Blottopia 11 July 30th-August 1st
The sun had set, the gates were locked and the frolicking had begun. It was Friday night and Blottopia 11 was well on its’ way. It was a beautiful sight to take in. There is something about music that brings people together in ways that other activities and ideas cannot.
It’s hard to tell where this type of life style and camaraderie has come from. Of course there is the obvious comparison back to the 1960′s and 1970′s and back to Woodstock’s 3 Days of Peace & Music Fest; which is in fact exactly what happened and has happened for the past 11 years of Blottopia. Could it be true that we are the generation-now hippies, as we so delicately and of course not judgmentally have been labeled? Or could it possibly and most likely have a lot to do with the band Mr. Blotto themselves.
I’ve known the band now for five years, and no, not know as in Paul and I sit down for tea on Thursday’s, but I’ve been watching and listening as a dedicated fan for five years, and yes I’ve actually spoken to all the band members quite often throughout the years. Which brings me back to the point of the band themselves and the vibe and aura they give off.
Unlike many bands, Mr. Blotto has yet to “sell out” as some would like to put it. You can see it in their faces when they are on stage, and you can hear it in their voices when they sing, that they are humble and appreciate where they are and where they have come from.
Which is a big reason it is the same 200 people at Blottopia each year, with a few newbies we’ve introduced to the amazing band that is Mr. Blotto. It becomes a family gathering, or family reunion if you will, each year at the end of July.
The campsite becomes a community and you get to know your neighbors as you would when you move into a new neighborhood. You remember the group that camps in front of the stage with 15 umbrellas, fruit baskets and candles all spread about. You remember the guy that spends three months on a Mr. Blotto banner just to trade it in the end for a mushroom painted camper. You remember the older woman from last year that drove around for twenty minutes trying to find a good spot and you laughed, and then you remember how thankful and excited you were later that night when she baked pie and rib tips for everyone around and offered it all up for free without even knowing your name.
You become accustom to the spots, the memories, the people, and even though it is only your home for three short days, you have a tie to it for life. Just like the loyal Blottopian’s are tied to Blotto and their musical magic for life.
So there we all were, every color, every race, every age, every sex, sober, a hot mess, every identity from Illinois, to Indiana, from Michigan to Wisconsin all waiting eagerly at the edge of the stage as Mr. Blotto played. Some how any conflicting ideologies were out the window and when the band played, the crowd was drawn in as if compelled to heed every sound and note that is put in front of them; because if they didn’t they might have missed out on some hint or secret message.
Whether they were playing their classics like Working For The Man and 1977 or whether we were eagerly waiting for a new song from their new album; anything that came out their instruments or out of their mouths was mesmerizing. It says a lot about a band when you can listen to their music in your car and it makes you happy; and to then come see them live and find yourself sprinting to the stage because in the distance you hear the beginning of Movie Star and it would just kill you not to hear and see it live again for the 300th time; well that right there is love.
A very compassionate and brilliant sports writer once told me, “There is no greater love or relationship that will run deeper, stronger or longer than the one between you and your favorite sports team”. While I totally agree with that, I have to also borrow that theory and apply it to music. And this love here runs deep in the veins of all who were there.
Friday night was and is the more quiet of the two, mostly because Saturday night is when Mr. Blotto covers an album of a band that is kept secret until the first note is played late Saturday night. It is usually the main topic of conversation throughout Friday and into the night about the excitement over what they possibly could play and will it top last years’ show. As Mr. Blotto’s set comes to an end, their minions are off wandering, hula hooping, grooving, talking, singing, and walking; anything to keep the party going until the sun arrives again.
While early to bed wasn’t really the theme of the night; the calm before the storm was present. Fire pits were blazing, lasers were soaring, and the security crew was charting off the occasional freeloaders, or people who snuck in. (*Note this author is all about spreading the love, but if you came for a free party and cannot name one song from the band, then I have no remorse for you being thrown out)
The fire pit is something that cannot be passed over without really getting into all that comes along with having one. With what has been such a hot summer, one would think a fire pit would be absolutely ludicrous on a late July evening. But the fire represents so much more than a source of heat. It’s a comfort, a beacon, a reassurance and a laughter attracter.
The presence of fire for some reason draws in more people than a McDonald’s does fat people. Being camped off one of the main walkways, our site realizes that starting the fire opens us up and makes us vulnerable to the wanders. Like moths to a flame, hippies flock to fire pits, whether it is to “bum free heat” or to just stop, relax and get a hold of yourself, and we were more than willing to let it happen.
By 3:00 A.M. the fire died down, and some retreated to their tents, others to the luxury of their “car beds”, and the rest kept their grasp on the vibes, waiting out the night, waiting out their trips, or just plain waiting for the glorious big day and night that was coming in just a few short hours. Like a child that cannot sleep the night before vacation, we closed our eyes and dreamed about what the future had in store.