Slack Fest closes with the Moondoggies ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
More. Faster. Harder. Coachella understands America’s on a perpetual ADHD thrill ride and this week added another climb and dive on the roller-coaster by announcing a cruise to go along with their now two-weekend festival. By comparison, with just one stage situated on a flatbed plopped in the middle of a racetrack out in podunk rural Washington, the modest one-day Slack Fest hardly seems recognizable as a music festival. Then again, I’d go for the leisurely pace and lengthy sandbar for swimming between bands any day. And I’m not the only one.
Overheard at Slack Fest:
“My Cheeks hurt so much from smiling!” – One Enthusiastic Two-Stepper taking a breather
“For me, this was my favorite Slack Fest.” – A Slack Fest Veteran
“Exactly how I want it to be.” – A friend who comes back decrying nearly every festival experience
Once again fest namesake Don Slack helped build a lineup true to his tastes, one that’s diverse, locally current, and also entertaining. Country Lips both on stage and by the bonfire distinguished themselves as energetic performers. Zoe Muth, on the cusp of releasing her new EP, counterpointed their eager delivery with her own lonesome lilt, both bands giving honky-tonk a high profile at the fest this year. Slack is a black t-shirt wearing rocker at heart though, which the rest of the line-up favored.
The (not actual) Rolling Stones pulled everyone in from the tents and river for their tribute set, drawing the largest audience of the afternoon. The Wayfinders touched down from phantasy land for an hour bringing tales of dragons and such, sounding as weird and good as on record. Closing out the stage Saturday the Moondoggies played what in a certain co-editor of this site’s estimation was her favorite set of theirs, ever. Having seen countless sets from these Everett road dogs in every setting imaginable, this is saying something.
Just an hour north of Seattle the fest is close enough to drive home, so many folks do; but camping really is part of the fun too, particularly if you were among the Slackers taking part in killing the kegs feeding the bottomless keg cups by late afternoon. (Hilliards is good beer.) This year’s after-hours experiences included: watching the lighting of the bonfire with a flame thrower. Twice. Meeting very nice people people in the dark I’d only recognize by voice in the morning. Finding more beer in my cooler than when I’d left it two hours before. Eating a 12.30 bowl of Kraft Macacroni and Cheese for the first time in probably a decade out of the back of a friendly VW Vanagon.
Slack Fest was a welcome break from worrying about missing something or competing for space with an inconsiderate crowd. To just hang, roam, enjoy music and swim with buds without the need of an app, an RFID bracelet to get through layers of security, or even a clock felt novel. In my ideal world, it wouldn’t be.
The Rolling Stones ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
Dancing to Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers ::: Photo by Abbey Simmons
The Moondoggies’ Kevin Murphy and Don Slack ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth