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Fisherman’s Village is YR New Fav NW Fest

Fauna Shade at FVMF 2019 (Photo by Christine Mitchell)

written by Christine Mitchell and Abby Williamson

Before we start digging into all of the happenings of Saturday at Fisherman’s Village Music Festival, it behooves us to tell you this: Fisherman’s Village was fantastic on just about every level, starting with a lineup that was diverse in both musical genres and types of humans making music. Tons of women, black and Native American women and men, folx of all shapes and sizes and identities…all on stage with other humans cheering them on.

The new footprint of the festival was also a success. It was easy to get to, close to the train station and Everett’s new scooter system, along with ample free parking. The three stages were close enough to each other as to not wear out your feet, yet far enough apart to give everyone room to breathe. And the Night Market was amazing, with handcrafted wares and eats up the yin-yang. Never mind that the whole thing was anchored around Scuttlebutt Brewing, which meant that there was amazing beer of all kinds to be had all weekend long, and it wasn’t sold at festival prices, either!

But enough about the chill atmosphere, the great weather, and yeah, the sunshine. Let’s dig into Saturday, the main event at Fisherman’s Village.

The music proper began with Izaac Mellow’s set on the Scuttlebutt Stage, and while the music emanating from Mellow’s laptop was pleasant, and Mellow was…well, mellow, the performance was elevated by the presence of a friend lounging onstage playing a video game on an old school tube television. It was weird, and it was a good way to start off the afternoon.

Black Belt Eagle Scout led the Main Stage off with a Native American blessing sung by the lead singer’s father, which sounded beautiful as it floated out on the warm spring air. The songs were all so melodically rich and yummy, and with just enough pop song sensibility for the early afternoon.

Bad Optics – or as someone called them “our own harbingers of rage” – was given a time slot on the schedule almost too early, but not so much so that the whole crowd inside Scuttlebutt couldn’t ignore the sun outside. After last year’s band debut during Fisherman’s Village (complete with fallen speaker and spilled beer), this performance was decidedly less messy. The new songs – however – are so dang good. With a full set of tunes recorded (both in the studio and on TV) we can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next for these dudes. We like them. A lot.

Narrow Tarot had such a fun set down at the end of the Night Market, holy moly! It started with one guy moshing by himself, then another guy jumped in, and then a handful of other folks just started dancing to the infectious tunes. Keyboardist Tessa Tasakos and guitarist Trevor Fett bounce off each other so well that you can’t help but smile.

Death Valley Girls managed to emanate the loveliest sisterly love while the songs built this dark and hypnotic momentum. Fresh off a performance on Band in Seattle, the 4-piece – fronted by multi-instrumentalist Bonnie Bloomgarden – was an absolute treat live. Plus, they had some of the coolest merch we’ve seen in a long time. “Satan Worships Death Valley Girls” on a t-shirt? Yes please.

Fuzz Mutt has new songs! Fuzz Mutt has new songs! We’re still a bit perplexed as to why Fuzz Mutt didn’t sweep MoPOP’s Sound Off! competition, but honestly WHO CARES, they rule, and if you disagree, you suck. The folks surrounding the stage definitely fell into the “Fuzz Mutt ROX” group, which they proved out by moshing their faces off to songs old and new alike.

Seattle has a treasure in Tilson XOXO, and it was a treat to see him perform on the Scuttlebutt Stage. He started his set sitting off near the steps to the stage, singing along with a backup singer, but once he got into his proper set, he had the room smiling. Tilson has a positive presence that radiates from him wherever he goes, and this was no exception. He physically canvassed the crowd, hugging and grooving with folks on the floor before perching on the edge of the stage and rapping for all he was worth. His set ended with him walking off stage and literally leaving the building via the back door as everyone watched. Stellar.

The Coathangers, who have been touring out for their new record The Devil You Know (which is very good by the way) sure brought it to Everett. The juxtaposition of Julia Kugel’s more angelic – almost squeaky – vocals and drummer Stephanie Luke’s intense rasp creates the coolest combination.

Little Wins, Andrew Vait’s new-ish solo project, came into a hitch involving an unresponsive keyboard. Narrow Tarot graciously donated their own keys so that things could roll along as smoothly as possible. You could hardly tell that a problem existed as Vait’s exuberant smile washed over the crowd, and his upbeat music soon followed.

The Night Market stage closed out with a set from Everett’s EDM wunderkind, Sphyramid, and he amassed quite the crowd of dancing fans who were picking up handfuls of confetti from the ground, shot off at some earlier point in the day and now repurposed for the Sphyramid dance party.

Just as the full moon was rising over the festival (was it a full moon? It sure looked like it) Wolf Parade began their evening with a leisurely sound check, chatting with the crowd while the engineer tweaked the monitors, keys, and guitars. And in true Canadian fashion, they apologized for it. We even heard a joke that with the moon right behind keyboardist Spencer Krug that they should have let out some “awoos” for sound check. Get it? Full moon? Wolves? I’ll let myself out. But soon enough we were greeted with the weird disparate riffs and grooves that make Wolf Parade’s songs so unique, and it was perfect way to close out the new main stage.

Frankie and the Witch Fingers was a welcome late night snack/surprise to all who happened upon their set. If anyone’s festival endurance was flagging, this was the place to get the heart rate back up and pumping. Frankie & co. radiated spastic energy like a neutron bomb, spewing it across the crowd with insistent riffs played like they were a bet with the devil himself. (this cd found its way to our house by Monday)

As the night wore on, people began to get excited about the closing act. Not country-ish heartthrob Dick Stusso, but Fauna Shade. The band wasn’t on the official lineup, but word was nonetheless passed around to be at the Scuttlebutt Stage at 1AM. And it wasn’t just a rumor. Scotty Smith (looking like a cashmere-clad Caesar) and Derek Johnston and a new (!!!) drummer came out to play, and everyone’s hearts exploded in the same instant. Alright, alright, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but metaphorically, it’s spot on. They played a cover of Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” that was transcendent along with a clutch of old favorites, but what was most memorable was the smiles on Smith and Johnston’s faces as they played in a way that hasn’t been done in a couple of years. As Regan Beal repeatedly and crazedly shouted, “IT’S FAUNA FUCKING SHADE!!!!”

All in all, Fisherman’s Village Music Fest, Like Timber Outdoor Music Festival was pretty much all that a festival should be. Not the massive, garbage-generating juggernaut that was SASQUATCH!, nor Capitol Hill Block Party with its jam-packed capacity, nor again, “Summer Camp”, which is almost always all white dudes all day every day. Fisherman’s Village can stand proud as its own thing: a chill fest in a chill town, a fest that celebrates its hometown artists and musicians while also bringing in national talent for all to enjoy. And they do it well.

Christine Mitchell has been poring over album liner notes pretty much since she acquired the skill of reading, and figured out the basic structure of rock songs at an early age. Whether it’s the needle popping into the first groove of the record, the beeps that signal the beginning (or end) of a cassette tape, or digital numbers ticking off the seconds from zero, music brings Christine happiness, ponderous thought, opportunities for almost scientific study, and sometimes a few tears. When she started attending live shows two decades ago, a whole new piece of the puzzle clicked in and she has been hooked ever since.