Do you hear the drum kick, the guitar strum and the buzz of the anxious crowd piercing the crisp fall air? Live music is poised to make its return to the D.C. area, and All Things Go — dubbed D.C.’s music festival — is evoking all the familiar feels before a ticket is even sold.
The festival will return for the seventh year on October 16 with headliners Haim, St. Vincent and Charli XCX. For co-founder Stephen Vallimarescu, who offered us an inside scoop on the experience of shaping this year’s festival, the return is surreal.
“It’s crazy how long it’s been since I’ve seen [live] music,” Vallimarescu says.
While the world felt at a standstill over the last year, the All Things Go team — including additional partners Will Suter, Paul Vallimarescu, John Liipfert and Adrian Maseda — was quietly planning and evolving behind the scenes. The festival’s metamorphosis provoked the team’s decision to leave its Union Market roots and head to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.
“Honestly, it has to do with needing to grow into a space that allows us to really put on a festival we feel aligns with our growth and vision from an experiential standpoint,” Vallimarescu explains. “We’re really excited to offer fans a multi-stage experience and bring some of the activation opportunities a lot of other festivals have now. We have a lot more space and [an] incredible built-in infrastructure Merriweather has been recognized for for a very long time.”
All Things Go is holding onto many of its familiar elements, like the pre-festival conference panel featuring innovative women in music technology and entrepreneurship hosted by the activist-minded Eaton Hotel. Since its introduction, the panel has showcased big names such as Maggie Rogers and influential industry professionals like Pitchfork Editor-in-Chief Puja Patel.
“We’re really looking forward to bringing [the panel] back for [what] will be the third year and being able to highlight artists on the bill, but also look toward the media and music ecosystem to highlight women in the space,” Vallimarescu says.
The mixture of thought-provoking conversations in intimate spaces and on-the-cusp crowd-pleasing acts give the festival a unique local flavor. Still, the music continues to be the driving force behind its popularity, and this year’s lineup promises to fulfill fans’ simmering — and eclectic — hunger for live performances.
“Sonically, the lineup is very much in the indie rock [and] indie pop sphere, but we definitely tried to create a lot of different options for fans that represent what’s coming next in music,” he continues. “That’s really been the ethos of the festival: Let’s figure out how we can help fans discover music that is meaningful and growing on a global basis.”
Beyond offering a diverse slate of sounds for concert-goers, Vallimarescu acknowledges this manifestation of All Things Go serves a greater purpose: bringing people together around their longing for seeing beloved bands in the flesh, and a renewed appreciation for live experiences.
“I think pre-Covid, it was easy to get jaded by how many shows there were constantly. I felt like maybe I didn’t appreciate all of the amazing shows I was able to go to.”
And regarding how Vallimarescu is getting his fix, Girl in Red’s latest album, “If I Could Make It Go Quiet,” tops the list these days.
“I think [today’s music is] very singles-driven. An artist will put out a song or two over a long period of time, and the focus is on the song versus the record. [Girl in Red’s new release] just feels like a really cohesive, top-to-bottom record — almost a little bit rare these days.”
Perhaps Vallimarescu is offering a hint of what’s in store for this year’s festival, but you’ll have to check out the full announcement to see, which drops this morning before tickets go on sale at noon tomorrow.
It’s the event he and his crew (not to mention fans) have been dreaming of since last summer. So, dust off your favorite Chuck Taylor All-Stars, grab your favorite concert tee, and get ready to feast your eyes and ears on center stage.
“I think that’s our general vibe here,” he notes. “Let’s get back to music and hopefully have a really great experience.”
Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxtent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; 410-715-5550; merriweathermusic.com
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