A good friend of mine, Mike Watson, recently won an all expenses paid trip to see Dave Matthews Band at the legendary Gorge up in Washington over Labor Day Weekend courtesy of Volkswagen. Here’s his recount of the once in a lifetime experience. Want some photos, click HERE, Rolling Stone captured his experience as well!
Figured I needed to write down my random thoughts for the weekend since I have been asked about it a million times!
How I won:
So I got an email a while back about a contest on twitter to win all expenses paid trip to The Gorge for Dave Matthews Band so I decided to tweet about it. I attached the tweet. So about a month passes and I remembered that they said @VW would contact the winners by following them and sending a Direct Message. So I get an email that @VW was following me, so I got a little excited, then I got a Direct Message from them about 5 minutes later saying that I was a grand prize winner. Obviously I started freaking out, though I was a little skeptical. I got a call back and they asked some basic questions about whether I would pay taxes if I am deemed the winner, etc. Obviously said yes. So I had to fill out an affidavit stating I would pay taxes, that I wouldn’t sue VW if I died on the trip, etc. I had called Joel and asked him what he was doing for Labor Day, and then dropped the bomb on him that he needed to cancel his plans cause I was taking him to The Gorge for FREE. Basically I won free flight, tickets to all 3 nights in the PIT for the shows, camping in the VW area, and possible meeting with Dave. I was beyond pumped because I have always wanted to see Dave at The Gorge but it is just logistically a hard thing to do, not to mention expensive. Was definitely a bucket list item. So I had to call one of my closest friends, my neighbor from growing up who is basically like a brother to me, and tell him that I wasn’t going to be able to go to his bachelor party in Vegas!
So our flight leaves Houston at 10:30am on Thursday and we get into Seattle around 12:30. They have a sign with our names on it waiting for us at the baggage claim. Bags come right out and then we walk immediately outside and they have our VW waiting for us. Was so quick and easy. I had told my friends in Seattle that I would meet them downtown around 2 for lunch but we were definitely going to be there sooner. So we took in some sites and had lunch in Seattle. Such a cool city. The weather was perfect, about 80degrees and not a cloud in the sky. The weather was perfect like that all weekend. 80 during the day and about 50 at night.
We started the drive to The Gorge later in the day, sun was starting to go down and it was about a 2 and a half hour drive. It was such a beautiful drive. The scenery in the Pacific Northwest is just incredible. I would love to visit there again. We got to the camping ground about 9 and the VW people escorted us to our private little fenced in area. It was crazy because all the other people camping were literally right on top of each other and we had our own huge area. They set up our tent for us and everything. Joel and I just cracked open some beers and took it all in. After they finished setting it up we decided to go out to the general camping area and do some partying with some people. They gave us an HD video recorder to record the entire weekend. Was a good time and everyone is so ridiculously nice. Basically was one big party.
VW Area 41:
So each day that we woke up we they had yoga, smoothies, etc for everyone in the VW area. There were probably 100 people who had won different levels of prizes. There were only 5 grand prize winners and we were the ones with the white picketed fences. Everyone was really nice, so we just relaxed a lot that first day. Went out and read a bit of a book and took in the whole view, which was amazing. Walking out of the tent in the morning and seeing the view that first day was unreal. Each day they had different people playing private concerts. The Silent Comedy was the first day. They were really good and cool dudes, we hungout and had beers with them a few times throughout the weekend. They also had set up volleyball, a huge tent with rugs and lounge chairs, a solar powered charging station, huge movie screen for movies at night after the concert, free food after the show. It was really a top of the line operation they had set up. Beyond impressive. That set up literally set the weekend over the top. They people running it were so nice. I can’t thank Lisa, Acacia, and Audrey enough for making our weekend the best weekend ever.
The next day was Tim Reynolds, which obviously set off a mass of people flooding to the VW area to watch his solo performance. People were surrounding the VW area trying to catch a glimpse of Tim. He then went and signed autographs for a while in the VW tent. The last day it was Allen Stone (who was opening up for him all 3 nights along with The Avett Brothers; and big thanks to my buddy Craig of DoYouHearTheMusic.com for turning me on to him). Allen Stone has a crazy amazing voice. He almost sounds black he has so much soul. After he played the main event of the day started. Carter Beauford was going to do a Q&A with everyone in the VW area. There were some amazing questions asked but none better than the one asked by our new friend Maegen Fetter. She asked Carter how the band mustered up the courage to play the night LeRoi Moore passed away. Everyone cheered at the question and Carter did not take the question lightly. He got deep into the feeling involved and how he learned of LeRoi’s passing. It was an amazing point of the weekend to hear him speak of something that means so much to everyone in the band.
The first time I walked over the lawn and saw The Gorge was surreal. You seriously cannot express the depth of that place in a picture or words. It is just unbelievable beautiful. I got chills just looking at it. You definitely need to go there sometime. The concerts were amazing and of the 3 nights that Dave played he only repeated one song (played his new single each night). It is definitely a different experience seeing him at The Gorge. They bring a different energy level when they play there.
Meeting Dave Matthews:
So Saturday was the day that I found out we would be meeting Dave. I really didn’t want to believe it until we were on our way there. VW had assigned this bad ass photographer just to us for the weekend to document everything. Brian Nevins is his name. He does some amazing stuff (www.briannevins.com). We got to the backstage area. We took some pics right on the cliff. Right after that Dave showed up. I knew that he is a quirky person and I also knew that he didn’t really care for deep questions or talk with us random strangers. So we kept the conversation light. Jordan had met him before doing PR for the Shake Weight so they discussed that a bit, then Dave asked Joel “So did you get too hot and had to cut off your jeans?”, Joel then replied with, “these are jorts!” to which Dave replied “What are jorts?”, we just died laughing because we couldn’t believe he didn’t know what they were. We literally had to explain it to him. Was amazing. He is just a quirky and cool guy. He makes you feel like you are old buddies just chilling having a regular conversation. I was thinking about it before I went and he is definitely the only person in the world I would really want to meet and I got to. So life is complete!