Now in its fifth year, ElkFest has become a regional indie-rock institution smack in the heart of Browne’s Addition.
Adjacent to the massive ArtFest visual arts fair in Coeur d’Alene Park, the Elkfest block party brings bands, beer, and burgers out into the street as a point of neighborhood pride.
It started as a bar show with local bands hosted by the Elk Public House. More recently, Elkfest parties have sprawled out over three days, with bands from as far away as California and Utah playing genres from country to electro.
Elkfest 5’s lineup keeps with that tradition, headlined by Seattle-by-way-of-Spokane funktastic four Velella Velella and the brilliant live show of Sea-town’s Shim, plus local heavyweights such as James Pants and Kaylee Cole.
Here’s the deal on the times and tunes. As always, Elkfest is free; beer garden available with ID.
4 p.m. – The Booze Fighters (blues,funk): Now going by Jack Knife and The Booze Fighters, this blues power trio has steadily climbed the local rock rungs to gain the respect of both older and new-school listeners.
6:30 p.m. – Silian Rail (experimental, rock, atmospheric): This two-piece instrumental outfit from Oakland, Calif., is likened to Explosions In The Sky and leaks inklings of Tool, relying on complex fingerpicked guitar and aggressively intricate drumming.
8 p.m. – Yarn Owl (folk, rock, indie): The leading folk-rock revivalists out of the emerging indie-rock scene on the Palouse, Pullman’s Yarn Owl (featuring the former drummer of Band of Horses) has been clinching opening spots for the likes of Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band and The Helio Sequence.
9:15 p.m. – The Globes (rock, indie): After leaving Spokane for greener pastures in the Emerald City, the esoteric art-rock quartet has gone on to win band battles on the West Side and last year performed at the illustrious Bumbershoot Festival.
2 p.m. – Kaylee Cole and band, featuring Adam David, Dane Ueland and Kevin Long: Spokane’s indie-rock darling is said to be in cahoots with super-hipster Band TV Radio on a top-secret project. In the meantime, the slit-your-wrist-with-a-smile songstress is refining her chipper downers in full band mode.
3:30 p.m. – Joel Smith and The Hands of Plenty (folk, Americana): Easily one of Spokane’s most highly regarded singer-songwriters, Smith produces music that’s startingly authentic, leading the listener on a trail that follows the Mississippi River from Minnesota to New Orleans, exploring aspects of bluegrass, blues and country.
5 p.m. – Whiskey Dick Mountain (blues, gospel, punk, revival): Led by Baby Bar owner Tim Lanigan (formerly of The Shirkers), WDM is irreverent gospel punkabilly blues that is greased up with hallelujahs, hail Marys, dark pacts and deals with the devil. It’s heaven and hell at war with guitars and amps.
6:15 p.m. – La Cha Cha (rock): A local music staple for the last five years, La Cha-Cha recently regained its original bassist, Travis Goulding, but lost its original drummer for Travis Hurley, who played with Goulding in Danny Weber’s Requiem. With Goulding back in the fold, expect the classic La Cha-Cha looping and reversing bass, guitar and drum sounds atop Larren Wolford’s emotive songwriting.
8 p.m. – The Maldives (folk, rock, Americana, country): At the forefront of Seattle’s alt-country music renaissance, the nine-piece Maldives made a huge splash last year at Sasquatch.
9:15 p.m. – Shim (rock): With its own signature light show, Shim has been the headlining band at Elkfest Saturday for three years in a row, bringing fist-pumping anthems that recall Led Zeppellin.
3 p.m. – Pickwick (rock, folk, indie): These Seattle kids impressed at Empyrean’s inaugural Madison Street Fair last summer. With a sound that swims between showgaze and dizzying psychedelia, Pickwick has gained a loyal following.
4:15 p.m. – David Dondero (singer-songwriter, acoustic, folk, punk) – Dondero, a recent signee to Conor Oberst’s indie label, Team Love, is oozing with indie cred, yet still relatively unknown and underrated – despite being named one of America’s 10 greatest living American songwriters by National Public Radio in 2006.
5:30 p.m. – The Moondoggies (rock, grunge, folk): Signed to Sub Pop subsidiary Hardly Art, the Moondoggies play boogie-delica and rootsy ’60s soul, laced with gothic Rhodes piano and soothing three-part harmonies.
7 p.m. – James Pants and The Royal Zodiac (funk, experimental, dance): Pants recently finished his first national tour, and is heading for his sixth outing in Europe this summer. Between playing a wildly successful show at Sasquatch last weekend and quaint, secret shows at the Baby Bar, he and his Royal Zodiac band have put Spokane on the map without having to move away to a larger market – a rare feat for any local artist, much less one who started as a dive bar deejay.
8:15 p.m. – Velella Velella (electronica, dance): With three-fourths of this Seattle group being Spokane natives, locals should take pride in the national acclaim Velella Velella has celebrated since relocating to Seattle. Playing electro-dance funk sung in Prince-esque falsetto, Velella paired with James Pants is quintessential dance music for Elkfest.