The Summer Meltdown Experience
Summer Meltdown 2019 was truly one of the most unexpectedly incredible festivals I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Nestled deep in the Cascade Mountains in Darrington, Washington is a hidden gem that comes alive each summer at the Bluegrass Music Park. With this being its 19th year, I had high expectations, but nothing could have prepared me for how fantastic this festival was. Beginning on August 1st, people poured into the parking lots and began the journey to set up camp. I was so fortunate to have a friend save us a great camping spot with her group, and we were so close to all the stages! For so many big names on the line-up, it was a little surprising to see how small the festival seemed in size. What I realized though, is that the summer meltdown team has truly dialed in on creating an intimate community vibe with extraordinary elements in every corner.
“Meltdown, a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds, and connection, is the ultimate way to let lose and decompress while enjoying the beautiful PNW scenery, greenery and community.” -Meagan Newman (Mango) from Seattle, WA
Where the music…
The first thing I noticed at the festival was how the main stages are set up. In the main part of the venue, there is a huge outdoor auditorium where the two main stages are sitting next to each other. To my surprise, it’s honestly the best set up I’ve ever experienced for the main stages. At night the cabin stage and the main stage would bounce acts back and forth so the music never stopped. I didn’t have to choose between sets or move all my stuff because everything happened right in front of us. The laser lights over the shows were next level and incorporated so many different levels of perception. There was also a Late Night Tent with a silent disco and live sets and The Forest Stage with its own unique line-up of acts!
Thursday night at the main stage Pigeons Playing Ping Pong started out the night after the opening ceremony. Nahko And Medicine For The People played an energetic set with Manic Focus closing out the night on the cabin stage. Friday brought a great set by Brother Ali and the most incredible show by Clozee that I’ve ever seen. On Saturday night The Polish Ambassador played a fantastic set followed by Dirtwire on the cabin stage. Gramatik ended the evening off on the main stage with a bang. On the last night G-Jones took the stage after the closing ceremony. Moontricks followed after him and then Tipper brought an incredible show to the main stage. At each set I found myself immersed in loving, happy vibes and incredible displays of art and talent.
Meets the Mountain!
Any time not spent groovin’ at the stages is time to explore the rest of the festival! The Sensatorium had interactive art installations and you could find live painting and art displays everywhere. The vendor area had lots of art and handmade merchandise with some fantastic food and drink options. One really cool aspect was that there were multiple entrances that brought you to the near-by creek. There were people at all hours floating, swimming and enjoying nature and the new friends around them. The campsites were also alive with all types of art and connection. I saw people offering hair braiding, stone sculptures, free hugs, and sharing food, stories and love.
Ultimately though, my favorite aspect of Summer Meltdown is the close community vibe and friendship that could be seen everywhere. I had never been to Washington before, so I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived. What I found was an incredible group of friends, each loving in their own beautiful ways. I experienced rough moments with the rain the first night, but the sun shined through for the rest of the weekend. The magic cultivated in these 4 days could be seen in the eyes of every person there. A freeing wonderland of acceptance, love and happiness hidden at the foot of the Whitehorse mountain. Summer meltdown is a festival everyone should experience, for it truly is a home away from home.
“This was one of the best Summer Meldowns ever. I enjoyed the music, fell in love with the art and people and made life long friends. Spreading the love!”- Amy Brashler from Arlington, WA
Check out more and stay connected with Summer Meltdown!
Photo Credit: Chris Armer