In 2013, Guy Keltner started Psychedelic Holiday Freakout Festival as an annual music event bouncing around different Seattle neighborhoods. The festival grew and added a record label, Freakout Records, into the mix. Now, often referred to simply as “The Freakout,” it’s sixth annual event took place in Ballard this November 16th and 17th.
At its core, Freakout Festival is all about the local music scene. This year, they caught my attention with their Saturday line-up that had a full night of R&B and hip-hop. It’s not very often that I look at a festival and have a full-day of artists to watch. Especially with a festival that has previously featured mainly indie rock. So the fact that I had roughly seven hours of entertainment was well worth the long night.
Lagunitas – Artists Home Stage
Tractor Tavern – KEXP Street Sounds Stage
The Gang Goes To Freakout Festival
When I’m going out for longer than an hour or two, I need something heavy like a burger and fries to keep me going all night. Ballard is full of different restaurants but I started my night over in Fremont at Uneeda Burger. You can’t go wrong with a straight-up classic burg and some fries. Their BBQ sauce is one of my guilty pleasures—it’s tangy, sweet, spicy, and absolutely perfect. Cap that off with a blunt of Ewok from Soulshine and you have a winning combination.
Cruising over to Lagunitas Tap House, I, unfortunately, didn’t catch Falon Sierra’s set because of bonkers traffic. I’ve seen her perform many times before and it’s something really special. I did, however, show up just in time for Kung Foo Grip to start their set. Another one of the artists I’ve seen many many times before, but always stop to watch.
Lately, they’ve been performing a lot of new and unreleased music. Tracks from their album 2KFG got a lot of love from the crowd, especially “Mic Check.” Spokane-based emcee Jango joined the duo on stage for their newest release, “Legacy.”
Koga Shabazz was next to bat. Rocking a bugs bunny pullover he stepped up to the plate with a set that went to leftfield real quick. Every time I see him perform it’s a different vibe; it’s never the same experience twice. He went from his gritty, spitting bars rap to rhyming a verse while hitting a falsetto. At one point he even took on a British accent.
He had a drummer, Tieren Simon, who was standing the entire time. When it came time for him to use his hi-hat he couldn’t reach the foot peddle. He improvised by grabbing the top cymbal with his hand to make that bitch clap. Not only did he do a stand-up job with percussion, but he even switched to playing bass on occasion.
Next move was over to Tractor Tavern for the KEXP curated lineup. I walked in blunted right at the top of JusMoni’s set. She pours her soul into her lyrics and delivers them beautifully, commanding the attention of the audience with her stage presence. Her fit was drip, drip, dripping down to the floor, showing that she is just as stylish as she is talented.
Porter Ray, of SubPop records, came out and spit with such a charisma it made me wonder why I don’t listen to him more often. One of the many highlights of the night was seeing him team up with Bruce Leroy for some fire tracks.
Then there was Stas Thee Boss. First coming onto the scene over a decade ago, she continues to rap with finesse. Taking the flow of an old school spitter but with the innovation of an alien from deep within the hip-hop galaxy.
It’s midnight at this point, and Ballard is lively on a warm Saturday night in fall. I’m full of 2 Towns Cider and coated in blunt smoke. Finally, B.A.G. took the stage. Blimes and Gab came out on a mission to spit bars hard enough to rupture our eardrums. When you see them, you really get three different sets wrapped into one. Now, I’ve seen Gab perform many times before but I’ve never seen Blimes Brixton, and it was well worth the long night.
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