Saturday marked the final day of Fisherman’s Village Music Festival in Everett, WA. Now in its sixth year, the festival shows the kind of “slow-growth” planning that has allowed it to get bigger and more ambitious every year without running into the sorts of production issues that have marred like-minded festivals in the past.
The two stages were accessible and close but not too close, with attendance likely around a couple thousand. It wasn’t too crowded – lines moved quickly – but it also didn’t feel sparsely attended, all drinks were under $10 and the vast majority of sets were on schedule. With other nearby festivals like Sasquatch imploding in a music festival scene that is in flux to say the least, Fisherman’s Village is in a good place.
Unfortunately, the most noteworthy moment of the final day of the festival was some sound issues Wolf Parade faced before their set, which pushed back their set time about a half hour. Luckily the band and the crew worked out the bugs and the band delivered a powerful performance (which had a great sound), playing both old classics and showing off some of their new material from an as-yet-unannounced new album.
After about a half hour delay, Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug started the set with “Lazarus Online” from their 2017 comeback LP, Cry, Cry, Cry. Krug delivered the verses in his trademark off-kilter, emotional warble while performing the bass notes with his left hand and lead synths with his right.
Later, still tweaking their sound (and with guitarist/vocalist Boeckner taking out his earbuds and just playing off of his monitors – perhaps an act of frustration but eliciting a big applause from the crowd) the band played “Soldier’s Grin” from At Mount Zoomer, with Boeckner taking over as lead vocalist, his jittery delivery adding a dark, post-punk sound.
They then dialed it all the way back to their debut album Apologies to the Queen Mary, which saw Wolf Parade explode onto the indie rock scene and become a household name. “Grounds for Divorce” was played to perfection, with Krug yelping out the opening lines of, “You said you hate the sound / Of the buses on the ground / You said you hate the way they scrape their brakes all over town.”
Then it was back to their most recent release with “You’re Dreaming.” For those worried that Wolf Parade’s recent reboot is temporary, fret not. The band asked if it was okay to play some new music, from an album they just finished recording and will be released in the near future.
The first one, a song called “Julia,” was sung by Krug and had a dancey rhythm that was more synth-based and had fewer guitars. Next was another new song, “Goth,” that was lead by Boeckner. They would play one more new song before concluding their excellent festival headlining set with their biggest song, the transcendent and emotional “I’ll Believe In Anything.”
The highlight of the afternoon sets was easily Death Valley Girls. The Southern California band recently released an album called Darkness Rains on Suicide Squeeze, whose own Megan Ternes served as MC for the main stage.
The quartet is led by the charismatic lead singer Bonnie Bloomgarden with original member and Everett, WA native Larry Schemel on guitar and Rachel Orosco. Rounding out the lineup is drummer Laura Kelsey (who replaced original member, sister to Larry and former Hole drummer Patty Schemel).
They played a concise set of their self-described “California doom boogie,” a combination of punk, psych, blues and good old fashioned rock & roll, playing songs like “Street Justice,” “Disco,” “More Dead” and “Disaster (Is What We’re After).” Bloomgarden is a bit of an eccentric, waxing philosophical about the sun and wind, Larry thanking all his local friends in Everett, and even totally spontaneously and sincerely waving to a seagull as it swooped over the stage.
Later on, the main stage was Atlanta female punk trio The Coathangers. They also released a great new album this year in the form of The Devil You Know earlier this year, following 2017’s Nosebleed Weekend.
The band plays a slightly garage-tinged take on straight ahead punk rock, with each member taking turns on lead vocals (though guitarist Julia Kugel-Montoya and drummer Stephanie Luke sing more frequently than bassist Meredith Franco).
Presumably due to illness or overuse, Luke’s vocals sounded a little worse for the wear, but despite any hoarseness, she performed admirably and led the band through rambunctious bangers like “Stranger Danger.” Other songs performed during their set included “Perfume,” “Watch Your Back” and “Fuck The NRA,” the latter of which got the crowd to pump this fists with middle fingers raised, shouting out their hatred for the influential gun lobby.
Near the end of their set, the band members swapped instruments with Luke taking over guitar and Kugel-Montoya getting behind the drums for “Shut Up” as a protest to the recent wave of massively restrictive abortion laws. Then Franco put down her bass and took over on drums and Luke came out to take over the mic for one song.
It can’t go without mentioning that they also played “Squeaky Tiki,” a shuffling punk stomper that saw Kugel-Montoya put down the guitar and pick up a dog toy to perform the song’s unique squeaking chorus.
Between The Coathangers and Wolf Parade was Broncho, a punk rock trio who performed on the main stage. They played a noisy brand of garage rock that is along the lines of Ty Segall and King Tuff, with the guitars very fuzzed out and lead singer Ryan Lindsay’s singing being fairly difficult to decipher.
Two bands playing the Scuttlebutt stage we were able to catch were Spooky Mansion and Sloucher. Spooky Mansion are a San Francisco indie rock band with a surfy, lounge-y, soulful indie rock sound. Later in the night, Washington band Sloucher treated audiences to their take on space rock, with crunchy, distorted midtempo riffs embellished with atmospheric lead guitar lines. Frankie and The Witch Fingers also played Scuttlebutt, but unfortunately, we had to miss their set due to the delay of Wolf Parade creating a conflict.
Saturday finds us at the end of 2019 Fisherman’s Village Festival. While this is the first year mxdwn has had a writer on the ground, by all accounts the festival has gradually but visibly grown and improved each year. With room in the Seattle market to replace some of the now-defunct musical gatherings, Fisherman’s Village and Everett, WA have a great opportunity to fill that void in the future.
Photo Credit: Owen Ela