By my recollection I've been to all but one Reverb Fest, and each year has brought a string of new, sometimes experimental venues, logistical issues, and such a huge number of bands, it boggles the mind. I've waffled over the booking each year, and wondered if it wouldn't be more interesting - and keep with the festival's unique, every-body-gets-an-equal-shot philosophy - to have bands play completely random bookings (time, venue) as opposed to the ones that "made sense" (like having the loudest rock bands play at the Sunset and 2Bit, and more twangy bands play the Tractor, or having the headliner-sized bands play standard headliner time slots), but this year seemed to have a good mix of "appropriate" bookings with more spontaneous-feeling ones, and the line-up was one of the most interesting I can remember.
Other good points: the venues. Hilliard's Brewery is the coolest new venue the festival has seen since that one outdoor stage that was wedged into the recess to the left of what is now Hotel Ballard a few years back. Hilliard's is big yet inviting, and captures Ballard's old working class fishing town essence. Plus, there's tons of beer there.
The bands: The roster of bands is huge and set times are often painfully simultaneous, so missing some bands you want to see is inevitable. A few of my favorite moments, though, were when Haunted Horses' set ended with a furiously pounded breakdown at the New York Fashion Academy (seriously, that was fucking rad) and getting to hear Chocolate Chuck drop some beats at Hilliard's. Things got a little hazy when Party Todd found the free Sailor Jerry in the VIP area, but Pseudo-Coherent Todd resurfaced later on at the Sunset in time to appreciate Erik Blood's super smooth erocktic jams. There were many killer moments throughout the day, ducking in and out of shows and the Avenue's many bars, and this year's festival prevailed as perhaps the best to date.