By Caleb Calhoun
BREVARD The magic in the air, in the old-growth trees, in the rhythmic flowing of the brook, even of the earth beneath your bare feet, is strong in this place. The Futurebirds are gyrating and jumping and rolling around on the floor of a majestic amphitheater at Pilot Cove as the audience, drawn by gravity as it were, has been pulled to the center of the dance floor. It’s nearly 10 p.m. and the band has been playing like this for almost two straight hours.
This is the first major show at this brand new venue, and if it’s success is any indication of the places trajectory, then there are some big things coming for Pilot Cove, a luxury cabin rental getaway just down the gravel road from The Hub mountain biking hot spot in Brevard. Located on a sliver of 120 acres hard up against the Pisgah National Forest in Brevard, it’s hard to imagine anything but a beautiful time here.
It had rained off and on all day, but the hippest group of people in Brevard were undeterred, and the 200 or so attendees were rewarded with skies that dried up just in time for the show.
They’re rewarded with a band that plays their hearts out. They’re rewarded with a beautiful venue where every detail, from the rough hewn white pine stage made of timber from the acre that it sits on to the air-conditioned upscale restrooms was thought out and executed perfectly.
How did the Futurebirds get here? At least one band member and one of the Pilot Cove principals are old college buddies, so the show has an extra-friendly, almost homecoming, feel. It’s also the last show for Futurebirds drummer Johnny Lundock. The brotherly love, the sentimentality, the energy is all flowing like a lovely rock-strewn mountain stream.
The Futurebirds’ moody brand of indie rock hits home perfectly, with influences ranging from Grateful Dead to REM to Arcade Fire. Their energy, which lead guitarist Carter King will later credit the crowd for, is phenomenal.
And while by the end of the show the crowds energy will certainly match theirs, it is the band that starts the ecstatic love fest, the band that, grateful to be playing such an amazing venue, gets everyone fired up from the start.
I start out in the very back seated among mentors friends and mentors, and the first thing exclaimed after the music begins is how great the sound is all the way up here. In response I wander to the front, to the side of the stage, to the overflow areas along the edges of the main amphitheater, and I’m impressed to find that the sound is just as good everywhere as it was where I started. The sight lines from every space here are perfect, as well.
Even just a few songs in, the Futurebirds seem to be in rare form. I’ve seen them play before, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them, but I’m completely unprepared for their reckless abandon this night. They’re having fun hamming it up and playing to the audience, which responds. They’re also tireless, working their way through a 25-song, nearly 150-minute set with no breaks. They’re drinking Ecusta Pale Ale and coming off stage to cheers fans in the audience. They’re playing from their souls and reveling in the openness of this crowd.
Maybe crowd is the wrong word. This is an entire community. This is a young, exciting, conscious group of humans that has begun to call Brevard home more and more in recent years. This is the future of the town, and like the venue itself, Brevard’s future is looking bright.
They mention that they’ve got a couple songs left and I make my way back to the front of the stage just in time for a a raucous rendition of “Lola.” I left this area several years ago, feeling a little lonely and out of place in my dresses. Standing front and center, surrounded by love, Carter King staring me in the eyes as he belts out “girls will be boys and boys will be girls it’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world,” I feel home for the first time in a place I used to live.
They finish up “Lola” and one more song before eventually granting the audience the encore they’re begging for, and then the show is over.
But the party is just beginning. We sit on the edge of the stage with the band and the community, telling jokes, reading poems and reminiscing about an event that isn’t even over yet. All the while, Ecusta keeps everyone’s throats wet and tongues slicked.
Then it moves up the hill , Syl Neel hosting and everyone having a good time. At 2 a.m. I’m sitting across a picnic table from bassist B-Myles, trying to maintain some modicum of professionalism as Neel puts a pair of fake nose and mustache glasses on Myles and winds them up so that the facial hair is twitching like a jumping bean.
“These are from the FBI,” Myles tells me over the noise of the cheap plastic motor. “Bureau tested glasses here. A lot of weird shit happening up here at Pilot Cove. I turned into a werewolf last night, Syl can vouch for it. It’s a wild story and it’s all true.”
With all of the deep, old magic you can feel flowing through this space, I have no reason to doubt any of it.
Caleb Calhoun went to Baptist Bible College in Clark Summit, PA and now writes about drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll. He likes wearing dresses, using Oxford commas and then not using them just to piss you off. He has a mermaid named Gonzo and trouble keeping girlfriends. You can reach him at [email protected]