Truly local music festivals rule. They provide Seattleites with a (relatively affordable) chance to discover the great local music that's right under their noses without having to go out to small venues night after night. Now in its fourth year, Ballard's Macefield Music Festival (September 30–October 2) provides the perfect opportunity to wander from stage to stage and listen to some of the city's finest rock, punk, folk, metal, and hip-hop acts. It's binge concert-going.
The majority of Macefield's action takes place this Friday and Saturday night, so here are a handful of picks to help you plan for the weekend's action...
Friday, September 30
Tractor Tavern from 7–7:45
One of the best local bands to form in 2016, World Bank combines the beauty and edge of Alicia Amiri's vocals, the eerie aggressiveness of Jamie Aaron Aux's guitar work, and an airtight rhythm section (Jacob James and Michael Knight) to create a moody musical package worthy of kicking off the Macefield festivities. World Bank may be a newcomer to the rock scene, but the band already sounds like a seasoned vet.
Conor Byrne from 8:30–9:15
Sometimes in our increasingly nichified world, all you want is a straightforward band that rocks. Gibraltar rocks. Propelled by frontman Aaron Starkey's angular post-punk guitar attack, the group doesn't mess around trying to get clever, churning out full throttle jams (featuring a dash of darkness) with cavalier ease.
Tractor Tavern from 9–9:45
Erik Blood is moving from Seattle to Los Angeles this weekend. *takes a deep breath* NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WHY CAN'T WE HAVE NICE THINGS?!? The Black Constellation member has been a vital part of so much of the best music the city has produced over the past decade from his excellent solo work to Shabazz Palaces to THEESatisfaction to Tacocat to the Moodoggies. While Blood will undoubtedly stay connected to the Seattle community, long-distance relationships are always rough. Send Blood off with a fond farewell (for now) by watching him play the mind-altering tunes from Lost in Slow Motion.
Tractor Tavern from 11–11:45
A longtime Seattle Met favorite, folky singer-songwriter Shelby Earl has been hard at work putting together her third album, and Macefield offers the perfect chance to test out some of the new tunes. Prepare for heartstrings to be pulled when her trio settles into the friendly home field confines of Tractor Tavern.
Saturday, October 1
Grynch and Fly Moon Royalty
KEXP Mainstage from 3:30–4:15 & 4:30–5:30
So Saturday starts off with a couple great local hip-hop and electro-soul mainstays on the mainstage, and there's no one else playing on other stages during the afternoon block? No excuses, people.
Mommy Long Legs
The Sunset from 5:45–6:30
Anytime Tacocat goes away on tour, Mommy Long Legs steps in to serve as the Seattle queens of my punk rock heart. The cartoonishly colorful feminist punk quartet gleefully rips through songs about dead fashion, horoscopes, cat calling, slumber parties, and embracing your inner weird girl, leaving a scorched path of destroyed normalcy in its wake. Whether it's Lilly Morlock shrieking out "Assholes" while smearing blood on a Donald Trump effigy at Capitol Hill Block Party or Leah Miller morphing into a raging wife-to-be while singing "Bridezilla" during a stripped down (in a literal, clothed sense) set in the sweltering summer heat at Werewolf Vacation, there's never a dull moment at a Mommy Long Legs show.
Tractor Tavern from 6–6:45
You don't realize that you have a void in your life that only a pro wrestling-themed rock band can fill until you actually see one live. Inspired heavily by the southern territorial wrestlers of the early 1980s (especially "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair"), Stallion struts onto stage with the swagger of a world champion. Rather than engage in stage banter between the no-nonsense rock songs about tag teams and flying moves from the top, the band hilariously cuts over-the-top egotistical promos on the crowd. So if you don't go see Stallion, the band will probably find you and threaten to beat you up. You've been warned, jabronis.
KEXP Mainstage from 6–7
While grunge reigned supreme in Seattle in the early '90s, Portland's rock scene at the time was slightly sunnier. With a lighter sound based in emotionally vulnerable songwriting, power pop trio Hazel might not have broken through to the mainstream like many of its peers to the north, but the band left a lasting, influential impression on the Northwest indie music scene with its two Sub Pop LPs, Toreador of Love and Are You Going to Eat That. While the Hazel officially broke up 1997, the band still sparingly plays reunion shows around Portland. Macefield delivers a rare chance to see a reunited Hazel in our fair city.
Tractor Tavern from 8–8:45
Every Gazebos set doubles as a little party for some of Seattle's finest weirdos. Soak in each delightfully paranoid, drugged out and danceable art rock note as Shannon Perry shimmies and flails across the Tractor's stage.
Tractor Tavern from 9–9:45
Don't like going to shows because you feel like the old awkward person in the crowd? Wimps is here to help. The punk trio's "Old Guy" acts as an anthem for mildly aged rock fans everywhere. There is no such thing as a boring Wimps gig, as the band always blissfully blisters through a humor-filled set with short catchy songs about couches, naps, hyperactive minds, old food, vampires, and general grumpiness.
Tractor Tavern from 10–10:45
There might not be another Seattle singer that can match the grungy nonchalance of Wild Powwers' Lara Hilgemann. It's tough to toe that line of ferocity and apathy, but she effortlessly pulls it off. When combined with her crunchy guitar playing and the powerful force of Lupe Flores's drumming (no one looks like their smashing the skins harder than her), Wild Powwers seems to be on a mission to leave ears joyfully ringing.
Conor Byrne from 11:15–Midnight
DoNormaal can psychically shift the atmosphere of a room. The Seattle rapper seems to release a hazy cloud of dark sonic intrigue each time she takes a stage, and it's pointless to fight against the infectious power of her smooth grooves. While it's easy to get caught up vibing out with DoNormaal's crew, don't get so lost in the moment that you gloss over the introspective poetry of her lyrics.
Conor Byrne from 12:15am–1
After a long night (or two) of noise, progressive jazz outfit Industrial Revelation offers the perfect way to calmly wind down your Macefield experience. The quartet features some of Seattle's finest musicians playing an accessible brand of jazz that warmly embarrasses listeners while still showcasing ace technical prowess.
Macefield Music Festival
Sept 30–Oct 2, Ballard, $35–$45; Festival pass $55