In 2003, Sean Horton wanted to throw a late-night electronic music party in Seattle, so he organized a handful of shows at Chop Suey and the now shuttered Capitol Hill Arts Center. Ten years later the Decibel Festival has grown into one of the largest electronic music events in the country. The 10th annual, 4-day festival kicks off Wednesday as organizers get ready to welcome an expected 30,000 attendees — the largest Decibel to date.
“We started as a Capitol Hill festival and we’re still focused there,” Horton said. You can celebrate the 10th anniversary along with attendees at Saturday’s free DB in the Park — a free party running from 11AM-7PM on Saturday in front of the Broadway Performance Hall.
UPDATE: Moved due to expected windy, rainy weather!
Today’s dB in the Park event has moved to Re-Bar
Due to poor weather conditions, the 10th Annual Decibel Festival’s dB in the Park event, will be moving to one of Seattle longest running and most respected nightclubs, Re-Bar (1114 Howell St).
This FREE 21+ event will be running 12PM to 7PM and will feature deejay performances from two of the West Coast’s most respected house, deep house and nu disco artists (Poolside and Jeno) with support from Phidelity, Michael Manahan and Natural Magic.
This year’s dB in the Park event will feature deejay performances from two of the West Coast’s most respected house, deep house and nu disco artists (Poolside and Jenö) with support from Phidelity, Michael Manahan and Natural Magic.
This FREE day-time event (11AM – 7PM) will also feature a yoga class, local food trucks, performance art, a beer garden (hosted by Innerflight) and premier KV2 Audio sound (provided by Starborne Sound). RAIN OR SHINE!
Head inside the BPC this week for more free for all events at the DB Conference. Here’s the full schedule.
This year’s conference will be increasing its focus on workshops, product demos and hands on interaction with hardware and software companies looking to educate expand their audience. In addition, we’ll be hosting several lectures featuring artists performing at the 2013 Decibel Festival. The three room program will feature a classroom, conference room and auditorium all running simultaneously with unique content.
New this year are not one, but two official Decibel after-hours parties to be held every night Thrs.- Sat. at Q nightclub and Neumos. The parties will bump on from 9PM-7AM and are free to festival passholders. The clubs will become 18+ after 2AM when alcohol service ends.
Horton said he was excited to see how people take to the late-night club hub. While he said the electronic music scene in Capitol Hill is the strongest its been in a decade, Horton has been frustrated by the alcohol laws limiting the all-hours music scene.
“I hope that (late-night Decibel) helps trigger an after hours culture in the city. Forcing the underground dance community out on the street at 1:45AM from a great party is really frustrating,” he said. “I also think it’s unfair that kids under 21 can’t experience a lot of these events.”
This year’s headliners include Moby, Flosstradamus, and local favorites Shabazz Palaces. Horton tells CHS he’s most excited to see Nicolas Jaar’s set at the Showbox SODO. His other top festival picks include:
- Ben Klock
- Green Velvet
- Speedy J
- Art Department
- Max Cooper
- Derrick Carter
- Neon Indian
Horton said the EDM scene on Capitol Hill has changed dramatically since his more humble days putting together shows on the Hill. “Back in 2002 you couldn’t get a weekend date at Chop Suey,” he said. “For most Capitol Hill clubs now, electronic music is their bread and butter.” In 2012, Q opened on Broadway with the intention of becoming “a major EDM venue.”
Horton started booking electronic shows in Chop Suey and the CHAC shortly after he moved to Seattle in 2002. The post-rave come down in electronic music meant smaller crowds but much more room for experimentation.
“They were small weekday events,” Horton said. “But it started to build a community in Capitol Hill.”
In 2003 Horton started working up plans for a festival that would combine electronic music, art, and education. Horton said big advances in consumer software and laptop technology at the time were critical element in forming Decibel’s tech-forward identity.
The first festival in 2003 had around 2,500; last year some 26,000 people attended. Horton said he hopes the festival will reach 30,000 attendees this year, which would put each venue at roughly 80% capacity for the entire festival.
The age of the average festival-goer has significantly decreased over the years, a trend Horton says he supports. “With EDM reaching the mainstream, were seeing younger attendees which is great because they’re going to be the future artists and musicians,” he said. Horton said he expects the Capitol Hill shows to be a slightly older, more local crowd as opposed to the shows downtown.
This year’s Decibel will be held among 12 venues, a reduction from last year’s 16. “Last year we bit off more than we could chew,” Horton said.
Decibel stands out among other large electronic music festivals in that it’s a club-focused event. Horton said he’s always preferred the atmosphere of smaller clubs to large outdoor stages. That’s part of the reason he says that this years Decibel could be the largest it will ever be. “I see us scaling back slightly. This will be the biggest to date and maybe the biggest we’ll ever have. I don’t see us adding much more.”
Capitol Hill is becoming a consistent destination for electronic music in the city. Last month CHS reported on the shifting directions at Q nightclub to expand it’s musical menu. Horton said the club is showing a lot of promise and has the makings to be nationally recognized given its location, space, and sound system. “I’m excited to see where Q goes with its mix of EDM, top 40, and mash-up,” he said.
Music and arts seminars, yoga classes, and a slew of talks pepper the festival schedule this year. While the music may not expand any further, Horton said he hopes to expand the education component of the festival in the next 10 years.
“If I stay curator, that’s the direction I will go,” he said. “I don’t party like I used to, so as an adult I’ll incorporate more of those outside-the-club events.”