Here’s the THING: A Snapshot into THING NW
Updated: Oct 3, 2023
By Olivia Lee
Edited by Marian Mohamed
THING NW attendees stand in front of the Jeremiah Green stage watching Geese perform on Aug. 26, 2023. (Photo/Kaitlyn Nyangate)
On the sunny weekend of Aug. 25-27, THING NW, one of Washington’s newest and most promising arts festivals, took place, boasting a diverse lineup of music, food, comedy, podcasts, and more. The festival, produced by Seattle Theater Group and Adam Zacks, was held in Port Townsend, where festival-goers could explore the 12 miles of forested hiking trails and walk along the Puget Sound shoreline in addition to attending the festival. The outdoor stages and the beautiful nature surrounding the venue gave the festival a laid-back vibe, like the gentle sway of a hammock in the warm breeze.
Debuting in 2019 and canceled in 2020-2021 due to COVID, THING’s lineup of musical performers was well-curated and diverse with impressive headliners like Cigarettes After Sex, Lil Yachty, Fleet Foxes, and Thundercat. There was also a notable international presence with artists like Black Country, New Road, Laufey, and The Beths performing. THING also emphasized showcasing fresh discoveries in music, which was achieved by featuring up-and-comers like THEM and Cherry Ferrari.
Alongside the eclectic mix of music at THING, attendees could participate in fun workshops that specialize in dance, theater, and improv, do some ax throwing, buy from market vendors, watch the Traveling Spectacular’s surreal vaudeville show, and more.
Staying at an arts festival for most of the day will guarantee some hungry stomachs. Luckily, THING’s food vendors were just as varied as their performers. From Thai cuisine to woodfire pizza to dumplings, festival-goers could grab a bite at many of THING’s offered eateries. Not to mention their delicious dessert options like shaved ice and funnel cakes.
On Saturday, New York rock band Geese took the Jeremiah Green stage, where they played an energetic and passionate set, including performing songs off their new album 3D Country. Lead singer Cameron Winter finished the set by joking about how terrible airplane food was, giving the overall performance an intimate appeal, almost like you were watching some friends at a basement jam session.
Geese members Cameron Winter, Dominic DiGesu, and Gus Green (Photo/Kaitlyn Nyangate)
Meanwhile, one of Seattle Theater Group’s (STG) many workshops were underway. Led by Taylor Melville, the musical theater improv workshop was attracting an eclectic crowd of all sorts of people, young and old. Many memorable games were played, such as ‘That’s Not a Hat’ and ‘Family Portrait.’ Melville, an STG teaching artist, says these improv games are unique because they allow people to think and react organically. The games provided a safe space where the participants could let creativity take over, and the diverse interpretations of the prompts made the whole event very entertaining. A good portion of the participants were young children and their parents.
“I think it’s really important that a lot of younger kids were there, but I think it was just as important for them to see their parents and the adults in the room be silly," said Melville. "I think once we lose that ability to just show up and play and be vulnerable, it feels a little sad, and it feels like you lost something. But what’s cool about improv is that it connects you back to those childhood basics of ‘I’m gonna play, and I’m just gonna go with it!"
Melville’s advice for great improv is to just be yourself. “There is only you. You bring a specific kind of magic to the room, and nobody can recreate that,” said Melville.
At the Parade Grounds, the art-rock band Black Country, New Road performed a set of new songs that debuted on their live album, which came out in March 2023. Because of frontman Isaac Wood’s departure from the band in January 2022, the now six-piece ensemble adapted quickly and wrote new material to carry on a new era of the band. Their set consisted of lush, hauntingly orchestrated melodies with cathartic buildups on tracks like "I Won’t Always Love You" and fan favorite "Turbines/Pigs." To the audience’s delight, they also performed two unreleased songs,"‘Nancy Tries to Take the Night" and "British Summertime."
Tyler Hyde of Black Country, New Road performing on the Parade Grounds stage (Photo/Kaitlyn Nyangate)
Despite being a newcomer to the festival scene, THING NW has established itself as a force to be reckoned with. With a highly curated lineup of mainstream and underground artists, workshops to stretch your imagination, and a unique venue area, this festival will continue to entertain spectators in the special way only THING can. Maybe all good THINGs don’t have to come to an end.