Soundwaves On The Lake: An Alaskan Music Festival
The sun has set on summer in Alaska, but, for the moment, let’s take a look back to warmer, wetter, more melodic times. Specifically, Soundwaves on the Lake.
Soundwaves on the lake: An alaskan music festival
Words / Dustin H James
Photos / Clyde Hewitt
The sun has set on summer in Alaska, but, for the moment, let’s take a look back to warmer, wetter, more melodic times. Specifically, Soundwaves on the Lake, a music festival that takes place on a lake 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle. And, yes, you need to take that literally, as an actual floating music festival.
As you’re turning your thermostats up and eagerly thinking ahead to warmer adventures, you can forget about Coachella right now. Sure, at Coachella, Kanye West sometimes descends from the sky and a holographic Tupac has been known to make surprise appearances. But let me ask you this, “when was the last time you saw a paddleboarder transporting his pizza box on top of his head at Coachella?” Oh, that’s right, you didn’t. You know why? Because Coachella doesn’t even have water. They just have a grassy field, which is so freakin’ typical these days at music festivals. I guess when you’re at the top, like Coachella is, you don’t have to strive to be different. Just add another weekend and call it good, right? Well, leave it to three friends from Fairbanks to push the festival paradigm forward by thinking outside the box — and not just the pizza box.
“The sky is the limit,” says Soundwaves organizer Chad Young.
Young, 32, grew up as part of the Harding Lake summer community that live just outside of Fairbanks. One day, in 2014, he was talking to his buddy Jerry Lee Sadler and told him, “dude, we sit here with 15 boats tied together in the middle of the lake, one boat playing music, and we have the greatest time ever.”
They talked to another Harding Lake local, Fred, and Fred built them a 20 foot by 20 foot floating stage for bands to play on. They borrowed some speakers and some random guy’s soundboard, which no one knew how to work, and put that on another dock, which was anchored down by brake drums.
The infrastructure was ready and all that was left was a name. By this point, Jerry Lee’s sister Sierra had come onboard to help. The trio decided to call the whole thing Soundwaves on the Lake.