Bumbershoot Blog 2008
Day 1: Saturday, August 30
Don’t Fear the Bumber
By Ben Allen
I arrived at around 2:30 p.m. to a large line at the gates. This was to be a reoccurring theme of the day. This year more than ever, Bumbershoot resembled Disneyland with clusterfucks of people everywhere. At times, it became difficult to move at all, and being claustrophobic, on a couple of occasions I began to get The Fear.
Girls, Girls, Girls
With all this simultaneous live entertainment, planning your day is often a little overwhelming. So I was delighted to stumble upon The Girls. I’d heard their name around town, but had no idea what to expect, and their dose of high octane rock and roll really hit the spot. The song structures were fairly straight forward and “Ramones-ish,” but a keyboard player with plenty of noise-creating pedals and a guitar player with spazzed out feedback style kept their set intriguing. Lead singer Shannon Brown was over the top in all the best ways. Rocking tight white pants (with a bulge I could have done without), a black leather vest, and matching gloves he flamboyantly pranced all over the stage.
The Grynch Who Stole Bumber?
Next up, I got a coffee and found sanctuary in a quiet, surprisingly non-crowded, shaded rock garden. The pulsing beats and rhymes of The Grynch echoed out in the background. While perusing the schedule I thought I had read “Grouch,” from the world famous Living Legends crew. Only when I went back and re-read the schedule did I realize I was hearing “Grynch.” I’m not sure if this is the same character who stole Christmas, but we were definitely hearing Grynch. The Admiral, my companion for the day, and I had a pretty good laugh over it all and moved on.
Seattle Goes X Games
A new addition to this year’s festival was the “Rockstar Vert Ramp demo.” I know a little about skateboarding from my youth and was surprised to see the vert ramp had only about eight feet of flat bottom in the middle – not easy to skate. The pros didn’t seem to care though, and ripped the ramp a new ass. I found it interesting that many of the same vert cats who were at the top of their game when I was really into skating (late 80’s/early 90’s) were at this demo. Omar Hassan, Sergie Ventura, Chris Gentry and Mike Crum were still all skating like they were teenagers. There was one BMX dude too, Zach Warden (whose name I mistakenly thought was “Zack Morris” of Saved By The Bell fame) who was getting large.
After waiting in yet another line, I made it into The Exhibition Hall to check out The Fall of Troy. They played a brutal, punishing set to a impressively large and devoted audience. Now don’t get me wrong, The Troy Boys are incredibly talented, but their musicality had me on the verge of hysterics. Guitarist/vocalist Thomas Erak’s guitar licks sounded straight out of an 80’s metal epic. The guy should be third guitarist in Dragonforce. When he strapped on the Flying V, put one leg up on the monitor, and started shredding, I completely lost it. His fist pumping and metal horns were a little over the top, but damn, were they fun to watch.
Why Didn’t I Think to Pack a Lunch?
As any festival-goer knows, food and drink are always overpriced. From $7 bratwurst to $8 beers, you know you’re going to be screwed. That’s why The Admiral and I had no choice but to leave the gates and smuggle a twelve pack of PBR back in. We made a little detour over to The Fun House’s back parking lot to “lighten the load” before heading back in with our contraband. If we hadn’t been at Bumbershoot, the Funhouse would have been the place to be. They had a fenced off beer garden, a skateboard ramp set up, and were blaring Iron Maiden and Slayer. What a scene.
No Horseplay Allowed
Finally, it was on to the main event in Memorial Stadium. Band of Horses leader Ben Bridwell seemed genuinely enthusiastic to be back in Seattle. Between songs he kept telling the enormous crowd how much he loved them and let out shrill cries of “WOOOOOO!” Their set was very steady and professional, with a good mix of selections off both albums, and some new material that fell into the alt-country category. The audience went nuts for hits “The Funeral” and “Is There a Ghost.” It’s amazing how far the band has come in just a few short years. Despite the somber nature of their tunes, B.O.H looked to be having a great time on stage, there was a lot of joking and horse-play going on (no pun intended). The set concluded with either a band member or roadie running up and breaking a fake glass bottle over Bridwell’s head.
I’m a Loser Baby
The Admiral and I looked around nervously while pouring our smuggled beers into Styrofoam coffee cups. Security presence was heavy, and we felt like naughty teenagers. Within half an hour, our section of the bleachers began to fill up, and to our relief many of our neighbors were also in the smuggling trade, sipping on either liquor or beers out of similarly masked drinking vessels. These were good people. “Don’t worry, when it gets dark we’ll have no problems,” said The Admiral. Sure enough, as night began to fall we knew we were safe in the shadows.
Beck came on to a thunderous applause and opened his set with his super popular hit single, “Loser.” It was a shock to see an artist of his magnitude playing with only a stripped down band. No stage set, puppets or Flaming Lips this time around. Beck did what was important and simply played his music. Unfortunately the sound was suffering, and feedback screeched out on a couple of occasions. There was also an overall muddy sound to the mix, the instruments getting lost with each other in the thick muck.
The idea hit me like a lightning bolt. Why stay here and listen to a mediocre Beck set, when we can go witness always consistent heavy psych rockers Kinski? By this time the twelve pack was toast, and The Admiral and I were really “feeling the groove.” Kinski’s set was extra sprawling and psychedelic. The EMP’s enormous L.E.D. screen behind the band showcasing swirling colors and images enhanced the ambience. I leaned back against the wall with tired legs, watching guitarist Chris Martin flailing around with his feedback drenched guitar. “This is fucking heavy, man,” I muttered to no one in particular.
Waiting in yet another line to get out of the Seattle Center, a smile broke out across my face – Kinski had been a perfect way to end my festival experience. Upon exiting, The Admiral and I followed hastily drawn chalk arrows across the street and into Lower Queen Anne watering hole Jabu’s, where we shared stories from the day with good friends over yet more Pabst.
More Bumbershoot 2008 coverage
- Day 1: As Seen by Sybil Rohlf
- Day 2: Nada Booker Turns Blogger
- Day 3 in Pictures by Matt Brown
- Day 3: Chris and Jolie Tag Team the Final Day