by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & The Complaining Stops Now & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & C & lt;/span & heck out the band list that begins to your right and spreads over six pages. This is Sasquatch!, the indie festival with the deliberate Northwest bent. Each year, amidst 50-odd bands from all over the country, a whole stage is reserved for bands from our region.
Or, I mean, the coastal part of our region.
Sasquatch has never invited a band from east of the cascades to play its Northwest stage, though last year they did ask Adam Brody's band to come up from L.A. Scandalous! So what do we do about it?
The easiest thing -- the thing we as a scene have been doing at least since grunge happened -- is criticize West Coast elitism and add another year's Sasquatch snubbing to the list of wounds our town treats with insularity and in-scene back-patting. It's just another round of: "It's OK guys, we've got each other." That hasn't been working so well, though. So let's try something else.
Fact is, all the NW bands playing this year have record deals. As Sasquatch gets more corporate, it's going to spend less time plumbing for unsigned acts. Spokane is all unsigned acts (with one notable exception, see page 28), partially because Spokane doesn't have a real hometown label (Neurot doesn't count). Seattle has dozens, Portland has a few (Hush and Arena Rock, notably) and even Olympia has Kill Rocks Stars, 5 Rue Christine and K.
A key component to sustaining a vibrant scene is facilitating creativity at home. Not just having a ton of rentable recording studios, but an actual business infrastructure designed to help shepherd bands through the process of recording music, advertising it, distributing it and touring in support of it. At their best, labels are money-making ventures that turn profits by helping bands become better known and more marketable. It's exactly what we need, and no one's really doing it.