May 15, 2013 in events
If you’re like me, than your brain can only hold so many dates and numbers. I need clearly drawn out chronological lists to help me prepare for the things coming up in the future. In fact, this article began not as an article, but as my own list to help me figure out what was happening this Summer.
I don’t know what the Summer festival landscape looked like five years ago, but I’m willing to bet that it wasn’t as strong as it is now. The obvious reason is that in the last five years the Northwest music scene has grown exponentially both in quantity and quality. Most festivals take place at a variety of locations across the Northwest, from Portland to Anacortes, so not only is this an opportunity to see some great bands, but it’s also your opportunity to visit some beautiful locations.
By no means is this a comprehensive list, it’s really just a list of the festivals that I’m familiar with. If there’s something I missed that you think should be on this list, shoot me an email at email@example.com and I’ll tack it on.
SASQUATCH! May 24-27, The Gorge, WA, Tickets: Expensive and Sold Out
If big name headliners are your thing, and you don’t mind overbearing corporate festival sponsorships then Sasquatch is for you. But if you’re looking to go in 2013 you’re probably shit out of luck. Hell, we couldn’t even get in this year. But if you’re only planing on going to one festival this year and can manage to snag some tickets from somewhere, then you should go, because the lineup is pretty outstanding. Father John Misty, Wild Belle, Deep Sea Diver, The Postal Service, Macklemore, Telekinesis, are just a few that get us jazzed.
Northwest Folklife, May 24-27, The Seattle Center, Tickets: FREE
If you didn’t get tickets to Sasquatch but still want a weekend of music, then this is your best option. You may (or may not) have some negative connotations about Folklife, but I’ve actually seen some really great bands there. Though the K-Records influence this year is somewhat diminished, it does appear that some great acts like Briana Marela, Kendl Winter, and The Shivas will be playing. Best of all this festival is free and very family friendly.
Anacortes Unknown Music Series #3, July 19-21, Anacortes, WA, Tickets: $50
Born from the ashes of the popular What-the-heck-fest, the Unknown series emerged as the brain child of Phil Elvrum. Unlike the other festivals this is really a music series that takes place a number of times a year, with series #3 happening this Summer. There have been no official announcements for 2013 but Phil always manages to round up some of the most intriguing lineups of any festival. Regardless, I think we can expect a performance from Karl Blau/Lovers without Borders/D+/whatever he’s working on, Mount Eerie, and a number of other K artists. Anacortes is a beautiful place and $50 is totally affordable.
Sub Pop Silver Jubilee, July 13, Georgetown, Seattle, Tickets: FREE
If you just don’t have the cash for another of the big festivals this year, then you should definitely keep July 13th clear for Sub Pop’s Silver Jubilee. This might just be the best most exciting lineup of the Summer. Sub Pop has gathered some great bands from the past, present, and future: Mudhoney, J Mascis, Shabazz Palaces (w/ THEESatisfaction) Father John Misty, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Endino’s Earthworm, and more to be announced. Sub Pop will never be celebrating 25 years again, so this is a once in a lifetime event. The fact that it is free means that you’d be a fool not to go.
Timber! Fest, July 26-27, Carnation, WA, Tickets: $45, $20 camping
This is a brand new festival in its first year, put on by the guys who brought you Doe Bay Fest. So if you’ve resorted to the fact that you’re not going to Doe Bay, I would definitely give Timber a shot. Expect the organizers to be working out the kinks for this festival (so go with some patience) but also know that you’re probably going to what will become the next Doe Bay. From small up-and-comers like Lemolo, River Giant, Hobosexual, and Bryan John Appleby, to big names like the Helio Sequence and the Fruit Bats, this lineup packs a lot of punch for just two days. Set amongst the idilic woods of Carnation, makes this festival something that should be right at the top of your list.
Capitol Hill Block Party, July 26-28, Capitol Hill, Seattle, Tickets: 3-day $115 single $40
You’ve got a choice to make here; the granola Timber fest, or the sleek CHBP. It’s really too bad these two festivals fall on the same weekend. Starting a couple years back I noticed this festival started to make a serious run at being a real festival with serious bands. This year of note is La Luz, Pickwick, Pure Bathing Culture, Hey Marseilles, Radiation City, and… the Flaming Lips. This festival really seems to be coming into it’s own and the last two years have really shown that. I don’t like that venues span the city that range from Capitol Hill to the Seattle Center, but everything is time out enough that you can see everything. Hopefully for next year Timber and CHBP can coexist on different weekends.
Doe Bay Fest, August 8-11, Orcas Island, WA, Tickets: $90, camping $90
You’re probably not going to this festival. Well, maybe not. This festival quietly started a number of years ago, and between the exquisite setting, its intimate nature, and the organizers ability to find the next big thing, Doe Bay has quickly become the most sought after festival of the year. Tickets sell out in mere seconds, before people even know the lineup. You don’t go to Doe Bay just to hear music, you go because it’s a magical place. Unlike past years, tickets will be sold mostly to guests who stay at Doe Bay prior to the festival (though some tickets may become available later.) So this year you have a chance. But need I remind you that staying at Doe Bay isn’t cheap, nor is getting to the island (accessible by ferry only). If you can, do everything in your power to get to Doe Bay.
Helsing Junction Sleepover, August 16-18, Rochester, WA, Tickets: $35 (2012)
The past number of years K-Records has partnered with the Helsing Junction farm to create the Sleepover, a loose festival of (mostly) K bands, playing for fans and friends. I often look at it more as an Olympia convention, as similar bands play the festival every year, and you go for the experience as much as the music. Free from the corporate or even the anti-corporate sponsors of every other festival, Helsing truly is about the music and the fun. The official is yet to be announced, but it will be chock full of K artists, the festival also features films and organic food for which the proceeds go to Thurston County Gleaners Coalition. $35 is almost too cheap not to go and have fun.
Bumbershoot, August 31- September 2, The Seattle Center, Tickets: 3-day $150 single $50*
Seattle’s longest running music/art/comedy festival is the perfect way to draw your Summer to a close. Everyone has a lot opinions about Bumbershoot, some have even questioned whether it’s still relevant. Though at times it struggles to compete with the bigger festivals dedicated solely to music, Bumbershoot is the perfect mix of great music, art, and some of the nations best comedy. Though this years lineup doesn’t get me as hot as last years, bands like Thao, River Giant, the Grizzled Mighty, and Deathcab for Cutie are well worth it.
*Saturday day pass is $55, Sunday/Monday $50
Music Fest Northwest, September 3-8, Portland, OR, Tickets: $75-$125 (2012)
If you’re not going to Bumbershoot, or if you just want a solid week of music, than get your ass down to Portland for Music Fest NW. Like SXSW or CHBP, this festival utilizes venues all across the city. It has considerable drawbacks, for instance, it takes place during the week, it’s not centrally located, it’s in Portland. But last year it boasted an outstanding lineup, if I didn’t have a three week old at home I would have been there in a heartbeat. The lineup won’t be announced until May 29th, but get your pocket book ready, this one is definitely worth it.
City Arts Fest Mid-October, Seattle, WA, Tickets: $55 (2012)
Okay, so technically this isn’t part of the Summer, but it’s close enough to Summer that it should count. I wasn’t familiar with CIty Arts Fest until last year, and found their lineup to be surprisingly good, actually excellent. Just like Music Fest NW, City Arts takes place during the week, which is tough for those who have to work or go to school, but after last years lineup that featured bands like Reignwolf, Lemolo, St. Vincent, among so many others, I’m really looking forward to what 2013 will offer. This effectively ends the festival season, maybe not with a bang, but with a really excellent selection of arts and music.