New outdoor music festival favors audience

Last weekend Artist Home hosted the very first Timber! Outdoor Music Festival at Tolt-MacDonald Park in Carnation. The inaugural Timber! Fest was a great success with around 2,000 attendees from all over the northwest and some from even farther than that.

Timber is unlike your typical music festival. For starters, the people working the festival, mostly volunteers, are friendly and seem happy to see and help you. A trip to the bathroom at Timber doesn’t feel like a prison sentence. Everything is so darn clean! The most noticeable difference is the feeling of the setting that Timber takes place in.

When you arrive at Timber you get your wristband and are then directed to a 500-foot suspension bridge you must cross to make your way to the music. This bridge is more than just a way to get over the river. As you cross and can see the smiling faces and hear the music getting closer on the other side you just start to feel better. Timber! Fest is on one side of the bridge and rest of the world and all your problems are on the other side.

Everything at Timber is the way it is for a reason; to create the best possible experience for those who are there. You can spend your day swimming in or floating the river, there was stargazing led by the UW Astronomy department and the lineup and schedule of artists performing was crafted in a way feel like a new and special moment.

Special moments are what Timber! Fest is all about. There were some special moments at Timber that weren’t on the schedule. After The Helio Sequence closed out the main stage on Saturday night Kithkin and Lemolo surprised campers with an incredible unplugged performance with nothing but drums and a lot of help from the crowd by light of headlamps and a couple of parker cars pointed at them in the woods. I will never look at a drum circle the same (video at bottom of post).

I got the chance to chat with one of the Timber! Fest organizers Phil O’Sullivan. Phil has organized Northwest Folk Life the last couple of years and has been attending music festivals both as a fan and a musician for several years.

Me: How does Timber compare to other festivals you have been to?

Phil: We put a lot of thought into the audience experience. When I go to a conventional festival and get crammed into a small space with too many people and we are all paying $13 for a beer, it feels like the audience is there to fuel something else when it should be the other way around.

We wanted to create an experience that had a limit to its capacity and make sure nothing stopped people from having the time they wanted to have.

Me: Was there anything about Timber that surprised you?

Phil: How genuinely people really responded to that place. I knew people would love it but I didn’t expect such an overwhelming response. I am kind of surprised when 2,000 people get together and nothing goes wrong. I was in awe of that.

Also, My parents came up from California to see what I have been working on. I asked my mom what her favorite act was and she said “I think my favorite band was Hobosexual,” which is awesome because my mom never would have listened to Hobosexual.

Me: Will there be a Timber! Fest 2014?

Phil: Planning is already underway.

Me: Anything you want to see happen next year?

Phil: More. A third day is totally in order. I don’t want to commit to that but I do want to commit to more great programming.

We are also working on a new event in Leavenworth for this winter. It will be a two night winter time festival with fun stuff in the snow during the day and fun indoor stuff at night. That’s all I can say right now.

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