I first heard Caamp while sitting in the Packwood Brewing Company in Packwood, Washington, a town of 319 south of Mt. Rainier National Park. My brother and I were doing a hiking trip through Northern Washington and had big plans to hike in the national park which were squashed by day-long downpours and a fog so thick you couldn’t see more than a couple feet in front of you. We sat at the Packwood Brewing Company for a solid couple of hours near a fire having a couple drinks, admiring their taxidermy, eating some quesadillas (if I recall correctly), and listening to what we both agreed was a very relaxing playlist that fit the overall vibe of a smalltown, Pacific Northwest brewery on a hiking trip. Before we left, I asked the bartender for the playlist we’d been listening to.
I’d never been a big folk-music guy as a youth, but had started dipping more and more into the genre as I got older, and I think Caamp may have been the tipping point for me to dive headlong in. They’ve subsequently become one of my favorite bands and are the number one musical artist I listen to while I work and write, helping them land the coveted #3 spot of my Spotify wrapped three years in a row (after Swift and Springsteen, naturally), so I got excited when I saw they were set to play at the Cherokee Event Center in downtown Asheville this past November.
The concert was set for a Thursday night. I bought a solo ticket and envisioned a relaxing night: grabbing dinner, getting a glass of wine, and then sitting back and relaxing to Caamp. The first two parts of my plan worked. I grabbed a quesadilla at the Zia food truck, then stopped at the Walnut Wine Bar where I lucked out with an extra-large glass of rose courtesy of the last pour from that particular bottle. I then walked up the hill to the Cherokee Event Center and saw the line to get into the concert snaking down a few blocks—remember we were still Covid-cautious back in November—made up primarily of youths who did not seem intent to sit back and take in a quiet folk concert. They were yelling, screaming, dancing, and the gentleman behind me insisted on telling anyone who’d listen how stoned he was. Listen, I’m not judging these young people, as I once loved to go to concerts and tell anyone around me just how f**ked up I was, but now I’m thirty-five and like to go to bed at a reasonable hour, not get jostled, and hate waiting in line. I lasted five minutes before happily giving up. I may have wasted the $45 the ticket cost, but I had no regrets when I turned into bed that night at nine, alone, unjostled, and not one bit stoned.
I’ve never been someone who’s gotten bothered by birthdays, but thirty-six is messing with me a little bit (I turn thirty-six exactly one month from today), maybe because it’s so goddamn close to forty? Maybe because while I’m generally happy with life’s current trajectory, I definitely haven’t accomplished everything I want to accomplish yet in life? Maybe it’s because I went up a pant size for the first time since twenty-two and have started worrying about receding hair on a weekly basis. I don’t know, but when I friend texted me recently to say Caamp would be back in Asheville this April at the Salvage Station, I feel very compelled to buy a ticket and show I’m not over the hill yet…even though it’s at eight on a Thursday night.