The first extensive music festival to come to the Tri-Cities region has been an eclectic collaboration.
The mix includes lifelong locals to others who’ve never set foot in town, as well as a collection of people ranging from musicians and crew members to vendors.
The Uptown Get Down festival is the brainchild of Caleb Brown, a Tri-Citian whose life has revolved around music. He started attending open mic nights in the area when he was 14 and has been involved in the music scene ever since.
For his first foray into festivals, Brown snagged a high-profile rapper sure to spark some interest — Afroman.
The rapper and hip hop artist will headline the daylong festival featuring 45 artists in a takeover of Richland’s Uptown Shopping Center that will provide music and entertainment for up to 1,200 of all ages.
Tri-Cities musical festival creation
Having attending several festivals, Brown was fascinated with the prospect of organizing his own.
He started Unleashed Entertainment Co., booking other shows while creating the concept of Uptown Get Down.
When he needed guidance on the process, he followed in the footsteps of the Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle, which is about the same size.
With support from some key players, Brown’s dream was becoming reality. Along with a lot of others, production company Back 2 Bass, the local Mushroom Fest and Uptown business owners like the Emerald of Siam’s Dara Quinn are credited in the event’s creation.
The surging size of the Tri-Cities seemed like the perfect place for a new festival. There are surprisingly few in Washington and the closest is the Gorge Amphitheatre.
But Tri-Cities is being talked about as an up-and-coming Washington location with a lot of potential. It also would be centrally located for music fans in the greater Pacific Northwest, who are often ignored or overlooked on tour stops.
Based on his understanding of the Tri-Cities music scene, which is mostly active around the Uptown area in Richland, Brown started brainstorming who could perform, possible sponsors, marketing tactics and the like.
He said the efforts connected people in ways that were both expected and unexpected.
“Even if it got canceled, it’s awesome because it’s brought Uptown together,” Brown said.
Uptown Get Down setup
In the future, Brown’s vision includes expanding it further by clearing out the Uptown parking lot and putting in a massive stage. This year, the artists will perform at one of four venues in the shopping area, forming “basically a cool, big block party.”
Locations will include the Uptown Theatre, the Emerald of Siam, The Space and the Adventures Underground bookstore.
Brown expected to have to reach out to artists and request performances, which he did for some. But then applications started rolling in from more artists than the festival could fit.
The lineup will feature 45 artists, and organizers tried to include every possible music genre, from country to EDM to punk and more.
The artists will perform on various stages based on their energy, according to Brown, so there aren’t strict rules for which genres will be where. But the hope is that a cohesive listening experience will be offered at each venue.
The main stage at the Uptown Theatre will be high-energy performers, mostly hip hop. It’ll be immersive, Brown says the hope is that the audience will walk away with something after. Food and other vendors will be available.
The Emerald will feature more punk and alternative rock, with some singer-songwriters and local acts as well.
The Space will have the unplugged stage, a designated chill space. This all-ages section will not have any booze and brings the energy back down, for anyone who needs to take a minute during the festival.
Adventures Underground will be home to the Mushroom Fest collaboration. It will offer family-friendly music and activities, completely free. This way, no matter what demographic, everyone can enjoy at least some of the festival. You can also find food trucks and other meal options here.
Uptown Get Down lineup
The festival is headlined by rapper Afroman, of “Because I Got High” and “Crazy Rap” fame. Brown thought Afroman would be an ideal headliner — he wanted a big name.
But he couldn’t have predicted that once Afroman was booked, he would shoot back into the limelight in recent months, with his announcement to be a presidential candidate, as well as a high-profile invasion of privacy lawsuit in Ohio.
The acts aren’t just a variety of genres — they’re also a wide range of performers, including Hillstomp, DJ On Tha 1, Itchy Kitty, Naughty Pine and Coaster.
While a majority have Pacific Northwest ties, there are artists from all over the country, and beyond, scheduled to perform.
“Every act is talented,” Brown said. “They’re all worth going to see.”
One artist, David July, is 21 and just wrapped up a tour in Canada and the United States. The creator from Vancouver, Canada, started making music with friends in high school, using the recording booth at a city library. He says his music is mostly hip hop, with influences from other genres.
Uptown Get Down will be the first festival of July’s career. He said he’s grateful he got the slot that he did, but he’s more than ready for the performance. Given the opportunity, July said he would continue to perform at Uptown Get Down in future years.
Another artist, Coaster, is no stranger to festivals, or even performing with Afroman. The two have played in Tri-Cities together before, at Joker’s in 2019.
He’s also a hip hop artist, but from Selah, with a different sound than July’s. Coaster describes his music as “vibey” with a positive message, drawing inspiration from Mac Miller.
A decade older than July, Coaster’s music career is in a different place.
He was compelled to join the lineup for several reasons. Between another collaboration with Afroman and a return to the Tri-Cities, he was sold. Coaster was the first hip hop artist booked at Richland’s Live at Five free summer concert series and enjoys performing here.
The youngest performer, Kaylie Dawes, is only 16.
The full list of performers is below and is also available on the Uptown Get Down website.
While they’re selling fast, some tickets are still available for Uptown Get Down. There are three ticket levels available, but Brown says they could sell out.
The Uptown Pass gets you into most shows between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. This option is available to all ages for $30.
The Get Down Pass is for ages 21 and up for $50. It gets you into all shows and the after-parties, which are technically part of the festival but are after hours. One is planned at The Emerald of Siam, one at Daisy Ranch Saloon. These are sponsored by Back 2 Bass and will feature sets from several DJs.
The VIP Pass (sold out) gets you into the full festival for $75, all the shows, after-parties and pre-parties, which are held the day before the festival as a kick-off celebration. You’ll also get a meet-and-greet with Afroman and a free T-shirt.