The average festival’s first year typically doesn’t feature neon sculptures, stages with floating docks and amazing performances of all genres, but The Bellingham Arts and Music Festival was anything but ordinary. The festival, which goes by the abbreviation BAMF, spanned a full 24 hours, and each moment was filled with spectacular expressions of creativity.
From the jazzy feel of The Dawn Bombs to late night rap by Donormaal, each performer brought their own style to The Lookout Arts Quarry. There was also fire spinning and live art for attendees to watch.
The Dawn Bombs performing at the Quarry Stage
Many artists incorporated unique elements into their sets especially for BAMF. The House of Blue Leaves performed with the Bellingham choral group The Sound of Four. Those who have seen the band perform before may remember them as a punk band, but The House of Blue Leaves debuted their new lineup at BAMF with an indie rock sound.
“This was actually one of the first shows I’ve played with them [House of Blue Leaves],” bassist Andrew Lihudis stated. “The crowd was great.”
The attendees were not afraid to show their appreciation, and the performers fed off the crowd’s enthusiasm. Max Prendergast, or Metsä, had only positive comments about the festival:
“People were totally digging it and I was lost in my set. I was like, ‘this is way too fun.'”
Due to the many noticeably outstanding sets by performers, the crowd carried a vibrant energy throughout the event.
“Out of all the Bob Fossil shows I’ve seen, their set at BAMF was by far one of best they’ve put on,” attendee Kai Griffen said.
Bob Fossil performing at the Cedar Stage
The four stages each had their own vibe and production. The audience watched performers on the Quarry Stage from a floating dock and many attendees swam in the water during the day. At night, a projector shined various visuals upon the quarry’s rock face.
The Pirate Ship stage hosted a light puppet show, karaoke and Sunday morning cartoons. The stage name was certainly appropriate, due to the fact it was an actual Pirate Ship. The Saloon Stage also encompassed its theme, featuring country western decor—though the visuals on stage were anything but old fashioned.
Klefto performing at the Saloon Stage
The Nook stage had a cozy feel, with many places to sit around the dance floor. Sam Robertson performed at The Nook as Schoolboy QT.
“It was so intimate, but so intense at the same time,” Robertson described. “No club in Bellingham could compare. It felt like the energy of some of the more popping house parties I’ve DJ’d at, but with a way more pleasant atmosphere and crowd.”
Many Western Washington University students contributed music and artwork to the festival. Student Aisha Housman welded chairs and sculptures displayed in the Nook especially for the event. Nicholas Perpich and Monica Griffin, the curators of the event, created the idea for their final graduating project, and graphic design major Jake Stoumbos painted a mural on The Cedar Stage.
Housman sitting in her welded chair at The Nook Stage
The festival was a massive hit, and highly successful for its first year. The amazing performances and overall organization will have us dreaming of BAMF until next spring.
“Everybody involved deserves so much gratitude because I didn’t notice a single problem the whole time I was there,” Robertson added. “Wild organization for the first year, so I can only imagine it will be even more concrete next year.”
What was your favorite set at BAMF? Were there any surprising elements of the festival? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!