Every time you hear “White Christmas,” somewhere a local band logs another hour at the practice space.
With a homegrown lineup of regional bands, the Psychedelic Holiday Freakout nurtures this idea—a festival featuring original live music, not rehashed Christmas classics—to the fullest this time of year.
“We wanted to throw a music festival to brighten things up before they got too dark and dreary,” says co-founder Drew McCornack, of Northwest creative group FunkFarm. With Guy Keltner (of Fox and the Law) and Nate Leonard Berliner, the three organized last year’s event of more than 40 bands at venues across town. This year they scaled the lineup back to 25 bands, and picked Ballard as ground zero for the haps.
Holiday covers aren’t off-limits, McCornack says, but that’s not that point. “My hope is that everyone has a lot of fun, and that it’s a good party. The goal of FunkFarm is to help facilitate the creative culture around us and get more exposure for [local] artists.”
The bands aren’t necessarily psych-oriented either, though that was the original concept, McCornack says. Because of Keltner’s music connections, “so many awesome people wanted to participate,” so it was decided to open the fest to one and all—and keep the name: “It was so cool we didn’t want to give it up.”
We liked it so much we decided to ask some participating bands what makes their holidays freaky. Whoa, did we ever find out.
What makes your holidays freaky?Ryan Devlin, Smokey Brights: Dry turkey. I mean I’m into the real dry shit. Additionally, low-budget stocking stuffers.Bim Ditson, And And And: Lack of sex drive [and] anal-ese.Guy Keltner, Fox and the Law: Being a freak. Ain’t no party like a no-pants party.Nathan Trueb, Tango Alpha Tango: Celebrating Christmas on the moon has always been a quirky family tradition, but holiday travel is always cumbersome, and traditions are traditions.Adra Boo, Fly Moon Royalty: Well, naturally, tequila shots and craziness!Graig Markel, Graig Markel and the 88th St. Band: Playing a show at the Eagles club in Ballard.Robbie Luna, Trick Candles: The fear of receiving another pair of custom PJs from Mom.
Have you ever had a nightmare before Christmas?Devlin: Sure, lots of times. It’s a little scary to be told that a big man in leather gloves is coming in the house in the dead of night. Also, dairy before bed equals bad dreams in your head.Keltner: It’s called Black Friday and it totally blows. Although I loved Blacked Out Friday: that’s where you drink all night and then go shopping at 4 a.m. with a heavy buzz on.Adra Boo: I probably will this year thanks to that damn clown on American Horror Story: Freak Show!Trueb: Yeah, but it was probably some version of Christmas morning where I don’t get a guitar, or a Boba Fett action figure, and for some reason everyone from high school is there, and we’re on a cruise ship to Senor Frogs, and it isn’t Christmas at all, it’s Armageddon.Markel: Only visions of sugarplums and presents under the tree!
Re “Jingle Bell Rock”: What is a “jingle horse”?Keltner: I would tell you, but I don’t think that’s very appropriate content for Seattle Weekly. It shows up a lot in vintage pornos, though.Ditson: I think it’s a native animal from that Jungle that Axl Rose sings about. So, a vagina?Trueb: The “Jingle Horse” slang refers to a type of pack mule responsible for carrying Mexican heroin across the Southern California border in the late ’50s. You can hear Bobby Helms sing that lyric with a wink: “Giddyup, Jingle Horse, pick up your feet!”Luna: Obviously a drug euphemism.Markel: That’s a rock & roll Christmas horse. When you’ve got a jingle sled tricked out with a 200-watt Bluetooth-enabled stereo system cranking the Christmas jams, you’re gonna need a jingle horse to haul it around.Devlin: It’s what you put your jingle on to safely cut it with a band saw. Adra Boo: Probably some chicken heads with loud earrings and bad weaves! Stomping in platforms. A mess.
Bing Crosby and David Bowie: Best duet ever?Markel: You mentioned nightmare before Christmas earlier.Ditson: Clearly you’ve never heard the Ozzy Osbourne & Miss Piggy duet.Adra Boo: Ever? I mean, David Bowie is the man, but the version with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, that’s super-entertaining!Trueb: Honestly, I would love to leave David Bowie out of it and let B.C. take the reins.Keltner: Their cover of “Material Girl” is so damn good.Devlin: Oh yeah, from Bing’s hugely underrated glam record. It’s certainly a holiday fave in the Devlin family.Luna: Yes. Did anyone else think they were watching a porno before the music kicked in?
Mariah Carey wrote ________?Adra Boo: After her recent holiday performance, I’d rather not comment to that at all!Devlin: . . . all of her own music. She might have a few screws loose, and say what you will about her recent Rockefeller Center performance, but not many pop singers on her level have written and produced so many of their own records. That woman is talented and has an amazing instrument, and I absolutely do not enjoy listening to her.Keltner: . . . possibly the most irritating Christmas song of all time. A hex on that woman. She’s like a walking Black Friday.Ditson: . . . her number on the men’s bathroom wall.Trueb: . . . the book on dog-whistling her way into octaves that no woman has before or since traveled.Luna: “All I Want for Christmas Is Auto-Tune.”Markel: Did she actually write that Christmas hit in the ’90s?
What’s your most psychedelic holiday memory?Keltner: [Quotes lyrics from “Que Sera, Sera.”]Ditson: 10 a.m. mushrooms, 2 p.m. shared bowl of soup at Chen’s Dynasty.Trueb: Probably when my grandpa was hallucinating that the mantel was on fire and that there was a mystery girl laying on the ground. Then a car crashed and started on fire in front of their house.Markel: I got a kaleidoscope one year for Christmas when I was a kid. That thing was super-cool. I got a Spirograph one year, too. I made some pretty trippy stuff with that.Luna: One time my uncle dry-humped the Christmas tree.Adra Boo: I don’t think I’ve had one quite yet. The year ain’t over yet!Devlin: Nothing psychedelic has ever happened to me or my white middle-class family on Christmas. Unless you count getting drunk on Grandma’s eggnog and really listening to Mannheim Steamroller.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?Luna: “Merry Christmas. Shitter’s full.”Keltner: Scrooged all the way. And I have a massive soft spot for Randy Quaid’s Oscar-worthy performance in Christmas Vacation. “That there, that’s an Arrrrr-Veeeee.”Markel: They both suck.Ditson: Big Top Pee-Wee, the part where they kiss for too long.Trueb: Definitely Home Alone. There was a time when I wanted to be him, dress like him, talk like him. He was a hero.Adra Boo: The kid in me says Macaulay all day, bustin’ bad guys’ balls, but Chevy Chase? He’s hilarious! To quote the ladies of NighTrain, “Chevy Chase all over my face!”
Figgy pudding: your thoughts.Keltner: Love it. Best face cream I’ve ever used. I’m so totally over cow semen.Luna: Let’s keep this clean.Trueb: Never.Devlin: It needs to commit. Either be fig pudding, or don’t. This fig-y business just shows a lack of resolve.Markel: Figs, sweet potatoes, and yams must be subsidized by some obscure, little-known farm bill. Nobody seriously likes that stuff.Adra Boo: Um, what? Is that, like, fruitcake? You can keep that!
THE PSYCHEDELIC HOLIDAY FREAKOUT With Smokey Brights, And And And, Fox and the Law, Tango Alpha Tango, Fly Moon Royalty, Graig Markel and the 88th St. Band, Trick Candles, and more. Sunset Tavern, Salmon Bay Eagles Club, and Conor Byrne. Single day, $12 adv.; two-day passes, $18 adv. holidayfreakout.com. Fri., Dec. 12–Sat., Dec. 13.