Upstream Music Fest + Summit (www.UpstreamMusicFest.com) brought out crowds, a Northwest drizzle and a tsunami of live performances by more than 360 emerging and main stage artists including Seattle's own Dinosaur Jr., Deep Sea Diver, Shabazz Palaces and Jay Park, as well as keynote discussions with Macklemore, Quincy Jones, Dr. Portia Sabin, and Ron Jones. The first-year Fest + Summit saw strong attendance with more than 30,000 attendees throughout the weekend. Macklemore closed out the Summit with kind words for Seattle’s homegrown support for local artists, “I feel really blessed and grateful that we were able to build that foundation here and then take it out into the world, versus the other way around.”
An estimated 5,000 more people attended the free shows programmed by KEXP in Occidental Park, engaged with the seven art installations throughout the festival footprint, and savored the tastes of the Pacific Northwest in the food and beer garden.
Seventy percent of attendees downloaded the Upstream App powered by Amazon Web Services, which helped them navigate the fest footprint, listen to music by Upstream artists, schedule Braindates with other Summit attendees and speakers, and offered a first-ever Digital Tip Jar, allowing fans to directly tip the artists they discovered and loved.
“It has always been our mission to create a festival that would shine a light on the amazing sound of the Pacific Northwest. We couldn’t be happier that the first year of Upstream brought together so many members of the music community and music lovers from around the region,” said Jeff Vetting, executive director, Upstream Music Fest + Summit. “We want to thank all of our artists, speakers and sponsors for their incredible support and participation this inaugural year, and we look forward to the future.”
What resulted was a truly walkable mixtape that snaked through Pioneer Square, filling classic venues like J&M Café or Trinity Nightclub with local favorites, and surprising and delighting attendees by converting Comedy Underground’s basement into an intimate performances with Seattle’s current rock darlings Thunderpussy followed by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready or transforming Kraken Congee, a restaurant best known for bowls of steaming rice porridge, into a cavernous subterranean dance party curated by local collectives TUF and Fish Tank Friends. Guest Curators put together shows at over 25 venues around Pioneer Square, resulting in a truly diverse musical experience highlighting the sound and culture of the Northwest.
To the delight of ticketholders and curious wanderers alike, Upstream and KEXP launched unscheduled free public performances throughout the three days. Portland favorites The Thermals, sent driving punk riffs blasting off the brick and ivy of Occidental Park and Tacoma’s Will Jordan, lured crowds in with his soul-filled performance.
“The experience of walking through Pioneer Square over the last three days, hearing so many of the region’s most promising bands and seeing attendees discover new talent has been surreal,” said Meli Darby, Upstream curator. “This is what the music scene in the Northwest is all about—discovering new music and people collaborating across genres and styles.”
"Through close collaboration between the neighborhood and Upstream, the residents and businesses successfully welcomed more than 30,000 visitors to Pioneer Square,” said Karen True of the Alliance for Pioneer Square. “We were honored to give event attendees a sense of what makes our neighborhood and its thriving creative spirit so exceptional."