Fisherman’s Village Music Festival 2016
Everett, WA
05.20.16 – 05.22.16

It’s a mouthful, an earful, and a heartful. Fisherman’s Village Music Festival – FVMF or FishVille for short – has, in its third incarnation, proved once again that there is real community to be had in the north end music and arts scene. A bastion of boats and Boeing, Everett is coming into its own as a city with some personality, between the burgeoning craft breweries, craft makers, and just plain crafty Everett Music Initiative.

This year’s FVMF included everything from kid’s tunes to kids playing tunes, gloomy electronic to joyful folk, and all the rock and roll in between. The three-day festival included over 70 bands, across five stages, including the Historic Everett Theatre, local taverns and cafes, and a new outdoor stage and beer garden.

We made absolutely sure to hit up the Saturday lineup in time for Pig Snout!!, the Tacoma-based rock band made up of Lucien (10), Dahlia (7), and Justin/Dad (listed as “old” on their bio), who’ve been making the rounds of local stages and festivals for the last couple of years, endearing themselves along the way. These two kids are a joy to watch, and clearly take what they’re doing seriously, and man, they do it well. They’re alt-rock energy is super infectious and their dedication impressive.

Then we wandered outside for mellow Seattle psych-poppers Spirit Award. Their dreamy, fuzzed out tunes were perfect for the gray afternoon, a whiff of flannel, and fog, and bass-y reverb in the air.

Rabbit Wilde – a Bellingham four-piece – brought out a different energy, their foot-stomping folk rock incorporating big arrangements. Lined up, proferring multi-instrumental talent, their live-wire melodies and hand-clapping tunes were joyful. Their English-major subjects, as they noted, were a bit dorky, but both intelligent and fun.

In the tiny Café Zippy’s down the street, Seattle singer/musician/composer/other-hyphenated-expertises Tomo Nakayama broke out the acoustic for a set of his immersive chamber pop. One of the most revered voices in the local scene – and boasting “costar to Ellen Page” on his CV – Nakayama had the café packed with an intently-appreciative crowd, all eager to take in angelic falsetto.

We played up the tempo changes for sludgy post-punk from So Pitted, the Sub Pop act that amount to neon zombies. Professing head-banging crunch, nodding to art-rock, and excelling at minimalist hardcore, the three-piece are both energizing and robotic at the same time, in the very best way.

Chris Staples played his soft Americana with a four-piece backing band in the Historic Everett Theatre. Both striking and subdued, Staples’ work is charismatic – as is he – and yet carries an honest depth that’s hard to ignore. Check him out for scattered, wry observations and economical hooks.

In the back of Tony V’s Garage, Colorworks was like a hipster psych-pop band baked in the California sun, and slapped with a coat of adorably retro Brit invasion. Their vibrant rock struts its stuff with sunny pop melodies, low-end vocals, and just the right amount of cosmic time-warp.

Vancouver band Weed took the fuzz up a notch with their dreamy punk. Hazy, murky, muddled, sludge, call it what you will, but there seemed to be a purposeful cacophony to the tracks. But watch yourself, there’s melody in there that shouldn’t be missed.

Back in the theatre, Soft Sleep was pulling a gravitationally dreamy set over on a willing crowd. With a light show in full effect, this latest incarnation of band members makes electronic downer-pop that lands somewhere between alt-rock and dark wave.

Seattle-based musician/producer Hedensk took to his Apple laptop at Tony V’s for a sampling of electronic landscapes.

With their second album The Wanting Creature looming, Seattle duo Iska Dhaff – comprised of Benjamin Verdoes and Nathan Quiroga, but performing as a four-piece – took to the Way & Co.-sponsored outdoor stage for an intuitive manifestation of poetry set to formidable, melodic hooks. Their buzzed-about energy drew a huge crowd for hypnotic bass lines, digital arrangements, and haunting humanity.

Meanwhile, Young in the City packed the house in the theatre. The four-piece, fronted by Noah Gundersen, took a rollicking tour from quiet indie-pop to major alt-rock. With hints of Tom Petty and The Boss, and airtight compositions, this emerging project isn’t likely to stay under the radar for long.

The pop-noir-aficionados Smokey Brights brought on the moody pop-rock with a wry smile. Their vibe was on point as the five-piece delivered power and energy to an enthusiastic crowd. It’s weirdo AM pop with a vintage vibe, and catchy-as-hell hooks and unsettling but beautifully-crafted anthems. And it’s good.

We got to catch Seattle electro-pop duo Crater outside in the drizzle, with the rock-driven guitars, the off-kilter irony. Dump all your modern musical influences in a disaffected bucket and add a touch of Wes Anderson glitter, and you’ll end up here. Crater are growing, and it’s in the right direction.

Manatee Commune turned off all the lights for a projection-lit stab into the depths of multi-instrumental, electronic composition. Grant Eadie has been riding a wave of praise for his recent six-track EP Thistle and this show proved why. Cascading soundscapes of his signature violin meshed with truly “performed” synths, as he danced away behind the decks, his dream-pop chillwave laced with percussion and electric guitar.

Clad in a bathrobe and beanie, Scotty Smith buried us in rolling waves of reverb and goofy grins with Fauna Shade, one of Everett’s hottest up-and-coming bands. The psych-rock trio delivered with a growl and good vibes, one of their best shows to date. Their twisted effects and kinetic musicianship, laced with Smith’s howling vibrato, are growing tighter by the day.

On the last day of the festival, Duke Evers hit the Tony V’s stage to a “Let’s get ready to rumble” announcement, and rumble they did. The venue was just full enough for the adoring crowd to dance, to sing, to revel. And the three-piece gave it their all. With a recently-recorded debut full-length looming, the band has been testing out polished-up tracks and they’re proving the buzz is worthy. Their blues-tinged, straight-up rock, with its throwback rock star vibe, is catchy as all get out, and the guys couldn’t be more charismatic.

For more on Fisherman’s Village, and to keep an eye out on future events, check them out here.

Review by Stephanie Dore
Photos by Stephanie Dore and Zach Etahiri

Fisherman’s Village Music Festival 2016