Mountain rock

Looking for an excuse to head up into the mountains for some uber-relaxation but your significant other has been begging you for weeks to take them to the perfect concert?

Looking for an excuse to head up into the mountains for some uber-relaxation but your significant other has been begging you for weeks to take them to the perfect concert? Well now you don’t have to decide between the two: you can get your groove on and still appeal to your outdoorsy side at the first annual 3900 Ft. Festival, taking place Sept. 14 and 15 at the gorgeous concert grounds of the Mt. Hood Ski-Bowl in Government Camp, Ore.

You don’t have to be a music aficionado to enjoy 12 non-stop hours of northwestern-style independent music that the 3900 Ft. Festival promises. Billing itself as an indie-rock concert, the show covers everything from the requisite Shins-style pop of headliners Shaky Hands and Horsefeathers, to the promising melodies of genre-warping Mexican folk-punk group Caguama. Add elements of funky reggae, atmospheric bluegrass and just plain old-fashioned rock to the mix and you’ve got yourself an honest musical gathering–one that can easily hang with any of its competing brothers and sisters in the festival scene but without the expensive price tag.

And as they say in real estate, location is everything. Watching the show from the wooded slopes of Mt. Hood is going to be a treat for all of the body’s tactile senses and is guaranteed to be the most beautiful place you’ll see a concert this year, if not ever.

Mental-health benefits and the outdoor experience aside, the 3900 Ft. Festival is really all about the music.

Union Records handpicked each of the 25 bands showcased at the festival for their originality, placing particular emphasis on courting the best of the best local bands. In doing this, festival bookers have created a monster. And by monster, I mean an extremely legitimate venue for people of all ages (bring your kids!) to hear all kinds of music. The concept of the musical genre does not exist in the forest.

It’s good to know we have people in the music industry that really do have our best interests in mind. It’s rare to find a festival these days that is really more about the music than the money, but they do exist. Kelly Howsley, festival director and Union Records spokeswoman, had this to say:

“We wanted to stay away from traditional big draw headliners, a: to make things more affordable for folks and b: to really demonstrate what a great music scene we have locally.”

She explains the festival in simple terms:

“As a group, the Union Records decided to host a festival that did three main things. A: promoted the Mt. Hood National Forest, B: promoted great unsigned regional acts and C: was accessible to populations–like children–typically not in attendance at major music festivals.”

Who can argue with a mission statement like that?

Highlights include Portland’s most recent infatuation, Shaky Hands, who are going to rock the festival Saturday night with their particular brand of pleasant indie-pop. Small Sails, a critically acclaimed instrumental group who plays over one hundred shows a year, will occupy the 10 p.m. spot on Sept. 15, bringing the festival to its official conclusion with a cheery atmospheric vibe.

Lesser known, but of most interest to this author, is shoegaze trio Paper Brain, who are playing the fittingly awkward 1 p.m. spot on Saturday. Friday’s headliner Hillstomp, whose music has been described as “north Mississippi-trance blues with a dash of punkabilly” sounds way too cool to be missed.

It’s important to remember to make good overnight accommodations; more than a few cramped and pungent nights have been spent in the backseat of a car by unprepared concert-goers, and there are much more comfortable options. Those with romantic interests might want to make reservations at the spendy Collins Lake Resort (503-272-3501). Otherwise, there are plenty of righteous spots to set up a tent in the surrounding wilderness, or you can spring for a $22 bed at the Cascade Ski Lodge-Bunks.

It’s not exactly Cancun this time of year at 3,900 feet of elevation, but the chilly breeze is well worth the vast amount of aural pleasure you will receive. So gather plenty of cuddling blankets, some homies, a camera and your music-loving ass and come be a part of the first annual 3900 Ft. Festival. There’s no reason not to.

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