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Day In Day Out Fest secures its place as Seattle's most casual music marathon

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Photos by Shivo Brar
Photos by Shivo Brar

Last weekend, Day In Day Out Fest was sold out for the first time, in its third year of bringing indie rock to Seattle Center, thus continuing to establish its place in our city's live music events scene. The festival once again brought multiple LGBTQ+ and BIPOC artists to center stage, part of a must-see lineup spanning all day Saturday and Sunday.

Organized by Daydream State, a collective of businesses owned by Jason Lajeunesse, Day In Day Out is part of a powerful network of partners, allowing it to bring big-name brand sponsors and collaborations along for a full festival experience in the heart of Seattle.

From freebies like Guayakí Yerba Maté and Naloxone from This Must Be The Place, to Liquid Death canned water and Cycling Frog THC drinks, as well as sponsorships from Caffe Vita, Celsius, Tito's, and Parch nonalcoholic agave drinks, Day In Day Out's on-the-ground partnerships this year matched the spirit of the event and were healthily stocked for imbibers of all kinds.

Other vendors included food trucks such as Thai-U-Up and Isidro's Authentic Mexican Food.

How fast can you go from Yaeji to Ethel Cain? Fast!
While the vendors were right on brand, this year's Day In Day Out only ran two days, compared to last year, which mirrored the three-day timespan and force of its sibling festival, Capitol Hill Block Party. While the latter has multiple stages throughout the Pike/Pine area, Day In Day Out's prime location under the Space Needle only had room for a main stage and a DJ booth, which was graced by local artists in short sets sandwiched between each mainstage performance.

As a one-stage, two-day event, with a full lineup, the pacing of Day In Day Out this year felt hurried given its chill reputation. However, the festival was well attended and enjoyed, both by ticket holders and several volunteers whom I found lounging on the grass, waiting for their favorite artists after a few hours of running ice to vendors or putting wristbands on guests at the entrance.

While volunteering or working at a venue — as many did just to see Taylor Swift — can be a great way to see your favorite artists for free, it also says something about cost and equitable access to live music. Ticket prices for Day In Day Out Fest went for about $100 per day, but that felt worth it to one festival-goer, who told me they had waited years to see Bon Iver live.

"There are so many great artists here. I've paid more to see one person in concert," they said.

With widely loved headliners like the soulful Leon Bridges and the melancholic Bon Iver, the crowd for Day In Day Out Fest reached into more mature age brackets than Capitol Hill Block Party typically does, including parents who set up in the lawn with strollers or danced with their 10-year-olds.

While the all-ages atmosphere created a more family-friendly atmosphere, the beer garden (which occupied the stage front and most of the lawn) was typically more full. Gaggles of young millennials and Gen Zers mostly attributed their attendance to pre-headliners Dominic Fike and WILLOW.

A notable local band featured was the Tacoma-based Enumclaw, who kicked off the event early Saturday afternoon with a perfectly rounded example of indie rock. Enumclaw's compelling electric guitar and lyrics delivered a set of grunge and lo-fi sound in front of an audience wearing sunglasses shining in 75-degree heat.

As the DJ stage saw more local notables, like Sea Lemon and THEM, artists such as Indigo to Souza, Surf Curse, and Yaeji took to the mainstage in a roller coaster of genre-bending performances without much downtime in between.

Indigo de Souza's punk-influenced, forceful songs built off of Enumclaw's performance, just before Yaeji swooped in with a sledgehammer, literally and metaphorically, to share her eccentric concoction of EDM, rap, and pop with a heavy focus on her latest album, With a Hammer.

Yaeji surprised the crowd with full choreography to deepen the emotional impact of her performance, with her trademarked combination of both Korean and English lyrics and a pulsating synthetic beat beneath her gentle vocals.

Though Day In Day Out is indie rock-centric, artists in this year's lineup, like Yaeji, expanded the definition of what can fit in or around the genre. In retrospect, there is no way I could have expected to transition from music like Yaeji's to someone like Ethel Cain, who graced the stage Sunday afternoon in a camo shirt and red sunglasses for a melancholic and riveting love-hate performance dedicated to her Floridian roots.

However jarring it may sound, Sunday began with Queens-based R&B singer YayaBey, followed by synth-heavy New Wave from Nation of Language, an artful layering of indie rock between other genres that balanced out the lineup well, making each set just as refreshing as the next.

Notably, headliner Leon Bridges performed a set with little rock involvement, but of course, still moved everyone to dance and sway with their friends, partners, and children as he performed well-known, romantic ballads like "Texas Sun" and "Across the Room" to close out the night on Saturday.

Festival safety questions arise during Bon Iver
On Sunday night, just as fans began to sway and swoon over Bon Iver, the artist stopped abruptly to request medical attention for people in the center of the crowd. It seemed that no medics or security were surveying the audience, or at least were unaware of this safety concern in the middle of the lawn.

"Where are the medics here? We need a medic now," he said, as whispers echoed, and people wondered why we were still waiting as time ticked on. It took over a minute and 30 seconds for medics to begin making their way through the crowd.

"You're okay, baby. It's okay," he said into the microphone as the medics reached the person in need.

Later on, between songs, the artist paused once again, and called for medics a second time. A Daydream State spokesperson followed up with us after the show to let us know that everyone ended up okay, and to speak to their capacity for emergency response.

"Daydream State and the Seattle Center had highly trained medical professionals and security teams on-site to provide first aid and emergency care," they said. "The medical team worked quickly to provide care to attendees; everyone who had medical issues on-site is doing well.

Since artists have the loudspeaker right in front of them, and, at Fisher Pavillion, a direct view of the crowd, it is often only they who can see when someone is in trouble in a sea of faces.

"We appreciate Bon Iver calling our attention to issues so that we could help festivalgoers promptly," said the Daydream State spokesperson.

Only in its third year, Day In Day Out Fest has room to grow in this area. Security was serious and present throughout the venue, but in future incidents, those personnel could be more useful if placed at better vantage points during peak attendance.

Overall, the festival did not disappoint, and hundreds of people enjoyed seeing a variety of currently trendy, local, and long-famous musicians.