Emily Nokes

PART 1: THINGS I SAW

• This was the year I realized I might not be as "down" with festivals as I used to be. The increasingly full Porta Potties, the increasingly assholeish assholes, the increasingly intense press-pass applications similar to having your teeth pulled, while being audited, at the downtown DMV. But I'm a sucker for giant shows, and not ALL festivals are the worst, even the worst festivals...

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• SXSW was the usual muddle of highlights and lowlights that are somehow one and the same: cheap tacos, Lone Star beer, one pretty-okay band heard per 37, and wasted buddies you see only in Austin, while wasted. Just as the ultra-commercialized festivities were kicking in, actual tragedy occurred when four people were killed by a suspected drunk driver while simply standing outside a crowded venue waiting to get in. The whole event erupted in sadness and finger-pointing, with little actual information, and an eventual "the show must go on" attitude that made each alcohol-branded tote bag that much more obscene. BUT THEN THERE WAS CHRISTEENE. Performing in the oasis that was Cheer Up Charlie's queer SWSX showcase was CHISTEENE—a beautiful human monster whose gutter drag and balls-out (and, um, buttholes-out) dance-music set was fascinatingly grotesque, but also sharp-witted, catchy, and on-point, with backup dancers and skilled moves right up there with an early Britney video. Just when music and community had seemed the most irrelevant, they pony-pranced in, greasy and mostly naked, and saved the day.

• Seattle's second annual 'Mo-Wave festival brought in an impressive amount of national and local queer artists ranging from Glitterbang to Sashay to Night Cadet to... CHRISTEENE AGAIN (you can't escape). I was quite taken with Zebra Katz's performance, and Justin Vivian Bond smiled at me.

• Watching the Outkast reunion at Sasquatch! with my own eyeballs was a nearly life-changing event that made even our three-hour festival-entrance gauntlet (two missing wristbands, six different information booths, four different unhelpful men riding in golf carts pretending to radio for assistance, and one person actually saying, "I guess you'll have to come back tomorrow") worthwhile. André 3000 looked as heart-stopping as ever in a black snowsuit with EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY on the front, which gives you a whole lot to think about when you're stoned and almost 30. I'd heard their tour kickoff at Coachella had been a bummer, and André later admitted he hadn't wanted to do the reunion in the first place (I guess playing songs in your late 30s that you wrote when you were 17 could be hard to get excited about), but you really wouldn't know it from the seamless performance and presentation. And he certainly didn't ask me how I felt (#soamazing). Other Gorge moments included seeing French pop band Yelle in the rave tent, M.I.A.'s golden tracksuit and no-fucks-given attitude [applies red lipstick in the Jubotron while male backup dancer sweats his ass off], and the giant Sharpie dick someone drew on a Henry® cutout.

• Dancing on top of (and being yelled at to get off of) a speaker for the A$AP Rocky show at Capitol Hill Block Party was fun because that one song is fun.

• The return of Pizza Fest at the Highline was crowded and delicious and thank dog the Coathangers played—their raw energy and matching jackets never cease to impress the teenager in me who is still kind of afraid to talk to them.

• OFF Festival in Katowice, Poland, was a trip (a literal, last-minute, 17-hour plane trip) filled with cultural discoveries (they mix vodka with apple juice!) and broadly curated music (clipping., Perfume Genius, DakhaBrakha, Perfect Pussy, Belle and Sebastian, Andrew W.K., the Jesus and Mary Chain, several Polish bands, etc.). OFF differed from its American counterparts in its higher level of cleanliness, much more respectful crowds, a curious lack of obvious drug use, and not one single instance of a neon Cat in the Hat hat (possibly related to the prior point).

• Summit Avenue had its own small, free, skateboard-ramp-friendly mini-fest called Summit Block Party. I stopped by the Pharmacy show, their final one after 12 years.

• This year's Bumbershoot had a better lineup that any in recent memory. I smoked weed to the Replacements in the "cool dad" section of the bleachers, danced like an idiot to Wu-Tang Clan, saw Elvis Costello but could not tell you one detail about the show, was nearly trampled by teens at Danny Brown, and ate several Shishkaberry's.

• Non-festival show that unexpectedly made me cry: Devo at the Neptune.

• Non-festival show that made me cringe: the Ying Yang Twins at Nectar.

• Non-festival show inspired me: Girlpool at a feminist collective in LA.

• Non-festival show I was glad I attended with six other people: the Woolen Men at the Heartland Gallery (RIP).

• Non-festival show I wish I hadn't totally blown it and been too drunk to remember: SSION at Chop Suey.

PART 2: THINGS I LEARNED

• Since this has turned right into a LiveJournal entry, I might as well tell you some non-live-show highlights involving music. We'll call them emotional highlights (working title of my lo-fi solo side project) from the year 2014.

• This was the year that I spoke with 70-year-old Patrick Haggerty of Lavender Country for an hour and a half (my longest phone conversation since 10th grade by 88 minutes). He was quick, funny, and full of stories—I adored talking with him. We both got misty when he spoke of his family and their (surprise!) acceptance of him. Lavender Country played the very first Seattle Pride at the Seattle Center in 1974 ("Wrap your mind around that!" as Haggerty would say), and their self-titled 1973 album is recognized as the first gay-themed country album ever. This year—Seattle Pride's 40th—on a float filled with other 40-year Pride "veterans," Haggerty played Lavender Country during the parade, and then again at Seattle Center, truly coming full circle. (Or full triangle?)

• This was the year that I sat in on a high-school class talking about music. The room was predominantly male, and the main discussion was Macklemore's "You got robbed" [groan] text message to Kendrick Lamar after the Grammys. This was all well and good until a girl came in a bit late, wearing a dog collar (!!) and a pink sweatshirt decorated with a Venus symbol (!!!), immediately raised her hand, and told me how excited she was to have just read Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution and to have seen The Punk Singer. Whenever some dumb band dude says something dumb about women in music, I remember that even now, there are young women learning about Kathleen Hanna—who continues to kick much ass in music, art, and feminism communities while battling Lyme disease—for the first time.

Kathleen Hanna's "Riot Grrrl Then and Now" lecture will be held at the Neptune on April 29. Bring a teen.

• [Conflict of interest alert: I'm about to write about my own band in the very newspaper I work at as the music editor—please skip to the next section if this is going to make you crabby.] This was the year that my band Tacocat released our second full-length (bubblegum pink!) album, which led to all kinds of weird and wonderful tours to such places as Ghent, Belgium, and Cleveland, Ohio. Playing music is the most rewarding and fun and scary part of my whole life. My bandmates are my very best friends, and I like playing our songs because most of them are about real shit like street harassment, being on your period, or getting excited when your Cat Fancy comes in the mail.

• Speaking of street harassment, Kathleen Hanna, and periods, this year also brought me more conversations about feminism in music than ever before—pop culture, in its imperfect way (see: Beyoncé in front of her FEMINIST sign at the MTV VMAs), is helping to at least further the ever-important issue in the greater culture.

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• Seattle anniversaries came one after another this year, and I was honored to interview countless members, bookers, club owners, and generally great people of Seattle's music scene from "that one, genre-specific specific time" when Moe's Mo'Roc'n Cafe (Moe's would have been 20 this year, and Neumos, its descendant, celebrated its 10th this year) was the only venue on Capitol Hill, and Linda's (also celebrating 20 years in 2014) was the hangout for allll the bands. Our city is actually pretty all right, you guys.

• Last but not least, this was the year I finally understood, after a lifetime of denial, that it's actually okay to admit when you'd rather listen to Miley Cyrus than the Wipers. recommended

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