Notes from the road to Pemberton

Friday, Day 1

Playing "spot the celebrity" is challenging at Pemberton Festival. For a start, everyone is coated in dust, which gets you thinking "Hey I just saw Pigpen" everytime you turn around. Still, perservere and you might catch Trevor Linden in the VIP beer garden, Elisha Cuthbert in the VIP tent, or Bob Rock on the side of the stage.

Rock seemed captivated enough by Interpol, who arrived under a baby blue sky shot through with cotton-candy swirls. Predictably, Interpol’s Carlos Dengler looked like the coolest guy on the planet. Hell, he’d probably look great in a day’s worth of dust.

Believe it or not, there are still luddites who’ll argue that there’s no place at a rock ’n’ roll festival for acts that don’t know a Gibson from a gimlet. And yes, Noel Gallagher, we’re talking to cavemen like you.

Screw em. As for, shall we say, more progressive types, odds are pretty good they’ll stumble on the Barcadi B-Live tent themselves.

Sure Wolfmother kicks ass—hell, the heshers in the crowd are so whipped up right now, they’re high-fiving any stranger who doesn’t look like Morissey. But it’s the B-Live tent that might be the coolest things on site. Literally. That’s partly because the bartenders are serving cocktails like maple-syrup mojitos. And partly because, while DJs mash shit up in ways the Utah Saints never dreamed of festivalgoers kick back on lounge recliners amidst potted pants. The lights are turned low and the air-conditioners work overtime. Can you say civilized?

Okay first of all a bit of advice. If you're headed to Pemberton Festival, you're going to need a bit of patience. Luckily, when the trek is complete (in his case, six hours from east van; damn, I knew I should have left at 3 a.m.) there's a sense that everyone is pulling together. When the shutttle-van from the parking lot broke down, everyone simply hopped out and cheerily pushed it to the gate.

If there are 40,000 people on site, it doesn't feel like it. And to the relief of anyone who's ever had Michael Jordan muscle in front of them at the Media Room, getting close to the stage doesn't require the persistence of a Red Bulled rugby player. Thank God for that. All the better to, um, appreciate Emily Haines and Metric, who've just turned the field into something that look like the plains of Africa. Except that it's not antelope stampeding for the stage. Oh, and it's hotter than hell at high noon. God bless summer-it's officially here.

The golden rule of road trips is you don’t do anything to jinx things. We made the mistake of talking about how the drive was going brilliantly all the way up the 99 through Whistler. And by the way, if you’re looking for soundtrack music for that leg of the trip, Black Mountain’s "Tyrants" is perfect, along with the Happy Mondays’ "Hallelujah". Things have been going less well as you start to approach Pemberton. Basically, Highway 99 is the kind of giant parking lot that will look familiar to anyone who’s spent any time in a border lineup or waiting for a ferry. On the plus side, you get to see chicks pee in the woods.