Squeak and Squawk 2017

The returning festival might be its last, requests your weirdness

By Rev. Adam McKinney on June 22, 2017

(Full disclosure: This preview of the Squeak and Squawk Music Festival is written by its booker, Rev. Adam McKinney. McKinney didn't start the festival, but took it over, along with Jena Stedtler, in 2012. While this may be a conflict of interest, McKinney makes no money from the festival, and only wants people to see the bands that he loves. It's all he ever wanted.)

Stedtler and I adopted Squeak and Squawk (SQSQ) because we were eager to see it continue on, and kept the ridiculously ambitious template that founders Sean Alexander and Peter Lynn had started with it in 2008: five days of shows, all ages and 21+, populated with artists that rarely get the opportunity to be seen in Tacoma. Is it a hipster festival, as some say? Yeah, probably. Is it pretentious? Not on purpose. Does it give me joy and pain in its successes and failures? Absolutely. Which is why this year's addition is not only the first SQSQ since 2013, but will likely be mine and Stedtler's last turn on this festival we both love.

This year is filled with previous SQSQ loves and new bands that have risen up since the last installment, and is typically a paean to weirdness. In the interest of expediency, here are some bands to look out for during the five-day gauntlet this week, as well as some reasons for why I booked them:

Poppet will be making her SQSQ debut on Saturday, June 24, in an all-ages show at the Court House Square Ballroom. She's a solo art-pop performer who first grabbed my attention in a 2014 performance. In utilizing synth loops, flourishes of classical musicianship, and evocative dances, she creates a beautifully compelling world onstage. She's a must-see.

LAKE was one of the standout shows from 2013's SQSQ, and it's no wonder why: the band found its niche in creating music that expounds upon ‘70s AM gold, ‘60s psychedelia, and weird flights of fancy. They've made music for Adventure Time (including the adorable closing theme), and are one of the most consistently pristine-sounding bands in the Pacific Northwest. They'll be performing with Poppet and Mr. Motorcycle.

I've always enjoyed the Fabulous Downey Brothers' brand of jagged, Devo-ish art-rock madness, but it took seeing them in a basement of a house show to open my eyes. In these confined spaces, they managed to put on a full rock opera, complete with costume changes and choreographed lighting cues. Mind-blowing stuff.

DoNormaal is an entrancing hip-hop artist from Seattle, and she brings a laid-back vibe to her tracks, though tends to get more electric in front of crowds. It's no secret that SQSQ has been lacking in hip-hop, but once I saw the video for DoNormaal's "Dime," I knew she'd be perfect.

There are so many other bands making up the fiber of this year's SQSQ, including Bod, Mirrorgloss, Kilcid Band, the Cutwinkles, BOLO, Lobsana, Zell, Hot Cops, Gender Wizard, Electric NoNo, Bes, Coma Figura, the very first SQSQ performance from Girl Trouble, and many more. With this possibly being SQSQ's last year, I'd love to see Tacoma show up.

Squeak and Squawk Music Festival, Thursday-Monday, June 22-26, various locations, facebook.com/sqsqtacoma

Thursday, June 22, at 2nd Cycle, Mirrorgloss, Lobsana, Gender Wizard, Josiah French and the Americans, all ages, 6 p.m., 1205 MLK Jr. Way
Friday, June 23, at 2nd Cycle, Fabulous Downey Brothers, Coma Figura, Smile for the Sky, all ages, 6 p.m., 1205 MLK Jr. Way

Friday, June 23, at The Valley, Girl Trouble, Zell, Electric NoNo, Bes, 9 p.m., $5, 1206 Puyallup Ave.

Saturday, June 24, at Court House Square, LAKE, Mr. Motorcycle, Poppet, all ages, 6 p.m., $5, 1102 A St. #438

Saturday, June 24, at The Valley, DoNormaal, Bod, Guayaba, 9 p.m., $5, 1206 Puyallup Ave.

Sunday, June 25, at Half Pint Pizza Pub, Kilcid Band, the Cutwinkles, Hot Cops, all ages, 2710 6th Ave.

Sunday, June 25, at The Valley, BOLO, Dunce, the Mondays, Scorn Dog, 9 p.m., $5, 1206 Puyallup Ave.

Monday, June 26, at New Frontier Lounge, Skull Kid, J. Martin, N. Dybevik, others TBA, 9 p.m., no cover, 301 E. 25th St.