Adam Zacks: Mother of Sasquatch!

Dreams of a young Jewish boy.

Curious to know who to thank (or curse) for bringing many of the shows this city sees to Seattle? Ever wondered who’s behind the curtain of the annual Sasquatch lineups? Meet Adam Zacks. The Sasquatch mastermind has been lassoing talent up and down the I-5 corridor since college. Now he does the deed for his own festival as well as Live Nation, as the concert promoter’s Northwest booking agent.

What was your first job working in music?

National music coordinator for the EMU Cultural Forum at the University of Oregon. First show: Rage Against the Machine and Public Enemy at the EMU Ballroom.

Break down for our readers what it is you do now, for Live Nation and beyond.

I book and promote concerts of all sizes, from clubs and theaters to arenas and amphitheaters, in the Pacific Northwest, primarily Seattle and Portland. I am also the creator and director of the Sasquatch! Music Festival.

How did you get to where you are today?

Prior to this position, I booked and managed the Roseland Theater in Portland. I have the thick skin to prove it! It was an easy decision to move to Seattle and be closer to my family and work with Jeff Trisler and the Gorge.

How was Sasquatch born?

Sasquatch was an idea born on a hunch that there was untapped demand for a certain kind of festival that catered to the eclectic tastes of music enthusiasts. It started in 2002, which was shortly after a number of the touring festivals (Lollapalooza, Lilith, Horde) had petered out and the beginning of the wave of regional festivals that started with Coachella and now is a dominant force on the music landscape, with Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, etc.

What’s an act you’ve been most excited to book?

Beastie Boys, at Sasquatch this year and at the Crocodile, was a young Jewish boy’s dream come true.

What are some negotiating tips?

Be honest and fair.

Do you try to get good deals when you’re shopping outside of work?

I think this question is anti-Semitic! Ha, ha, ha, just kidding. I guess the answer is that I like to buy from people who are honest and fair, and I think everyone deserves to make a decent living.

What’s the most ridiculous rider you’ve received?

I seem to recall Fishbone (circa 1990) requiring a ridiculous number of Magnum condoms, but aside from that, the days of “5,000 green M&M’s” are long gone and it’s usually just deli trays and beer.

Since your job finds you at the Gorge, what’s your favorite bar in Ellensburg?

By the time I get to Ellensburg, it’s usually 3 a.m. and the bars are closed. But I love to wake up and eat at the Valley Cafe. That’s a hidden gem.

Best spot to see a show in Seattle.

I love the Paramount. It’s a gorgeously restored historic theater, and the owners take real pride in it and it shows in every way.

What’s the worst situation you’ve had to address while onsite during a big show?

The hailstorm at Sasquatch last year was a doozy. It’s hard to describe it if you weren’t there, but it was a hailstorm of biblical proportions, and there was a good hour and a half when we thought we might have to shut the whole festival down. In the end, it turned out to be an amazing bonding experience and one of the most memorable.

Most hilarious?

Being threatened by the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls.

Ha! Why did he threaten you?

He thought we were ripping him off and got right up in my face, nose to nose, poking me in the chest, ready to brawl Seagull style!

A weekly peek behind the curtain of the Emerald City music world, Behind the Scene sheds light on folks you won’t see onstage, but who make it all happen.