The Wormtown Festival has been around for 19 years. Spawned by the Wormtown Trading Company who you know from parking lots, festivals, and college campuses around the country, The Wormtown Festival is hosted in their hometown of Greenfield in northwest Massachusets. Hair tie and his special lady run the teen tent there and this year I was asked to help provide a safe place for sober fans. I had met a member of the Wormtown family at Mountain Jam where we discussed the possibility. At Lockn we fleshed out the logistics and less than a month later, I was dropping my gear and starting to set up a table in the Holistic Village on a Wednesday evening.
The Holistic Village was a smattering of pop-up tents when I arrived. This was my first time at Wormtown so I had limited vision for what to expect. I set up my tent nearby only to move it closer to Hair tie that night. He was camped in the family area which means it was louder in the morning than night. After dropping off the gear and setting up camp, there was little else to do but enjoy the space.
Wormtown is hosted at a summer camp on the bank of a narrow river. There were scattered fields and a stand of trees which hid two stages among the twisting pine needle paths. The two main stages sat next to each other on a wide yet shallow field. The late night music took place in two smaller buildings on the edge of the woods facing a large fire pit. They were hot and so standing outside was the best option.
The overall vibe was that we were at a house party. People were smoking pot like cops don’t exist. Perhaps they didn’t? Security consisted of ATV-mounted biker looking folk. I suspect they brought their own ATVs. Many sported camo paint jobs and rifle racks on the front. When I first saw them, the word that came to mind was Altamont. For most of the first day, they stayed stationed in lodge near the main field. I looked in briefly seeing only a 10 foot-high American flag next to an equally large Gadsden flag.
Friday was the first day of meetings at the sober table. I ran a shift during Hayley Jane and the Primates so people could have their first experience seeing them. Everyone came back with huge smiles. Luckily I could hear the main stage well. It also helps that I know the songs well. Otherwise, it would sound interesting but more like a distant semblance of music.
At night we wandered the smaller stages and the woods. Vending passes are readily available for people to wander the grounds and sell via backpack or set up shop in the woods in certain areas designated “vending only, no camping.” These were along the wider and better-lit pathways.
One camp built a fully formed saloon complete with swinging doors, a carved ice luge for shots, tables, and mood lights. Camps were decorated with glowsticks, lights, and tapestries similar to other camping experiences (Beardfest comes to mind) but here the vibe was more like functioning conglomerates of campsites nested and entangled through tarps and light which helped define their space. There were no single tents or hammocks. Eveyone lived in clusters in the dense forest. You wonder where the term ‘wook’ comes from? Close to the river was a man who brought three huge telescopes which he positioned for stargazers. No planets were visible from where we were but we saw a distant galaxy and the remnants of a dead star.
On the banks of the river, a man positioned three huge telescopes for stargazers. No planets were visible from where we were but we saw a distant galaxy and the remnants of a dead star. Those choosing not to browse laid on the rocks among the candles and sounds of the water. During the day, the river’s cold water would host bathing fans sitting in folding chairs, hammocks, and rafts. We spent the late early morning distributing candy in the woods. Sometimes it would be an ambush into a camp marked with a cry of “trick or treat!” and a shower of individually wrapped chocolate. Other times we lobbed individual pieces to those not paying attention. Amazingly this kept us occupied till 4 am with no regrets.
Musically, this festival had a terrific lineup. Bearly Dead and Start Making Sense were great Thursday and I got my first listen of Black Masala whom I now love. They fall halfway between Beats Antique and Gogol Bordello. Friday featured two sets of Twiddle and Zach Deputy deep in the woods. I was fortunate enough to bring people who had never heard either act and watch their reaction. Zach was the clear favorite. Saturday was a great mix of surprises including The Jon Stickly Trio (I became friends with the drummer and highly recommend them) and Pink Talking Phish. The Jon Stickly Trio reminds me of You Bred Raptors? and The Ballroom Thieves (minus a touch of Mumford). Sunday started with a fun set by The Stupid Robots who I look forward to hearing more of. I also befriended their drummer this weekend and will keep up to date with their tunes. They are very fun and were a great start to the day. The weekend was capped off with the JGB and Melvin Seals. I fully expected to leave early but they were so good. This was my best opportunity to dance all weekend. It was warm, the campfire was in the air, the crowds were shuffling past to and from their cars as they packed their gear. I handed out the last of our candy to fans of all ages. Smiles, hugs, and thanks came in return. The house party was ending… for now.0 likes