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Squeak and Squawk

An impressive inde-rock festival to hit Tacoma next week

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Squeaking. Squawking. Rocking. And rolling. 

Throw in some indie posturing, a dollop of cello playing, a healthy dose of experimenting, a smidge of history making and a heaping helping of tight pants and ironic haircuts — and you’ve got the makings of something revolutionary in Tacoma. 


What you’ve got is the Squeak and Squawk Music Festival, which will take over Tacoma’s budding indie music scene between Thursday, Oct. 16 and Monday, Oct. 20. Jointly created by the Helm Gallery and the infantile but soon to be white-hot venue, the New Frontier, the Squeak and Squawk music festival is coming to change Tacoma forever. 

What exactly is Squeak and Squawk? The Helm’s Web site offers perspective about the festival’s purpose:

“The Helm has organized this festival to function as an indicator of the strength of the local independent music scene,” according to “We believe Tacoma is a great place to play music and that our reputation on the outside as a ‘dangerous’ and somewhat ‘worthless’ community is long overdue for change. Fixing this misconception will aid the local art and music community in its quest for growth.”

If the Squeak and Squawk Music Festival can change the outside world’s dated perception of Tacoma — convincing bands and music fans alike that they’re not likely to get shot in a drive-by or leave the City of Destiny with their clothes smelling of the Tacoma aroma — then the festival will be the most important musical happening in T-town in years. But even if that challenge proves a lengthy one, and it takes more than one year of Squeak and Squawk to accomplish it — anyone who knows a lick about indie music has to be excited about the musicians and shows next week’s festival has in store.


Throughout the five-day Squeak and Squawk Music Festival, bands from all over the Northwest and beyond will be stopping in Tacoma to unleash their magic. The festival’s lineup, which is available at, includes nationally known and well-respected indie artists such as Calvin Johnson, Evangelicals, the Portland Cello Project and Parenthetical Girls, along with local favorites the Elephants, Frisky, the Drug Purse, Paris Spleen and Don’t Tell Sophie. It’s a jaw dropping and inspiring mix, and just the sort of eclectic and talented vibe the brains behind Squeak and Squawk were going for. 

“We wanted to put together a lineup that was realistic and geared toward small venues. I think that the greatest shows happen in a small venue setting. I was at the Radiohead show a couple months ago and it was a complete bulls*** experience. I would much rather see a musician perform in a small, simple room than watch a million dollar light show with some sesame seeds bouncing around in front of it,” says Squeak and Squawk Music Festival co-creator Sean Alexander, who most folks in Tacoma know from his role as co-owner of the Helm Gallery. “It will be the first time most of these bands play Tacoma. I think after Squeak and Squawk (assuming it is successful) better and better acts will consider playing here. It is also good for Tacoma’s young people to have something to do besides get bonkers drunk and spit peanuts around a room. Also, it will be great for the students at the School of the Arts who are studying music to see some budding performers.”


While I’ve long been a fan of getting bonkers drunk and spitting peanuts, you’ve got to admit Alexander has a point. Tacoma seems (at least on the verge of being) ready for a festival like Squeak and Squawk, and next week’s action will go a long way toward gauging just where we’re at. 

“The purpose of Squeak and Squawk is to provide the local area with five days of solid and diverse programming. Currently, the Tacoma indie rock/pop/experimental scene is almost completely insular. The same 50 people go to all the shows. I would really hope to see some new faces appear during the festival,” says Alexander. “I wouldn’t really say Tacoma is ready for Squeak and Squawk. It will be interesting to see just how unready it really is. We want to see all of the turnouts meet our realistic expectations. We are already losing a decent amount of money by putting this festival on. It would be nice if we didn’t lose more during the week. Also, we want to see people have fun and get all dorky about music.”


Hard to argue with that. Is Tacoma ready for an event like Squeak and Squawk? We’ll find out Oct 16-20. The only thing that seems certain is, ready or not, the Squeak and Squawk Music Festival is about to take over Tacoma. 

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Comments for "Squeak and Squawk" (2)

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A Concerned Citizen said on Oct. 09, 2008 at 1:56pm

It's about time. I can't wait to hear the New Frontier's sound system! Thanks for putting this together.

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pika said on Oct. 14, 2008 at 10:54pm

Go Helm guys! This is a great thing for Tacoma -- unready and willing.

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