The Fire is Coming

By on June 27, 2018

Jackson’s own two-day metal festival ignites this weekend

Metal band Castle at a previous Fire in the Mountains at Pink Garter Theatre. This year the show returns to its roots with a venue in the woods. (Jeremy Walker)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Denver heavy metal band Wayfarer sings passionately of mountains and wilderness. While listening to their lyrics, Jeremy Walker’s longing to hear metal in Jackson Hole crystallized. That yearning would become the catalyst behind Fire in the Mountains, a once “underground” heavy metal show that has evolved this year into a heavy music festival with 11 artists performing at Heart Six Ranch on Saturday and Sunday.

The festival began in 2015 with Wayfarer performing on Shadow Mountain under the gaze of the Tetons. In its first year, with a stage hemmed in by bonfires, it would become known as “Fire in the Mountains.” The annual festival would later move inside and take place at the Pink Garter Theatre, but this year’s outdoor venue marks a return to its roots.

FITM’s name evokes more than an aesthetic. It is also about “stoking one’s internal fire, their spirit,” Walker said. The marriage of mountains and music inspire the festival, he said, but also the communion of our varied experiences with nature. Those experiences help us to progress as individuals and the festival celebrates that progression.

FITM’s team has indeed created a symbiotic relationship between music and the outdoors. They have sought out performers whose lyrics compliment the mountainscapes and experiences they engender.

The headliner Wovenhand is “a transcendent experience, to culminate a transcendent event.” Regarded as the face of “Denver Sound,” the band will take the stage on Saturday night playing gothic country and Americana.

Metal is often misunderstood, especially in the jam band flooded confines of the valley. KHOL DJ Cassandra Lee pointed to the incongruent lines that connect metal, mountains and nature: “Metal performers and lovers of metal are a total paradox because there is this reputation of darkness, you expect this hard edge—a dark ambiance. But in reality, they are artists that are very thoughtful and loving.”

However “thoughtful and loving” metal artists may be, the festival has drawn concern from some Buffalo Valley residents who contacted county officials to complain. Walker said he has since met with residents to allay their worries about noise, and potential property damage and environmental impact. “We’ve gotten to know each other on a personal level,” Walker said of local residents. He said he has worked to address their concerns and will donate $1 of every ticket sold to a local environmental cause that Buffalo Valley neighbors will choose.

“I thought it would be nice for them to have a say directly in where the benefit of these ticket sales goes,” Walker said.

The county approved a permit for the event with conditions, which Walker and organizers have agreed to meet: a 400 person per day capacity; no camping on site and the music must end at 10 p.m.

Beyond the music, organizers designed the festival with sustainability in mind. Co-organizer Alex Feher of Huidekoper Ranch has overseen “farm to festival” food offerings alongside some of Jackson’s other festival favorites like Sweet Cheeks Meats, Roadhouse Brewing, Jackson Hole Stillworks and more.

Further, the festival is participating in a carbon offset program to alleviate the carbon footprint of visiting bands.

This year, an artist walk will happen during the festival. Organizers worked with artist Andy Kincaid to install the works of roughly 40 artists that will be situated in the woods for an outdoor art walk.

Kincaid said it will bring the visual arts in conversation with music. “This is an opportunity and great excuse, especially in the format that it’s in, to get a lot of different voices from different places,” Kincaid said.

Music starts at 4 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Campers should come prepared to party in bear country. Food and beverages may be purchased with cash only. Find more info and purchase $89 tickets at fitmfest.com.


About Lucas Ayoub

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