THING Festival Returns to Port Townsend


2022-08-26 Hardly Raining

Three years after the inaugural event in 2019, the second THING Festival returned to Port Townsend on August 26-28, 2022. THING is sponsored by the nonprofit Seattle Theatre Group.

This year’s THING featured a curated lineup of musical artists from around the world, with a focus upon western Washington. Headlining were Connecticut groove band Goose, Pacific Northwest indie-rockers Modest Mouse, and British electro-funk band Jungle. Concertgoing greater-Seattleites will also recognize hometown favorites such as Shaina Shepherd, Jarv Dee, Terror/Cactus, Enumclaw, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, Reignwolf, and Father John Misty. The festival showcased excellent selections from a variety of genres.

A few non-musical offerings were available as well, including late-night comedy, dance workshops, Indigenous storytelling, a game show, participatory art activities, and a nightly paper-lantern parade. Vendor areas provided (among other things) food trucks, festival merch, a two-story tequila stand with a view, and an anti-racist overdose prevention resource booth.

Although a diversity of festival artists should not be noteworthy in 2022, it is still worth mentioning that THING lineup seemed thoughtfully planned. The audience itself skewed white and middle-aged, though, so future efforts could consider new opportunities for inclusion.

At $350 for a three-day pass, adult ticket prices were on par with other festivals, but kids were admitted free to THING. The expansion of capacity by 1500 attendees this year probably helped to right-size the event financially, without creating overcrowding at most sets. Unlike at many festivals, fans could readily secure a spot near the stage, and there was ample room for families to picnic and play.

Food tended a little pricey, although drinks were no more expensive than an average Seattle bar. The festival’s in-and-out privileges also allowed the flexibility to pick up food in Port Townsend, which boasts some tasty restaurants and several grocery stores. Festival shuttles were conveniently located, and served destinations around town from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The festival made several logistical improvements over the first THING. Restricting music to two outdoor stages and removing the overlap in set times really smoothed out the audience flow. Similarly, limiting fencing to the stage areas meant fewer bottlenecks for bag and wristband checks, along with some encouragement to explore the beautiful grounds. This year’s event also stretched two days into three, without reducing the quality of the acts.

THING still struggled with two aspects of adapting a festival to a small town: transportation and lodging. Without local taxis or late-night buses, the only way back to Port Townsend from Fort Worden after midnight is a dark 2.5-mile walk along the shoulder of the main road. In case festival events run long, an infrequent after-hours shuttle could improve safety and accessibility. Another necessary upgrade is expanded lodging options for attendees, perhaps through additional camping locations.

These quibbles aside, THING made a strong second-year showing. It was a fun and unique long weekend, worthy of a third visit in 2023.

(Scroll for personal festival highlights and a photo gallery. All photos: Lisa Hagen Glynn)

Audience at Parade Ground Stage
Audience at Parade Ground Stage

Friday

Friday offered a stellar first-day lineup. British indie-rockers Wet Leg were among my most anticipated acts of the festival, and they did not disappoint. Wet Leg sold out their last show in Seattle twice—first at the Sunset and then at the larger Crocodile—and unsurprisingly their next Seattle gig will be at Climate Pledge Arena, opening for Florence & The Machine. Their KEXP session at THING just went live.

Wet Leg
Wet Leg

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio is an incredibly talented group that brings a consistently energetic set of “feel good music,” and they drew a large crowd even early in the first day. (Full disclosure, I work with the trio frequently.)

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

This was my third time seeing Father John Misty at a festival, but the first where I could get close enough to the stage to see the band close-up—a nice feature of THING.

Father John Misty
Father John Misty

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog hosted an edgy game show called Poopardy, which featured an unusual panel of contestants: Ken Jennings, Chris Ballew, and a (seemingly) randomly chosen WSU graduate from the audience who had sneaked in his own beer. I regret missing Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar and Seattle electro-cumbia group Terror/Cactus.

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
SPARKS
The Mael brothers, of Sparks
Hiatus Kaiyote
Hiatus Kaiyote
Goose
Goose

Saturday

The second day also included many highlights. Despite decades of listening to Modest Mouse I had never seen them live, so it was a treat to catch their performance at THING. The set was the best attended of the weekend.

Modest Mouse
Modest Mouse

Shaina Shepherd owns every stage she steps onto, and she gave a characteristically powerful performance on Saturday afternoon.

Shaina Shepherd
Shaina Shepherd

Jazz is Dead honored renowned jazz artists within a multigenerational ensemble, reflecting a key value of the jazz community. I regret missing their interview earlier in the day due to scheduling conflicts. The late exclusion of Dry Cleaning from the festival was unfortunate, but I was lucky to catch them at the Neptune Theatre earlier this year.

Henry Franklin, with Jazz is Dead
Henry Franklin, of Jazz is Dead
Osvaldo Ribas
Osvaldo Ribas (age 15), of More Music at the Moore
Helado Negro
Helado Negro
Jarv Dee
Jarv Dee
Illuminati Hotties
Illuminati Hotties
Reignwolf
Reignwolf
Durand Jones & The Indications
Durand Jones & The Indications
Curtis Harding
Curtis Harding

Sunday

Sunday was the icing on the festival cake. Swedish indie-folk artist José González was another festival highlight, especially because I had missed his sold-out shows at the Neptune Theatre in March. I departed after a few songs to begin the drive home before dark, but it was definitely worth staying for his solo set.

José González
José González

Colombian-Canadian artist Lido Pimienta, accompanied only by a drummer, sang from the heart about Black and Indigenous empowerment in both English and Spanish.

Lido Pimienta
Lido Pimienta

Nation of Language, a Brooklyn synth-pop group with a Depeche Mode flavor, was a new discovery for me.

Nation of Language
Nation of Language

Experimental musician Yves Tumor delivered a high-energy set.

Yves Tumor
Yves Tumor
Dance This Showcase
Dance This Showcase
Enumclaw
Enumclaw
L'Rain
L’Rain
Delbert Miller, Skokimish tribal storyteller
Delbert Miller, Skokomish tribal storyteller
Modern Biology
Modern Biology
The Dip
The Dip
The Future Is 0
The Future Is 0

Gallery


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