There was magic in the air and everyone could feel it. The 17th Annual High Sierra Music Festival was special and the inspiration grew not only from the music, but also from the musicians who shared time offstage, the fans, the late night campsite parties and perhaps most of all, the community of Quincy, California. High Sierra is the hidden gem that sits quietly against the ever-increasing plethora of summer festivals. High Sierra is different and the 2007 event was a reminder of all we love about High Sierra.
HSMF 2007 by Dave Vann
Over the past two years patrons of the HSMF have had reason to fear. In 2005 and 2006 we watched as police began to invade our little slice of utopia. These were difficult years for many festival goers, and because of this we witnessed a decrease in attendance. This year was different. As troubadour Nathan Moore said after the fest, "We won. We the people have scored a major victory at High Sierra, and this was my favorite year of the festival." He was talking about how the Mayor and the people of Quincy came to our defense. They stood up and said that what the police were doing was wrong and they simply wouldn't stand for it. This year I saw two police officers the entire time. I'm sure there were more, but what this meant was that the police were no longer roaming through campsites, looking in tents or harassing folks for simply having fun. In fact, not only was the police presence more than acceptable, there were teams of Quincy residents who would monitor the manner in which police patrolled the area and responded to calls. They would literally follow the police around and keep tabs on them. Yup, score one for the people!
With the overreaching police taken care of festival goers were able to slip back into the four magical days that make up High Sierra. There are so many big festivals with amazing line-ups - from the huge bands and touring beasts of Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza to the jammier 10KLF, Wakarusa, All Good and many others offering more options than ever - but there is nothing like High Sierra. While these larger fests boast big names and more music than anyone could ever see, High Sierra offers something unique. High Sierra is the most relaxed, easiest, fan-friendly event happening today. There is never a rush or a worry. Unlike the big fests (which often carry their own type of stress), if you want to wander off and check out a side stage it doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to your crew for the day. You aren't walking a mile away only to be engulfed by the masses; you are simply meandering a few hundred feet down the path. While the biggest festivals offer a stadium sized blowout with anywhere between 20 and 80,000 people in a field, High Sierra allows you to stroll right up to the front of the stage and watch (not just hear) the headliners perform. For many music freaks the High Sierra line-up doesn't always set off alarms, and to be honest this year's line-up didn't excite this writer all that much. Yet, this year, my eighth time attending, was my favorite High Sierra to date. I love Bonnaroo because they pack the talent, and I'll be back to Tennessee at some point, but what happened at High Sierra this year reminded me why I'll do everything in my power to never miss another HSMF. High Sierra is about so much more than just the music. As I walked through the festival I kept hearing the words of David Byrne ringing in my head:
Surprise Me Mr. Davis :: HSMF 2007 :: By Zack Smith
Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me round
Feet on the ground, head in the sky
It's ok I know nothing's wrong
Home is where I want to be
But I guess I'm already there
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