By Cameron Deuel
This is my thirteenth consecutive Bumbershoot. After this year, I will have spent half of my Labor Day weekends at Seattle Center basking in the hum of summer’s end, exposing myself to ranks of “back to school outfit” debuts, and indulging in the finest music programming of any Washington-based music festival. What I’m saying is I have the experience and know-how to help you get through this thing alive. (*flicks imaginary cigarette to the side, accidentally burns down imaginary building*)
As your #Bumberguide, I must legally remind you that the festival has altered its programming from past years and is now operating from Friday to Sunday instead of Saturday to Monday. I’ve broken down each day into the following four categories: Hometown Hero (Seattle-based bbs), Show of the Day, Conflict Management (to help you through the tough decisions), and Music Break (because there’s more to the ‘shoot than sweet, sweet jams).
Hometown Hero: Chastity Belt (6:40 @ KEXP)
Chastity Belt is everything good about Seattle music condensed into one; progressive and hilarious alternative rock AND signed to the greatest label in the world, Hardly Art. They’re arbiters of the city’s DIY scene and they’re performing on the KEXP stage, which is right next to the new KEXP location. The only way it could be more indicative of the city is if Gary Payton handed out free Dick’s burgers during the set.
Show of the Day: The Blind Boys of Alabama (8:30 @ Starbucks Stage)
While Bumbershoot may be in a transitional phase, the Starbucks Stage still proudly carries on the tradition of hosting absolutely legendary artists. The Blind Boys of Alabama are a Grammy-award winning gospel group that have been performing since 1939 (suck it The Rolling Stones!) and there’s no better way to finish Day 1 than with this on a warm Seattle night.
Conflict Management: All of Friday
Look, I’ll be honest. I was bummed to see the schedule shift to Friday through Sunday for the first time, mostly because I work Monday through Friday. But it’s easy to forget that the Friday before a long weekend can feel like a half-day at middle school where nobody’s heart is really in it and, like, your Spanish teacher just plays the first 50 minutes of Selena because she forgot to create a lesson plan. Take the day off and enjoy the spoils of Bumbershoot when you’d normally be winding down the week. Set an out of office message that reads, “Summer’s not as long as it used to be. Every day counts like crazy” and get promoted the following Tuesday.
Music Break: Why Internet Dating? Why Memes? Why Now? (6:00 @ Center Theater)
Here are two reasons why you should attend at least one of the Center Theater panel discussions during Bumbershoot this year: 1. They are hosted by Emmett Montgomery, who opened for Dave Chappelle last time he was in-town, and he’s hilarious so you won’t have to worry about a bland moderator. 2. You might actually learn something from one of the panel experts. Expand your mind, bro.
- Cosmos 2:40 Starbucks Stage
- DoNormaal 5:30 KEXP
- Why Internet Dating? Why Memes? Why Now? 6:00 Center Theater (Emmett Montgomery)
- Chastity Belt 6:40 KEXP
- Zella Day 7:30 Starbucks Stage
- Fetty Wap 7:35 Key Arena
- Andrew Bird 8:00 Fisher Green
- The Blind Boys of Alabama 8:30 Starbucks Stage
Hometown Hero: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (8:50 @ Main Stage)
Ever since “Thrift Shop” and “Same Love” dominated the airwaves three years ago, it’s been fashionable to discredit Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as eager goodie-goodies but their live show is truly a sight to behold. They opened for Wiz Khalifa during Bumbershoot 2011 and pulled out all the stops. Let’s start taking bets about which Seattle icon they bring out this time.
Show of the Day: Reggie Watts (5:30 @ Fisher Green)
What does Reggie Watts sound like? He sounds like all the fireworks going off at once. He sounds like two kittens swatting at a megaphone. He sounds like a total irony and complete sincerity. Reggie Watts turns music into a form of comedy you could – AND SHOULD – dance to, which is why he’s in a category of one. Do not miss him.
Conflict Management: Run The Jewels, Hinds, & JoJo (7:20-30)
This is the toughest call of the weekend: the premier boom-bap revivalist super-duo versus the 90s worshipping rock band from Spain versus the pop star hitting the second wind of her career. Run The Jewels rarely performs in Seattle proper, usually opting to hit comparable fests outside of the city, so this might be the best time to catch them. If you’re interested in Hinds and JoJo, you’ll be able to easily reach both during their set times. You get bonus points if you see all three!
Music Break: Laser Prince (6:15 @ Laser Dome)
Does a lightshow arranged to Prince’s greatest hits count as a break from music? Technically no, but if you attend Laser Prince you will be absolved of all sins AND you may gain the powers of flight and forgiveness.
- Pony Time 3:00 KEXP
- Reggie Watts 5:30 Fisher Green
- Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals 6:00 Main Stage
- The Front Bottoms 6:35 Fisher Green
- Run The Jewels 7:20 Main Stage
- Hinds 7:20 Starbucks Stage
- JoJo 7:30 Fisher Green
- ZHU 8:10 Key Arena
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis 8:50 Main Stage
- Black Joe Lewis 9:25 Starbucks Stage
- Explosions In The Sky 9:50 Fisher Green
Hometown Hero: KEXP
The KEXP stage programming on Sunday is flawless, presenting Lisa Prank’s scrappy pop-punk, the rock superheroics of Thunderpussy, local production wizard Erik Blood, and genre transmogrifiers Deep Sea Diver. What have we done to deserve such riches? Bless you, KEXP. Bless you.
Show of the Day: Billy Idol (8:30 Fisher Green)
Look, I know some of you might be rolling your eyes because Sunday is chock full of amazing shows from country to jazz to rap to 90s nostalgia. There’s something for everyone. But Billy Idol is performing for ninety minutes on a stage you can invariably stroll up to with an elephant ear. I, for one, would love to close out Bumbershoot 2016 by grabbing some victory Shishkaberrys while Billy breaks into “Rebel Yell.”
Conflict Management: Marren Morris vs. YG (7:00-05)
I can’t imagine there’s a huge overlapping audience between Marren Morris, a young country pop upstart, and YG, a young West coast rap traditionalist, but Bumbershoot is about music discovery so this conflict is impossible to ignore. Your decision depends on your state of mind, really. Does the idea of lounging in the grass underneath a cloud of sweet, twangy hooks appeal to you? Go with Marren. Do you have the urge to yell “Fuck Donald Trump” with thousands of other people? Find your way to YG.
Music Break: Comedy at Zinzanni @ 2:30
One of the most notable changes in Bumbershoot programming is how the comedy lineup, once a powerhouse of entertainment that included everything from stand-up by Aziz Ansari and Maria Bamford to the writers of Futurama and a foundation built upon Doug Benson podcasts, suddenly shifted focus elsewhere. This year’s festival rediscovers a sweet spot by showcasing local comedians in the latest Bumbershoot venue, Teatro MOTHER-EFFIN’ Zinzanni.
- Comedy at Zinzanni 2:30
- Lisa Prank 3:00 KEXP
- Thunderpussy 4:10 KEXP
- Maiah Manser 4:20 Starbucks Stage
- Bishop Briggs 5:10 Starbucks Stage
- Erik Blood 5:30 KEXP
- Margo Price 6:00 Starbucks Stage
- Cashmere Cat 6:05 Key Arena
- Deep Sea Diver 6:40 KEXP
- Third Eye Blind 6:50 Fisher Green
- Maren Morris 7:00 Starbucks Stage
- YG 7:05 Key Arena
- Tame Impala 7:40 Main Stage
- Kamasi Washington 8:00 Starbucks Stage
- Billy Idol 8:30 Fisher Green
- Death Cab for Cutie 9:10 Main Stage