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The Summer Meltdown, held south of Bellingham at Darrington's Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheater, returns for its 12th year August 10-12. But if you're familiar with the jam-band based festival of years past, you'll do a double-take when you see this year's lineup, which includes Beats Antique, Blitzen Trapper, Vicci Martinez, Pickwick, Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real, and El Ten Eleven, as well as Seattle favorites The Moondoggies and Hot Bodies in Motion.
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The team behind this shakeup, Craig Jewell and Austin Santiago of Bellingham venue the Wild Buffalo, were wisely brought in to rehydrate the booking by the festival's founders, the Seattle band Flowmotion (who now go by The True Spokes, and yes, they're playing the fest). With its mix of of-the-moment acts and jam-y stalwarts, topped with a pastoral setting, it sounds like a mini-Bonnarroo that's not to be missed.
"[The founders] are keeping the things they really enjoy about the festival, such as keeping it small and at the same grounds, while reaching out to music that a younger, more diverse audience would like," Santiago says. The organizers aim to preserve the intimate family feel of long-time festival-goers with an early Thursday entry option and a family camping area. In addition to a location that's nestled between a mountain and a river (the Stillaguamish runs directly behind the main stage, and people are encouraged to swim and hang out on the banks throughout the fest), the limited ticket sales ensures plenty of space. "It has a magical feel to it. You can't believe there's not more people there," says Santiago.
Full lineup (and a larger poster) after the jump.
Camping, which is included in the festival pass, surrounds the stone-stepped amphitheater of the main stage. "No camping is more than a five or ten minute walk from the main stage," says Santiago, noting that because of the presence of a new late-night, DJ-and-electronic driven tent stage, they've added a family camping area that's a bit removed from the epicenter of activity for those looking for a quieter night.
"[Craig and I] only joined on at the beginning of March," says Santiago. "To completely book and rebrand a festival in three months was a challenge, but we're really happy with where we are now. It's got a cool cohesiveness to it and a good variety. We shot for the moon and did really well."
To which we say, see you in Darrington in August!
Now for the nitty-gritty: early entry and ticketing. Though the fest officially runs August 10-12, early entry on Thursday is available for those looking to get a jump on setting up their campsite. There will be music. "The Thursday is only three or four acts. It starts later and ends earlier than the rest of the weekend, and the bands playing that night are more traditional Meltdown acts," explains Santiago.
If you buy your pass before June 1, Thursday entry is included in your ticket. After that, it's a separate $30 ticket. Festival passes are currently $120 online at the Summer Meltdown site and $110 if you buy in-person from one of these Seattle locations: The Pub at Pipers Creek in Greenwood, both locations of Mishu Boutique (Fremont and Capitol Hill), Holy Cow Records in Pike Place, and Rubato Records in West Seattle. Full details are available at the Summer Meltdown site.
Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons
Five Alarm Funk
Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real
El Ten Eleven
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe
Ha Ha Tonka
Hot Bodies in Motion
The True Spokes (formerly Flowmotion)
EOTO (featuring Michael Travis and Jason Hann of String Cheese Incident)
That 1 Guy
Dead Winter Carpenter