Published on October 14th, 2015 | by Karli Ingersoll0
Bartfest 2015 // Top 10
Many things made Bartfest 2015 a success. Here’s my top ten list of the best parts of the festival this year.
10. Silver Torches
Erik Walters is the frontman/songwriter of Silver Torches. You Spokies may also remember him from one of our favorite hometown hero bands, The Globes. When the high school born rock band broke up, Erik didn’t skip a beat. He began recording and releasing new music as Silver Torches and is about to put out his 2nd full length. We are obviously fans to the end of Erik and we were stoked to see a packed house for his new 6 piece band opening up at The Bartlett on Saturday. Sounding better than ever.
9. The Bartfest poster show
This was the 2nd year of the poster show, something I’ve dreamt about doing in Spokane for a long time! It had a uniquely different feel this year compared to last year. We expanded the palette to include black which added a lot of contrast and variance. And the designs this year had a lot of flow and diversity. It was cool to see how designers were inspired by the music. Prints are still for sale to raise money for Songs For Kids Foundation. Each band got a copy of their poster and it was fun to watch bands check in and do a double take realizing a poster was designed just for them!
8. Stage installation sponsored by Spokane Arts
As complete nerds would, Caleb and I are constantly scouring the internet and instagram for photos of cool stages. I’m always inspired when I see a cool installation or backdrop that makes a venue unique. The now defunct Glasslands venue in Brooklyn boasted some of my favorite pieces. So, when Bartfest plans started coming together I knew we needed something to take the festival up a notch visually. I went to the fearless leader of Spokane Arts, Laura Becker and asked for help and advice. We discussed the possibility of a parklet, window display or a stage installation. Graciously, Laura offered a financial sponsorship so that we could make the stage installation happen.
Immediately I thought of two trusted creative individuals to tackle the project, Grant Greer and Tobias Hendrickson. Grant has been working with us since we opened, running and setting up lights. Tobias fronts the band Crystalline and he’s also a videographer, photographer and all around creative human. Together with help from Caleb, myself and Chelsea Hendrickson we got to have a mesmerizingly beautiful light fixture hanging over the bartlett stage that interacted with each song. (photos of Loch Lomond on the Bartlett stage)
7. A line out the door for Joseph
There is nothing like a sardine packed steamy room of hushed audience members ready to erupt at the end of each song. World class voices, moving songwriting and ooozing with talent, Joseph showed to be the hot ticket of the festival.
6. No more of that “kid sister” syndrome
One of our desires when opening the bartlett was to start seeing the PNW music community blur the lines of segregation we’ve seen in the past. It’s no secret that Spokane has always been the little inferior sister of the northwest. And that mentality has always extended into the music community. Something about this weekend (similar to what I’ve seen at Volume) showed an element of progress. Many of the out of town bands were playing their 2nd, 3rd or even 4th show on our stage. Saturday’s lineup especially made us feel like it was a big party of friends connected through different streams and different past experiences. A collab between Spokane’s Marshall Mclean Band and Joseph really sealed the deal to show that maybe we’ve grown up a little and are starting to be seen as equals. (photo of Mama Doll at Nyne Bar)
5. Surprise addition of Lionlimb to the weekend
Originally Alex Cameron was scheduled to appear at Bartfest as a tourmate of Angel Olsen. But when he had troubles with getting a visa, Lionlimb was added. I just really enjoyed this set. Angel sang backup while nearly hiding behind an amp at the back of the stage. The Nashville based inside-psych band is essentially a rearrangement of her backup band with the addition of a few extra players. It was especially atmospheric and had an ease to the music written by frontman Stewart Bronaugh. Possibly because I was the least familiar with their music, but Lionlimb was the band I was jamming to at work Monday morning.
4. Spokane DOES need another festival
Every year The Inlander asks us in our Bartfest interview, “Does Spokane really need another music festival?” The other day I drove by the Knitting Factory to see posters advertising Blues Traveler, TechNyne and Seether. And I was like, “YES. IT. DOES.” It needs a music festival with some actual musical direction and vision. Something that loops people in to new artists and inspiring talent that isn’t controlled by commercial forces. I know people in this town still struggle when they see the calendars for the bigger venues in town, complaining that nothing good comes here. Often times, I’m one of those people. But the cool thing about a small festival like Bartfest, is that it builds into the future of those bigger venues getting on board with booking better bands. It shows the growing demand here for progressive, indie music. (photo of Cataldo at Nyne Bar)
3. Gender equality FTW
Some of you have maybe seen this post or other articles in the past couple of years talking about how sexist music festival lineups tend to be. Last year when we started Bartfest we established a rule that we needed an even number of female and male fronted acts on the bill. It’s not even a difficult thing to do. Quality, passion, musicianship and creativity were not compromised. We aren’t afraid to admit that men AND women have a voice and an intuition for music. Celebrating that without bias could not be more important and it’s exciting to see Spokane as a young budding scene that appreciates and supports that pursuit of equality. (photo of Bellamaine at Nyne Bar)
2. Deep Sea Diver
Deep Sea Diver’s set was the one that ALL the musicians attending the festival did not miss. Watching them play is a lesson not only in how to play instruments with absolute precision and passion, but it’s like going to rock band school. I love the songs, Jessica’s voice and style of it all but the execution of each intricate part is what makes my jaw drop. They actually are the best band. EVER. If you missed it, they’ll be back to The Bartlett on Nov. 20th.
1. Spokane’s arts supportive path
Even though there were some low points, like people talking over Angel Olsen’s set and someone stealing some stuff from Nyne, I am still convinced that Bartfest 2015 showed me something new about Spokane. If you plan right and build it right, people will come. Something that I had doubted after Bartfest last year. People here are pretty open when the circumstances are right. They want to listen and look and absorb good things. Sometimes they don’t know what those things are beforehand, but if you can get them in the door, you’ll win over a whole bunch of people. And thankfully, instead of vowing to never host a festival again, this year we are already dreaming about the next one. I’d say that’s a big win not just for us and The Bartlett and bands in the region, but for Spokane in general. (photo of Marshall Mclean Band at The Bartlett)
All photos by Brandon Vasquez except 5. (by me) 9. and 2. (by Derrick Oliver)