Hannah Racecar. Photo by Joanna Walker

Seattle Gets a Shoegaze Festival

Seagaze Fest is attempting to spotlight the region’s psych, post-punk, and shoegaze scenes.

Though Seattle is packed with music festivals, promoter and performer Jeff McCollough feels confident local music fans will come out for four nights of shoegaze, psych rock, post-punk, and more this week, because, well, Seattle needs it. “There is a feeling of love and hope that is coming through this festival that is something we all need after this bummer of a year,” he says. “Even with the darkest bands playing, their energy is infectious . . . those who organized it believe there is something unexplainable about its energy.”

The first annual Seagaze Music Festival is the creative offspring of McCollough, of local “gothic shoegaze” group Blackpool Astronomy, and Greg Wilson of Decay FM Shoegaze Radio. They turned to Mama Casserole at the Lo-Fi Performance Gallery for booking help. Once the location was locked in, they brought on Omar Rashan (Charlatan), Richard O’Leary (God and Vanilla), Tauna Leonardo (Tender Age), and Jason Markin (The Emerald Down) to aid in planning and talent scouting. Collectively known as Seagaze, the group boasts nearly 100 years of life experience with music.

The festival is filled out with veteran acts like Spindrift, Ecstatic Cosmic Union, LSD and the Search for God, and Erik Blood. But the weekend’s real surprises will be from newcomers, like the sugary-sweet bliss of C’est la Mort and the grinding blur of Hannah Racecar—who, says McCollough, has “all the moves and heart of bands like Swervedriver and early My Bloody Valentine.” Judging by the number of jaws I saw hit the floor when they opened for Beach Slang at The Vera Project a couple of months ago, I’m pretty sure Tacoma’s Hannah Racecar is indeed the Next Big Thing.

For fans of post-punk, goth, and no-wave, the don’t-miss acts are going to be the clearly haunted Spirit Host; Charlatan, who might be Gary Numan’s secret love child; and Portland’s Shadowhouse, which evokes a distinctly classic Bat Cave vibe. Bands like Vibrissae and the Young Elders call up fond memories of rolled-up bleached jeans, sitting on the porch listening to Mary’s Danish, X, and Husker Dü. Shoegazers, make sure you’re around to swing your bangs to the tunes of the ultra-high, lo-fi haze of Portland’s Tender Age. Similarly, fellow Portlanders Daydream Machine will fill you with images of opioid lovemaking in sunlit rooms a la the Jesus and Mary Chain. For psych-rock fans, the captains of your stoned magic carpet ride will be ascended Seattle masters This Blinding Light, the supremely fuzzed-out Plastic Crimewave Syndicate, and the spaced-out sounds of The Asteroid #4.

“We wanted to put on a festival to celebrate the shoegaze and psych music of the Pacific Northwest that was truly overlooked,” explains McCollough. “Creating something beautiful and positive was important, along with making it affordable.” Tickets are just $10 a night, or you can get a four-day pass for just $35.

Changing things up and leaving a lasting mark on the scene is a real priority for Seagaze. “Honestly, I love this music and it’s part of my soul,” stresses McCollough. “I wanted to share it and help the scene I love get stronger so more bands could break through and bring forth something like the Sonics, the Ventures, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors did in the ’60s. A true renaissance in sound like early Pink Floyd.”

LoFi Performance Gallery, 429 Eastlake Ave. E., twitter.com/seagazefestival. $10 adv./$12 DOS/$35 four-day pass. 21 and over. 8 p.m. Thurs., July 28–Sun., July 31.

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