It is difficult to imagine that a city as deeply entrenched in art culture as Seattle can still entertain something of an underground scene. Though it may not have the immediate name recognition of Sasquatch or the tenure of Bumbershoot, the best festival that Washington has to offer will unfold in the heart of the city soon while still criminally unbeknownst to most of its inhabitants. On the 23rd of September, Decibel Festival will kick off its twelfth year and for the informed concert-goer, it is a week of the electronic bliss and the finest live music that ardent fans can hope to appreciate. It is with great pleasure that FestivalForLife presents our recommended schedule to make the most out of your festival experience.
September 23rd-25th: before the main events of the first three evenings commence, Decibel and CreativeLive, together with their many partners, host an assortment of completely free panels, workshops, demos, and more known as the dB Conference. The topics of these festivities range from what it takes to grow a grassroots music collective, song-writing Q&As, synthetic sound engineering, and DAW sessions with platforms such as Ableton, Native Instruments and FL Studios as presented by a range of experts including many of the performers set to appear this week. It is a considerably rare opportunity to mine such insight into the electronic arts and should be taken advantage of to the fullest. Details on particular presentations can be found on the Decibel homepage or you may simply roll the dice and stop by The Crocodile during conference hours to be pleasantly surprised by what you will find.
September 23rd: the first day proper is an easy decision. Nicolas Jaar is a both a festival highlight from Decibel
past and a personal favorite of mine. Together with the strong support from Seattle locals IG88 and Stimmhalt, the night belongs to the adept veterans of downtempo and house music at The Showbox, though for the more minimalistic-inclined patron of the arts, Tin Man with Josef Gaard, Archivist, and Cassegrain offer a solid alternative at The Crocodile.
September 24th: it is hard to go wrong day two. Dan Deacon and Clark are incredible performers who, together with Filastine and the Vox Mod, promise an intense, substantially weird, and unforgettable live experience with what I am sure will be some of the best visual components of the weekend at The Showbox; however a few blocks away at The Crocodile, Daniel Avery, The Black Madonna, and Nark will bring a dark side of deep house and minimalist techno that does not often find its way to our coast. Given the likelihood of the latter coming around again anytime soon, their’s might be the showcase to attend. In either instance, it may be the most physically exhausting night of the festival in the absolute best way possible. If you can only attend one concert this weekend, it should probably be one of these.
September 25th: Friday offers some of the most experimental electronic artists to grace our city in many months. The Showbox once again offers a strong ticket with the glitch-laden and ambient soundscapes of Autechre with Laurel Halo, Cygnus, and Rob Hall. For those who couldn’t come out to play during the work week, their event would make an excellent entryway into the festival. If you are wanting to duck the crowds somewhere more intimate, M.A.N.D.Y. with Cyril Hahn and Pezzner will be at Neumos and should definitely something of an upstart show. Such a selection of chill sweet-nothings will be a treat for those who approach that showcase without having previously heard their respective works.
September 26th: On Saturday there will be a veritable acoustic smorgasbord of talent to decide between. Bonobo, Taylor McFerrin, Manatee Commune, and Gilligan Moss will pack The Showbox (quite rightfully, too) and is a solid contender for your time, especially if you have never had the privilege of seeing these artists live before. Meanwhile, Neumos will host the tech house and garage funk roster of Agoria, John Tejada, and Dauwd – all of which are incredible acts who cannot disappoint. My ultimate recommendation for the night, however, lies with The Crocodile where Mick Jenkins, STWO, Dylan Stark and The Mind will take the stage, each eclectic performers, ever on the rise, who may never play such a reasonably sized venue again.
September 27th: On the afternoon of the final day, it is hard to imagine a more leisurely way to pass the hours than at the free concert in Volunteer Park with J.Phlip, Christian Martin, Michael Manahan, and Sean Majors. It is also (predictably) the last day one can enjoy a boat party, headlined today by DJ Tennis, with Roman Flügel, Andy Warren, and Ginko for a little ‘untz’ on the open waters. The evening, should energy still permit, has to be spent in the presence of Thievery Corporation and Shaprece at Showbox SoDo. Thievery Corporation is of course, one of the ye olde gods of downtempo having been immensely influential in shaping the genre. I have never personally be so fortunate to see them live and cannot imagine a better end to the festivities.