretty Lights. Atmosphere is a hip-hop duo, Slug and Ant, from Minnesota that has been in the scene for over two decades. The rapper, Slug, performed crowd pleasers from his album Sunshine to God Loves Ugly. The crowd responded to Slug and felt the Hip Hop love in Washington!
As Derek Vincent Smith, Pretty Lights, took the stage the second night he brought his friend and music artist Michal Menert. The duo teased fans days before the event by claiming they would be “Taking Up Your Precious Time” while at the venue. Pretty Lights fan knew exactly what this meant— we were going back in time— back to 2006!!!! “Taking Up Your Precious Time” is the title of Pretty Lights major album with songs such as Finally Moving, Until Tomorrow, Wrong Platform, and more. Their performance brought me back to the beginning of my college experience– when I was lucky enough to see Derek perform right after the album released.
No words can truly explain how monumental this experience was! This show reminded me of why I fell in love with not only Pretty Lights, but music and music festivals! Don’t just take my word for it- go watch the LIVE stream from his Night 2 performance and then we’ll talk…