THERE ARE a lot of reasons to make the drive out to Anacortes this week. First, it's on Fidalgo Island, and island life—especially in the San Juan chain—moves at a nice, mellow crawl. Then there's the sublime weather; situated in the Olympic Mountains' rain shadow, it gets half the rain of Seattle and 4,187,080 percent less than Portland. Also, Shipwreck Day, "the world's biggest garage sale," goes down Saturday. This is not to mention What the Heck Fest, which brings together dozens of folk, punk, electronic, rock, and experimental bands, and lets them sprawl out across the city over the course of four days, umbrella-ing it all as a "festival"—albeit a laidback, family-style, fun-over-profit festival.
The annual event, put on by Knw-Yr-Own Records, books bands in clubs, bars, parks, and all kinds of nontraditional venues, and allows attendees to stroll at their own pace. Day one starts off with a leisurely walking tour of Anacortes (bands play along the way in Causland Park), after which there's an art show, film screenings, and the fest's official opening with Burl, Homestyle, Run Chico Run, Squid vs. Shark, Tender Forever, and Anna Oxygen.
Friday sees Liarbird, D+, Johanna Kunin, Sushi Amigo, the Poison Dart, Laura Veirs, the Gift Machine, the Spoiled, the Lonely Forest, Mount Eerie, Jason Anderson, Lake, the Solvents, Mouseheart Factor, Viking Moses, Fanny Alger, and Spider and the Webs. (I would make the drive for Viking Moses alone.) Saturday's festivities include 1985, the Oregon Donor, Yukon/International Falls' "supergroup jam session," Ruth Allison, Angelo Spencer, Faerie Talk, Goodtime John, Dennis Driscoll, Rose Melberg, Calvin Johnson, Thanksgiving, Karl Blau, the Blow, YACHT, To Spite Mike, Darrin Matthies, Velella Velella, and Super XX Man. Sunday starts off with a breakfast banquet and a reading, then Al Larsen, Kimya Dawson, Woelv, the Robot Ate Me, Watery Graves (fuck yeah!), and films by Vanessa Renwick and Alyse Emdur.
In keeping with the casual nature of the fest, there will also be all kinds of smaller events woven into the mix, parties, and probably—if it's anything like last year—a little swimmin' in local waters. Island life is the best life.
Visit whattheheckfest.com for more info