A blue house with white trim appears unassuming from the outside. Propped up on the steps is a hand-painted sign reading “Bluebird House.” A faint thumping can be heard from the street but nothing too head-turning. Inside, however, the living room overflows with people, floorboards swaying under jumping feet. Where one would expect to find a couch is a handmade stage loaded with musical instruments and members of some of Bellingham’s most popular bands.
Bellingham-based indie band Foxy Apollo held Foxy Fest, a two-night house-show music and arts festival on Friday, Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 8 at Bluebird House. The lineup included Asterhouse, The Hookups, Hockey Teeth, Where’s the Exit, CHRVNS, Foxy Apollo, Madam Monarch and ebony.
Sam Ashkenazy, co-director of Bluebird House and lead singer of Foxy Apollo, had been planning this event for a long time. Nine months ago, Ashkenazy had an idea to bring different pieces of Bellingham’s artistic community together.
Ashkenazy said he aimed to expand the community aspect of the event by hiring multiple vendors in addition to the eight musical performances.
The vendors set up shop underneath warm string lights in the house’s backyard. Showgoers had a chance to purchase art from the vendors, as well as jewelry from local artist Arts and Trash and merchandise from both Foxy Apollo and local alternative pop band Hockey Teeth.
Laughter - from both showgoers and performers - filled Bluebird House’s backyard between sets.
Hockey Teeth, consisting of guitarist and keyboardist Zach Grande, vocalist Joey Boone, bassist Riley Adair and drummer Owen Rollison, performed on day one.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better show,” Grande said. “The organization was great and the crowd was so respectful.”
Grande said playing shows in Bellingham is often a special experience.
“In Seattle, they're just kind of there for a party and music happens to be present. But in Bellingham, people are there for the music,” Grande said.
Boone said the atmosphere of house shows can be uncertain, with the potential for disrespectful or unappreciative crowds, but he was quickly met with a positive audience at Foxy Fest.
Riley Currie, outreach director at Make.Shift Art Space, believes independent shows like these are vital to the Bellingham music scene.
“Independent venues are super important because there’s very few places you can connect with community, especially in the arts and music,” Currie said.
Kelly Sorbel, venue director and facilities manager for Make.Shift, noted that on top of this sense of building community, there is also a hands-on aspect that makes the environment of independent venues irreplaceable.
“All-ages shows can be very empowering,” Sorbel said, adding that rising artists can see themselves doing lighting, sound, management or performing in a more accessible and achievable way.
Jessyca Murphy, executive director of Make.Shift, regards do-it-yourself spaces as essential.
“[They] reduce gatekeeping and the stigma around reaching out and getting involved,” Murphy said.
Though Ashkenazy is set to graduate soon, he hopes to continue on this path of community engagement and put on more shows like Foxy Fest in the future.
“I would do it again on a larger scale if I could,” Ashkenazy said.
The festival posted rounds of pre-sale tickets, leaving limited tickets to be sold at doors. Ashkenazy dreams of teaming up with a local park and using the larger space to accept the many eager concertgoers they had to turn away at doors.