When I was 16, a boy I loved (who obviously did not love me), would disappear without a word, as he adventured off to weekend long music festivals. Later, he would return, apologize for not calling, and tell me all about his fun as if to rub it in. I desperately wanted to go be a hippie with him, which I think is why I stayed with him. I wanted him to change me. Or really to make me since I wasn’t quite sure what to make of myself. Essentially, I wanted to be him. To be able to just leave everything behind. Travel. Be outside. Listen to amazing music with other wanderers.

But he never invited me – and I didn’t go.

In college, after finally shedding the boyfriend who, after getting an STI (him, not me) from his adventuring, claimed he was never actually my boyfriend, I began to tip toe, on my own, into this jam band culture. I went to see Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead.

And I invited a boy to go with me. I would have gone alone, but I was happy to be the one inviting – not the one left behind.

This first jam band show hooked me. While I was still too self-conscious to dance with the other hippies, I knew that I was in love with this music and with this scene. When the band (whatever band) is jamming, you enter somewhat of a trance, a meditative state. And no, you don’t have to include recreational plants or other substances to get to this point, though some people find it helpful.

After that, I made sure to see all the jam bands that came to town. Frequently, I went alone. Sometimes I found people to hang out with at the show. And sometimes, I danced alone in a crowd of dancing strangers.

I adventured. On my own.

A few years into my adventuring, a boy came along, and we decided to adventure together, side by side.

This past weekend, we were at McDowell Mountain Music Festival in Phoenix, Arizona.

Even with temps over 95°F, Break Science brought out some hard core EDM dancing. And the bass rocked through the speakers, shaking away any hesitation we might have had about leaving the shaded areas to be up front. Break Science is also awesome in the fact that they have joined the revolution of providing all of their music for free online.   

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue = LEGENDARY.

Phantogram converted us immediately. I wasn’t really aware of this band until this festival, but the sound was mesmerizing. Sarah Barthel is a commanding force on stage.

Everyone rode their bikes! Yay!
I can’t believe how many amazing musicians we saw in just 2 days. This was Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

Trampled by Turtles – the band I came to see!! This band puts on a fucking show. I missed them when they were in Tucson (where I live) this year due to illness, so I knew I couldn’t miss them in Phoenix. And I was definitely not disappointed. Everyone in this picture danced their asses off – especially “happy camper” dude. See how much space everyone gave him?

Happy camper and a banana gettin’ down to Trampled by Turtles.

Lots of beer drinkers at this festival! But it’s all for charity, so why not?

The night ended with Widespread Panic. No complaints there. This is one of the bands that my former pseudo-boyfriend would run away to see with the girl he was actually in love with. He eventually ended up with that girl. And I ended up with an amazing man who is beyond happy that I want to join him for these ridiculously awesome shows – but also, maybe more so, that I didn’t wait for him to invite me to the party.

Stop waiting for an invitation – just go!