It’s not easy to dodge swing dancers, listen to your third favorite band of the day, admire the red ant temporary tattoos, and still hold onto your beer. But this, and so much more, is what the Red Ants Pants 2016 Music Festival requires of its attendees. Through the 90 degree heat and layers of dirt, the festival was a contagious and sultry celebration, Montana style.
Even though I grew up in Montana, this was my first time going to Red Ants Pants Festival. It’s safe to say that it won’t be the last.
Having had my fair share of concerts and festivals, I’m used to the highs and lows of every day. Maybe the people camping next to you are obnoxious, or the food trucks are overpriced and over salted. I’m used to hearing bands that I would like to never hear again, let alone listen to for another half an hour. Anyone gearing up for a festival has to temper her expectations, stay realistic, and be ready to have a great time whenever the situation presents itself.
This weekend, there were no significant lows. Yes, it was hot and dry, and sufficient sleep was hard to come by, but none of the classic concert-ruining variables made their mark.
The bands, hailing from everywhere between Orlando, Florida and Libby, Montana, were comprised of the most talented crooners and strummers I’ve ever had the pleasure to see. The well-known names (Wynonna And The Big Noise, Mission Mountain Wood Band) were great, as was to be expected. But the early morning shows without fancy lighting or big names still made people stop, put down their drink and pick up their kid to go dance in the sweltering heat.
When the bands weren’t keeping my eyes and ears glued to the stage, the Beard and Mustache Competition was making me laugh; the random outfits and peculiar placement of bejeweled red ants kept me keen; and the dusty-faced families with wagons full of kids made me remember that this is a truly Montana-grown event.
Let’s be honest; I was a sucker for every band that I saw and photographed. But there is now a special place in my heart for Eilen Jewell, Laney Jones And The Spirits, and Hurray For The Riff Raff. Three bands stacked with super talented, gritty and sweet female lead singers, all of whom poured their sweat and hearts out on stage. Cheers, ladies. Thanks for setting the bar high and taking me along for the ride.
Until next year, Red Ants Pants. Thanks for the tunes, treats, and tired dancing feet.