Washington State Destination Music Festivals | 2022
Beyond Wonderland at the Gorge Amphitheater. Photo courtesy of Ivan Meneses/Insomniac Press.
For insiders, the Gorges Amphitheater has a mythical, almost spiritual meaning. In the 2019 documentary Huge: the story of the gorgethe filmmakers captured the singular tenderness and bedazzled wonder with which veteran artists – Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam – and music lovers gaze upon this luminous hollow nestled against the Columbia River.
Much of the gravity of the place lies in its remoteness; it’s almost equidistant from Seattle and Spokane, midway between two sides of a state cut off by a mountain range and cultural sensitivities. There’s nothing remarkable nearby except sloping fields dotted with cows and expansive pale blue skies. It is for this reason that a trip to the Gorges takes on an aura of pilgrimage, of ritual celebration. And for many, this summer, a long-awaited homecoming. Wherever you go, from the Gorges to the Presqu’île, it’s time to pack your bags: the festival season is finally here.
June 18–19 | The Gorges Amphitheater
Insomniac, which also orchestrates EDC and Electric Forest, transforms The Gorge into a decadent alternate dimension, where the childlike fantasy of Lewis Caroll’s classic takes on an adult EDM twist: heart-pounding laser light shows, intricate visuals. This year, some of the biggest names in trance, house and dubstep, like Zeds Dead and Porter Robinson, join local DJs Frida K and Weird Waifu.
July 2nd8–31 | Sky Meadows Park
Meltdown began on San Juan Island in 2000 and then lasted 14 years in Darrington before moving to new digs in Snohomish this year. Nestled against a bend in the Skykomish River, in which festival-goers can seek respite from the summer heat and the press of the crowds, the festival has a relatively small but exceptionally varied lineup that ranges from jazzy electro-funk to bluegrass.
July 29–31 | The Gorges Amphitheater
Looking for a chance to use these fashionable cowboy boots? Look no further. Kane Brown and Miranda Lambert are headlining one of the biggest country music festivals in the country this year. Sage advice from a Twitter user to the Shedder for the first time: “Whatever amount of beer you think you’re bringing, double it.”
5 August-seven | Lake Leland Amphitheater
This one is a little deeper, but if you like jam bands, just call it your jam. Based in Quilcene, this nascent festival on the Olympic Peninsula was founded last year by husband and wife Keely Crow-Ka and Kalan Wolfe, who together form the folk-reggae group The Shift. The lineup is a ragtag assemblage of musicians they work with and admire, with hip-hop-tinged reggae headliner Wookiefoot embodying the funky, upbeat, peace-and-love vibes the pair hope to cultivate. They’re also especially thrilled to have Tulalip storyteller Johnny Moses (Whis.stem.men.knee).
August 26–28 | Fort Worden
Children 12 and under are free. It’s what founder Adam Zacks chooses to elevate above all other points – outside of the philosophy of promoting discovery of music, attracting new talent to the light – as Thing enters his second year. It’s a way to facilitate the laid-back, laid-back vibe of this four-stop gathering that’s especially inviting for families.
2002–2018“It was like lightning in a bottle that lasted 17 years,” says founder Adam Zacks. This former Memorial Day weekend fixture has garnered throngs of loyal fans who have returned to the gorge each summer during its run. Unfortunately, their dedication did not prove enough to protect the festival from financial collapse.
Artwork: Gage Murrey