Day one of Everett, WA’s now long-running music event Fisherman’s Village Festival was an opportunity for festival organizers to set an eclectic tone and show off the city’s burgeoning downtown district.
The two “main” days of the festival will be located at a space centered around Scuttlebutt Brewing just south of the city’s main train station.
The 10 sets of the Thursday night festival kickoff instead took place in the historic core of this midsized Pacific Northwest city near Seattle. The quieter venue was Schack Arts Center, which played host to The Porters, Molly Parden and Laura Veirs. Around the corner was the Black Lab Gallery, which was the location to see King Mammoth, Oliver Elf Party, Sleepover Club and the Wimps. The third and smallest venue was the coffee shop Narrative, where Sylvi, Supersparkle and Valley Maker played.
The night began at the Schack Arts Center, where visitors could sit in fold-out chairs among the galleries and sculptures on display.
Molly Perdon and her small backing band – which included a lap steel player and a guitarist playing a Telecaster, giving her set a warm, comforting tone. Much of the subject matter involved the tensions of interpersonal relationships.
She truly hit her stride with the mid-set run of “The Gambler,” “Kentucky, I” and “Seasons of Love.” Each song showcased her emotional lyricism and her band’s chemistry and musicianship.
After the relatively sterile environs of Schack, the next venue was a total 180 flip. Black Lab Gallery is a small space with art, coffee and adult beverages. Here, the scene was a little more punk rock.
The first band we were able to catch at the Black Lab was local Everett, WA based King Mammoth. This rock group laid down some thick, psychedelic grooves, with lead singer Jesse Schmidt at-times channeling Jim Morrison in his vocal delivery. While many heavy psych bands tend to sound monotonous from song to song, King Mammoth’s set was dynamic, one minute offering up a slow burn, the next chugging away with keyboardist Owen Mayo stealing the show.
After King Mammoth, it was back to Schack for the night’s biggest name, folk singer Laura Veirs. She performed along with her longtime performing partner Alex Guy. Veirs is also a resident of the Pacific Northwest, hailing from Portland, OR. She said she had driven up to Everett earlier in the day, picking up Guy in Seattle on her way to the gig.
While Guy’s main instrument was the violin and Veirs’ the acoustic guitar, they occasionally switched things around, taking turns performing on the keyboard set up at the rear of the stage. About halfway through the set, Veirs turned to Guy, recalling that in around 20 years performing together, they’d never played Everett, WA.
Standouts from the two included “Sun Song” from 2013’s Warp & Weft, “Carol Kaye” (including a modified lyric to reference Everett, WA), “Seven Falls” and “White Cherry.”
While for some, especially those at Schack, each venue was more of its own mini-festival. But as the night progressed (and the rain grew more steady and drenching), things began to feel a bit more like a cohesive festival. Wristband holders ran along the appropriately-named Wetmore Ave. between the Black Lab and Narrative, trying to catch at least a little bit of every band’s set.
Narrative, a small but clearly hip coffee shop played host to Valley Maker, the alternative folk project of Austin Crane. His sounds split the difference somewhere between Bright Eyes and Kurt Vile. The band played songs from his latest LP, the Frenchkiss Records debut Rhododendron as well as his most recent single “Supernatural.”
Finally, it was back to the Black Lab for the final two sets of the evening. And what incredible sets they were. For fans of punk rock, Sleepover Club and Wimps usually provided the highlight of the night, testing the integrity of the laminate floors as punk kids moshed around in the tiny confines of the gallery/cafe.
Sleepover Club are a local three-piece who play a spazzy brand of punk rock that straddles the line between sloppiness and cohesion on every single one of their songs. It’s a talent that hasn’t really been replicated since Mika Miko broke up and the Clavin sisters formed Bleached. They may be relatively unknown right now, but keep an eye out for this exciting young band.
Portland punks Wimps closed out the night. The band lineup is drummer Dave Ramm, guitarist Rachel Ratner, and bassist Matt Nyce. Ratner and Nyce traded off vocals on “Trip Around the Sun” (an unhappy birthday song) and an exuberant rendition of “Other People’s Pizza,” which made the crowd go nuts.
Here’s looking forward to the first true day of the festival which will take place near Everett Station on the cities East Side. If the gallery and cafe based kick off is any indication it should be a great one.