Timbrrr! in Review: Washington's Winter Wonderland Will Warm Your Heart
About a year ago, when I first moved to Seattle, I went to a talk at Fremont Abbey done by Kevin Sur. I’ve been to quite a few of these talks on booking and promoting in the music scene, but this one talk in particular really stood out to me. Kevin just seemed so fond of music, and everything he said resonated with how I felt music should be done and it is one of the few talks I find myself constantly referring back to in my head. The reason I bring this up is because this was also the first time I had heard of the music festival that Kevin had founded, Timbrrr! This past weekend I had the honor of going over to Leavenworth, WA for my very first Timbrrr! and I can say pretty positively that it will not be my last.
The trip began at a Greyhound bus station that reeked of bad blunts and B.O., but the bus was the cheapest option, and being from California, I am not too fond of driving in the snow. The Snoqualmie Pass was closed, but luckily our bus was going through Steven’s Pass, a route I had never taken before, so I was kind of excited that 1. I didn’t have to drive an unfamiliar path in the snow, and 2. I would get to see parts of Washington I’ve never seen before. I honestly really love the highways of Washington. The openness of vast farmlands and forests with their changing textures. It’s humbling to say the least and maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in Washington that I appreciate it so much, or maybe it’s because it feels like the combination of being inside a Bon Iver album while simatamusly being in the same vicinity as Agent Cooper.
Photo by GLD.TOP
I honestly went into this festival with little to no knowledge. I had never heard of Leavenworth, and didn’t really know what to expect. To my surprise, Leavenworth is the cutest, quaint, Bavarian styled town, that at this time in the year was dusted with snow. The bus had gotten us there pretty early, so we used this extra time to explore the town, grab some food and take some pictures. All the buildings in the downtown area where we were had Bavarian architecture, and Christmas lights hanging on both roofs and trees. There was a giant hill near the front street of downtown that kids were sledding down, and at every hour the clock tower at the Festhalle chirped out a tune. We were instantly sucked into the setting of a Lifetime movie, but in the best way possible. It is really hard not to fall in love with the charm of this place, and to me this played a huge role in my love for this music festival.
Photo by GLD.TOP
Once doors opened we headed inside to get a peek at what we were in for before the place got packed. It was like walking into a Winter Wonderland. The stage was lit light blue, there was a giant inflatable snowglobe, the signs for merch and drinks were painted on rustic wood with the names “General Store” and “Timbeer,” Canada was a sponsor and had brought a bubble hockey table. Everything seemed so meticulously thought out, and the place looked amazing. Even the drinks were festive, with multiple forms of Moscow Mules and Hot Toddies, along with Icicle Brewing Company beer (Leavenworth’s own brewery that was located conveniently across the street.) Originally I hadn’t planned on drinking, since I had just gotten a cold two days before we left, but then I remembered that whiskey is supposedly a remedy for the common cold, and I’ve never been one to turn down a Hot Toddy (side note: my cold was almost completely gone the next day so I’m going to go ahead a say that Hot Toddies are the best form of medicine.)
DJ Lovechain | Photo by GLD.TOP
Due to the conditions on the pass, a lot of artists were having difficulties getting to Leavenworth, so the set times all got pushed back, but it really wouldn’t be a festival without some sort of difficulty. The Cave Singers unfortunately cancelled, so to make up for it Leavenworth local, DJ Lovechain, got to open (he was originally supposed to play an afterparty at one of the local bars, The Loft.) You may know DJ Lovechain as FFU’s Diogenes. Sporting an actual “love” chain, he started out the night with lofi hip hop remixes, and got us excited for the weekend ahead of us.
MC Troy Nelson | Photo by GLD.TOP
Troy Nelson from KEXP was our MC for the weekend, and a good 60% of the notes I took were quotes from him, so just assume anything you see in quotes from here on out is probably a quote from Troy Nelson. The next band, hailing from Seattle, Wall of Ears, “literally just pulled up in their van,” but the wait did not disappoint. Lead singer, Chris Lott, came out in a furry lavender trench coat, which later would become a conversation with a local we met who would call it “The Musicians’ Coat,” because every band has one. Wall of Ears was theatrical to the core. Chris sings with an unforgettable, emotionally piercing, droney falsetto, and the whole show was just straight up FUN. I hate to call them “arena rock,” but they gave me that vibe in the best way. Maybe it’s just the rainbow-y psychedelic influences that made me think of Coldplay or Sufjan.
Wall of Ears | Photo by GLD.TOP
Next to the stage was The Black Tones, the three-piece blues/punk fusion made up of twins, Eva and Cedric Walker, and Robby Little. Eva gave major Ronettes-esque vibes and their overall sound was a combination of the “Seattle” sound mixed with Phil Spector. The whole set was fun, and the fun they were having on stage translated to the crowd. Overall, the thing that stuck with me the most was the descriptions Eva gave for each song, with “Welcome Mr. Pink” being about her and Cedric’s father (“Yeah it’s sweet...if you’re into bank robbery”) and “Women in Black” being about her thoughts after attending a Black Panther convention. Eva’s smile was illuminating the whole time, their message was powerful and reigned strong, and their music rocked hard.
The Black Tones | Photo by GLD.TOP
After The Black Tones, we were taken on a trip to California, with Portland natives, The Shivas. They brought a sound that wasn’t as aggressive as new surf punk can be (think Fidlar), and it stayed true to the fun pop roots of surf rock. They got the crowd dancing, and watching each member was an experience in itself; from lead singer Jared’s feet slide across the stage, to drummer Kristin filling the entire set with high paced energy both on drums vocals, to guitarist Eric biting chips into his guitar. The Shivas brought an unforgettable, jam packed energy to the night that never stopped. It truly amazed me how they kept each song going back to back with very little breaks in between. The next time you’re stoned in your bedroom, I highly recommend throwing them on.
The Shivas | Photo by GLD.TOP
Our last act for the night was Portland’s, Y La Bamba, with the voices and harmonies of angels. Their set was atmospheric, moody and full of layers. Listening to Y La Bamba was like taking a journey. Their world music influences added to their angelic sound with the use of a flute and maracas, with lead singer Luz Elena Mendoza making fluid transitions between English and Spanish. The entire thing was dreamy and cultural, and it was hard not to be put in a trance. So much heart was poured into each song, and the entire set was beyond beautiful.
Y La Bamba | Photo by GLD.TOP
At this point in the night I was basically falling asleep, we had been up for over 18 hours, and it was time for bed. We woke up the next morning, and after 3 cups of coffee and a mimosa, I was ready to tackle day 2 in Leavenworth. We stopped in to check out the leisure games that were going on in the day, but were too tired to participate. It looked like a blast though. They had everything from cornhole to giant Jenga, with some of the sponsors chipping in with games like Canada’s bubble hockey, and a Kombucha ring toss courtesy of Humm. After seeing what was going on with the festivities we decided to get some local Bratwurst and German beer because when in Leavenworth, am I right? I had some more coffee and then we headed back to the Festhalle for round 2.
Moorea Masa & The Mood | Photo by GLD.TOP
We started the night with Moorea Masa and the Mood from Portland. Moorea’s voice was incredible, filled with jazz and soul. She had one of the best natural voices I’ve heard in a while, that was completely mesmerizing and whisked you away to a small coffee shop. She was accompanied by "the Mood" which consisted of her two back up singers, a bassist and a drummer, all adding to her voice in a very simplistic way. Her voice was sultry and her songs were sexy, and you couldn't help but want to come back for more.
Bread and Butter | Photo by GLD.TOP
Next up we had Bread and Butter from Seattle. Bread and Butter was indie Brit Rock meets the PNW. They also had this incredible 70s sound (although it could’ve just been lead singer Shane’s mustache that was deceiving me.) Their sound was warm and sunny and I’m pretty sure they were all smiling the entire set. The band was super personal, and funny. Their most memorable moment was a song whose name I couldn’t entirely make out, but I’m pretty sure it was called “Banana Cock,” in which they brought out a guy in a banana suit to dance around, and then ended the song by saying, “420 dudes.”
Gifted Gab | Photo by GLD.TOP
Following the banana madness, we had Gifted Gab. I was super excited to hear some hip hop, and the mood instantly shifted with everyone getting really close to the stage to dance to the bass heavy beats that were shaking us to the core. Gifted Gab has a very natural stage presence, and she spat fire. She also brought out her DJ, Dave Byrd, to do a song and some acapella, which he killed. Overall, I really enjoyed the style Gifted Gab brought to the table, staying true to rap’s roots.
Dave Byrd | Photo by GLD.TOP
I had had a “few” Moscow Mules and was super excited for Great Grandpa. They have really perfected modern day grunge, filled with deep emotion. They strive in the new Bandcamp era of bedroom pop/emo/rock that I always have a hard time placing, but love so fondly. They had the most touching moment of the night, in which one of the members told us that his grandpa had just passed away that morning, dedicating a song to the “Greatest Grandpa.” They also announced that this was the first day of their first US Tour with Diet Cig and The Spook School, so make sure to see them on their Seattle date and show them some love.
Great Grandpa | Photo by GLD.TOP
Introducing our next band with “I’ve never seen so many foot pedals in my life,” our MC Troy brought Hobosexual to the stage. The perfect description of Hobosexual would be modern day, approachable hard rock. They’re the kind of hard rock that you simply headbang to, no mosh pit action involved. The crowd was loving it, by this point of the night the place was packed and everyone was jamming out to Hobosexual. They ended the night with an AC/DC cover and were met with chants for an encore.
Hobosexual | Photo by GLD.TOP
Our final act of the weekend (*tear*) was Ra Ra Riot. If you don’t know who Ra Ra Riot is, they are the kind of early 2010’s pop indie folk that we all secretly hold very near and dear to our hearts. They were the perfect end to the night, adding a sense of nostalgia for something that both has already happened, and that was about to end. Plus their violinist was sporting this super sick violin that was completely covered in silver glitter. The entire room became one big dance party, which is really the only way to end out a festival.
Ra Ra Riot | Photo by GLD.TOP
Normally, I am not one to fall in love with a festival. I enjoy them, and I understand the appeal that festival goers experience, but I have never found myself to fall into that category type. Timbrrr! has changed my mind completely though. I met incredibly people this weekend, was introduced to some new favorite local PNW artists, and got to visit a new part of the state I live in. I want to end this by truly thanking Kevin, and everyone at Timbrrr, who put this together and allowed us to attend, all of the amazing artists who continued to amaze, and to all the amazing people I met in Leavenworth, both locals and otherwise. If you’ve never been to Timbrrr before, I highly recommend adding it to your list of things to do next year, I know I’ll be there.
Ra Ra Riot | Photo by GLD.TOP
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