As MusicfestNW's executive director (for the first time), my task this year was to continue emphasizing great local and regional acts, but also to make a unique name for the festival. And let me tell you, that has been really difficult to do. To even bite at the ankles of the Coachellas, Sasquatches and Bumbershoots, my staff and I needed to do something a bit different. MusicfestNW needs to shine like our fair city, to stand out for its weirdness and individuality. With some luck, I think we've accomplished this by pairing bands that haven't played together in years, reuniting old friends, and highlighting local talent by building strong national talent around it. Maybe we don't have every big name in America like every other festival, but I think that's OK, because having something that is ours is just as important.
Back in mid-April, over drinks at the Crow Bar, my friend Kevin French (Brian Jonestown Massacre's agent) said to me, "How about you get Brian Jonestown and the Dandys to play Musicfest?" I said, "That would be great, but it will never happen." Much to my surprise, it did happen. It took a ton of negotiating back and forth between both camps, but, to their credit, both bands came aboard to make this work. Some other nice surprises came together as well—like the Silver Jews playing with Stephen Malkmus; securing the Melvins, the Black Keys and M-1 of Dead Prez; and getting Little Brother on the same bill with the Lifesavas.
At this point, I thought things were looking good. Then my buddy (and local production mogul) Mike Thrasher called to say that the Zombies package (including Phantom Planet, the Mooney Suzuki and the Woggles) wanted to play Musicfest. I was like, "Jesus Christ, this thing is really coming together." Of course, before any of these bands ever came aboard, I had the whole thing drawn up in my head. That flew right out the window when all these other things fell into place.
I realized that letting the chips fall where they may is actually the best way to go about handling a festival. And with a little luck and some hard work, my team and I have continued the great tradition of MusicfestNW—hopefully making an impact locally and nationally that will build upon itself for years to come.
This year, I recommend getting out and seeing something you have no idea about or that you're just curious about, whether it's the gorgeous songwriting of Centro-matic's Will Johnson, the addictive singalong pop of Sunset Valley or the dreamy sounds of Husky Rescue. Or it might be the experience of a Dead Moon show, where your hair is all soaked in beer, the person next to you is like your brother in battle, and you don't ever want the band to stop. Check it out, see what's out there, and take advantage of all the killer bands playing Musicfest this year. Because, as my new friend Diedre says, "YOU SHOULD GO!"
To hear Diedre's advice for yourself, check out MFNW's TV commercial at www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IuESuPGFk8&eurl=.
For the entire MusicfestNW schedule, see musicfestnw.com.