Embracing The Quintessential Seattle-Ness Of Upstream Music Festival

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The old saying is true, you can’t ever really go home again. I lived in Washington State for about seven years, from the tail-end of 2008, when I first arrived on a new Army posting to Fort Lewis — a sprawling installation just south of Tacoma — to the beginning of 2015, when family commitments and job prospects lured me to the Midwest. As someone who lived a pretty nomadic existence growing up, flitting from house to house, city to city and state to state in a pretty quick fashion, this was an especially formative and uncharacteristic block of time in my life.

I deployed to Iraq out of Washington in 2009. I met my future-wife while living there, and married her, where else, but within the lofty confines of the Space Needle. My brother and sister both eventually relocated to the area and we enjoyed a familial closeness that kind of escaped us while were we just kids. I attended Evergreen State College — one of the most liberal, liberal arts universities in the country — in Olympia and earned a degree. Eventually, I started blogging in my spare time, which led to writing professionally, which led to this career I now enjoy as a full-time music writer, beyond all my wildest expectations. Most, if not all, the most consequential memories I have occurred within the perennially overcast confines of the Evergreen State.

All that to say, I was pretty excited to return for the first time since I left to check out the Upstream Music Festival, an event centered around Seattle’s “original neighborhood” Pioneer Square. To be quite honest, though I regularly attended shows and events in other parts of the city — Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Belltown, Seattle Center — I rarely ventured in and around Pioneer Square while a resident, minus the times I went and caught either a Seahawks or Mariners game. I was also pretty curious about what Upstream had to offer that set it apart from other local-ish fests like Sasquatch, Capitol Hill Block Party, and most especially, Bumbershoot.

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