As I type away at my desk, which is vibrating furiously from the ongoing jack-hammering at the corner of Pine Street and 11th Avenue (I’m still waiting on those headphones that my colleague Katie Herzog kindly requested, Jeff Bezos), I’m day-dreaming of taking a break, of getting down to some killer live music, of sipping an ice-cold beer beneath a sunny Seattle sky. Ok, I admit, I'm daydreaming about The Vera Project’s Search Party, presented in partnership with Elysian Brewing. Together, they are offering a good time for a good cause.

The Vera Project is a nonprofit organization and all-ages venue that aids local folks in creating damn good music and art, and are active in the community through their extensive calendar of workshops, classes, trainings, and more. Elysian Brewing has been serving the city tasty, creative beers since '96; you've probably drank the fruits, or hops, of Elysian’s labor of love over the years. (Watching the recently-released GLITTERis Pride cream ale swirl around in a glass is straight-up magical. It tastes good, too.)

Drinks aside, nobody is free from the trappings of late-stage capitalism, and The Vera Project needed funds to help continue their work. Enter Elysian Brewing. After the success of last year's inaugural Search Party (which raised over $45,000 for Vera), Search Party returns as an annual event—to be held for the next five years at least, and help in the effort to generate sustainable support for Vera. This year, the outdoor festival-like event features alt rock headliner, Young the Giant, joined by local act Sundries (which calls their music "Soul-laced punk rock for break ups"), Austin-based funk, soul, and blues group Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, and indie experimental-garage-psych legends Deerhunter.

Sundries drummer Leah Julius (also of Thunderpussy) was able to live out her baby punk dreams thanks to the collaborative, youth-driven organization. “Vera Project was actually pretty important to me growing up,” Julius explained. “I was over on Bainbridge Island and grew up playing drums in punk bands and didn’t always fit in so well. So getting to come over to Seattle and play shows at the Vera Project—I also took screen-printing classes back in the day—just this place to go and meet people of the same age who are also into the same things, stoked just to be there doing it, creating community… it just feels really full-circle to be playing music professionally and getting to give back in that same sense.”

Sundries singer/guitarist Sadie Ava is also here, queer, and ready to celebrate local queer youth. (Speaking of which, I’m already seeing some LOOKS out here on these streets… keep heating it up with that style, everybody!)

“I’m in my late twenties now… and I look at youth, and queer youth culture, and am completely blown away with how amazing and inspiring young adults are these days, and the language they have to express themselves,” said Ava. “Also with how badass they are, whether they’re in Parkland, organizing on a national scale, or in Seattle, where these young queer youth are being badasses in public and not giving a fuck. You know, it’s so rad… so just to feel like we could contribute in any way to an institution like the Vera Project is really a real gift for us, and one that we are super excited about participating in.”

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears are primed and ready to bring their funk, soul, and blues flair to the party. “The shows are always great in Seattle,” said Lewis. “I’m looking forward to seeing that awesome crowd again.” Although Lewis is not local, “it’s great to do what you love for a cause,” added Lewis. “I’m grateful to do what I do for a living, and that people want to listen… that is a privilege.”

A privilege, indeed: because of musicians like Lewis, last year’s Search Party raised over $45,000 for the Vera Project, funds that the organization has used to garner more resources for its all-ages patrons.

“It’s amazing, it honestly made me want to cry when I first heard about it, and even after I heard about it, it seemed a little too good to be true,” said Ashraf Hasham, Executive Director of the Vera Project. “With last year’s money, we were able to invest in our facilities in a way that we have never been able to before.” This included the purchase of a new Midas soundboard (the M-32, to be precise), and a garment dryer, which is necessary for the screen printing facilities at the Vera Project.

As the Vera Project is volunteer-fueled and a cooperative community effort, “being able to do something this legit, and of this size... it sorta seems unreal,” said Hasham. “We have always wanted to have our own music festival on campus, and eventually it will be all-ages, but for the time being, it is a 21-and-up event. It may seem backwards that we have a 21-and-up event that an all-ages venue hosts, but it highlights the fact that we are an all-ages venue, and that doesn’t mean that we’re a youth music venue, it doesn’t mean that we don’t value folks who are over 21.”

Grab a couple buddies and get a beer colder than the Seattle Freeze at Search Party.
Grab a couple buddies and get a beer colder than the Seattle Freeze. Photo by Brady Mickelson.

Search Party is also an homage to a long-gone but not forgotten era in Seattle’s music scene. Joe Bisacca, co-founder of Elysian Brewing, is making sure that the past of Seattle’s music community, and its comraderie (among other stories, Bisacca told me that the PA system at Elysian’s opening in 1996 was a direct hand-me-down from OK Hotel) stays alive through Elysian’s partnership with the Vera Project.

“Something like Search Party could help bring a little bit of that back… so to do it at Seattle Center, where it’s a much more laid back environment, and we’ve got beer stations sprinkled throughout—you’re encouraged to meander, you’re encouraged to pick up a lawn game and play with somebody you don’t know… it brings people together, and we are a part of the same community here. It is a celebration of community and a celebration of everything I hold dear from Seattle.”

So, what are you waiting for? You can still get your hands on some tickets, and if you need any more encouragement: “It’s fucking inclusive, man,” said Bisacca. “It’s inclusive of everybody. Everybody’s welcome. Come on in, just check your bullshit at the door, and meet your fellow person. Fuck the Seattle Freeze!”

Set times:
3pm Sundries
5pm Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
7pm Deerhunter
9pm Young the Giant

The Vera Project’s Search Party happens on Saturday, June 30, starting at 2 pm.