Q&A on Big BLDG Bash with AJ Dent
By Matt Ashworth
Big BLDG Bash, the independently produced music and art festival that celebrated its second year last Saturday in Seattle, is as remarkable for what it isn’t as for what it is.
It isn’t long lines. It isn’t crappy, over-priced food. And it isn’t the same 75 bands you’d see at every major music festival across the nation this summer.
Like all music festivals, it is a bunch of bands performing over the course of several stages throughout a long day. And thanks to both the physical layout and the inclusive, DIY vibe it also is a great place to visit with friends and meet new people.
In my case, it also served as a pseudo family reunion for NadaMucho.com with nearly a dozen people who’ve contributed to the site in attendance, as well as a great place to meet people who I’ve admired or worked with digitally. For example: AJ Dent.
AJ’s a photo-snapper and copywriter who’s worked with a long list of publications including The Capitol Hill Times, Spark Magazine and The Seattle Times. She’s also a poet, a feminist and a “combat boots-wearer living in beautiful Ballard, Seattle.” She’s contributed lots of great content to NadaMucho.com over the last year, so it was great to meet her in person.
NadaMucho.com: It was great to meet AJ. What you what did you think of Big BLDG Bash?
AJ: It was awesome finally meeting one of the minds behind Nada Mucho as well! Last year Big BLDG Bash was one of my top five favorite events of the summer, so I had high expectations for 2015. I was thrilled to see them amp it up even more this year: over 50 bands?! A nonstop schedule from 3pm to 3am?! Having so many wonders under one (giant) roof in the span of twelve hours is a huge gift to local music lovers, and from my perspective, the facilitators pulled it off without a hitch. It was a magic-filled, modern-day ball.
NM: Agreed. Plus it just had a good vibe. It seemed like inspiration was happening, connections were being made and new bands and projects were being formed on the spot, as people chatted and got to know each other. The layout and staging seemed great too. What thoughts do you have on the festival’s production?
AJ: It’s cliche, but there really was something for everyone there. I appreciated how the staggering of acts made it possible to see at least parts of every group I was interested in. The visual art was also phenomenal this year: a cratered moon backing up the Yard 2 stage, acid-worthy steam and spinning lights in the Hangars, a red haze hugging Studio 18. This is exactly the type of event I dreamt of attending when I was growing up in a small town with no underground scene whatsoever. The secretive atmosphere of a warehouse show combined with high-quality sets and a grab bag of sounds made me feel like I was in a 90s film, living the life. Wish I knew each person involved so I could give proper shout-outs, but seriously, it was intense.
NM: I agree. The integration of music and art seems real. Organic. I don’t know who did all of the art, but the installation above the Hangar 1 stage was by my friend Kelly Fleek of The Spider Ferns and the CTPAK Records crew did visuals behind the sets by Nightspace and WDM.
How about the bands. Which ones caught your attention? Did you catch Great Grandpa or The Holy Broke? Those were my two favorites.
AJ: Sadly no, I didn’t make it to those acts; sounds like I should try to catch them later this summer. Around that part of the evening, I was scoping out Great Dads for the first time, and really dug ‘em. They got neck deep into this long jam near the end where they were all smiling and sweating in Studio 18 upstairs. The mugginess of that same room was perfect for the surfer rock of the Echo Echo Echoes, too. We were packed like sardines in there and I loved it. Plus, how fitting is it that heat stroke could’ve occurred during the Echoes’ beach tunes? Near-death experiences are always highlights of summer, no?
NM: Totally!… Wait, what?
AJ: Music and dangerous missions go hand in hand, right? One other performance I’ve been gushing about since Saturday was Cabana’s. Man, I’ve seen them a handful of times before and always been into them, but something about their Big BLDG Bash show was above and beyond. There were rainbow lasers zapping out from behind them, smoke heaving and curling all around, and individuals in front rocking out with them. They sounded and even looked like they were riding up a mountain into battle. Like everything was depending upon this mental and experimental outpouring. I was freaking out, to be frank. It was nothing less than majestic.
NM: That sounds amazing. I saw Cabana last year at Big BLDG and have been a fan ever since. I was bummed they played so late. Speaking of earlier bed times, most of the Nada contributors left by 11 or midnight.. What happened after that?
AJ: Maybe I’d just been short-sighted before, but it was as the night grew deeper that I noticed new kinds of performers come out: fire dancers and hula hoopers, rave kids and die-hard EDM fans. A few of my personal favorite moments happened after 11 as well. The Hoot Hoots tripped the Hangar 1 crowd out with their signature rainbow-striped clothes and light-up shades, and Newaxeyes psych-grooved all over the Yard 1 stage. You could actively watch people’s faces get glossier and glassier, but you know, in a good way. At any fest, the chance for disasters jumps after midnight, but I only witnessed fun drama, friends debating which act to catch when, and couples, um, “cuddling” in dark corners.