If you’ve graduated from Seattle University in the past twenty-five years, chances are you’ve attended Quadstock. The iconic music festival turns 25 this spring and the founders, John Boyle and Chris Thomas, are coming back to celebrate. We talked to John and Chris to learn more about the start of this high profile event. An iconic part of the Seattle U student experience, Quadstock has played host to such musicians as The Posies, The Thermals, Dan Deacon, Macklemore, Del the Funky Homosapien, Talib Kweli, Ok GO, Blue Scholars and more. But how did the festival get its start? The origins of Quadstock date back to the creation of the Quad itself. The very first stage was actually the stone steps surrounding the fountain. Quadstock founders, John Boyle and Chris Thomas, planned the first Quadstock in order to celebrate the unveiling of the Seattle U Quadrangle in 1989. “We wanted a celebration geared toward the students that lasted all weekend long,” the founders shared. “We had student clubs provide activities from Friday night to Sunday Mass. Students could collect pledges for how many hours they thought they could keep going without sleep and at the end we would donate the money to St. Francis Soup Kitchen.” The first bands to grace the Quadstock stage that year were The Britains, The Look, The Bitter End (the first student Battle of the Bands winner), Swampzombies and The Trenchcoats. For its second year, Quadstock was condensed into one day of festivities and music. Keeping with the charitable aspect of the first event, attendees who brought canned food received a discount on their concert tickets. Drawing larger headliners for the second year, the lineup included The Posies, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and The Dharma Bums.
(The Posies playing Quadstock. Photo provided by John Boyle.) One campus rumor claims that Nirvana made a debut on SU’s stage, but John and Chris set the record straight, saying that they tried to book the band, but due to the band’s recording schedule, it didn’t work out. John did share the fun fact that Nirvana’s booking fee was only $1,000 at the time, compared to The Posies who ended up costing $2,000. Quadstock became an instant success, evolving into the annual musical festival we know it as today and one of the most anticipated events on the spring season.
“It’s a testament to the student life at Seattle University that someone took this event and rolled with it,” co-founder John Boyle said. This year Quadstock turns 25. The founders of Quadstock and SEAC invite alumni back on Saturday, May 17 to help celebrate. The Main stage line-up includes Best Coast, Sea Wolf, Shelton Harris & Tyler Dopps and COHO. Not only are alumni invited back to attend the musical festival, but there will be a special alumni campus tour and get together at the Chieftain Irish Pub before the festivities begin. If Quadstock was a memorable part of your student experience we hope you’ll join us on May 17th. Tickets are extremely limited – buy yours today. Have some favorite Quadstock memories? Share them in the comments below or send your pictures to us!
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I was at the first Quadstock back in '89. Glad that the tradition continues 25 years on and still going strong. Cheers to John & Chris for starting something terrific!