2015's Debacle Fest felt at times like attempting to roll a giant boulder uphill, only to have its weight crush against me a few times--but when I finally pushed that fucker to the peak, it couldn't have been a more satisfying, smooth ride down the other side to the bottom.
OK, here's the situation: If my storyline for working on Debacle Fests coincided with developing a friendship with Sam, Debacle Fest 2015 was the solidification of said affair. He and his wife Wendy were expecting a new baby boy just a few months before the Fest was set to happen in May, so it was time to pass the festival Director torch to me. At first this seemed like a breezy no-brainer: I'd worked on four prior Debacle Fests, plus several other DIY festivals by this point, so taking on the task was a passionate, personal challenge. However, after a series of unfortunate events causing a false start, the event was delayed to July and a new venue, yet it worked out tremendously at the end.
Incredibly enormous thanks goes out to Columbia City Theater and their previous booking agent Ryan Devlin for saving our asses completely. Coming from a scrappy underground/underdog background, it was a bit surreal to work with a professional venue who handled much of the day-of work; Sam and I kept pinching ourselves to check if such a partnership was really true. The brick-walled historic venue gave all our hometown heroes a great chance to perform on a large stage with a top-notch sound system, treating their art to the quality it deserves. Even the front room, with its smaller sound system and placement in the bar, created a cozy atmosphere, bringing in the Family Vibe we always strive to maintain for the Fest. Though moving the Fest from the core of town to an outlying neighborhood is a huge risk in agoraphobic-prone Seattle, the turnout was still tenable and we saw lots of new faces ecstatic to be at the Fest on our projected Instagram feed.
Oh, the Instagram Feed! One of the best inside/not-so-inside jokes of the year: Anyone who tagged their photos #DebacleFest would have it added to the slide show projected in the lobby. Our buddy Wild Bill, who also happened to be humorously depicted in the amazing comic Seattle Weekly had drawn up as a preview by local illustrators and long-time Debacle supporters Max Clotfelter and Tom Van Deusen, decided during his opening set to take a photo of his ass. Then, venturing outside to smoke a doobie in the alley, he decided to take more photos of his ass and flood the #DebacleFest feed. Seizing this as a trend, several women in the crowd, friends and fans alike, began also posting photos of their asses! I'd say 2015 was quite possibly the sexiest Fest due to this factor.
One of the biggest rewards to organizing Debacle Fest is bringing like-minded musicians together, creating a community vibe, and connecting folks to each other. The best outcome of this in 2015 I felt resulted with showcasing Pink Void, the guitar-welding moniker of Crystal Perez, someone who we've been championing for awhile. The energy she exuded from the stage was electric, even a bit erotic, and watching it zap across faces in the audience and the gushing compliments on her behalf after was a highlight of the weekend. There was also a wave of "Oh my, you're playing Debacle Fest, too?!" amid many of the traveling musicians, connections that spanned from Vancouver to the Bay--bringing them together in the middle of the coast was like a reunion. And that, in the end, is what Debacle Fest is all about.
When I think back on the experience to ensure Debacle Fest 2015 happened, it felt like a big proof to myself that I could overcome challenges in my creative and professional work, that insistent perseverance can and does pay off. I'll be forever grateful to Sam for providing the opportunity and trust in me to make an event of such scale a reality, inspiring me to take on future endeavors of my own accord.