Cowritten by Karen Baghdadi
Cover photo by Jason Charme
Next Stop: Dreamland
Nestled between the wild waterfalls and lush evergreens of the Washington Mountains, lies Summer Meltdown, an intimate gathering that I will not soon forget. The laid back nature of the Pacific Northwest people emanates as kind smiles are reflected back at you from all around. The breathtaking scenery envelops the grounds and shuts all else out; for the next few days, nothing else matters. The tiny amphitheater is expertly laid out with only two stages and a silent disco tent. The two main stages sit next to one another at right angles, but are controlled by one sound booth. So as the next artist begins, all the crowd has to do is pivot. The amphitheater rises up with ample room on each step to boogie, and vendors are set up all around the bowl. Even as you shop, you still hear the music perfectly.
During the hot days, the river onsite offers a place to cool down and relax before a long night of dancing and grooving. All in all, it’s an absolute dreamland, and the hike to the river and surrounding nature of the venue is a sight to see in itself. Think rainforest, Washington edition- with all of your festie besties. It doesn’t get better than this.
Wisdom: Workshops and Art Galore
For a smaller-scale festival, Summer Meltdown has a BIG reach in terms of the workshops and speakers that are brought in, as well as the art installations that are showcased.
Art installations were brought in on an application-based basis. I found it beautiful that the festival details this crucial part of the event on their site, as many festivals leave the masterminds behind these types of things unnoticed. And the art installations were bangin’ and unique, including but not limited to a microscope that you could use freely and even projection-mapped sand. Read about the rest of the installations HERE.
The workshops during the 2019 edition of Meltdown were nothing short of extraordinary. I was camped on the hill next to the Forest Stage, so I woke up to the sweet sounds of learning almost every day. Here I experienced workshops on the topics of immigration, platonic touching and boundaries, and even ancient wisdom from a Native American Leader. Many of these were interactive, meaning that you always made some new friends throughout the process! The Pacific Northwest mentality shines strong with this one.
Now for the Wiggles
This lineup was something else- headliners including Tipper, Nahko and Medicine for the People, The Polish Ambassador, G Jones, CloZee, and Umphrey’s McGee. I think that the best part of this particular festival lies in the variety of genres that they bring to the table, year after year. You’ve got Jam. There’s heavy bass. There are types of music that you don’t even know how to fit into a category. With the combination of this, plus only one main stage playing at a time- you’re smooth sailing all weekend long. As you’re dancing your way around, you run into the same people over and over again because it is a small festival and there is no crazy crowd to make your way through.
If I had to choose just three, stand-out sets from this year had to have been Tipper, The Polish Ambassador, and High Step Society. Tipper naturally had a lot of hype built up around his set for the weekend, and it was justified. His one-of-a-kind electronica paired with the visuals of Jonathan Singer were an audiovisual experience that literally took the crowd on a journey into another dimension. I witnessed it happen.The Polish Ambassador kept the positivity and dreamy vibes going as day turned to night, and Ayla Nereo even joined him on stage to perform a few of their Wildlight collaborations live. It was beautiful to witness their love in person! High Step Society closed out the main stage Sunday night, a set that I was assured by countless people I COULD NOT BY ANY MEANS miss. I’m glad I pulled through because what I stumbled upon was the sexiest jam and funk set that I’ve ever seen. The energy that this group brings to the stage is unreal, and they even had band members leave the stage and play instruments from within the crowd! First time for that one.
All in all, Summer Meltdown has got me hooked! For such a small festival, the production is absolutely breathtaking and the lineup is jaw-dropping year by year. If you’re looking for a festival that is poppin’ off but doesn’t feel crowded or sold out, this is the one. It’s worth the adventure, folks!
See you next year, Summer Meltdown Family!