For so many of us, listening to music is a private thing,

For so many of us, listening to music is a private thing, a sacred experience not shared lightly. That first mixed CD you share with your crush. A pair of headphones buffering out urban chaos. A song that makes you cry (that you listen to only when you’re alone).

Why, then, when the sun comes out, are we compelled to gather in throngs, throw our arms around each other, and commune with tunes? I get why we’d want to share our favorite bands with friends, but with thousands of complete strangers?

Perhaps it’s that our short, glorious summer—which unofficially starts this weekend—inspires a sense of sister- and brotherhood that simply cannot be contained. The return of joy, as we’ve aptly called it. Sure, we’re far from the only region that celebrates music with a large festival; but considering the fact that for over half the year we scrape together an existence out of some combination of Gore-Tex, noodle soups, and Netflix, the fact that we come out at all is pretty impressive, isn’t it?

With so many festivals converging in the area over the next two weekends—Folklife, Rain Fest, Sasquatch!, and Volume Fest, in Washington’s #2 city (#1 in spirit), Spokane—there’s much to celebrate even for people like me, who like to express enthusiasm a good five yards away from the next guy (you’ll find me at Folklife, dodging drum circles at the Vera Stage’s Spaghetti Northwestern Showcase).

In recognition, we provide a window to each festival via a personality or band who we feel really exemplifies the spirit of that event. Read on for Inly’s Mindie Lind on diversity at Folklife; Adam Zacks on the one band he wishes had never played Sasquatch!; Kent Ueland on why some folks think Terrible Buttons is shit; and Power’s Ricky Hansen on his feelings about playing a fest with his heroes.

Time to pack away those heavy parkas and boots and kick off summer in good company. Welcome back, joy. We missed you.

Folklife Music Festival at Seattle CenterNow in its 43rd year Folklife Music Fest has remained free for the duration and offers up scarf dancing, good music and a family-friendly laidback atmosphere that you just can’t pass up.

Rainfest at Neumos, SeattleIf you’ve got no interest in the pop of Sasquatch! and think there’s just too much folk in Folklife Fest then Rainfest may be for you. An international amalgam of hardcore and punk music that will make your head spin.

Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge AmphitheaterA nationally-known music festival known for its eclectic (yet distinctly Pacific Northwest) musical acts, it’s hard to say no to a weekend at the gorgeous Gorge Amphitheater, despite a higher ticket price. Find out what founder Adam Zacks has to say about it and the second weekend in July that almost was.

Inlander’s Volume Music Fest in Spokane, WASpokane may be on the other side of the state, but it’s got a music scene all its own. Volume music fest pulls out that into the light and gives you a good reason to take a trek to see how the other half lives. We had a little chat with Kent Ueland of Terrible Buttons to find out what is so great about this festival.