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  • Writer's pictureChris Butcher

A motley crew: Fisherman’s Village 2021 returns to Everett

The festival, founded by Executive Director of the Everett Music Initiative (EMI) Ryan Crowther, has been seducing fans around the Pacific Northwest since 2013.

Prism Bitch frontwoman Lilah Rose (left) and bassist Lauren Poole “kick-off” the second half of their set. // Photo by Chris Butcher

Electrified riffs, Nirvana and Tom Petty covers with a folksy twist, lo-fi jams, and a rapper with heavy-hitting bars were only the beginning of this year’s annual Fisherman’s Village Music Festival in Everett.

The festival, founded by Executive Director of the Everett Music Initiative (EMI) Ryan Crowther, has been seducing fans around the Pacific Northwest since 2013. In 2020, despite a deadly pandemic that halted the world for 18 months, EMI produced a pre-taped event with performances from artists who would normally rock fans face to face.

Crowther said the process of producing the video taught him a lot on how to work around unpredictable obstacles to save a show. “That time gave us a chance to slow down and think about what we were doing,” he said.

Now, over a year later, Fisherman’s returned with three nights full of food, art, big headliners, and a rabid fanbase.

Bad Optics bassist Stephanie Jones gets down low. // Photo by Chris Butcher

Sylvi, a three-piece pop-folk group, was the first act of the festival. They opened the Schack Art Center, an admission-free visual studio with paintings hung on the walls and glass blowers working in the hallways. Their original songs were celebrated by the audience, but it was their covers of Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” and Nirvana’s “In Bloom” that garnered the heaviest applause.

The night’s headliner, The Grizzled Mighty, played a vivacious set at Tony V’s Garage, with trance-inducing riffs on songs like “Chantael,” “I Don’t Really Mind It,” and “Pretty Little Lies.”

The evening ended in Lucky Dime with Don Grey (formerly known as Brandon Marsalis) playing to a physically excited crowd cramped in a tight space but ready to mosh. The Tacoma-based rapper previewed four unreleased tracks: “Buddha Temple Rugs,” “Live or Die,” “How Ya Doing,” and “Where’s the Help.” The latter had Grey and the crowd holding middle fingers high in retaliation to the rich and powerful suppressing working-class people. Crowther described Grey as his favorite performer in the festival and had Grey and his band fill in on day three when indie rock trio Enumclaw could no longer perform due to potential COVID exposure.

Don Grey joins in on the crowd’s fun. // Photo by Chris Butcher

Day two, simply put, was high energy from up-and-coming acts like Marshall Law Band, Assertion, and Prism Bitch, whose onstage antics included powerslides, aerobic dance moves, and a lot of headbanging.

The last day of Fisherman’s had a stacked lineup on the mainstage with nationally known acts like desert rockers L.A. Witch, psychedelic folk singer-songwriter Kassi Valazza, and Lady A (not the country band with a formerly racist name) who, along with her backing band, performed a spiritual rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

These sets led to the most-watched show of the weekend, Built to Spill. Since 1992, this band has centered around guitarist and lead vocalist Doug Martsch, the only permanent member. Martsch’s most recent recruits are drummer Teresa Esguerra (Prism Bitch) and bassist Melanie Radford (Blood Lemon, Marshall Poole), both of whose musicianship lived up to the reputation of this legendary indie project. Radford’s hypnotic bass lines and Esguerra’s transitions from crisp, lowkey beats to super-charged punk fills amplified Martsch’s progressive solos on classic tracks like “Goin’ Against Your Mind” and “I Would Hurt a Fly.”

Lady A has been bringing funk to fans since the 80s. // Photo by Chris Butcher

But the night wasn’t over just yet. After the main stage closed, Lucky Dime hosted groups THEM, an outfit of four young women trained by Seattle music mentor Eva Walker (The Black Tones) that describes itself as a cross between popstar Olivia Rodrigo and Washington State indie icon Death Cab for Cutie; punk/rock ‘n’ roll trio Beverly Crusher; and “gunk pop” trio Black Ends.

Black Ends coined the genre “gunk pop” as a retaliation to the term “grunge rock” — a name many Seattle artists of the 90s say makes a sweeping generalization of the music scene. They closed out the weekend in classic rock ‘n’ roll (read: retaliation) fashion. After playing all their recorded material, they played their song, “Stay Evil,” for the second time in the set. This time, they executed the tune with more rage and ended their set and the festival with singer/guitarist Nicolle Swims shredding on the floor and drummer Jonny Modes tearing apart his kit and holding his snare above Swims’ head, slamming it with his drum stick, keeping the beat going.

William Goldsmith, former member of Seattle grunge bands Sunny Day Real Estate and Foo Fighters, plays with his new Band, Assertion. // Photo by Chris Butcher

Now that music and art events are making their way back onto the scene, a growing number of attendees ready to emerge from Covid lockdowns may expect a motley of musical styles with artists who give it their all to please fans. Fisherman’s is no exception, so mark your calendar for 2022 and prepare yourself for an experience you won’t want to miss.

All photos by Chris Butcher

To keep up to date on Fisherman’s Village, follow the festival on IG.

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