Sometimes rain ruins a music festival, other times rain enhances it — it all depends on the vibe. A perfect example of the later was this year’s Domefest, the seventh annual festival thrown by Pigeons Playing Ping Pong.
Nestled in the woods of Fort Royale Farm in Western PA, surrounded by tall trees and rolling hills as far as the eye can see, the bucolic setting is perfect for a small festival that feels more than anything else like a large family gathering. And that’s just what it is. Though Domefest has grown each year since its inception, the vibe remains incredibly chill. While the festival is headlined by the Pigeons each night, the lineup is stacked with bands that the Pigeons play or tour with; bands the Pigeons are fans of themselves and that their own fans would almost certainly dig if they don’t already. Everyone I spoke to throughout the weekend seemed to know at least one (if not many) of the bands playing on a personal level, going back years, and had a story to tell. Pretty much everyone attending, bands and fans alike, was there to celebrate the music, mother nature be damned.
To that end, one of the best aspects Domefest was that none of the sets throughout the weekend overlapped and each band had a lengthy 90 minute slot, offering ample time to jam and explore musically. Nothing felt rushed, forced or contrived. If you were catching a band for the first time that weekend, you got to experience what a typical set on any given night would be like. If you weren’t familiar with a band before you arrived at Domefest, odds are you were a fan by the time you left.
Beyond the music, the festival itself was incredibly well executed. The Pigeons take tremendous ownership and pride in their festival, which was evident in their hands-on approach throughout the weekend. I had just pulled past the main check-in gate on Thursday afternoon en route to the camping area when Greg Ormont, lead singer and guitarist for the band, hopped in the back of my Jeep. He was heading that direction anyway to check on the field conditions and to help arriving attendees park. And it was like that all weekend – aside from the times the Pigeons were on stage, the band members could be found day and night running all over the festival grounds, helping to make Domefest the best experience possible for everyone.
The communal vibe carried on throughout the weekend. Even though it poured on Friday night and throughout the day on Saturday, no one seemed to mind. Tremendous efforts were made by staff and attendees alike to quickly cover any muddy areas with straw. Sets took place continuously throughout the rain on schedule and were very well attended — people were there to be part of the experience, wet or dry. Though it monsooned for nearly all of the Pigeons’ third and final set on Saturday night, everyone harmoniously raged in the rain together, creating an electrifying air that carried all the way through til dawn.
A full gallery of images from Scott Harris Photo can be seen below.