It might be time to upgrade your low-back lawn chair setup, Eastsiders. A new outdoor concert venue backed by Seattle’s leading independent promoter is coming to your neck of the woods. (Emphasis on the “woods.”)
Beginning next summer, Seattle Theatre Group plans to launch a new concert series at Remlinger Farms in Carnation. The bucolic, 6,000-capacity venue brings another outdoor concert option to the Greater Seattle area, one that’s a bit larger than other midsized amphitheaters like ZooTunes, Woodinville’s Chateau Ste. Michelle and Marymoor Park in Redmond.
While STG is a well-known entity in Seattle’s music and arts scene, running the Paramount, Moore and Neptune theaters, as well as the THING festival in Port Townsend, Remlinger Farms might be a new name for local music lovers. However, the owners are no strangers to hosting crowds, welcoming around 200,000 visitors per year to the wooded site roughly 25 miles from downtown Seattle. The family-run farm on 350 acres of land is already home to an amusement park, on-site restaurant, brewery, ice cream parlor and market, and invites guests for seasonal berry- and pumpkin-picking trips and pony rides.
“We are excited to continue to do what STG does best — produce exceptional music, comedy, and cultural experiences — in this beautiful location that we are honored to call our fourth venue,” Adam Zacks, STG’s chief programming officer, said in a news release. “The Remlinger family is wonderful, and we could not be more thrilled to be in partnership with such exceptional and community-focused people.”
This past June, STG worked with Remlinger Farms to host three shows with Australian psych-rockers King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard in what felt like a bit of a test run. The shows were initially booked for nearby Carnation Farms, though “permitting issues,” Zacks said in an interview, forced relocation after tickets went on sale. Although there was no camping on-site, many fans walked the mile and a half from the Tolt-MacDonald Park campground, and STG also ran a shuttle bus to downtown Seattle.
For the past five years, STG had been looking for an outdoor venue of their own — “a big missing piece for us,” Zacks said, where they could run a summer concert series with artists they helped scale up from the club level instead of having to “wave goodbye” once they outgrew the Paramount Theatre. For reference, the new Remlinger Farms venue can handle more than twice as many fans as the Paramount’s 2,800 capacity.
Beyond a location with “tons of character and history,” Zacks said STG found kindred spirits in the Remlinger Farms crew, with whom they hope to build a unique music venue that removes “some of the pain points of modern concert-going.”
“We learned a lot about each other, and we have a similar working style, similar ethos,” Zacks said. “They’re very community-minded. They also prefer to price things like beer at $7 instead of $12, $15 and up.”
During the drizzly first night of King Gizzard, poncho-clad fans in hiking boots comfortably spread out across a grassy, tree-lined field to take in the prolific psych rippers’ amorphous set. Between the rain, a passionate fan base unafraid of flying its freak flag and the makeshift farm venue on the edge of the Cascade foothills, the whole thing had a bit of a throwback, flower-powered festival vibe. For the most part, things seemed to run smoothly — until an exodus crunch in the parking lot took an hour and a half to untangle. That said, those are the sort of kinks that get worked out after a few reps and, according to Zacks, the parking problem was fixed when farm staff took over the second night.
The only other real knock from the King Gizzard run was long bathroom lines, which Zacks said should be alleviated next year when more of the farm’s facilities (including the brewery) will be open to concertgoers, plus additional port-a-potties.
The first announced show for 2024 is an Aug. 21 date with rootsy indie rockers Mt. Joy (tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Nov. 10 at stgpresents.org), though the goal is to do 15 shows in the inaugural season. Down the road, they could host as many as 36 concerts per year, Zacks said.
More interesting than adding a couple of Honey Buckets, Zacks said several infrastructural additions are in the works, including a bigger stage with an “architecturally interesting” roof and “thoughtful fencing that looks cool and feels cool. We’re going to move a lot of earth around to create berms and terraces … and beautify the site.”
“We’re really taking a long-term view of this and making investments accordingly,” he said.
Just how long term are we talking?
“We’re looking at 20 years,” Zacks said of the deal with Remlinger Farms. “That allows us to make this kind of investment. Short of that, it’s tough to put in serious capital.”
Another one of those investments, which may not be ready by next summer, will be a removable seating option akin to the setup at Marymoor Park that can be used depending on the show. While Carnation can be a bit of a rush-hour trek for Seattle fans, here’s something that’ll soften the blow: on-site parking will be free.
While Zacks and STG already have one summer festival in their purview with THING, the founder of Sasquatch! Music Festival didn’t rule out the possibility of another fest or similar event at Remlinger Farms.
“It’s got our gears turning for sure because it’s the kind of place where you could spend a full day, and it would be cool,” Zacks said. “No solid plans right now, but we’re thinking about a lot of different things that could happen out there.”