MUSIC: Upstream In Review
The inaugural Upstream Fest took place May 11th - May 13th. It was a glorious event. AND TERRIBLY OVERPRICED (forgive me for being so wrong on the pricing during Party Talk the video cast). But if you follow the "local" scene at all you had fun. Since the festivals end there have been many opinions and reviews that have crossed our timeline through links and 140 characters, the reaction appears to be mixed. Event goers seem pleased with the talent they were able to see but pissed with the security nuances that kept them from seeing certain artists due to venue bag restrictions. The policy is excessive within its restrictions and is certainly not properly visible in the criteria for attendance. It was ridiculous to see women ready to turn their bags inside out and still be met with the teeth baring air suck followed by an "I'm sorry". Even worse there were people from Thursday that did not have this issue until Friday. I overheard some door security at AXIS 1 say they were unclear on the restrictions the day before - insane. The Stranger presented the argument of 'data mining' and I can not say that I disagree. There was a clear attempt to gather information and knowing the background of Paul Allen did not make that pill any easier to swallow. But when I think about the positive intentions (as I often like to do) I have to reassess. Upstream was asking you to login in through your Facebook or Twitter at their wristband activation tables or through their app, most apps do this nowadays, and data mining aside it was to induce sharing your experience at Upstream for skeptics who may have teetered on that fence of ticket purchase. The option for registering your wristband via email was also available - just in a far smaller font. It was a little much when you think about the handheld technology they were already using, the band readers should have been activators as well. Simple and easy. Also any data they wanted to collect comes when an attendee decides to utilize the advantages of the app and there were certainly advantages. But there should be an option that allows you to stay off the map should you choose.
The Upstream app is very easy to use, it has a menu with options to read on up artists and tip them in the process. There is widget/button that allows you to see all the acts on a timetable format so you can easily see who is playing at the same time, make that heartbreaking decision and miss out on one. You can switch back and forth from the summit schedule and the performance schedule with one button. The app also connected you to a Google map of the layout just in case you are not well versed in making your way around Pioneer Square. I enjoyed that feature.
The experience as a whole was what I expected it to be only with a few thousand less people which quite honestly was a blessing, in the years to come I can see the lines to get into see certain local acts being painfully long. Day 1 did not happen because of Coach P's return from the islands and preparation for the Bricks&Wood had to happen. So I missed :30 and a few others from the T plus one of my favorite bands Poliça. Bummed is a gross understatement. Day 2 was a different story, pulled up early for free parking and cruised around slowly while registering my wristband, then immediately hit the KEXP stage to watch Will Jordan outside at their Occidental Park stage. His performance as a start to the evening was very perfect, the live band aspect of his performances I had only heard of until that evening. It made all the difference in bringing energy to the music, music that Will produces, it's dope to hear the transition.
From there I dapped the homies also in attendance for the Jordan performance and jogged around the corner to see JusMoni, whose last project JusMoni as Saffroniaa is one of my favorites, and her and Stas thee Boss murdered the set. Chemistry is the word to use for sure. Quick side story I was in the right building wrong entrance for about 10 mins standing in the back corner of an empty room attempting to charge my phone. Luckily the homie from PDA Magazine saved me before Moni started by asking if I was there to see some band name and I had no idea what he was talking about.
There was no down time after Moni I had to sprint out of there to make it around the corner for Ghoulaveli. I missed the first portion but I made it in time to dance to Stunna and 30/40, sometimes that's all you need. Shout out to Jay Morrison for the shot of Henny and the brew that got me through the rest of the night. After lingering out front for a second connecting the dots with B. Haze of Basics Co., Nyles Davis and the FTB fam, love those guys. BFA was on at 10PM and I had not experienced it up close seeing the trio rock. Their following is amazing to watch, it's almost as fun to watch the crowd as it is to see them in action. Beeba is the ultimate performer, how do you DJ, hype man and run the dance routines?? After their performance was Masego (I was already a fan but SHIT) and I was going to hang around anyway but Beeba bumped into me at the bar while he was guzzling water post performance and told me I was getting ready to see something unforgettable and he told no lies. Masego had the best performance of the weekend for me. My phone was dead but there was no way I would have taken photo or video. I couldn't look away. But I didn't 't have time to gush over the moment because ILLFIGHTYOU was on. Best way to end the night was seeing my bros in all their glory. Plus Glenn did some of the solo jawns I love. I had to open the Domebrella indoor one time during Threats. Necessary.
Day 2 (for me day 3 for the Fest) started with Taylor Elizza Beth. She knocked my socks off and had a new song she performed from her upcoming EP produced by Khris P that was too fire. After Taylor there was an attempt at getting into Jay Park but somehow Vona Bae's CDG clutch was too big. They must have thought we were going to smuggle in a blade to cut the main sound cords so it makes sense. We met up with some fellow 907s instead, Hao and Gary, and put up one in the sky before heading back to KEXP's Occidental Park stage for Cosmos. They were a highlight Saturday, Campana their frontman is someone that I have been looking forward to watching live and he did not disappoint. Parisalexa was a part of the band on Saturday as well helping out on the vocals. She was a pleasant surprise.
We had to leave a little early from their set (and here is where the night gets fun) we had tickets to the Misunderstood and Eazy-EQ show on the Eastside of Tacoma. On the way back we made a stop at Uwayjimaya for food and hit the freeway at 80. The turnout didn't fill the room but the energy was there and there was plenty of interactive chatter with the crowd during both performances, reciting words and dancing to their favorite songs. It was enough to keep us energized while making the trip back up to Seattle to catch Astro King Phoenix and Jamie Blake from the Fish Tank Friends curated stage at Kraken Congee.
Very little disappointments in the weekend, I saw all the acts I had been unable to see and all the acts I know I love and missed were met with rave reviews and new followers. Shout out the PCA stage and everyone involved. Upstream thank you. BALOOGZ thank you. Ms. Meli you swayed the culture in a real way.