Bumbershoot 2010 Preview
Contributors Share Their Memories of the Yearly Festival
Introduction by Matt Ashworth
As humans, we’ve got an innate desire to connect with other humans. Music, art, comedy, film…these are simply vehicles to foster those connections.
Consuming such media can be a solitary pursuit, but it’s the connection we make with the artists and their work that touches our souls. And, ultimately, when we share in the consumption of art and music with others, the experience is more profound because we create a shared memory. It may take me awhile to recall my favorite live shows, but once I zero in, I can almost always tell you who was standing next to me.
Bumbershoot, Seattle’s oldest and most comprehensive yearly festival, has provided the opportunity for humans to create shared memories through the consumption of music and arts for four decades. In preview of the 40th installment of the annual event – which takes place this weekend at the Seattle Center and contains the promise of many new musical memories from Health, Atlas Sound, Bobby Bare Jr., Trampled by Turtles, See Me River, Fences, Unnatural Helpers, Fatal Lucciano, Garotas Suecas, Lisa Dank, Weezer and dozens more – we asked the contributors covering Bumbershoot for us to share some of their favorite memories. Share yours over on our Facebook or Twitter thingies, or post them in the comments section of this article if you’re one of the lucky few for whom registration works.
The Stooges: Main Stage 2005
Iggy Pop and his band of Stooges put on one of the most electrifying, dangerous and chaotic live performances in rock and roll. Back in 2005, a reunited Stooges headlined Bumbershoot’s main stage and Iggy was in fine form, flailing and dancing around like some type of angry orangutan. For a man who technically qualifies as a senior citizen, he still moves like a teenager. At one point, he ran full speed across the stage, jumped onto Mike Watt’s bass cabinet and started dry humping. He also had his pants unbuttoned dangerously low, risking the exposure of his wrinkled man meat. The show was full of crowd participation, most notably the “I Wanna Be Your Dog” sing-along. Incredibly, Pop also managed to persuade security into allowing nearly a hundred folks on stage to dance. It looked like things might get a little out of hand and turn into a full scale riot. That is the brilliance of Pop’s live act: he approaches every show like it might be his last.
The Pixies: Main Stage 2004
Rock nostalgia is big business these days, and many bands that were overlooked initially are capitalizing on the opportunity to reunite. Being too young to see The Pixies, the first time around, I’d always felt I had missed out on something significant. Lucky for me and other hardcore fans, the band (somehow) managed to reconcile their differences and reunite for a 2004 main stage set. They stuck mostly to their “greatest hits,” which is exactly what the crowd wanted to hear. Fun, simple songs like “Caribou” and more up-tempo rockers like “Debaser” were both met with equal enthusiasm. The sight of hundreds singing along to epic power ballad “Where is My Mind is a memory I’ll treasure for life.
Wilco: Main Stage 2003 and Neko Case: Mainstage 2008
I can’t lie. When I was asked to write about my two most memorable Bumbershoot moments I had to google the past year’s line-ups. My memory really is that bad.
The highlight of Summer 2003, for which I purchased the now-dead four day pass, was Wilco on the main stage. It was close, though. Between them and Rhett Miller and the Thermals and the Catheters and the Long Winters and USE, I could go on. What a perfect line up. It should be noted that my now-husband, Matt Ashworth, wrote an impecable re-cap of that summer’s Bumbershoot, which I might as well purge word-for-word, since we experienced the whole thing together. To be honest, I only remember two things about Wilco in Memorial Stadium: one was that we totally broke the rules and snuck Matt in to the stadium with a little wrist-band switcheroo. The seond is that Wilco played “California Stars” which made me weak in the knees. True story: this song is now my phone’s ring tone.
It’s going to sound pretty lame, but my second most memorable Bumbershoot moment was in 2008, watching (sort of) Neko Case in the middle of the afternoon, also in Memorial Stadium. Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you a single song she sang. My brand-spankin-new husband and I lounged on the field and enjoyed watching our daughters dance around to the music while sipping on Starbucks. My Bumbershoot experience had definitely come a long ways from the five years prior when I dressed in a ripped-up NadaMucho t-shirt and spent boatloads of money in the beer garden.
Maceo Parker & Ani Defranco: Key Arena 2002
I saw this strange, but surprisingly cool collaboration back when they used to have shows at Key Arena. Ani danced around like a crazed hippy, and Maceo classed things up like a true legend. I learned later that they play together all the time. Who would have thought?
Built to Spill: Key Arena 2004
I also saw Built to Spill play the Key Arena. They were awesome, but a little unhappy with the number of people who showed up to see them. They only played a handful of songs, told Seattle to “fuck off”, and then honored a fan’s request to “play Free Bird, maaaan” with a 10-minute version that absolutely rocked my ass off. I haven’t seen them since, in an attempt to preserve that memory.
Hip Hop 101: Mainstage 2001
Bumbershoot also used to have an entire day devoted to hip-hop, which allowed me to see Dilated Peoples, Boom Bap Project, Jurassic 5, and Mos Def all in a row. Mos played a killer live “metal-ish” set that wasn’t what I expected, but something I don’t think many people have seen him do. I felt confused and privileged at the same time. An amazing day I’ll never forget.
Poison Idea: Rock Arena 1991
A couple times growing up, my parents packed my sister and I in the Ford Taurus and drove over from Yakima for some big city culture over Labor Day Weekend. As a music nerd kid closely admiring the emergence of the grunge phenomenon from the musical hotbead of Yakima, Washington, this was manna from heaven. I love my parents for exposing us to music, arts, culture and various ethnic cuisines growing up, but I love my Mom the most for coming to the Rock Arena with me to see Poison Idea. There’s me shunning the folky Walkabouts show my Dad and Sister wanted to finish watching, and there’s Kathy, an anxious, pragmatic mother and community college chemistry professor who uses the adjective “jazzy” to describe anything even slightly loud or out of the ordinary, happily accompanying her 17 year old punk-rock-loving son to watch Pig Champion, Thee Slayer Hippy and the rest of the crew tear through an absurdly loud set of hardcore punk delivered at breakneck speed.
NadaMucho.com is sending us to this deal here in Seattle called Bumbershoot. Last time we went we were opening for the Barenaked Ladies on the Fountain BackStage. Well, technically not “opening,” but we were playing near them and earlier. Our boyband 4EVER5 had just launched the hit “Girl We Can Love Like That” and it vaulted us from number 43 on the Canadian Christian Pop Charts to number 2, jus behind Alistar Gene and Emilee Miles’ hit “The Road Of Falkor,” which was on the second soundtrack album from The Never Ending Story. It was pretty impressive, so we expected great things from the states as well.
We started performing at noon to a crowd of 50 people who were playing in the fountain, mostly vendors and people walking by. It was kind of risky, power wise, being so close to the fountain. I remember my headset cutting out and missing a key harmony on the song “Better To Love Now Then Love Later”. We did, however, complete a few extremely difficult dance maneuvers that a fan remarked later were “stupid”. That was pretty cool since we had been using the phrase “stupid wicked” in our promotional materials anyway.
We did get to see the Barenaked Ladies, though, and they were really good. They even played musical instruments and sang. That takes tremendous effort and that’s why we do it now because we can do effort. It’s pretty hard to play a sweet total gravy note on the rainstick and I know that Kris P. Kreme can play the hecknest out of that guitar and keyboard. It is sad to have to return without the boy band, but we do have the memories and we’ll take them with us just like we sing in the old song “Memories We’ll Take Them With Us In Love”.
Ben, Sybil, Kyle, Matt and the Sadberries will be covering Bumbershoot throughout the weekend. Get real-time updates at www.nadamcho.com/twitter and check back here for more detail.