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Indie rock and "the joyful Queer revolution" played center stage at Day In Day Out Fest

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Photo by Kylin Brown
Photo by Kylin Brown

This weekend, Seattle saw indie rock dreams come true. Between the Space Needle and the International Fountain, Day In Day Out Fest 2022 entranced audiences with three evenings of spectacularly performative and fun-loving sets, with headliners such as MUNA, Mitski, Mac DeMarco, Japanese Breakfast, and The National.

Photo by Kylin Brown  

In its sophomore rendition, the festival brought a new sense of self-assuredness to Seattle Center. Our days of Bumbershoot might be over (seriously), but Daydream State has stepped up to take on the challenge of replacing it.

While last year's fest felt like a sorry attempt at "the new Seattle Center music festival" in the iconic Bumbershoot's absence, it did offer live performances from prominent and unforgettable Queer and BIPOC artists, such as local producer Chong the Nomad (previously covered by the SGN), renowned DJ-producer Kaytranada, and Portland-grown rapper and songwriter Aminé.

While continuing to highlight regionally and nationally famed Queer and BIPOC artists, this edition dug into the city's historically indie/rock music taste and offered a refined ideological arc.

Day In Day Out no longer teeters in the space in between Capitol Hill Block Party (covered here) and a typical Saturday night at Neumos. It has found itself the star of a new generation of Seattle Center memories for music lovers far and wide.

Photo by Kylin Brown  

MUNA takes the cake
For the LGBTQIA+ members of the crowd, Day In Day Out 2022 was a win-win-win situation. Though Friday's set list was slightly disrupted with a last-minute, COVID-based cancelation by Queer icon Soccer Mommy — aka 24-year-old pop-rock singer-songwriter Sophie Allison — the show went on, with a quick replacement by young local upstarts The Kerrys.

After Soccer Mommy's disappointing plot twist, Queer attendees set their sights intently on MUNA and Mitski for Friday, as if these two artists' performances weren't already the most anticipated of the night.

From their latest self-titled album, MUNA, the LA-based pop trio warmed up the waiting crowd with "What I Want," singing, "I've spent way too, too, too many years not knowing what / What I wanted, how to get it, how to live it and now / I'm gonna make up for it all at once / 'Cause that's, that's just what I want."

While lead singer Katie Gavin (she/they) crooned over the yearning Sapphic lyrics of "Silk Chiffon," guitarist Josette Maskin (she/they) took a break to encourage the crowd, and multi-instrumentalist Naomi McPherson (they) sweetly covered the Phoebe Bridgers portion: "I'm high and I'm feeling anxious / Inside of the CVS / When she turns 'round halfway down the aisle / With that 'you're on camera' smile / Like she wants to try me on."

Since being dropped from RCA Records in 2019 and subsequently signed to Phoebe Bridgers' Saddest Records label in 2021, the group has continued to experiment among genres, even surprising unknowing listeners with their sole, melancholy country piece, "Taken."

MUNA's original multilayer approach was showcased in their 2019 breakout hit "Stay Away," a song they attribute to the courageous process of shedding bad habits, especially when it comes to sunsetted relationships. "Leaving you was easy, now I gotta do what's hard / I gotta stay away," sang Gavin, belting out a remarkable vocal and emotional range simultaneously.

The trio's energy was sensed far and wide, thanks in part to dance. For their hit "Number One Fan," Maskin, dressed in trousers and a tank top, shook her bobbed curls and gyrated center-stage to her own guitar solos between lyrics. Then, when performing the newer hit "No Idea," the group's self-proclaimed "dyke boy-band song," Gavin and McPherson staged a faux make-out.

Photo by Kylin Brown  

Throughout, MUNA's fans could be seen teary-eyed, as if the Space Needle and the festival underneath it ceased to exist, so that they could cherish an intimate moment with the music and lyrics. Emotions ran high, closeted realities faded away, and visibility shone down as Gavin prepared the crowd for the utopian safe-space anthem "I Know a Place."

"As a band, we wholeheartedly believe in a joyful Queer revolution," said Gavin before the song. "We believe in Black liberation, and the end of Queer and Black discrimination. This song is about a place that we want to see exist in the world."

After their show, fans dispersed into the hilly grass lawn of Fisher Pavilion, in a reverie of MUNA's radical vision — or simply to process their emotions — before headliner Mitski Miyawaki (aka Mitski) pulled them into a theatrical performance of intense introspection and confliction.

Photo by Kylin Brown  

Mitski gives a fitting production
Since quitting social media in 2019 to preserve a healthy self-image, Mitski has been busy with a return to music that is equally as disquieting and severe as it is yearning and hopeful, with her last contracted album, Laurel Hell.

On stage headlining Friday, the artist half-danced, half-wilted across the stage throughout her set, delivering an unwaveringly emotional song-and-dance production that intrigued newcomers and satiated loyalists, however guilty they might feel for supporting an artist who lyricizes the suffering caused by her own participation in the music industry.

In a faithful deliverance of the album's hit, "Love Me More," Mitski tantalized the audience with her tortured worldview. "I wish that this would go away / But when I'm done singing this song / I will have to find something else / To do to keep me here," she sang.

Through her set, Mitski took the crowd on a rollercoaster journey — at the tempo of a Ferris wheel — to explore the nuances and in-betweens of happiness and sadness, trust and betrayal, among other emotions that are difficult to name.

Photo by Kylin Brown  

Saturday & Sunday wound down
Although the festival offered a comprehensive lineup, with headliners Mac DeMarco and The National on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, feelings of radical love and self-exploration sparked by Friday's day one lingered mostly among smaller artists.

Saturday, Seattle-based Shabazz Palaces, led by Ishmael Butler — formerly Butterfly of jazz rap group Digable Planets — took listeners on a ride with entrancing instrumentals and slow rap lyrics.

Photo by Kylin Brown  

Then, rock band Cherry Glazerr took the stage to enliven a 6 p.m. crowd, followed by Brooklyn-based alt hip-hop from crowd favorite JPEGMAFIA. Fans encouraged the artist onstage, chanting his industry-known nickname, "Peggy."

Sunday notably included soulful Jamila Woods, whose set opened with "Holy," an optimistic ballad of spiritual freedom. "Woke up this morning with my mind set on loving me / With my mind set on loving me / I'm not lonely, I'm alone / And I'm holy by my own," repeated the chorus as the crowd swayed.

Then, to close out a weekend of music and pure enjoyment, Japanese Breakfast swept listeners off their feet with an animated performance of all of their best material, featuring visuals of lead singer Michelle Zauner as a child and old photos of her mother that literally brought people to tears as they related to the music or were reminded of Zauner's recent acclaimed memoir, Crying in H Mart, which details her mother's fatal battle with cancer.

Twisting her brutal grip on the hearts of the listeners, Zauner finished with lively hits, such as "Sweet to Me" and "Paprika" from the latest album, Jubilee, neither of which I can seem to get out of my head.