Best of the Northwest summer music fests

By The Beacon | April 2, 2014 10:27pm

Olivia Alsept-Ellis |

“Have you bought your Coachella tickets yet?”

Summer time is festival season, where the lack of homework and abundance of sun creates the perfect environment for days spent in musical ecstasy. Some students can sponsor their desire to attend any one of the major Californian or East Coast music festivals that are terribly popular. Good for them! Others may be forced to stay local this upcoming summer. But is that a bad thing?


Fisherman’s Village Music Festival

May 16-17

Everett, Wash.


The Fisherman’s Village Music Festival is not only a festival that gives small bands the stage, but tries to draw the traveler’s eye to Everett. The event transforms the downtown area into a beacon of live music, with artists from Everett’s own backyard as well. The Moondoggies, who will be playing this year, call Everett hometown. Other bands, such as La Luz, Wild Ones and Chad Valley are adamantly local as well.

Ideal if you like: Local, Folk, Downtown, Urban, 21+


May 23-25

The Gorge, Quincy, Wash.

Sold Out, Resale prices starting at $325

Sasquatch fans were in for a surprise when the second weekend was cancelled. But the May weekend is still hosting massive names like The National, Outkast, M.I.A. and Die Antwoord. Sasquatch has traditionally sourced local and NW bands alongside national names. This year, they are reeling in Radiation City, Growlers and Tacocat. The all-encompassing mix of music draws caught the national eye a few years ago and ever since, Sasquatch has been selling out. If ever there was a Northwest version of Coachella, Sasquatch might be it. However, the event sets up alongside the Gorge as if to remind the attendee that they are far from California. This is Sasquatch territory.

Rachel Lockard: “The occasionally less than desirable weather seemed to bring a crowd of people that seemed to truly value music and experience. And the Gorge is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful place to see someone perform live.”

Ideal if you like: Music at all, Camping, Large Venue

Bottle Rock

May 30-June 1

Napa Valley, Cali.

3-day pass is $279

While Napa Valley makes Bottle Rock the furthest festival from Portland on the list, the line-up this year makes the event worthy: The Cure, Heart, Weezer, Third Eye Blind and Deerhunter, to name a few. The festival teams up with wineries and restaurant partners, to ensure the attendees will be well fed and properly juiced. The typical three-day pass has access to 30 Wine Cabanas and beer at every stage, although the festival is still all ages (for you non-21 year olds).

Ideal if you like: Rock, Alternative, Wine, Beer, Food, Large Venue

What the Festival?!

June 19-22

White River Canyon, Ore.

2013 tickets were $200

Details about the event and names for the line-up are still up in the air, but what is certain is that last year’s WTFestival was Burning Man meets Surround Sound. A-Trak, Purity Ring, Flosstradamus, Gramatik and YACHT helped transform a pastoral scene into something more jungle. The event planners teamed up with Decibel Festival (hosted in Seattle in September, for the record) to bring a Deep House Pool Party last year, so something equally exciting should be in store. The general admission tickets are 18+, but the 21+ option includes the necessary perks for a festival like WTF: showers, beverages and hookah. Dance on, little hippies, dance on.

Ideal if you like: Weirdness, House, Trance, Electronic, Trap, Outdoors, Camping, Medium


June 27-28

The Gorge, Quincy, Wash.

General Admission $207, Camping Passes $85

Paradiso, which sets up in the same location as Sasquatch, takes a radically different approach to music culture. Actual rides, like a ferris wheel and tilt-a-whirl, are placed where there once was a campsite and bonfire. While the line-up has not been released in full yet, Bassnectar, Zedd, Krewella and Above & Beyond have been confirmed. Last year, Tiesto and Kaskade were the headliners. While the Paradiso experience also includes camping, the event draws a distinctly different crowd than Sasquatch. So break out your furry backpacks and pacifiers to get your rave on in the Gorge. Just stay safe, UP. The event experienced a flux of drug overdose related injuries and deaths last year.

Katy Stevens: “Just like the venue, everyone tries to participate in the sensory experience. People will attach flashing lights to colorful get ups or dress in costume. It’s like the Vegas of music festivals.”

PDX Pop Now!

July 18-20

Portland, Ore.

Free, optional $8 CD

PDX Pop Now gives the Saturday Farmer’s Market a run for its money when it comes to staying local. This free (yes, free!) summer festival presents only independent bands that are handpicked by Portlanders. The shows are all ages and located in SE Industrial area. The lineup will be released in May although fans of the event insist it will be spectacular, just like last year. Last year, The Memories, Suns of Huns, Y La Bamba and Genders were on the list. Don’t know those names? Go this year to scout out the local scene and give yourself a truly Portland-experience.

Danielle Knott: “It’s a really important festival for Portland’s music scene because it’s a platform for local bands that aren’t big enough to book other festivals to get exposure. It’s the best of Portland’s DIY (do-it-yourself) scene.”

Ideal if you like: Indie, Local, Downtown, Portlandia

8 Track Relay

July 19-20

Portland, Oreg.

Full 24 hour Relay is $89 per member

8 Track has 27 hours of non-stop music--although your favorite band might be playing as you sprint right past. That’s because 8 Track is also a relay race, Disco Half-Marathon, a 5K and part-time music festival. Last year, Menomena, Nurses and Blitzen Trapper came to jam for the runners. At midnight, the dark is swallowed up by bonfires and fireworks. If running is not your ‘thing,’ there is the chance to buy a ticket only to the musical portions. Or, alternatively, if running is definitely your thing, there are options to register only for the 5K or Marathon. But either way, 8 Track is music in the fast lane.

Ideal if you like: Running, Sweating, 5K, Alternative Event

Timber! Outdoor Music Festival

July 24-26

Carnation, Wash.

$65, Camping is $30 per tent

This folk fest promotes an obscure yet local line up yet, hosting names like Cumulus, the Smokey Brights or Lonesome Shack. Campers can rent general or premium locations, or alternatively, yurts or RVs. The outdoorsy nature of the festival is promoted far more than the others, making this ideal for not only the folk musical connoisseur but the adventurer of the wild, wild west.

Ideal if you like: Folk, Country, Camping, Outdoor, Eco-Friendly


August 1-3

Happy Valley, Ore.

Full Weekend $260, Single passes are also sold

Pickathon boasts about the community it builds for the three-day festival in Happy Valley, Ore. The administration promotes a “leave no footprint” philosophy and publically thank the nearby farm that hosts the campgrounds on their website. While there is a quiet zone, there are two special “Jam Zones” for the late night musicians amongst us. This year, Pickathon is presenting Mac Demarco, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Foxygen, Blind Pilot and X among a long list of other local, awesome artists.

Ideal if you like: Indie, Alternative, Post-Rock, Folk, Camping, Sustainability, Large Venue

Doe Bay Fest

August 7-10

Orcas Island, Wash.

$100, 5-day Camping is an additional $100

The illusive, low key Doe Bay festival takes place on Orcas Island, one of Washington’s San Juan Island. Acquiring tickets requires a 5-day camping commitment.  In the past ,the festival had lured artists like The Head and the Heart, Fruit Bats, Hey Marseilles and Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside. Many of these bands were “undiscovered” by the ever watching eye of pop culture, so Doe Bay seems like the place to scout out the next best thing in folk music. The line-up for this year will be released in the spring, although stay sharp because the festival has sold out in the past years.

Music Fest NW

August 16-17

Portland, Ore.

Prices to be released soon

MusicFestNW (MFNW), Portland’s own version of South by Southwest (SXSW), has made some massive changes since last year’s festival. The event was originally spread out across five days in September and throughout Portlandia’s bars and music venues. This year, however, MFNW will be in middle-August, only a 2-day festival and collected down at the Waterfront Park. Last year, MFNW collected artists like Animal Collective, Washed Out, Young the Giant and Deerhunter. Although there were 170 artists in total, and many of them indie and local. This year, the line-up will likely be compacted due to the space and timeline of the venue. Press releases speculate that this will make the ticket price cheaper, but how will this change the culture of MFNW? You decide, Portland.

Ideal if you like: Indie, Rock, Folk, Local, Electronic, Urban,