Load up the clown car


What: BAMF

When: 8 am Fri., May. 31 -2

Where: Lookout Arts Quarry, 246 Old Hwy. 99 N.

Cost: $110


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Imagine, if you will, that someone has invited you for a weekend out of town. They entice you with a roster of regional music and the promise of a good time centered on the principles of artistic expression, inclusivity and mutual support for all involved. They wax fondly about an outdoor venue with six stages and the music, comedy, puppet shows, karaoke, yoga presentations, flow artists and more that will appear on it. They speak of a tea lounge and art installations and activities happening day and night that engage the imagination as well as the senses.

You have to admit, it sounds intriguing.

Then they load their car up with you and several friends and drive you somewhere in the vicinity of the middle of nowhere to a giant abandoned quarry where circus people live.

No, you’re not living out the beginning of what sounds like a fairly terrifying horror movie. You’re at the Bellingham Arts and Music Festival, the three-year-old event affectionately known to one and all as BAMF.

In the vein of other homegrown music festivals such as the Subdued Stringband Jamboree or Summer Meltdown, BAMF utilizes a venue in our backyard—the Lookout Arts Quarry—and leans heavily on local talent to fill its lineup. What sets BAMF slightly apart from the rest is that it places as much of an emphasis on the overall experience as it does on the entertainment. It’s almost as if BAMF organizers took each piece of a typical grassroots festival, deconstructed it and then pieced it back together to suit their unique needs.

For instance, music festivals have many things to offer, but the cost of that is often a large carbon footprint. In this region, that has organizers attempting to be as green as they can, but at BAMF a zero-waste ethos is baked into the festival’s fundamentals. That means the aforementioned carload of people wasn’t just a device used in service of my horror-movie narrative, it was also an illustration of BAMF’s “clown car” policy that says that a full car’s worth of people gets the parking fee waived for that vehicle. Composting toilets will break down the business of your business end, plentiful receptacles will contain your various forms of recycling, zero waste volunteers will make sure you pick up those earplugs you dropped, and all of it will serve as a reminder that this is a pack-in-pack-out, leave-no-trace affair.

The level of thought BAMF organizers put toward environmental concerns is echoed in the way they handle security as well. Instead of a conspicuous team of the beefiest bouncers they can find to make sure the unruliest instincts are quelled, BAMF prefers a multi-faceted, multi-tiered approach. Safety is paramount, especially at a venue like the Lookout Arts Quarry, which is why at BAMF you’ll not only find a medical tent and team, along with security workers (all trained in de-escalation techniques), but you’ll also encounter a harm-reduction team dubbed Starfl33t that will help calm people and situations that don’t necessarily require a medical remedy, along with Peacekeepers who will aid in crowd control and dole out water and earplugs to those in need.

But let’s be real: No one’s going to BAMF for the free parking, composting toilets or peacekeeping staff. They want to be entertained, and entertained they shall be.

This year’s festival takes place from Fri., May 31 through Sun., May 2, and while that span of time might be three days to nearly all of us, in BAMF math, it’s two days—because unlike most festivals, at this one, a day truly does span 24 hours that are all packed full (save for a couple of hours in the early mornings because bands want to play at 7am about as much as people want to arise at that hour to see them, which is to say not much at all) of music, comedy, workshops and more.

Day One, as it is called in BAMF parlance, runs from 3pm Fri., May 31 until 3pm Sat., June 1. What you’ll find on the event’s six stages is music from the likes of (in no particular order) Bob Fossil, Lifeless Form, Guillotine Eyes, Klefto, Heirz, Animal Inside, Jaga, Blood Capsules, Pacifix, DJ Will, Bad Saint, Hot Tap, All Star Opera, and many others. You’ll also be treated to a dedicated Gross Out Records block featuring Shimmertraps, Glitchlette, Hello I’m Sorry, Bathrobe, and Cop Talk. Karaoke, comedy, yoga, workshops and a bike jump will round out a very busy first day.

After that, you’ll get about an hour to catch your breath before Day Two—which takes place 4pm Sat., June 1 clear through 3pm Sun., June 2—fires up. On the docket are Naked Giants, Episcool, Dryland, Supermissive, Hippopotamus Hot Tub, Forest Ray, WMD, Melancholia, Hot Wax, the Kaeli Earle Trio, and a slew of others. You can also do a little yoga, sing some karaoke, take in some improv and learn about border imperialism before you pack up, recycle or otherwise account for every single thing you brought and head back to civilization.

Although I likened BAMF to the setup for a horror flick, nothing could be further from reality. Its organizers have put considerable thought into creating a sort of festival utopia in which everyone is included, anyone can engage at whatever level they wish and no one gets lost on their way to a composting toilet. Load up the clown car, hie thyself to the Lookout Arts Quarry and prepare to be BAMFed.

newsletter banner
More Music...
Elizabeth Park
A tale of tells

In poker, a tell is an unconscious behavior that gives away something about a player’s hand. Maybe they scratch their ear every time they’re about to bluff. Or they drum their fingers on the table in a particular rhythm when they’ve got a good hand. The thing about a tell is that…

more »
Summer Solstice Festival
Show me the light

I usually don’t mind darkness. I’m not making a dramatic existential statement—I’m talking about literal darkness. When the seasons change and the days become more night than day, I don’t exactly welcome it like some kind of vampire, but I don’t shun it either.

I hate the cold,…

more »
Blues, Brews and BBQ
Summer is coming

It happens every year. After spending the entire winter wearing all of the warm clothes I own at the same time, feeling like I’ll never be anything other than cold and weighted down by countless technical layers, existing in a constant state of nostalgia for balmier days, the skies part,…

more »
Community Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

4:00pm|Vanier Park

Scrubs Camp

8:30am|Bellingham Technical College

Perspectives from the Port

11:30am| Northwood Hall

Wellness Wednesdays

12:00pm|Skagit Riverwalk Plaza

Wednesday Farmers Market

2:00pm|Barkley Village Green

Sedro-Woolley Farmers Market

3:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Backdoor to Baker

6:30pm|Prime Sports Institute

Brewers Cruise

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Thomas Harris and Kevin Woods Quintet

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Summer Funny

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Trove Web
Community Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

English Country Dancing

1:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Blues and Brews

5:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Community Pint Night for Planned Parenthood


Fiction Writing Group

6:00pm|Village Books

Elizabeth Park Summer Concert Series

6:00pm|Elizabeth Park


6:00pm|Ciao Thyme

Joe and Carol Young

6:00pm|Chuckanut Center

Life Between the Pages Dinner Book Club

6:30pm|Evolve Chocolate + Cafe

Mediterranean Mezzes

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

James and the Giant Peach

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre


7:30pm| Bellingham Theatre Guild

Good, Bad, Ugly

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

House Concert with Yogoman and Bongo Jac

7:30pm|Chuckanut Center


7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Trove Web Support Vertical
Community Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park


7:30pm| Bellingham Theatre Guild

James and the Giant Peach

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Marine Park

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Valley Writers

1:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Ferndale Farmers Market

2:00pm|1750 LaBounty Dr.

Peace Vigil

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Fourth Friday Art Walk

5:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Whatcom Cultural Arts Festival

5:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Orca Month Kayak Tour

5:30pm|Waypoint Park

Harper&I Dance presents Through the Decades

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre


7:30pm|Maritime Heritage Park

Writer's Block, PainProv

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Comedy Benefit for Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood

9:00pm|The Shakedown

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Support Vertical Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Web