As the sun set Saturday on the second and final night of Timber! Outdoor Music Festival and a throng of humanity pushed toward the stage, dancing with abandon, it was clear the festival’s inaugural run had been a tremendous success.
The Helio Sequence, in the middle of a masterful closing set of pulsing, effects-laden rock, took time to acknowledge what a unique experience the festival had been.
“It is such an honor to be here,” said lead singer Brandon Summers as the crowd of around 2,000 roared its approval. It wasn’t the usual boilerplate pleasantry, and nearly every band that played during the two-day festival expressed a similar sentiment.
Held at King County’s majestic Tolt-MacDonald Park and Campground in tiny Carnation, Wash., Timber! was meant to connect families to nature and music. It did so in spades.
Whether it was the raw tribal rhythms of Kithkin, the face-melting blues metal purveyed by Hobosexual or Ivan and Alyosha’s beefed up ‘60s summertime rock that took the mainstage, young families were omnipresent. As a father and daughter headbanged along to Hobosexual’s overwhelming guitar onslaught, the spirit of Timber! took physical form.
It seemed that most festival-goers had elected to camp out, which gave the festival an especially chill vibe to match the beautiful setting provided by ancient, towering evergreens and the burbling Snoqualmie River. Being able to return to tents and relax gave people a chance to beat the heat, as the exceptionally sunny day started to zap the crowd’s energy.
While Timber! organizer Kevin Sur said part of the event’s goal was to introduce people to new music, there’s nothing quite like a pair of Northwest rock veterans to get a crowd re-energized. Janet Weiss and Sam Coomes banged out a raucous set that included Coomes diving into the crowd with his guitar for an impromptu solo. They played with the loose confidence and joy that comes from a partnership that spans 20 years.
Chicago’s Fruit Bats did a great job reading the crowd’s energy and erred on the side of playing uptempo, danceable numbers like “Legs of Bees,” which had nearly everyone up and moving. Eric D. Johnson’s piercing, helium vocals worked as an effective contrast to the band’s steady folk-rock crunch.
It was a perfect set-up for the Helio Sequence — a sublime choice to close things out on the mainstage.
If you missed Timber! this year, you’re in luck. Sur said that the success of this year’s event has guaranteed that Timber! 2.0 will fall sometime next summer. For additional images of Saturday’s main stage bands, click here.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails