The thing people really love about a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is the scope of the offerings. There's something for a diverse set of palates. Want something hearty? The turkey's right there. How about something sweet? Pumpkin pie. Tart? Cranberries. Creamy? Mashed potatoes and gravy. On and on. And being able to share that with the people you care about? It makes for a wonderful celebration.
Thanksgiving Throwdown is the musical equivalent of the holiday feast. For seven years, the pre-Thanksgiving treat has allowed Spokanites to gorge themselves on local music.
Organized by Spokane band Free the Jester, the free concert — taking place Wednesday, Nov. 24 — has been part of the band's mission just about as long as the band has existed. The first time FtJ played the Knitting Factory was for Thanksgiving Throwdown's predecessor, the Butterball Bash (a local pre-Thanksgiving show put on for years by promoter Terry "Big T" Swan). But when Swan decided to end Butterball Bash, FtJ decided to pick up the torch, rebrand and start Thanksgiving Throwdown. Apart from Throwdown's first year, when the short-lived Palomino Club hosted it, the concert tradition has taken place each year at the Knitting Factory. It has grown from around 300 attendees in its first year to over 1,000 people at its last two editions.
For Free the Jester singer and guitarist Camerxn Scott Moore, part of Thanksgiving Throwdown's appeal is its ideal timing.
"It's a perfect time to do a show," says Moore. "It's the night before Thanksgiving — everyone has the next day off. There's lots of kids that come back in town from colleges, people are visiting families, and everyone has the weekend planned out. But that night before, usually people want to go hang out with friends before all the family traditions."
Free the Jester has always been a band centered on the live experience. Despite having a discography of less than 20 recorded songs, they've become a fixture in the local scene. Mixing a blend of pop punk, shredding and screams with a motto of "Thanks4partyn," the band brings high energy to their performances, including their nights headlining Throwdown.
"I know lots of friends that have bands where they've been working on music for three years and haven't played one show," says Moore. "And, in my mind, the reason why we started playing music is because we just wanted to have fun playing music with people [live]."
Thanksgiving Throwdown's free admission is a way to thank scene regulars while opening up the local music world to the entire Spokane community.
"We're doing it because we have fun doing this, and we want to put on one really big fun show a year," says Moore. "Money is not a driving force when it comes to this show. This show is all about community and bringing people together."
"I love highlighting new up-and-coming artists in the town, as well as bringing together veterans of the Spokane music scene, and even crossing over genres and breaking down barriers," he adds. "Especially this year, we have an even genre of three rock bands to three, like, hip-hop/pop acts. It's just going to be a nice blend of different genres, and every artist, I believe, has a completely unique sound."
While past Throwdown editions have seen Free the Jester invite a few bands from outside the city, the 2021 edition features a 100 percent local lineup, which might also be its most diverse show yet.
Of course, Free the Jester headlines, but veteran Spokane band the Nixon Rodeo also brings the intensity of its hard rock, which will surely lead to some mosh pits. But the hip-hop on the bill is also headline-worthy, with Spokane's hottest rapper, Jango, delivering some of his smooth, never-rushed flow, and Eazz (of CCB Krew) stepping out to prove his voice resonates on a solo level. Rising pop-rock quartet Paloma — who built up enough buzz to sell out their very first show in October — will surely try to get some dancing going with its chill grooves. Kaleb J. opens the proceedings with his melodic-minded rapping.
Throwdown's scope has also expanded to include a pre-show acoustic dinner (featuring Stubborn Will, Jimmy Nuge, Ian Smith and Jacob Vanknowe) and an all hip-hop afterparty (featuring Nathan Chartrey, All Day Trey, 1800 YoungSmoke, Ju, Tr3ezy, BBD Yella and Royal T) with both events taking place at The District Bar, essentially making for one big Warped Tour-esque local music festival under one roof.
Free the Jester has laid out a lovely spread for Thanksgiving Throwdown VII, so there's no reason to go musically hungry this holiday. Get stuffed. ♦
Thanksgiving Throwdown VII • Wed, Nov. 24 at 6:30 pm • Free • All-ages • Knitting Factory • 919 W. Sprague Ave. • sp.knittingfactory.com • 509-244-3279