Party city 

A guide to band highlights, late nights and morning perks for the 5th LYME Fest

The Love Your Mother Earth festival sports the unfortunate acronym LYME, which recalls a disease borne by ticks. Besides the detestable experience of a tick burrowed into your skin, Lyme disease also causes fatigue and fever. No such symptoms stem from LYME, the festival, unless you want to count partying hard for three days—and maybe you should. This festival, which kicks off next week at Ryan Creek Meadows, constitutes the good kind of sick: three stages and a geodesic dome, 60 plus bands and DJs, crazy do-it-yourself workshops, food and craft vendors, an art gallery tent with interactive art installations, the experience of camping in the great outdoors, and general revelry. Some people are calling LYME the Burning Man of Montana. In its fifth year (and at its fourth venue), it's starting to feel that way. With so many skills to learn and music to hear, we give you our guide to the first eco-friendly party of the summer.

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Big names

One of this year's main musical attractions is Polish-born DJ Michal Menert. Menert is linked to Colorado-based electronic artist Pretty Lights, but he recently dropped his own solo album, Dreaming of A Bigger Life. He's got the laid-back look down—all flannel and baseball cap—but his big beats and tripped out samples say otherwise. On a recent blog post Menert wrote: "As I prepare to take the stage...I ponder over the moments that gave me memories, erased parts of my brain, and decorated my skin with mystery bruises." Uh...Let's see if LYME is one of those moments.

The other main musical favorite is from closer to home. Signal Path started in Missoula playing to small but voracious crowds, made it big on the national electronic jam band circuit playing music festivals, went on hiatus, and, in the last year, reformed—during which time they were big enough to play the Wilma. Are they back on the rise? Who knows. Those who have watched them grow from bluegrass-heavy to electronic-oriented can go to LYME to brag about seeing SP back in the day.

Fellow travelers

On deck for LYME are several tight local bands including Kung Fu Kongress, Secret Powers, and Dodgy Mountain Men. Lately, the funk-styled Kung Fu Kongress has been playing so much that they might be Missoula's house band, and for the festival they're doing what no one else dares: an Earth, Wind, and Fire tribute. Secret Powers, on the other hand, have been laying low but not for lack of stuff to do. The power pop band pumps out contagious pop gems—think Beatles and Beach Boys—and is probably recording another album. For sure they've added a new member: the great local songwriter John Brownell of dispersed band Oblio Joes. Finally, Dodgy Mountain Men plays dingy, foot-tapping folk rock good for campfires, whisky, old-timey murderers, and hobbits.

Camp a-go-go

Glamping is when the rich come to Montana, sleep in a tent with a feather bed, lamp, and rug, and think they've had an outdoor experience. Camping at LYME is the opposite of glamping, but that doesn't mean you have to be a plain Jane about it. This year, the LYME organizers are encouraging some camp creativity with a contest that awards prizes to the best themed or decorated campsite. First prize gets free tickets to LYME 2012. Already there's talk on Facebook about pirate camps and 1970s disco themes, so you have every reason to start getting your color palette together now. However, if you care nothing for home decorating, just bask in nature's glory by setting up camp at the nearby Beavertail Pond State Park, which has 28 developed camping sites (plus two rental tipis), a nature trail, and an amphitheater. Depending on the weather, you could go for a swim in the pond, but even if that doesn't work out you can always fish.

Fire walk with me

Fire poi is the art of twirling fire on chains, and though it may not come in handy at your office job, you would look really cool doing it. A group called Sea of Flames will teach the art—plus fire safety—for beginners and intermediates. Other workshops provide the same kind of intriguing lessons. The art of double staff, which is rooted in martial arts (staffs available for practice and purchase); primitive life skills in which you learn how to take your basic needs into your own hands, in the wild without modern luxuries; beermaking, which has obvious uses; and, ways to make your own bug spray without toxins—killing bad bugs without killing the Earth.

After hours

You might think you're going to have a good night's sleep during LYME. But who wants to sleep when there's glow-in-the-dark kickball at 2 a.m.? Nobody. Besides afterhours dance parties, you'll find novel games and sports. The big kickball game requires LED lights and a neon kickball. Those with poor night-vision and inadequate depth perception, beware.

Morning after

You know about tossing horseshoes, but do you know about Voodoo Horseshoes tossing pancakes? The psychedelic rock band will host a free pancake breakfast on Saturday morning. That means that after you've dragged yourself from your morning-dew tent, or after you've been up all night listening to DJs with names like Fatty Acid and Geeter, and jam band Brouhaha, you can refuel with fluffy cakes. And you'll make the Voodoo Horseshoes even happier if you can bring a contributing ingredient like those frozen huckleberries you've been holding tight to.

The Love Your Mother Earth festival kicks off at Ryan Creek Meadows Thursday, June 15, at 6 PM and continues through Saturday, June 17. $35/$40 day of festival/free for kids under 12. Go to loveyourmotherearthfestival.com for tickets and full line-up.

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