The World’s Most Comfy Pop Music Festival

LB’S NOTE: How about we call this a “time out for a personal moment”moment? The Seattle Times knows the deep but not at all dirty secret of my current place of residence. Not that Port Townsend, WA tries to hide it. Oh no! Port Townsend just plain doesn’t hide anything.

THING review: How successful was the first year of the intimate festival created by the founder of Sasquatch?
by Michael Rietmulder

Jeff Tweedy got his cantaloupe, all right.

Wilco’s main man, one of the bigger names at the inaugural THING festival this past weekend, took the stage Sunday, on his 52nd birthday coincidentally, delivering the first of many laugh lines by acknowledging his melon-filled belly.

“I’ve eaten so much cantaloupe today I don’t think I can even sing,” he said, the dwindling golden sun hitting him like nature’s spotlight on the Parade Grounds stage abutting Puget Sound.

It was an in-joke everyone at Fort Worden Historical State Park seemed in on, having passed Chimacum Corner Farmstand’s sign along the main route from Seattle to Port Townsend imploring the indie-rock hero to stop for some free ‘loupe. Between the inside fruit yuks and the intimacy of Tweedy’s solo acoustic set — at times tender, vulnerable and hilarious — the moment perfectly captured the vibe of the small, first-year music-and-more festival not aiming for the masses.

Intimate and manageable despite being sold out, the roughly 5,000-capacity THING festival is the brainchild of Sasquatch! Music Festival founder Adam Zacks, part of a trend of so-called “boutique” festivals countering larger, commercialized fests that often rely on big (expensive) names to move tickets.

Rejecting the usual headliner race for hip club- and theater-level acts like Kurt Vile and the Violators, Khruangbin and Snail Mail, made the undercard all the more important, and there was no fat on the stylistically diverse lineup ranging from attack-and-chill jazz drummer Makaya McCraven to Mexico’s alt-rock vets Café Tacvba, celebrating 30 years of bandhood.

One of the most anticipated artists, Orville Peck, Sub Pop’s masked queer cowboy who seems on his way to indie stardom, packed McCurdy Pavilion — the decommissioned military base’s old zeppelin hangar converted into a 1,200-seat auditorium — early Saturday. His rolling psych-country odes to Vancouver drag queens and highway tales, delivered in his Johnny Cash-evoking croon, had the standing-room-only crowd hooting and hollering at every turn….

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