On Sunday of last year’s ‘Shoot, there was a panel discussion about Barsuk Records, which has arguably functioned as the keystone of Seattle’s music scene (and general mentality) for the past decade, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the area and went to school in a sleepy-eyed town that is, by all accounts, pure Washingtonian essence, but the conversation resonated with me.
The panel started a noon and featured David Bazan of Pedro the Lion, The Long Winters’ John Roderick, label co-founder Josh Rosenfeld, and was moderated by Harvey Danger’s Sean Nelson. Rosenfeld’s explanation of starting this label – a label that produced many Death Cab for Cutie albums, rejuvenated the career of Nada Surf, and continues to release standard-setting albums – was little more than “everyone was doing it.” The simplicity of being a vaguely directionless twenty-something who just knows they love music is full of such pure intention, and a common thread connecting everyone to this label.
All four know each other well, making their conversation feel more organic and untethered by formality. Roderick’s slick wit was obvious from the start and dominates my memory of their panel. At one point he was describing the garb of a Barsuk musician and casually mentioned black t-shirt and Converse, which was, incidentally, exactly what Bazan was wearing. They told stories about writing and touring and Roderick explained how he intended to keep a copy of The Long Winters’ debut in a lock-box to show his kids he wasn’t flailing in his twenties, and had something to show for it.
I loved the ubiquitous nature of the discussion and how poignant Death Cab for Cutie’s performance of Transatlanticism felt later that night. That celebration of Barsuk’s 15th anniversary felt woven into the power of Bumbershoot as a local jump-off point for new artists and everlasting home for locals who make it big.
Read Skip Tognetti’s 2003 review of Death Cab For Cutie’s Translanticism
This year’s Bumbershoot lineup includes Wu-Tang Clan, Elvis Costello, Afghan Whigs, Schoolboy Q, Mavis Staples, Capital Cities, The Replacements and hundreds more. Tickets are still available.
More in this series:
- Against Me! (2004)
- The Locust & Flogging Molly (2005)
- Iggy & The Stooges (2005)
- Kanye West (2006)
- John Legend (2007)
- Man Man (2008)
- Monotonix (2008)
- Patton Oswalt (2009)
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (2011)
- Tony Bennett (2012)