A Guide to Belltown Bloom 2023

From retro funk to forest folktronica🌲

A large packed crowd with a shining disco ball inside The Crocodile

📸: Belltown Bloom

Back for a third year, Belltown Bloom kicks off Seattle’s music festival season on Friday, May 5th, and Saturday, May 6th, with shows across three stages at The Crocodile. Founded by sisters Veronica and Valerie Topacio of the dreamy indie rock band La Fonda, the fest focuses on female and QTBIPOC artists, highlighting Seattle’s talent and creating a space that uplifts fresh voices.

This year’s lineup spans across genres and features a little over 40 (you read that right!) acts, showcasing an array of local talent along with impressive national acts like punk legends L7 and infamous performance artists Pussy Riot. While there’s no going wrong with any of the acts, here are a few you should add to your list to check out.

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Prom Queen 👑

Friday, May 5th

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Initially started as a solo project by frontwoman Leeni Ramadan in 2011, Prom Queen has grown both in size and sound. Now adorned with a full band, Prom Queen is reminiscent of glitzy ’60s girl groups but with a dark streak. Their songs weave jangly surf rock guitars with sweet and sometimes ominous doo-wop (also affectionately referred to as doom-wop) vocals. Songs like “Lie to Me” will make you feel like riding a motorcycle through the desert, while a track like “Why Do You Dream?” will make you want to sway longingly on a dancefloor. Their set will be electrifying, complete with a dazzling, retro (dare I say kitschy?) aesthetic. They also recently released a surf rock cover of “Toxic” by Britney Spears that is totally worth a listen. 

 
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Mannequin Pussy 😲

Saturday, May 6th

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Hailing from Philadelphia, Mannequin Pussy are a crushing indie punk band that have been on an upward trajectory since they formed a little over ten years ago. Their sound hits like a heavy wave, grungy and sometimes urgent, with loud building guitar, pounding bass, and emphatic drums (See “Control”). The band is fronted by Marisa “Missy” Dabice, whose vocals oscillate between a light sweetness and volatile screams, which, paired with such a raucous sound, makes for an incredibly cathartic listen (See “Drunk II”). Their songs are not only sonically heavy but explore vulnerable topics like navigating heartbreak and the anger, loneliness, and overall feelings of grief that come with it. In an interview with SPIN earlier this year, the band spoke about music being a way to express emotion collectively, and their set will certainly be a place to do that.  

 
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Tickets 🎟️

Tickets range from $60 to $295, from single-day access to “super VIP” perks.

SUSU 🔥

Saturday, May 6th

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SUSU is the fiery collaboration between New York rock musicians Liza Colby and Kia Warren, who started the project six years ago and brought it to fruition in 2019 with their debut EP “Panther City.” Their bio provides a perfect description, noting to imagine a hot, hawt, haute heat that is radiated by rock ‘n’ roll. Pulling from genres like rock, soul, and pop, SUSU’s catalog ranges from beautifully sung ballads like the recent release “MINE” to powerful rock statements like “Work Song,” which reimagines Nina Simone’s soulful version of the song and combines it with Ted Nugent’s psych rock odyssey, “Stranglehold.” Their music not only captures the raw energy of rock but channels it to touch on themes that are political and personal. It’s unapologetic and powerful

 
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Cherry Ferrari 🍒

Friday, May 5th

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Newcomers to the scene, Emma Wang and Oliver Crosby are the teenage duo behind Cherry Ferrari, a band starting to take Seattle by storm, having just performed in the Museum of Pop Culture’s music showcase Sound Off! and Seattle Theatre Group’s 22nd Annual Moore Music. Noting that they draw influence from the disco and funk greats, their songs are undeniably infectious and youthfully exuberant. Their most recent track, “Call Me Up,” has a smooth yet shimmery retro-funk vibe. They’re just getting started, so don’t miss this early show from these up-and-comers. 

 
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Want more? 🎹

Check out the full lineup right here.

Mt Fog 🌁

Saturday, May 6th

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Mt Fog is the project of Seattle musician Carolyn B., who layers an ethereal electronic sound with haunting, reverberating vocals reminiscent of greats like Björk and Kate Bush. Self-described as forest folktronica, Carolyn has said she started Mt Fog as a creation of love and response to the world’s chaos and absurdity. Her most recent album, 2022’s “Spells of Silence,” is intricate and winding. The first track, “Behind a Silent Door,” weaves a punchy bass-like line through sparkling synths that make you feel like you’re in another world. While similarly immersive songs like “I am the Sea, You are the Clouds” bring in soft yet striking violin that takes you over a glistening river of sound. Her set will transport you to new worlds.

 
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Thavoron ✨

Saturday, May 6th

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Thavoron is a first-generation Cambodian American artist based in Seattle whose music is sweeping and angelic. He’s mentioned that growing up, he didn’t feel represented in the music industry and hopes to pave the way for Southeast/Asian American and queer artists looking for a sense of community. Navigating themes like cultural identity, grief, and strained relationships, his songwriting has a unique vulnerability. The title track of his recent release, “Nervous,” speaks to those early feelings of new love while expertly combining dreamy, soft vocals with distant, hazy guitar. Another track off the recent EP, “Twin Sized Bed,” is beautifully self-reflective with deliberate guitar picking and melodic vocals overlaid in the background. Surrounding himself with influences like Frank Ocean and Bon Iver, his set will be raw and moving.

 
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Author

An author image of Kaylyn Nese

Kaylyn Nese

Kaylyn is a Seattle-based writer and musician who is always on the verge of releasing music. You can usually find her wandering around Discovery Park, looking for another leather jacket to add to her collection, or taking pictures of sunsets.

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