Paul Allen seems happy with his first attempt at creating a new festival for the Northwest.
The Microsoft co-founder and brainchild of Upstream Music Fest + Summit called the inaugural 3-day event in Seattle this weekend “successful.”
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) May 14, 2017
The first-time event was made up of a summit, with keynote speakers like Macklemore and discussions and workshops centered around the modern business of music, and a festival, with hundreds of emerging acts from the Pacific Northwest at venues around Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood.
Upstream reported 30,000 total attendees, which is less than half of how many people attend the similar, much larger SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. But it’s an impressive number, particularly given a mostly-rainy weekend in Seattle.
More than 360 bands performed a variety of different music at Upstream, from rock to hip-hop to jazz. There were also art installations, buskers, and free shows put on by KEXP throughout Pioneer Square.
Despite the less-than-stellar weather, the general consensus from attendees and media seemed positive. One critique came from The Stranger, which called out the sign-up process as too technologically-intrusive. “The only thing that sucks is that you have to sell some part of your internet soul right off the bat,” it noted.
— Taylor Soper (@Taylor_Soper) May 13, 2017
ReachNow was also present around the event, as it had temporary drop zones for its vehicles:
— ReachNow (@reachnow) May 13, 2017
Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, is a celebrated music and arts fan, as his MoPOP Museum and Seattle Art Fair attest. The three-day event “is designed to promote music discovery, spark transformative conversations and foster opportunities for emerging artists and the industry within the new entertainment economy,” according to Allen’s Vulcan Inc. website.
Several Vulcan executives were at the festival.
— Chris McGowan (@ChrisDMcGowan) May 14, 2017
“It has always been our mission to create a festival that would shine a light on the amazing sound of the Pacific Northwest,” Jeff Vetting, executive director, Upstream Music Fest + Summit, said in a statement. “We couldn’t be happier that the first year of Upstream brought together so many members of the music community and music lovers from around the region. We want to thank all of our artists, speakers and sponsors for their incredible support and participation this inaugural year, and we look forward to the future.”