Line Out Music & the City at Night

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Greetings from Doe Bay: Photos from the 2012 Festival

Posted by on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 10:48 AM


I hope it doesn't sound too cliche or dismissive to say that Doe Bay Fest isn't really about the music, but I submit as evidence that the festival's headliner was swapped out at the last minute and barely anyone thought to notice it or care. Surely part of this acceptance was that by the simple nature of their respective genres neo-soul pinch-hitters Pickwick almost certainly provided a much more upbeat and danceable mainstage finale than the previously scheduled Cave Singers. Another part seemed to be that while most everyone appeared to enjoy the string of solid, mostly thematically similar performances, the general mood felt like one of being pleased at being there: at the resort, on this particular weekend, with a thousand similarly-inclined relentlessly polite fans, for an event that very rapidly built its own mythology, in part to to its near-unattainability. And really, you'd have to be some sort of monster not to delight in a weekend on Orcas Island, let alone in near-perfect temperate summer weather on a gorgeous wooded coastal property with its own locally-sourced gourmet restaurant under clear skies in the middle of a meteor shower.

Otter Cove Stage
  • Otter Cove Stage

First, a digression to express my personal pride in sleeping outside for three consecutive nights at a music festival without dying. Although I've staunchly avoided festival camping for most of my life, I managed to survive several nights in a tent (with the help of an air bed, a trunkload of creature comforts, and friends with amazing skills at conjuring delicious meals on picnic table kitchens). It also helped that an off-season visit to the resort granted us spots high enough on the priority list high enough not only to get tickets but also to secure an almost secluded campsite on a clearing on a wooded bluff. Being able to disappear from the tent cities at night and to wake up (or fall asleep) to the sounds of music and chatter rising from the grounds below provided a sanity-preserving comfort buffer just a small step below the luxury of staying in one of the resort's yurts, geodesic domes, or to living the dream of having an actual cabin. Had we not already made plans to stay at a friend's house to facilitate catching the ferry, I might have even made tempted to stick around after a fancy cafe dinner for a final night under the stars.

  • Kithkin

Thee Satisfaction
  • Thee Satisfaction

Ivan & Alyosha
  • Ivan & Alyosha

Regarding the music portion of the event, as far as I'm concerned, no band approached Kithkin's showstopping festival-stealing youthful vitality. By the end of their Saturday afternoon set, they'd enlisted the lyrical prowess of Kung Foo Grip, pulled dozens of fans and compatriots onstage for a stage-shaking percussion explosion, destroyed an acoustic guitar, and splintered the woodsy flagpole bearing their standard. The bristling enthusiasm of their performance was the most rock and roll moment. Other musical highlights included Thee Satisfaction invigorating a sleepy Friday night; watching people jump off cliffs and float around Otter Cove with a soundtrack of Kris Orlowski's sweet pop strummings; later, Orlowski inspired the crowd by example to rise from their blankets to dance along with a tight indie rock set from Ivan & Alyosha. At night, a few brave souls squeezed into the sweaty yoga studio to hear the likes of Motopony or Birds & Batteries. Others visited the cafe to hear acoustic sets, gathered around a community campfire, capered, or wandered the woods in search of John Roderick (or others) playing under trees. In general, I appreciated the diversions from the core sonic constituencies to be the most invigorating and hope that the festival continues to play genre mix-and-match even more boldly.

cliff divers and kayakers
  • cliff divers and kayakers

Shipping out of Doe Bay
  • Shipping out of Doe Bay

What people seemed to relish most, though, was the unofficial last day of the festival without any of the shackles of a schedule to constrain the day to anything more than wandering the grounds, tossing frisbees, diving on a makeshift slip and slide, seeking semi-spontaneous musical moments on stages or around campfires, or lounging on the beach drinking margaritas from Two Bar, braving the chilly waters, and waving goodbye as attendees piled aboard the chartered foot ferries while various band members stood on the shore playing them out to sea.

Ultimately, while I think that my affections lie more with the manic energy, overwhelming options, and mass cultural moments that giant festivals can provide (really, there's nothing like 75,000 people watching a rapping ghost/hologram), I don't really see them in opposition to this sort of close-knit microfestival where people spend most of their days on blankets, frolicking in the forest, or crowding into hot tubs (with or without their clothing). I get the sense—from things like the Welcome to Doe Bay documentary or the excellent Sound on the Sound Doe Bay Sessions—that the deeper one is in this nebulously-defined scene, the more magical and more plentiful the musical moments must seem. That said, even as someone not intimately connected to this fuzzy community, I found the weekend to be a refreshing and rewarding getaway. I'll almost certainly start scheming for a way to get back to the island.

More photos below, and even more in this evolving Doe Bay 2012 photoset. Evaluate the beardoness of the festival for yourself:

The Maldives
  • The Maldives are the only band allowed to play the mainstage every year.

Doe Baby
  • Doe Baby

Gold Leaves
  • Gold Leaves

Adra Boo
  • Adra Boo, performing a tribute to Etta James with Portland Cello Project

  • Lemolo, festival buzzband.

Hey Marseilles
  • Hey Marseilles

Big Sur
  • Big Sur

  • Bobby Bare Jr. flew in from Nashville

Poor Moon
  • Poor Moon

Joe Brotherton, the Jacob of Doe Bay
  • Joe Brotherton, Doe Bay's Jacob

Kung Foo Grip guest appearance w/Kithkin
  • Kung Foo Grip guest appearance w/Kithkin

  • Kithkin

  • Pickwick

Tea Cozies, beach set
  • Tea Cozies, beach set


Comments (15) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
I was expecting more beards. And more Doe Babies.
(great review!)
Posted by Kelly O on August 14, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Report this
Josh Bis 2
I sort of gave up on cataloging all of the beards and babies -- too many to capture! Definitely more kids milling and paddling about than most other festivals.
Posted by Josh Bis on August 14, 2012 at 10:56 AM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 3
Doe Bay, not the cobbled together, listing-huted, shared kitchen a mess, layed back retreat it once was.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on August 14, 2012 at 11:28 AM · Report this
kitschnsync 4
Joe Brotherton has done a great job of rehabilitating the place. It's still got plenty of hippie-ness to it, but it's far more sanitary and kept-up.

I didn't get to go this year, but it's a good time... And I don't even like most of the bands, usually. The vibe at DBF is incredible, and still very laid back.
Posted by kitschnsync on August 14, 2012 at 11:58 AM · Report this
Rotten666 5
Looks like real fun.
Posted by Rotten666 on August 14, 2012 at 11:59 AM · Report this
Josh Bis 6
I never experienced the resort in its previous incarnation(s), but it does still have the feeling of being shaggily assembled and institutionally relaxed. However, one gets the sense that a firm vision and set of rules hold the whole thing together beneath the surface.

Definitely worth a visit for the Cafe alone if you're on Orcas Island. I have yet to be served something undelicious there.
Posted by Josh Bis on August 14, 2012 at 1:11 PM · Report this
John Scott Tynes 7
Doe Bay is a wonderful place.
Posted by John Scott Tynes on August 14, 2012 at 1:19 PM · Report this
the_april 8
I will try my best to return to Relaxyfest next year. The views, margaritas, rejuvenating field massage, food at the cafe, and absurdly nice people stood out as much as the music did. A holistically fun experience.
Posted by the_april on August 14, 2012 at 2:21 PM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 9
i don't mean to gloat, but last weekend was so lovely beautiful i think i got pregnit.
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on August 14, 2012 at 3:24 PM · Report this
As always Doe Bay Fest was amazing. I would disagree with the statement that the Cave Singers no show went unnoticed. A lot of their fans were pissed, especially when they hear how it all went down. I won't waste my time or money on them again.
Posted by Justinr on August 14, 2012 at 6:15 PM · Report this
Josh Bis 11
@10 -- interesting. My survey of responses to the Cave Singers skipping the festival in favor of spending time in the studio was hardly complete, but it seemed to be mostly met with shrugs. In any case, it didn't feel like it ruined the festival for anyone, but I can appreciate that it was a bigger disappointment to some than others.
Posted by Josh Bis on August 14, 2012 at 6:37 PM · Report this
Simone 12
Music festival and meteor shower would be sweet. Did you see a lot of meteors?
Posted by Simone on August 15, 2012 at 8:40 AM · Report this
Great shots josh glad you had a great time. i will say that every time i've gone (three times now) to DB fest it's completely different. You think you know what's going to happen and then you're always (pleasantly and somewhat surprisingly) wrong.
Posted by morgen on August 15, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Report this
A great narrative and tight summary with excellent supporting pictures for what certainly sounds like a terrific experience...even the tenting. Wish I could have been there!
Posted by bisjoseph on August 15, 2012 at 8:11 PM · Report this
Larry Mizell, Jr. 15
i had a damned fine time
Posted by Larry Mizell, Jr. on August 16, 2012 at 11:04 PM · Report this

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