Signed Fest

Of labels and legacies

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

When a representative of Yellingham, Bellingham’s annual DIY all-ages music festival, announced in late January that, not only would there be no festival in 2014, but also that Yellingham was on indefinite hiatus, the news was disappointing, yet not surprising.

Disappointing because in the four years of its existence, Yellingham proved itself to be a welcome and fiercely supported part of Bellingham’s music community. Disappointing because Yellingham as both an event and an entity offered more than just a dizzying array of really great bands and shows, it also achieved a level of inclusiveness rare to even mostly tight-knit music scenes such as ours.

However, the sunsetting of Yellingham did not come as a huge shock for the simple reason that, although 2013’s festival was bigger, more well-organized and more successful than ever before, organizers seemed to be feeling the fatigue of coordinating a fairly large, multi-venue, grassroots, all-volunteer music festival, no matter how beloved it might be. As well, the all-ages scene in Bellingham is more stable now than it has ever been, making now as good a time as any to take an indeterminate break.

But when Yellingham closed that door, it opened a window for someone else. And it just so happened someone was uniquely positioned to create a music festival, one that would attempt to embody some of that community spirit Yellingham so capably harnessed, while being a unique entity unto itself.

That person is Harrison Kadwit, Yellingham alum, and editor of the fledgling Signed Magazine. Although just two (soon to be three) issues old, Signed, which views the music industry through the lens of record labels rather than bands or musicians, has managed to nab interviews with Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye, Death Cab for Cutie’s Nick Harmer, Henry Rollins, Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch, Calvin Johnson, and more.

Along with plotting the particulars of the magazine’s third issue, Kadwit also decided to use the Yellingham knowhow he’d gained and his magazine’s label-based focus to plan a music festival all his own. Called Signed Fest, the event takes place April 25-27, and is an all-ages, donation-based ($5 per show) weekend of carefully culled music happening mostly at Make.Shift and the Alternative Library.

With shows taking place there all three days of the festival, Make.Shift gets the lion’s share of the Signed Fest action. Friday night’s show features Seattle’s Special Explosion (definitely a band worth keeping an eye on), Gonzo, Leatherdaddy, and more. Saturday’s show is a Hardly Arts showcase, with Grave Babies, Unnatural Helpers, and Broken Water (an Olympia band with an established Bellingham fan club) tapped to play. Come Sunday, the Make.Shift basement will be filled with the sounds of the Hague, Chunky Wonder, the Grizzled Mighty (another band Bellingham would be happy to adopt as its own), and others.

But that’s far from all Signed Fest has to offer.

Just a short stroll away from Make.Shift is the Alternative Library, where K Records and Beating a Dead Horse Records will have their musical wares on display Saturday in the form of Generifus and Posse. On Sunday, the space will play host to Barsuk’s Laura Gibson and Sub Pop artists the Rose and the Window (Rose Windows’ Chris Cheveyo and Rabia Qazi), for what I’m guessing will be one of the best of a lineup of excellent shows.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a festival that gives a nod to Yellingham without at least one house show, and Signed Fest will offer up one of those as well, with Chastity Belt, Dude York, and Wimps doing the honors on Saturday. As these things go, you’ll have to put forth a little effort to discern the exact locale because I’m not going to be the one to publically divulge and potentially spoil the party.

If all goes as planned, Signed Fest will exist at the nexus of Signed Magazine and Yellingham, occupying a space all its own in our music community. Taking into account what Kadwit’s managed to accomplish thus far, pulling this off would seem to be a given.

More Music...
David Dondero
Just another hardcore troubadour

In this era of all the music in existence being available for the streaming on the Internet, it can be surprisingly difficult to find something to listen to. More truly lovely music than I could ever hope to hear in my lifetime is out there, waiting for me to discover it, but it’s…

more »
Music at the MBT
Clear your calendars

It is common for Bellingham’s many music venues to offer live entertainment several nights a week. That is, after all, how you make your living at a music venue.

However, it is a little more unusual for the Mount Baker Theatre to have that kind of a busy schedule. Don’t get me wrong,…

more »
Music at the Movies
From Peter Pan to Ben-Hur

After several months of partaking of music in the great outdoors, judging by the fact that I wore sweaters more days last week than I donned T-shirts, I’d say fall is definitely happening, despite my efforts to deny it. For some of you, the changing of the seasons is an excuse to clamber…

more »
Handling the truth


Word Sprints

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

October Chores in the Garden

6:30pm|Skagit Valley Food Co-op

Crossing Zion

7:00pm|Deming Library


8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library


9:30pm|Green Frog

MBT Ben Folds Bellingham Farmer’s Market
Handling the truth


Halloween Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Anti-Inflammation Menu

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Beet Inspiration

6:30pm|Gretchen's Kitchen

Polyamorous Particulars

7:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Raptor Management

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Northwood Steak and Crab Village Books
Handling the truth


City Club Meeting

11:30am|Northwood Hall

Finger Painting for Grownups

3:00pm|Hops 'n Headz

Salish Sea Origins

4:00pm|Wilson Library

Marry Shelley's Frankenstein

6:00pm|Blaine Library

Wildlife Photography

6:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Winter Camping Basics


Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Basic Nutrients

6:30pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

WJMAC Concert

7:00pm|Unity Spiritual Center


7:00pm|Village Books

Family Game Night

7:30pm|DUG Theater

see our complete calendar »

MBT Once Village Books Swinomish 2016 Andrew Subin Northwood Steak and Crab Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Everybody’s Store Lydia Place Bellingham Farmer’s Market MBT Ben Folds Artifacts Wine Bar