Line Out Music & the City at Night

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Magma Festival's Subterranean Weirdness

Posted by on Sun, Mar 2, 2014 at 1:40 PM

(Clockwise) The Space Lady, Jessika Kenney and Newaxeyes
  • (Clockwise) The Space Lady, Jessika Kenney and Newaxeyes

This might be the strangest, most unwieldy fundraiser that's ever existed in Seattle. Now in its seventh year, Magma Festival flows in unpredictable patterns every weekend in March at venues such as Chop Suey, Heartland, Chapel Performance Space, and Hollow Earth Radio. The last named is the Central District netcasting station/quasi club that is the beneficiary of all this left-of-center music, poetry, and performance art. Headed by founder Garrett Kelly and curated by almost 20 volunteers from HER's deep pool of DJs, Magma thrives on diversity and extreme unconventionality. Some of the acts are so underground, they have no internet presence (gasp). Some are so bafflingly odd, you won't have the slightest idea how to deal with them. Magma asks a lot of you and repeatedly jabs you out of your cultural comfort zone. More often than not, though, the rewards are worth the risk.

Putting on such a beast of an event is a logistical nightmare, Kelly concedes, "but luckily we have so many people who are willing to help us and a huge volunteer pool... We also don't book the same band twice (to keep things fair), and sometimes that makes it difficult. But, ultimately, it's about pushing ourselves to explore and find interesting artists doing stuff worth showcasing. It's also so badass that the bands are so open to helping us; we really couldn't do it without them. Obviously."

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