It’s not the sun-soaked spectacle of Coachella, but Everett’s now six-year-old Fisherman’s Village Music Festival continues to be a showcase of some of the Pacific Northwest’s top bands and artists, along with scores of up-and-coming talent. This year, breakout rapper Travis Thompson, soul hip-hop hybrid Parisalexa and ‘90s alt-rock throw-back Sloucher appeared alongside veteran acts such as Laura Veirs and Wolf Parade. Here’s our recap of the three-day fest that took place May 16-18 in venues across downtown Everett.
Travis Thompson performing at the festival. Photo by Jake Hanson
Best Performance: Spooky Mansion, the previously San Francisco-now-L.A based rock quartet, always brings the energy; per usual, they brought their A-game and groovy, lighthearted vibes to the stage. Lead singer/guitarist Grayson Converse was clearly enjoying himself as he kicked his leg into the air and danced around the microphone, talking the audience into buying t-shirts (it worked for me). The set included highlights from the band’s latest album Alright, recent single “Brink of Death” and songs from their 2017 album, I’m the Moon, You’re the Wave.
Best Stage: Positioned in front of I-5 and outdoors, the main stage outside the Scuttlebutt taproom projected the best acoustics, especially during Tulsa, Oklahoma-based BRONCHO’s set, who had a lively crowd bopping to its infectious, pop punk tunes.
Most Intimate Performance: Portland, Oregon singer/songwriter Laura Veirs, who played acoustic guitar and was accompanied by a violinist, opened the weekend at Schack Art Center. The indie rock veteran captivated the audience, many sitting rapt and cross-legged, within seconds (I didn’t see a single cellphone screen among the crowd), playing cuts across her catalog including crowd favorite, “Carol Kaye,” about the groundbreaking female bass player from Washington.
Best Stage Banter: Lead singer Jay Clancy of Sloucher takes the win in this category for his strange-but-true story about the dog he shares with his ex-girlfriend who attacked and killed her mother’s cat, an ordeal that occupied him just moments before going onstage (the cat, unfortunately, died; the dog, who Clancy says is usually a good boy, needed emergency surgery).
Best Audience: It was standing room only, including a small mosh pit, Thursday night at the Black Lab Gallery, a mixed-use music venue, art gallery and café, when local Everett punk band Oliver Elf Army and self-proclaimed “dumbpunk gremlin goblin” queercore youth band Sleepover Club opened for Seattle punk legends Wimps.
Unforeseen Conflicts: Perhaps due to the well-advertised double headlining tour featuring another duo of beloved local acts (the killer bill of Odesza and Death Cab for Cutie, at the Civic Stadium in Bellingham on Saturday May 18), the fest this year saw decent attendance but was not overcrowded. I’m not complaining (it was easy to get a beer and breeze through the bathroom lines!) but imagine the scene had these two acts and the fest joined forces instead.
Nikki Pickle from Death Valley Girls. Photo by Becki Thorley
Unexpected Hiccups: A little sound check drama with Saturday’s headliner Wolf Parade. The on-again-off-again band had been on tour since February, this was the last show on the run and vocalist and keyboardist Spencer Krug seemed cranky. Maybe everyone was just a little tired and ready to go home.
Room for Improvement: The Scuttlebutt taproom stage had an intimate garage vibe but the sound bounced off outside noise and crowd chatter like a ping pong ball.
Highlights: The free ear plugs at the entrance really made me feel like the folks at Fisherman’s cared about my long-term love for live music!
The beer was, as promised on the website, affordable. A $5 craft pint is pretty much cheaper than anywhere in Ballard.
The Everett Music Initiative, producer of the festival, emphasized making music available to all: Its Night Market stage, featuring a variety of bands, was free to all, no pass required.