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In 2014, the first iteration of All Things Go Fall Classic music festival was a one-day affair headlined by Future Islands and Tove Lo. About 3,000 people attended. This weekend brings its sixth iteration, and the founders anticipate around 10,000 attendees over the now two-day fest at Union Market’s Dock 5.
City Paper sat down with three of the four founders, Will Suter, Stephen Vallimarescu, and Zack Friendly, (Adrian Maseda was likely busy running the festival’s digital media and building Spotify playlists) in the co-working space of Eaton House, a festival partner. The K Street multi-purpose space will host panel discussions in partnership with She Is The Music, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of women working in music, as well as a pre-festival party tonight.
Scrolling the list of ticket purchases, Friendly says they’re seeing the people who’ve attended since year one in addition to a growing contingent of national fans. “You see someone like, ‘I’m flying in from Albuquerque!,’” he says. The founders give the two-day duration credit for hooking out-of-towners, though the majority of the crowd will still be people who call D.C. home.
“The [local] music attendee scene has also changed,” Friendly adds. “Obviously IMP has grown that with The Anthem. There’s a level of knowledge among fans that’s higher, potentially, than when we first started.” The proliferation of algorithmic taste makers like Spotify have changed the way people discover music in the past few years. “We want to be the Spotify algorithm for live concerts,” Vallimarescu says. “We’ve always tried to look at what’s next in music.”
All Things Go has a proven track record of catching the come-up, with acts like KYGO, Young Thug, Sylvan Esso, and Foster the People among their esteemed alumni. Maryland native Maggie Rogers, who headlined day one of the Fall Classic last year, sold out two nights at The Anthem this past week.
Last year’s lineup had a last minute shakeup when Garrett Borns, who performs under the moniker BØRNS, was pulled from his day two headliner spot following allegations of sexual misconduct. This year’s festival is headlined by Chvrches and Melanie Martinez, who, in 2017, was accused by a friend of drugging her and coercing her into sex. Both Borns and Martinez took to social media to deny the respective accusations. The three founders had no comment about the decision to pull Borns and book Martinez. “We didn’t really comment on the Borns thing; I don’t think we really have a comment to offer on this end of things, either,” says Suter.
The festival has had a grim cultural backdrop the past two years. The Las Vegas mass shooting happened the Monday before the 2017 Fall Classic. “After the Vegas shooting we made sure our security was substantially tighter,” Friendly says. “We worked with the Mayor’s task force and the D.C. Police Department to make sure that people felt like they could come and have a safe experience.”
D.C. was still reeling from the Kavanaugh hearings and Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony the day before last year’s fest. The Saturday of the 2018 festival happened to be the all-female lineup day. Maggie Rogers performed in front of a photo of Ford testifying. “I think there was a vibe of ‘this is where I should be in this moment, where I can escape from it and commiserate and be a part of something that feels like a more positive environment,’” Friendly says. “For us, one of the goals of the festival is to create a safe space where people can have a cathartic release.”