Rocket Queen: The Pride of Georegtown

The Georgetown Music Fest breaks from a crowded pack by teaming with Artopia.

While Sasquatch! may signal the kickoff of summer-festival season on Memorial Day weekend, things really get going on the local level this week. There's so much going on that it's inevitable that even if you have time to spare this weekend, you'll miss something.

Columbia City Theater celebrates its much-anticipated grand opening (see the Short List), and Ballard's Sunset Tavern will be blowing kegs and eardrums all weekend for its 10th anniversary (see feature). PrideFest and the Capitol Hill Pride Festival will dominate Seattle Center and Capitol Hill all weekend, with the Wild Rose throwing some of the more high-profile live music events—such as Saturday's hipster-baiting lineup featuring Portland's increasingly popular dance-party starters Reporter and underground, experimental electronica stars Glass Candy.

But perhaps the most intriguing merrymaking will happen down south at the Georgetown Music Festival. Held concurrently with Artopia (see pullout in this issue), the homespun fest, now in its fifth year, boasts a particularly impressive, hip-hop heavy lineup that includes Dark Time Sunshine, Victor Shade, and Fatal Lucciauno as well as cutting-edge pop and electronica-influenced acts like Pica Beats and Concours d'Elegance.

Festival co-director and programmer Kate Fernandez has lived in Seattle for 15 years, working in various creative capacities as a visual artist, letterpress printer, and art-show curator while holding down a day job managing social-science research projects at the University of Washington. Though she resides in Beacon Hill, Georgetown has always been her base of operations and the community where she feels most at home.

"I think Georgetown represents—in one of its rawest forms—industry and neighborhood operating together in a way that's not happening in other places in Seattle," says Fernandez over a cup outside All City Coffee, the independent coffee shop around the corner from where the festival stages will be located. "There's no bullshit, pretense, or scalloped edges. It's a little more my style."

Fernandez has been involved with the festival since its second year, when she began helping founding partners Chris Beno and Stefan Schachtell with production. When Beno moved to the Midwest, she became more involved with booking, placing a focus on newer and fringe artists—a mission arrived at through the surprisingly synchronistic factors of a pragmatic business perspective and outsider idealism. Competing with increasingly larger neighborhood festivals like the Capitol Hill Block Party necessitates a different creative viewpoint.

"There's only so much room for festivals and only so much room for a band to play in a given summer," she explains. "We are very, very aware of availability, and we try to use that as an advantage. You can see who is going to get picked up right away...like Shabazz Palaces, you know by February they're gone. But it validates to looking other directions, to the artists who aren't getting attention, and playing to the underdog."

She handpicked Boise road warriors Finn Riggins (who've toured with Built to Spill) and the pop-driven, crowd-pleasing Webelos, but for the schedule's hip-hop component, she partnered with Sportn' Life's Jennifer Peterson and DeVon Manier. "They get so much credit for killing it, bringing in their contacts and representing...I'm excited to see hip-hop blossom this year."

Perhaps almost as notable as the lineup is the wise production values the organizers are bringing to the table. Two main stages behind Jules Maes Saloon will have staggered set times, so that live music is continuous between 2 and 10 p.m. A flatbed truck will serve as a third, smaller stage a couple of blocks away. And thanks to groundwork laid by Beno many years ago, they'll be using the sound system from Sasquatch's Yeti stage. "As D.I.Y. and scrappy as everything is, we know the one thing that does really matter is sound," laughs Fernandez.

rocketqueen@seattleweekly.com

Complete info for GMF can be found at georgetownmusicfest.com/schedule.

 
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