What the Heck Fest spawned out of the small fisherman’s town of Anacortes, WA in 2001 and encompasses the meaning of a small town community. Started by local musicians from the K Records family, What the Heck Fest has grown strong for the past ten years. This summer saw Heck’s final fest, from July 15 to 17. As a passionate supporter of the DIY culture, Heck has showcased bands such as Mt. Eerie, Woelv, Kickball, and Tender Forever as well as many other local Northwest acts.
This year, Tom Tom ventured from Portland, OR to the tiny fisherman’s town to cover a handful of bands whose missions is all the same: to embrace and support local music. Bands such as Broken Water, LAKE, Earth, Bitpart, Lovers Without Borders, and Hungry Cloud Darkening all played to one consistent crowd that felt as if everyone in it was your neighbor.
LAKE and Broken Water started off the first evening of the festival. LAKE played a lovely performance to a vivid crowd at the Croatian Club. Later that evening, Broken Water started off the first night of shows in the port warehouse, right above the water on the edge of town. Kanako Wynkoops’s drumming style fit perfectly with the atmosphere of the festival. Her beats and hits on the drums sounded like swells of ocean cymbals and water hitting rock. As the night continued, each band played out their individual Heck experiences.
Audience members and bands come from all over the United States as well as different parts of the world to be at this festival. A band with two thirds hailing from Paris, France and the other third from Olympia, WA revved up one Saturday afternoon with throbbing punk melodies. Bitpart, whose Parisian members were formerly known as Fat Beavers, were joined by local Olympia drummer Maria Stocke. Maria has played in numerous projects including the band Girls of Mars. According to Maria, she started drumming with Bitpart a week before their Heck performance. She says that she would hear them practice with their drum machine and eventually approached them about having a drum set in their band. She says, “I haven’t been the drummer in a punk band in a long time, and was afraid my muscles weren’t ready for the challenge. Playing with them seemed so natural, I always find it easier to drum with people I already have a connection with, I could understand what they wanted, and by the third or fourth practice we already had ten songs.”
The evening ended with a powerful performance by Earth. Drummer Adrienne Davies is truly at the core of Earth, and has played for the band for about ten years. This was the first time I had ever seen Earth after hearing their name for many years. Their sound fully conceptualizes the meaning of Earth. The name of their band creates this feeling that just makes everyone lay on the ground shutting their eyes either to feel it or just to take time out of their day to relax and meditate in drone. The floor of the port warehouse is made of old, thick strips of wood that house tiny cracks in between each plank. Some cracks are big enough where you can see the ocean beneath you. While members of the audience lay par terre, listening and feeling, every member of Earth’s eyes and bodies were facing Adrienne. Each member looks and moves and waits for Adrienne to start the next phrase of their songs. Once the kick and ride are hit, the blaring of the rest of the instruments crown each note, creating one full and gathered sound.
Adrienne talked a bit about Heck Fest with Tom Tom: “It was great; it is a festival that is well organized, which is rare. Plus it is nice to see a great all ages show. It is also great to see bands not just from Seattle.” Adrienne grew up playing various instruments but drums came most naturally to her.
Even though it is a sad thing to see this festival go, one cannot forget the many great bands it supported over the years. We are eager for what will come up in the future. And it is true: every band that played the festival including Earth and Broken Water, really cares about keeping all ages alive.
Drummers, in order of appearance, are:
#1-3: Hungry Cloud Darkening- Allyson Foster
#4-8: Earth – Adrienne Davies
#9-11: Broken Water – Kanako Wynkoop
#12: Broken Water- Abigail Ingram
#13-20: Bit Part- Maria Stocke
#21-23: Lovers Without Borders- Jessica Bonin
Story by Katherine Paul
Photos by Maya Stoner