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Popfest Northwest 97 reviews

Subject: post-popfest update #1
From: "jonathan m. fink" (

I just got home from a long, tiring, exciting, fun-filled, amazing weekend in seattle & wanted to tell everybody how great it was. it went off almost entirely without a hitch -- new bad things had car trouble & couldn't make it, but other than that everyone involved seemed to consider it a smashing success. I know I do. here's my really quick list of highlights:

well, I'd love to write more, but I really need to sleep. look forward to a complete review tomorrow. several probably.


Subject: Popfest Notes
From: Steven Thornton (

We did it.

I'm still pretty wired up. I can't sleep now, for heaven's sake. We just had a popfest. In Seattle. People actually came!


Chris IFoJ mixing the filthiest record I've ever heard, a guy named Sexy Keith rappin' about his copious jism, with Walter Cronkite's "Man Lands on the Moon" stuff at the party after Day One.

The saddest trumpet fading away at the end of the Autocollants last show ever. Some of the tears that started welling up during their Orchids cover fell over. Thanks, Dwayne. Thanks Ed and Laura and Tim and Driver Jill too.

Seeing the twelve year old girl who came with her mom bopping to Tullycraft.

The very first thing I saw upon entering the club was the sound man fighting with the door guy, and storming out. Uh-oh. But Mike Briggs, who runs Area 51, filled in admirably.

For the first time in my life going to a show with more girls than boys present (I counted -- girls were up by ~5 on Sunday).

Having a wildly-painted bus full of a grimy hippie troupe of heavy-metal comedians pull up right before Poundsign.They looked like the Rainbow People. the club owner's wife got picked up by them hitchhiking, and promised them that they could play, so they went on after the Softies finished, and bombarded the rapidly-leaving popkids with horrific drum bombs and feedback blasts, until they exploded their amp. Arianne's mom almost ran away with them. I am not making this up.

Rose Melberg's incredible rock-steady drumming during Gaze. They were so wonderful, even if you could barely hear Meghan's vocals. Thanks for sneaking your act across the border.

Sarah Rizzo's incredible rock-steady drumming during Rizzo. They are the most fun band to watch in the world, probably because they're having more fun than you playing.

Tami and Mike (the Poconos) being twice as good as I was expecting. Tami singing "October" was so beautiful. Now, if we could just persuade them that it's OK to be a little out of tune!

Learning how to silkscreen for the first time at Laura's house. We made our own shirts, and they are lovely. Nancy's design, Laura and Arianne and Tom, screen manufacture, and (mostly) me doing the pulling. Now I'm hooked: bands -- let me screen your shirts!

Incredible force of Junior's new songs, even better than the old ones. It's a shame that Steve isn't going to drum for them anymore -- he's, like, ten times better than any rock drummer I know.

The Mad Planets, for coming all that way and not being too angry with me for describing them ineptly on the web page.

The Ninjas, for letting a whole bunch of strangers use their drums, and for driving all the way from freakin' Maine.

Mike Kissing Book, for letting a bunch of strangers use HIS drums.

764-HERO, who didn't play the Popfest, because they were having their own all-ages show right around the corner, for not only not bein mad that we stepped on his show, but loaning us THEIR drums. We started with none, but ended with exactly the right amount.

Yayoi, who came all the way from JAPAN to see the popfest. I can't read most of her fanzine "Catch That Beat", since it's in Japanese, but it's ot a Tullycraft interview in it. I didn't know Sean spoke Japanese.

Sneaking a smooch off Nancy every few minutes, when I was about to bust a blood vessel. I love you, darling.

Andrew and Mike from Portland, who came completely out of the blue to play at Chris & Steve's pre-fest party. They are Kissing Book, and I hope their single is out soon. Jen Softie played during their Popfest set. So did Benji Cossa. The real highlight, though, was watching their really, really scary geek dancing during Poundsign. They looked like the Four Tops, only retarded and insane. And hysterical.

The Crabs, for coming up and giving out all those great relaxed and happy vibes, to calm a hyperventilating popfest organizer on the first day.

Drinking seventy-five cans of pop but never having to go to the bathroom. It was a LITTLE warm in there. I was a LITTLE nervous.

Tag, for throwing in a completely unexpected 15-minute filler of a set of amiable rock 'n' pop.

The New Bad Things, who didn't make it because their van died on the way, but were very charming on the telephone messages we got too late.

All the people who bought raffle tickets. I swear it wasn't fixed, even though the Autocollants won the best prizes (Saropoly, and the Neutral Milk Hotel single on Cher Doll. I'm sorry you didn't win, Laura. And Chris. But all the money for the tickets went to the bands.

Watching Mike Briggs finally break into a smile after 48 hours of dour punk grimness during the Softies, as he paid me. You know, popkids aren't assholes, and a lot of people aren't used to that. And anyone who knows Seattle knows how goddamn hard it is to get an all-ages show in Seattle. Kudos, Mr. Briggs.

Tearing a massive rip down the front of my trousers on Sunday as I jumped up to do the first raffle. From the waistband to the knee, it was impressive. Thank god I was wearing underwear. Everyone there owes a personal debt to Fruit of the Loom. That lone safety pin wasn't enough. Way punk rock, though.

Dancing with my dear wife Nancy to Chris MacFarlane covering the Razorcuts.

Poundsign, for being so adorable and wonderful. I think they appreciate being appreciated more than any band I know. Yeah, they tune up a lot, and they seem to be having some trouble adjusting to life without a bass player (Stephen's trying to do too many things), but when it all comes together it's enough to make a grown man sigh. And they're so _nice_.

And of course, the Softies. It's easy to take the Softies for granted, because they always seem to be around, and they make it look so easy. But really they are just pure gold magic. You could hear a pin drop. Well, you could if your ears weren't completely fried by seeing 14 bands in two days before them (total of 17 if you count the pre-fest party). And I'll bet no one's ever sat on the floor at Area 51 (on purpose) before.


My fellow popfest organizers, Jonny, Arianne, Laura, Brock, Tom, Thad (great posters), Allison, and of course Nancy; you're the greatest. Without which not, you know. And for all the hard work we put in, you know it was the most fun this stupid old pop-starved city's EVER seen. For me it was.

And the bands! I lost a little money, but not too much, not for two long incredible days, and the bands got paid, which is the important thing. It's not as if it was fair wages for what you gave to us; no one's got that much, especially when you figure in plane tickets and gas money and stuff. It's about respect and appreciation, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate having ALL of you play. I wish we could do it every weekend. But just doing it once in this city was amazing. Thank you.

My only real regret is not getting to talk more to everyone. At times it seemed like twelve people were all shouting for my attention, and there was so much to do -- mostly running around pointlessly worrying about nothing, but that's hard work, too. I've got the list of people from the list who came, and I'll post it soon. There's a bunch who snuck their names on without saying hi to anyone, you shy list sillies you. But I did get to put faces to names, which is cool.

Wow. I want to say this is the best Popfest I've ever been to, but then I remember being snowed in at Pam Berry's house, or meeting Keith Testcard for the first time, and I don't know. But it was unbelievably wonderful in every possible way.

Subject: Re: Popfest Notes
From: (Janis)

Hi, everyone! Well, I've just been to my first popfest, and it was well worth the drive, and the trouble of dragging along my husband. (He hadn't heard of most of the bands before, but was quite won over by the end. Who wouldn't be?) Unfortunately we could only make it for the Sunday show (darn job of mine!), but got to see almost 10 bands. I'm so sorry we missed the party on Friday, and only my Dave actually saw The Exploding Pants incident (I was probably talking to Mike from Caught in Flux and his girlfriend, a fellow librarian!), but I'm not sorry we missed that wacky schoolbus full of old hippies/metal guys. They were awfully noisy and weird, although strangely respectful of us worshipful and law-abiding popsters.

We stayed for the entire Softies set although we had a three hour drive ahead of us (I know, that's nothing to some of you listies), and I'm glad we did, because Rose dedicated the set to ME! They were so beautiful and glorious that even if the rest of the show had been terrible I would have been happy, although of course this wasn't the case. All in all, it was a great event and I'm so grateful to the people who went to all the trouble to put it on. It must have been an awful lot of work! It was also exciting to meet everyone in person--surprisingly no one looked much different than I expected (just pretty tired, by Sunday).

My only regret is that my band Violet didn't manage to play there. Now I'm determined to play a popfest! Does anyone know where I should send a tape for the Halifax event? Not that we're famous or anything, and it's probably too late, but it would be such a great thing to do....

Hi to everyone I met. If only we weren't so busy watching the bands, maybe we could have talked more. Of course that's what you get for showing up two days late!

xox your pop-pal Janis

PS: Oh yeah.... Coming back across the border after the show, we were interrogated by a particularly grumpy Canada Customs guy, who sounded incredulous that we hadn't been in the States for a shopping trip. "What kind of bands?" he asked skeptically. "Were they *good* bands?" I ended up rambling incoherently about being a music reporter for radio, since he obviously didn't understand why anyone would drive for hours to see bands he hadn't heard of. Authority figures make me nervous, but hey, at least he didn't search the trunk and find all those records I got from Chris Jigsaw!

Subject: Popfest NW, part 1
From: (Nancy Ostrander)

I'm still not recovered sufficiently to be able to string together some coherent thoughts, but anyway...

Steve didn't mention the fabulous Tullycraft, who just keep getting better and better. I refused to let Sean shorten his set, for purely selfish reasons. The new songs are just so awesome, that I can't really find the words to describe it...

We had about 30 listies there, of course a bunch of us were organizers and in the bands but we count, eh? A detailed list will be on its way, Peter!

Steve mentioned that there seemed to be more girls than guys in attendance--very cool! Also the male/female band member ratio was almost dead even--15 guys, 13 girls (if you include Jen doing vocals for Tullycraft). Woo-hoo! I think the club owner was suprised to see such a large female presence.

i have so many favorite moments I'm going to have to write this all down when when I can think a little more straight. We have very few Popfest t-shirts left, I suppose we can screen some more if there is a demand--if you want to order one they would be $6 plus $2 for postage, please email me privately if you're interested. Of all the popfest t-shirts I've seen these are the most DIY, very simple design hand-screened in one color on cheap t's (those Beefy t-shirts get a little hot, don't they?).

Well i'm off to work--here's a big public thank you to all the organizers, you rule!


Last updated: 26-Jul-1997 © 1994-2024 TweeNet Creative Commons License