The Timber! Outdoor Music Festival got off to a soggy start Thursday, but by the time Seattle artist Benjamin Verdoes started playing at around 8:30 p.m., it was dry and Tolt-MacDonald Park had started filling up.
Now in its second year, Timber! aims to attract a different sort of crowd than most festivals by encouraging attendees to camp out and explore the surrounding area of Carnation. The festival is also family-friendly, and the sheer amount of young children on hand, enjoying live music (perhaps for the first time) was heartening to see.
Four young girls sat in the mud at the front of the Campfire Stage, completely enraptured by Verdoes’ sensitive solo set, after which they rushed to greet him.
Veteran Portland indie-folk band Horse Feathers closed out the first night with a tight set that only suffered because the rain had prevented a soundcheck earlier in the day. That made the kinetic groove of the first song, “Fit Against the Country,” a little unbalanced. But halfway through, the sound issues had been worked out. A large portion of the crowd moved up toward the front to dance.
Some of Horse Feathers’ songs were built from the cacophony of dueling fiddles, guitars and banjos, while others, such as the sweet, reflective “Cascades,” gently swelled into catharsis in a way that only live performances seem to make possible. After the show, and probably well past her bedtime, a little girl tried to squirm out of her mother’s grasp.
“That. Was. Amazing!” she screamed into the night. “Did you see me? I was this close to the stage.”
It was a good sign that organizers had accomplished exactly what they intended to, though there is plenty of festival left. Big names like Damien Jurado and the Seattle Rock Orchestra play Friday, while Charles Bradley closes the festival Saturday.
Timber! Outdoor Music Festival
Through Saturday, July 26, Tolt-MacDonald Park, 31020 N.E. 40th St., Carnation; $20-$35 for single-day passes (timbermusicfest.com).