BottleRock, High Sierra, Outside Lands, First City and... Hickey? That's right, there's another Bay Area festival centered around music on the horizon, but that's about where the similarities end.
You won't find any corporate sponsorships or VIP sections at Hickey Fest 2014. Also, don't count on perusing rows of familiar food trucks or catching a shuttle back to your plush hotel room. No sir, Hickey Fest is held in the Standish Hickey State Park, roughly 200 miles north of S.F. Referred to as the "gateway to the tall trees country," Hickey Park surrounds the south fork of the Eel River.
At its core, Hickey Fest is about community. "I do a lot of bike riding, and I've done a couple bike tours down from Portland," festival organizer Ash Reiter tells me. The Peg House, a local music venue, is a stopping point right before the largest hill on the route; Reiter knew it would be the perfect setting for a new kind of festival. "Everybody stops there and collects themselves," she says. "You end up with this community of people that are all on the same pace."
Reiter established Hickey Fest last year "as a way to solidify my music scene a little more and give all the musicians a chance to meet each other." While most of the bands performing are already at least acquaintances, Reiter points out that "it's hard to become tight friends when you're in a rock club that's blaring music all the time."
"With a reputation amongst local music lovers as the best way to kick off the summer, Hickey Fest takes place over the 2 longest weekend days of the year. There will be no shortage of sun, music, friends, and great food (including local BBQ oysters!) at The Peg House in Legget, CA. Hickey Fest returns for 3 days of quality local rock, vibrant liquid light shows by Mad Alchemy, swimming in the Eel river, and soaking in small-town Nor Cal friendliness."
“To me, West Coast music is unique simply in its relationship to our environment,” explains singer/songwriter and guitarist Ash Reiter, a Bay Area resident and the creator of Hickey Fest. With nothing but the dream of uniting the vibrant California music community, outside the typical realm of dimly lit bars and music venues, she organized the three-day camp-out, partnered with the locals and invited over 30 bands and all their friends and fans to the Redwoods for a rock and roll festival with virtually no fourth wall.
The atmosphere at The Peg House was electric when I pulled in during the late afternoon of June 20, the eve of the summer solstice and the first day of Hickey Fest. The Black Cobra Vipers from San Francisco were finishing up their set, using their approachable pop-tinged psych rock to soundtrack the warm, crisp air of Leggett, California, while the crowd slowly grew, collecting under the billowing canopy that covered the patio between the stage and grill in shades of green. Crossing the 101, I drove into the Standish Hickey campgrounds, and the further I went the less I could hear the crowd, the passing cars. The further I drove the more the surrounding redwoods swallowed most of the sky and all of the festival buzz, and suddenly it was just another camping trip—people bustling from site to site, setting up their tents, taking firewood inventory, and stocking the onsite cabinets full of food and booze. We were secluded in peace and quiet but simmering with the promise of the days and nights ahead..."
“It’s festival season in California, and one of the most interesting I’ve heard of is Hickey Fest, a three-day festival curated and organized by Oakland’s Ash Reiter in the woods of Mendocino County. The event features three very full days of music at The Peg House in the town of Leggett, with camping just across the road in Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area, where you can swim in the South Fork of the Eel River. The lineup is mostly Bay Area artists, and ranges from the folk and country of Eight Belles to the garage rock masters Warm Soda to the experimental electronic stylings of JJAAXXNN. I’m a little biased (and a bit of a snob), but I think the lineup is more diverse and interesting than the boring safety of Outside Lands. No matter your taste, it’s a great way to get out of town and kick off San Francisco’s “summer” with a true summertime experience.”
“No, it’s not *that* kind of party. Seriously though, as far as new festivals go, Hickey Fest has a lot going for it. First and foremost, the 30+ bands in the lineup represent a sunny and homegrown vision of California indie pop and rock, Bay Area style. In fact, several of these artists (Quinn DeVeaux, fpodbpod, The Blank Tapes, Michael Musika, and festival curator Ash Reiter) have featured here at Popdose in the Parlour to Parlour video interview and performance series, so part of that vision is already familiar to you, the Popdose audience. Secondly, it’s more like Woodstock than any of the other festivals on this list in that the whole experience is built upon a weekend of camping out in the elements. The festival grounds are located at Standish Hickey State Park in Leggett, California, “where the South Fork of the Eel River shimmers against the backdrop of the majestic redwoods.” If camping out in the woods with like-minded people for 3 days of sun, swimming and fresh California indie music sounds like your idea of paradise, grab yourself an outrageously affordable 3-day pass in advance and head on over to Hickey Fest.”