Gianni Aiello of Naked Giants at 2019s Freakout Fest.
I'm craving a live music experience right now. Lester Black
It feels like eons ago that I stumbled from venue to venue in Ballard during a brisk November weekend, watching psych and garage rock bands play inside in a molten light show. But that hazy dream will soon become a reality again.

Today, Ballard's Freakout Festival, run by Freakout Records, announced they will return in-person for this year's festival, which will run from November 11-14. All the familiar haunts—Tractor Tavern, Sunset Tavern, Conor Byrne, Salmon Bay Eagles—will host the sprawling fest once again, in addition to free stages at C.C. Filson and Cafe Umbria. The fest is also looking to add a couple of all-ages stages so everyone can participate.

Freakout Records co-founder Skyler Locatelli told me his team didn't come to the decision quickly, debating the choice for the past several months. But considering the vaccine rollout, some venues announcing late summer/early fall events, and speaking with booking agents, his team felt "better and better" about hosting the festival in-person later this year.

"There’s still a question mark about capacity and what things are going to look like," he said. "But we are feeling pretty optimistic."

With this year's lineup, Locatelli says they hope to highlight both local acts and national bands. While bringing in European and Canadian acts is a bit dicey because of COVID-related travel restrictions, he says they are actively working on bringing Mexican and South American artists, as they've done in years past. 2019's lineup featured Latin American bands like Colombia's The Kitsch and Mexico's Carrion Kids. Both acts melted my face off when I caught them live at the fest.

This year's lineup of 50+ bands will be announced sometime this summer, along with other events that they say will "expand the festival experience beyond music venues." The ticket link is live for those who are eager to put a live event on their calendar.

In other big Seattle music fest news: Today, organizers of Seattle's biggest late summer event, Bumbershoot Arts & Music Festival, announced that the fest intends to return to the Seattle Center in 2022 and probably take a much different and more sustainable form. The 50-year-old festival experienced turbulence over the past few years, facing low attendance numbers and an uncertain future once their contract with AEG, a music promotional company that ran the fest since 2015, expired in 2019. The festival in 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic.

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Now, Seattle-area non-profit One Reel—which has stepped back from the festival after being involved with it for decades—and Seattle Center are launching an "exploratory committee" that will "inform and advise the Seattle Center Director about Bumbershoot’s future." One Reel will provide "historical context" to help guide the fest into the future. According to a press release, the committee will "explore how best to move the festival forward as it considers the process through which the festival is produced" and will solicit public feedback and input about the festival.

Other major festivals and celebrations this summer and fall have opted to skip 2021, go completely online, or are balancing in-person and virtual events. This week, Seafair said they would do a hybrid model, mixing a virtual Blue Angels show with a partially in-person Seafair Triathlon and Torchlight Run.

Seattle Pride is keeping it all online, hosting a virtual music event with Big Freedia, Mary Lambert, Perfume Genius, and mxmtoon performing. And word is still out on how Capitol Hill Block Party will (or won't) proceed this year. I've reached out for comment and will update this post once I hear back.