I pitched camp near the entrance to the VIP section, separated from the masses by two stages and a fence. Beyond the fence, tents lined the hilltops and slopes, offering a perfect vantage point for viewing the bands in the valley below.
The first day of metal concluded with invigorating performances by 10 Years and Sevendust. The fans were roused into a frenzy and set on a path of celebration. I could hear the energy mounting from my base-camp and planned my trip into the mayhem. It was a steamy night and the rare meteor shower that was occurring was eclipsed by random fireworks. I was attracted by the distant sounds that reminded me of the movie Apocalypse Now, directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
The sounds could certainly cause a Vietnam Vet’ to have a “flashback.” I heard screams and driving drum beats and an obscured voice from a bullhorn, belching out random “stuff.” Cheers and heckling funneled down the hills, combining to form an energetic rumble. I saw glowing sticks bouncing around, fires, and was seduced by a variety of smells.
As I made my way through the gate, it reminded me of traveling up the Nung River in a Navy patrol boat, past the last American outpost at the Do Lung Bridge – next stop Cambodia. I heard indiscernible voices on the bullhorn – possibly spewing Viet Cong or North Vietnamese propaganda. The natives, (regular Woodshock patrons) that I spotted along the way, all had that shell-shocked look that comes from having one’s senses electrified.
I joined the natives and was absorbed by their vigorous exultation. I remembered a line from the movie, “Never get out of the boat … Unless you were goin’ all the way…” I disappeared into the party – I was going all the way. Some of the natives were scantily clad and found interesting uses for duct tape. Time was irrelevant, the beating drums, bullhorn and excitement continued until dawn.
When the smoke cleared – and there was smoke – I set out to find Tim Buchenroth, the founder of Woodshock. I imagined he would be similar to the dissident Colonel Kurtz, played by Marlin Brando, a fat sweaty and insane genius of a guy, hiding in a cave, barking orders at his servants. I also expected to see downed helicopters, smoldering ruins and wounded natives strewn about.
Reality changed with sunrise. There was an energetic band playing at 8:00 a.m. I found some breakfast and coffee, a shower, more than enough portable bathrooms to consider and some civilized natives. Some were wounded but nothing that another beer couldn’t heal.
I even spotted a spirited Tim Buchenroth, thin and healthy, working from a golf cart, not barking orders – he had a dog for that. If you have a golf cart and dog at an outdoor festival, you must be the boss. There were two golf carts with dogs on board, one belonged to Steve Trickle; owner of Legend Valley; and the other was Tim’s.
Tim booked over 40 bands and there was no time for idle chat. This the 14th annual Woodshock Music Festival was extra challenging because it was being held at Legend Valley for the first time. Tim had many friends to help him but this is always a big event that demands his full attention.
There was delicious food that included memorable egg rolls and wood fired pizza. There was ice, water, showers, water misters, firewood, plenty of camping spots and toilets, RVs, drinks, girls (some professional dancers), film crews, photographers, rock stars mingling in the crowd, a birthday party atmosphere, and of course the music.
With over 40 bands performing, there was music that suited everyone’s taste. My personal favorite performance was by Straight Line Stitch. They left it all on the stage but rallied the energy to party with the crowd afterward. Legbone got the crowds out of their tents earlier in the night and they were even joined by Tim Buchenroth on bass for one head-pounding song. All That Remains secured their headliner status wrapping things up Saturday night. There were a number of “local” bands that shined. If I try to name them all, I may forget one or two that deserve accolades and that would be an injustice. The weekend was blazing hot and all of the bands deserve praise for performing under those conditions.
I wondered if the natives could party like the night before. Some of the bands rolled in Saturday afternoon and had plenty of energy to reignite the party. I dropped off the radar about 3:30 a.m. but for those with tireless stamina there were still things to do.
Sheriffs and private security were stationed on the perimeter to keep order if anything dangerous happened. They did not stop the party and even enjoyed observing some of the frivolities. I participated in a peaceful celebration and safety concerns never arose.
Woodshock started as a birthday party and continues to have the character of an intimate birthday party. Woodshock does not have the tone of a commercial event created only for prosperity. Tim Buchenroth has at least 1000 friends that attend this event every year to celebrate his birthday and it attracts many more patrons due to the quality of the party and music.
It’s hard to understand the complexity, expenses and personal sacrifice involved in putting together an event like Woodshock. For the Buchenroth family this event has deep meaning involving an incomprehensible tragedy that is too personal to discuss in this article. They keep the tradition alive in honor of a loved-one and also for their love of friends and music.
Roxanne, a character in Apocalypse Now, asks Captain Willard, “Do you know why you can never step into the same river twice?”
“Yeah, ’cause it’s always moving.”
Although Woodshock occurs every year, it changes and offers new experiences every year. The new venue at Legend Valley is an improvement and offers room for expansion.
My mission was to review a rock festival. My conclusion is that Woodshock […] rocked and Legend Valley trembled! Tim and family continue to put on a grand festival that sets its hooks in you and pulls you back year after year. Can it be better next year? If you think it needs to be better, have another drink. Woodshock already provides all that’s needed for a damn good time.
In the spirit of Woodshock I say:
References: Apocalypse Now, Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. American Zoetrope, 1979. Film.