November 10-13, 2022 in Seattle
By Andy Bookwalter
Last Friday, in the deepest depths of a NyQuil binge, I agreed to put on my press pants and cover a night of Freakout Fest 2022. There’s rarely a good reason to venture north of the Ship Canal Bridge, but Ballard has rarely done me wrong when it comes to live music, so northwards I went.
Coming from Georgetown, the dystopian hellscape around the festival footprint was soothing and familiar, but the line between “barely controlled encampment fire” and “hipster beer garden bonfire” was a little blurry. (Hint: hipster bonfires are in stainless steel Solo Stoves! Also, the encampments rarely host music festivals.)
Boise country guy Ryan Curtis was performing the outdoor stage when I arrived. If I’m anywhere near Ballard Avenue it’s probably to see something twangy at the Tractor Tavern, so a little Idaho honky-tonk made for quick acclimation.
A quick porta-potty visit before they get all dark and spooky and it was time to not quite remember how to get to the Tractor. This part of Ballard has some weird angles.
Black Ends were tearing it up when I got there. My first impression was “Great band but the lead singer and guitarist sure doesn’t move around much.” This is the risk you take when you send a wee short journalist to cover crowded bar shows, because I didn’t realize until their set was nearly over that they were was playing, and KILLING it, from a wheelchair, with an enormous leg cast. I think sometimes the rocking included some kickass (and deliberate) feedback and that she dropped her guitar only once. My kind of band.
Carrion Kids are a punk band from Mexico City, and you can bet your ass I wasn’t going to miss that. I’m going to put this out there and hopefully it won’t sound too small town: punk rock just sounds cooler in Spanish. I’m a 50-ish year old white male product of public education, so I didn’t have the foggiest idea what they were singing about, but DAMN they sounded great singing it.
I’m no Os Mutantes aficionado, but I know they’re psychedelic pioneers who have been around longer than I have, and that’s pretty long. I was however surrounded by teeming hordes of mutants (Mutantes? Is that what they’re called? It should be). Patchouli was in the air and it got a little jamming for my tastes. I also got a glimpse of the block-long line of people hoping to get into the filled-to-capacity Tractor, so I decided to give up my spot to a real fan.
The plan was to catch Austin’s Pussy Gillette at the Sunset. What I’ve heard of the band’s music reminds me of Bell Rays or Bearaxe, and I’m a sucker for that shit. Sadly for me, but great for them, the Sunset was also filled to capacity, so I’ll have to catch them next time.
Right about then my DayQuil started to wear off, and the days when you can cough in crowded places are long gone, so I opted for Dick’s cheeseburgers over more music and headed home. As usual I make fun of Ballard but Ballard and Freakout treated me real nice.