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Epic punk cavalcade

The gritty expanse of the Draft Punk Festival

Trees and Timber’s sprightly brand of ‘70s power-pop will liven up the all-ages show. Photo courtesy of Facebook

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Tacoma, as an entity, is both damned and elevated by our self-imposed status as a "gritty" city. The elements that bring us pride and outsiders fear - the vanishing buildings that bore all the markings of a city long past its prime, but with underground music scenes that made downtown electric - remain existing amongst a sea of ugly condominiums and office buildings. Many of the people that remain performing in the South Sound - many of the people responsible for maintaining the gritty cool that defined the past 20 years of rock in Tacoma - will be gathered in one resting spot on Saturday.

In an epic cavalcade of South Sound rock royalty, The Swiss will be hosting an all-day event called the 253 Draft Punk Festival. Besides having the kind of delightful name that should appeal to even the most pun-averse members of society, the Draft Punk Festival is bloated with an embarrassment of musical riches. Over the course of an entire day, bleeding into the night, Tacoma will get a glimpse at three decades of bands that helped to shape the music scene in Washington. Punk, garage, indie rock, and bands that deftly avoid characterization - all will be present for a day that celebrates the DIY gumption that has made Tacoma such an everlasting underdog.

The Dignitaries kick off the show, with their jet-propelled style of garage rock, followed by the Riffbrokers - one of my favorite bands - who bring erudite lyrics to music that approaches the style of Stiff Records and Tom Petty. Both of these bands will be performing early, outside, at the eight-hour all-ages portion of the day. Being that the majority of the festival will be an all-ages affair, I can't help but be delighted at the prospect of children being brought to the show by their aging punk parents, being exposed to music that is so blessedly unadorned by whatever trends have begun to infect indie and punk music over the past decade.

The Riffbrokers bring a barroom poetry with a flourish of Elvis Costello and Tom Petty. 
Photo courtesy of Facebook

Other bands included in the early, free all-ages show include local favorites Trees and Timber, with their brand of power-pop that thrives largely on the vibrant energy supplied by bassist Gwen Lewandoski, whose sprightly playing enlivens an already dynamic band. Longtime favorites Squirt will be continuing their reunion, and the Tom Price Desert Classic (featuring members of U-Men and Gas Huffer) will also find themselves at The Swiss' outdoor stage.

Tacoma icons Girl Trouble to take The Swiss stage.
Photo credit: Isaac Olsen

After all of the kids are thoroughly rocked unconscious, the adults will go inside for more show. Closing out the festivities is a series of ringers. Fresh off of their year-long victory lap after the release of their awesome documentary, Strictly Sacred, Girl Trouble will once again be taking the stage in Tacoma. The Tripwires, featuring members of Washington luminaries like Mudhoney and the Young Fresh Fellows, will also be performing the Draft Punk Festival stage, as well as Tacoma vanguards The F@#$!@ Eagles. It's a whole day of encouraging your ear drums to take a vacation, and that's absolutely beautiful.

Of course, the Draft Punk Festival isn't just a clever name; the event is also a celebration of the locally brewed inebriants that keep our brains swimming from show to loud show in our grimy part of the country. After all, what would punk and garage music be without a healthy dose of beer? Can you imagine dancing in some dingy basement with a bunch of smelly punks and the sounds of squealing guitars - but, you know, you got a sloe gin fizz perched on your lips?

So, yes, Tacoma may not be as gritty as it once was, but events like the 253 Draft Punk Festival are great places to soak in everything it means to be a member of this awful, lovely, godforsaken, beautiful city.

THE SWISS, 9 p.m., $10, 21+ w/ the F****ing Eagles, Girl Trouble, the Tripwires. Noon, no cover, All Ages, w/ the DTs, the Tom Price Desert Classic, Squirt, Radio On, Trees and Timber, Stereo Creeps, Finger Guns, the Riffbrokers, the Dignitaries, 1904 S. Jefferson St., Tacoma, 253.572.2821

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