Some may argue that over the years, Tacoma has saturated its summer music festival scene. Quincy Henry is not one of those people.
Last year, Henry – also known by his hip-hop stage moniker Q-Dot – spearheaded a local music festival that he sees as someday being Tacoma’s Bumbershoot. Or the South Sound’s Sasquatch.
GritCity Fest, in its tender age of 2, will take over Hell’s Kitchen for two days this weekend, bringing in a mix of live performers that Henry believes comprise a true representative of Tacoma’s diverse musical grit.
“I started seeing what was going on in the scene. Out of all the events going on, with no disrespect to any of them, but none of them really to me meant what Tacoma meant to me, or what Tacoma stood for.
“I wanted to create something that really represented Tacoma.”
Last year, GritCity Fest featured more than 30 performers spread out around eight downtown locations over three days.
“It was a headache,” Henry laughed.
This year, GritCity is scaling back just a tad by taking on two days of music by more than 20 bands in one location, giving Tacoma a taste of big local and national names of rock, folk, and hip hop.
Saturday will be a rock-focused lineup with a little bit of hip-hop mixed in. Sunday will be the exact opposite.
“I’m really excited about all the acts that are on the bill. I’m a genuine fan of every one of them. I really think that the acts speak to what the festival is about, which is for Tacoma,” Henry said.
For instance, Stalley – who is wrapping up what Spin magazine dubbed as one of the “30 Best Summer Tours” this year with a finale show at GritCity Fest – isn’t from Tacoma, but hails from the blue-collar depths of Ohio, and knows a thing or two about gritty cities.
Fellow rappers Grieves and Budo are a little more locally based, coming from Seattle, and are young artists on the verge of major national attention.
Seaweed will bring Tacoma back to its grungy heyday of the late 80s, Mos Generator to the longstanding heavy roots of the Pacific Northwest, and bands like Big Wheel Stunt Show and Ben Union give a taste of the energy being cultivated in Tacoma right now.
“Guys like Stalley, he comes from a blue collar working class town. He works hard, he’s taken his bumps and bruises…but he gets up and keeps working at it. Just like we do in Tacoma,” Henry said. “Whatever acts that we put on, people should look a little bit deeper. I try to hand pick them so that they really embody the spirit of Tacoma.”
Starting at 4 p.m. both days, GritCity Fest covers more than 20 artists over the two days at Hell’s Kitchen (928 Pacific Ave.).
Here is a tentative line-up for Saturday and Sunday:
Saturday, Aug. 27: Grieves & Budo, Mos Generator, SweetKiss Momma, Seaweed, Big Wheel Stunt Show, The Legend of Bigfoot and Ben Union.
Sunday, Aug. 28: Stalley, Ra Scion, Gerald Walker and Spac3man.
Deborah Page, James Coates, Perry Acker, Royce the Choice, Luck One, City Hall, The Breaklites, Abom Kid and Cam The Viking will also be performing throughout the weekend with more still to be announced. Vinum Lounge, located across from Hell’s Kitchen, will be hosting R&B/spoken word and visual art in partnership with GritCity Fest.
“Last year was great. It was one of those things where a lot of people knew we were just out here trying to make something big and different for Tacoma.
“You’ve got Bumbershoot, Capitol Hill Block Party, Sasquatch – they’re miles and miles away. We’re trying to put on what doesn’t come to the South Puget Sound.”
Get tickets in advance at www.brownpapertickets.com. Advance tickets for $8 per day, or $15 for the weekend. Door prices are $10 per day.
More info at www.gritcityfest.com.