Jack Johnson – Columbia Meadows 8/20/2008

The show: if you’ve heard Jack Johnson on in the background at a party, perhaps with one or more persons singing along with him, you could probably skip a JJ show and just go do that sometime soon instead.  He’s a great artist, don’t get me wrong on this.  But on stage, the songs sound about like they do on the recordings.  I will say that he banters well in between and during songs, which is something that can be said of few singers and bands. Overall, there wasn’t enough there for me to warrant dropping $40+ for a ticket to go see him play live and I left the show early, well before he came back on for an encore of four more songs.

The venue: Columbia Meadows basically proves that if you’ve got a couple hundred acres of pasture land, a stage and some sound equipment, you’ve got yourself a venue that can apparently attract world class talent.  Parking was easy to navigate, mostly due to the fact that the traffic on the road bottlenecked entry to the parking, but more on that later.  Having parked, I made my way pretty quickly inside .  I was rather disappointed that the sound wasn’t louder for Rogue Wave’s set as I surveyed the situation.  There was Jack’s Green Livin’ section of the tents, then the one and only beer tent, then the rest of the food vendors rimming the back of the pasture.  After loitering around a bit and getting a feel for the place, I headed for the beer line (after confirming that there was only one beer-serving facility) and took my place at the back of the line.  This line was to get the required wrist band.  It took about ten minutes to get through this line.  Then I got to go stand in the actual beer serving line where I spent another twenty minutes waiting to pay $6 for a cup of Fat Tire in a potato-based, compostible cup.  I bought two.

Getting there: from Columbia Meadows’ website –

Arrive at Columbia Meadows Amphitheater as early as you physically can. If you arrive after 3:00 PM, expect traffic delays.

By “traffic delays”, they mean that from Linnton to St Helens (20 miles) you can expect to average about 15mph.  I kinda sorta figured that traffic was going to be a little tough but this is ridiculous.  Folks were pulling off the side of the road to relieve themselves as the rest of us crept along.  I wondered whether this kind of thing was the norm for the folks who commute from here but, from what I’ve heard, it’s related solely to the concert.  For the hour and a half that I spent in traffic I could merely chuckle at the irony: here’s Jack doing this whole “Good For The Planet” roadshow and it’s 33 miles outside of Portland.  What were they thinking?

The Rockstar Who Would Save the World: