Imagine for a moment that you’re a professional snowboarder. You’ve had a long grueling season busting your ass making sure that your sponsors are happy, elevating your game and trying to stay one step ahead of everyone else. You’re tired, burned out, exhausted from what has become one of the most body taxing careers on the planet. What do you wanna do when the contest season finally draws to a close? Head to a personal trainer to get ready for next season? Hang out in a multi-million dollar mansion waiting on your next endorsement deal to finalize? If you’re a sane person you’d wanna relax with your friends and maybe make some new ones as well. It’s that line of thought that created the idea for the first Frendly Gathering last year. Just 25 people hanging out by a lake, listening to music on portable speakers, in sweltering heat, at the beginning of June. Oh what a difference a year makes.
Jack Mitrani is one of the hardest working kids I know. The fact that he juggles being a professional athlete, videographer, small business owner and patron saint of Newgrass(new bluegrass, get it?) is pretty damn impressive. Much like myself, Jack also like to throw a good party for the benefit of his fellow Frends. In just one year Jack(with the help of the amazing Annie Beiner) turned the dream into a reality. The dream was to have live music and more people. This year had both and it made for a truly memorable experience.
Thursday night featured the musical stylings of LoLo who drove from Denver, Colorado just to pump out tunes to the eager party goer’s. Look for him to be filling more and more bills around the West Coast in the next few months, kid has talent. Frends crew memeber Mason Augirre provided the entertainment on Friday night in the form of his cousin, ModSun and friend BRolla. These guys owned the stage and rumor has it they’re both working with Cisco Alder on some seriously next level “hippy hop”. The details are a little fuzzy from that night but one thing I clearly remember is a full sing a long to ModSun’s song “No Girlfriend”. It was special.
Now being the huge Zeppelin fan that Jack is and being that it’s rather hard to book Page, Plant & Jones, he found the closest thing to the gods of rock that he could, Led Zepplica. One certainly has many choices when it comes to Zeppelin cover bands, but these guys are the cream of the crop. I truly felt like I was transported back to the 1970’s during their two set(plus encore) session. The accents, the outfits, the swagger, it was all there. They tore through all the hits you’d wanna hear, with the proper solo’s and everything. I had somehow managed to hike to the top of the mini mountain next to the venue and from there enjoyed a truly special moment with a new found friend(not that kind of moment, get your mind out of the gutter). Sitting a-top that rocky perch I enjoyed “No Quarter” which is quite possibly my favorite Zeppelin song(if it’s possible to have a favorite). After that it was a treacherous run back down in time to catch them launch into “The Song Remains The Same”. A mosh pit formed, crowd surfing was done, shirts were lost, friendships were forged. That about sums up Saturday night.
When I awoke on Sunday morning there was a light steady rain coming down. No that’s not a line from a song I’m writing, it’s the truth. I guess I should mention that the weather was less than what one would call ideal, however it didn’t seem to effect the mood at all. For all the talk of it being super cold, rainy, and windy, people just came prepared with gloves, jackets and blankets(for the most part). Sure it felt like partying outside on a fall day in Vermont but hey, what’s wrong with that? I didn’t even have to put on a jacket all weekend thanks to my trusty Nice Life Hardwood Hoodie(yeah I gotta plug it). All in all good vibes and a lot of whiskey kept the weather’s impact on the fun to a very low if not unnoticeable degree.
It was a rather quick breakdown and departure process on Sunday. Trash was cleaned up and bottles recycled(leave it like ya found it people, no indian tears on our watch). What little food was left was cooked(thanks Seabass), and some tried to remember what the hell happened the past few nights. We rubbed our eyes, red and swollen from campfire smoke(amongst other things). We welcomed the sun as it finally broke through the clouds, recharging us for our inevitable return to the fast paced rat race some would call the “real world”. My return was to be a little faster than most others as we stuffed the minivan full of 7 people and all their belongings(kudos to you Dodge engineers, you’ve done well) and raced to get one Cole Barash on an international flight to Italy. Rallying straight from Crowley to LAX might not sound like a-lot of fun but I have to say the drive back was an appropriately interesting way to cap off the adventure.
When I finally walked into my apartment it felt strange and foreign to me. It had only been four days but it felt like a month. I guess multiple nights with very little sleep and constant activities will make you feel that way. Luckily for me I returned to Los Angeles with a great crew of people and as we sat around eating our first home cooked meal in days, I could tell that each of them was thinking what I was thinking, I can’t wait for next year.
Side Note: There was snowboarding and it was super fun. I was in full shred/party mode on the hill but you can check out Ms. Laura Austin’s article on SnowboarderMag for full coverage/photos of all things shred related. Now I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the stories my brain can’t seem to remember. All shot on disposables, all raw and un-edited. Enjoy.