The music festival got its name from some legendary Tri-City graffiti.
For years, “Metalwolf” was scrawled on the train bridge spanning the Yakima River alongside Highway 240 — almost certainly a tribute to the local 80s metal band of the same name.
“If you were alive and old enough to be cognizant of it, you knew that was the ‘Metalwolf Bridge,’” said Tim Leingang, a local music luminary and founder of Funkytonk Records.
“Whoever wrote it didn’t ask permission. It became something more than just a band name,” he said.
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It was a symbol of rebellion — one that endured, in a visible spot.
The band Metalwolf — whose name inspired the graffiti, which helped inspire the festival — may come on board.
So when Leingang was thinking about what to call his independent music festival, which ran for four years in the early 2000s, Metalwolf seemed fitting.
“To me, it was the perfect name to showcase a festival that is all about artists and musicians who aren’t playing by the rules, they aren’t asking for permission to do their art,” he said.
This year, Metalwolf — with its spirit of rule-breaking and fun — is coming back.
Admission will be free, and most of the events will be open to people of all ages.
Leingang and other organizers are in the midst of raising $5,000 to help with rental and insurance fees, sound, artist costs and advertising.
They look forward to reviving the festival, which meant a lot to music lovers in the Tri-Cities.
“There are people who’ve moved away who’ll come back for this,” said Richard Powelson, a musician who played at Metalwolf festivals in the past and is helping organize this year’s event.
“The last show I was at, I mentioned that Metalwolf was going to happen again. People were excited because a lot of us have really good memories of those years,” he said.
Leingang is still working on the lineup, but several bands already have signed on, from his own PETS, to Spirit Animals, SupperClub, Get ‘Em Tiger, March Fox, Stop!Don’tStop and more.
The Olympia band Lake and the Anacortes-based musician Karl Blau also are scheduled to make the trip.
The local band Haüs Cats may also reunite for the festival.
To me, it was the perfect name to showcase a festival that is all about artists and musicians who aren’t playing by the rules, they aren’t asking for permission to do their art.
Tim Leingang, a local music luminary and founder of
Plus, the band Metalwolf — whose name inspired the graffiti, which helped inspire the festival — may come on board.
Leingang said the bands playing the festival don’t fall into a single category or genre.
Instead, “it’s just bands that have their own thing, their own sound — they’ve developed something that’s experimental, groundbreaking, unique,” he said.
Along with the 20 to 30 musical acts, Metalwolf will include art shows, an independent film showcase and a punk swap meet. Surprises also are in store.
Organizers gathered the other day to talk about reviving Metalwolf, and memories began to flow.
Like the time a band was rocking so hard they almost physically brought down the stage.
Or the time a carload of kids from Utah drove up for the festival. They didn’t have a place to stay, so they camped in Leingang’s yard.
“I forgot to turn off the sprinklers,” he recalled with a laugh. “Luckily, they were in a spot that it didn’t really affect them. They got a little wet, but it wasn’t bad.”
The original Metalwolf festivals ran from 2001-04.
Several bands already have signed on, from his own PETS, to Spirit Animals, SupperClub, Get ‘Em Tiger, March Fox, Stop!Don’tStop and more.
Cameron Mills, an artist and musician who’s helping with this year’s event, said the Tri-Cities can feel disconnected, but Metalwolf brought people together. “I always thought it was awesome because instead of just inviting a friend to a show, you’re inviting them to the whole Tri-Cities music scene. Everybody could feel like they were part of things. They could see it all in one place,” he said.
Powelson said it inspired young musicians. Bands would form after Metalwolf because kids would think, “‘Oh man, if we could just get together, maybe we could play the next year,’” he said. “It’s not a festival that feels inaccessible, like Sasquatch. You go to those and feel like you’ll never play there. But Metalwolf feels accessible.”
For Amy Hanson, another musician and artist who’s helping with Metalwolf, the accessibility also appealed. “That’s what was so exciting to me when I was young — that we had a music festival here,” she said. “I didn’t have to go to Seattle or wherever. Tim would get bands I’d never seen or heard before to come in from out of town. To me, it was awesome.”
Now, the organizers — who were young when Metalwolf started — are grown up.
“I think we all feel responsibility to the community and our scene to put these things on,” Hanson said. “Nobody’s going to do it for us.”
To help with Metalwolf, go to www.gofundme.com/metalwolf.