OLYMPIA, Wash. — Negativland’s first live set in six years and performances by Elliott Smith and Sleater-Kinney will highlight the third Yoyo a Go Go festival, to be held Tuesday-Sunday (July 13-18) at the Capitol Theatre in Olympia, Wash.
Bratmobile’s appearance, part of their reunion tour, and a performance by Oregon’s Dead Moon — considered regional grandparents of grunge — mark other highlights of the festival, which will feature approximately 50 bands.
Marine Research, the new band formed by members of UK pop outfit Heavenly, appear prior to the summer release of their debut album, Sounds From the Gulf Stream.
“It’s my dream bill,” said Madigan Shive, whose band Bonfire Madigan will play the show, along with Nova Scotia and Mecca Normal. “I’m really glad that that’s the show we’re a part of, because I think the music will be really exciting because of how different and powerful each group is,” she said.
In 1994, when the first Yoyo festival was held, the media spotlight still was hovering over the Pacific Northwest music scene, Yoyo founder Pat Maley recalled. But by the time the next Yoyo rolled around, in 1997, the media largely had moved on to cover the next “hot” regional music scene.
Now, as Maley gears up for the third edition, he has found the atmosphere similar to the vibe that prevailed prior to the late-’91 grunge explosion.
“It’s gone back to the way it was before, which is great,” Maley said. “Everyone’s going, ‘The indie rock market, the bottom’s dropped out of it.’ And I’m just like, ‘No. It went back to what it always had been, what was obviously a lot more sustainable.’ ”
Maley’s first Yoyo venture was a studio now housed in the Capitol Theatre. In 1992 Yoyo became a record label with the release of the compilation Throw, which included tracks by Unwound, Heavens to Betsy and Bikini Kill. In 1994, inspired by K Records’ 1991 International Pop Underground festival, Maley decided to stage his own event, and Yoyo diversified again, into Yoyo a Go Go.
While acts such as Negativland, Smith — whose most recent album, XO, featured “Baby Britain” (RealAudio excerpt) — and Sleater-Kinney will doubtless attract the most attention, a wide range of offerings await the dedicated Yoyo-er.
“It’s a … work week to come and watch Yoyo, ’cause there’s 40 hours of music,” Maley said.
Shive’s ties with Yoyo date to the early ’90s, when her duo Tattle Tale cut their first tracks at Yoyo’s studios and appeared on Yoyo’s second compilation, Julep. Tattle Tale also appeared at Yoyo ’94, where Shive was struck by the friendly, supportive environment of the event.
“I was backstage and one of the pegs went out on my cello,” she said. “We were supposed to get onstage and I was just in a panic. And I remember seeing Beck backstage, smiling at me and giving this thumbs up. It was really great positive reinforcement.”
Maley is undaunted that Yoyo will take place during Olympia’s Lakefair Festival. “It’s a great time because they clean the streets at night,” he joked.
Lakefair will feature carnival rides, a parade and fireworks, all of which Maley believes will add to the overall sense of fun. As long as fun remains a key element, Yoyo a Go Go will continue to be a regular, if intermittently scheduled, event.
“I’m figuring I’ll keep doing them,” Maley said. “As long as they’re not crappy, as long as they’re what I want them to be, I’ll keep doing ‘em. And as soon as they start being something else, I’ll just stop.”
For more information on Yoyo a Go Go, see the festival’s website (www.yoyoagogo.com).