These were the Bumbershoot events NadaMucho assigned me on Saturday:
12:15 – 1:00: Step Cousins
1:30 – 2:00: Loop! Station
2:00 – 3:00: Picture & Sound: Music Videos
3:15 – 4:15: Honeydripper All Stars
3:45 – 4:45: I Love Led Zeppelin
5:15 – 6:15: Alela Diane
6:15 – 7:15: Head Automatica
7:00 – 8:15: Bert Jansch
8:00 – 9:15: Rude Mechanicals
9:00 – 10:00: Dystopia
10:00 – 11:00: Panic! At The Disco
As much as I would have loved to see Ellen Forney’s multimedia presentation “I Love Led Zeppelin” or Jimmy Page’s “inspiration”, guitarist Bert Jansch (Page swiped Jansch’s arrangement of the folk song “Blackwaterside” and renamed it “Black Mountain Side”, taking the songwriting credit in true Zep fashion), I missed every single act I was scheduled to cover.
Instead, I focused mostly on local acts:
12:45 – 2:00: Crowded House
2:30 – 3:45: The Shins
4:15 – 5:15: The Lashes
6:00 – 7:00: Menomena
6:30 – 7:30: The Pharmacy
7:30 – 8:15: Common Market
9:30 – 10:30: Grand Archives
Crowded House is what attracted me to Bumbershoot this year. The highlight of the festival back in 1991 was seeing these talented Kiwis headline the day’s events at Key Arena (then called the Seattle Center Coliseum) playing after The Posies (who had been bamboozled on to a mismatched bill opening for Soundgarden the previous Bumbershoot after the Psychedelic Furs cancelled.)
Crowded House did not disappoint, playing some of my favorite hits and misses (“Fall At Your Feet”, “When You Come”) and the best songs from this year’s reunion album (“Silent House”, inspired by the passing of former drummer Paul Hester, is as good as anything they’ve performed in the past.)
I had expected local celebrity/whipping boy Eddie Vedder to appear onstage to contribute some vocals, as he is wont to do whenever his buddy Neil Finn (CH’s primary vocalist and songwriter) comes to town, but I was pleasantly surprised to see him grab his Telecaster to join the band for a run through their 1986 hit “Something So Strong.” I could have left after Crowded House exited the stage and been completely satisfied by my Bumbershoot experience, but the day was young.
It was my first time seeing The Shins. Their clever and melodic little pop epics are unmarred by an outdoor stadium setting, and the crowd was absolutely nuts for them – I’ve never seen so many beautiful women crowd surfing to mellow folk-rock before.
Local major label superstars The Lashes were a lot of fun too, as intended and expected. Guitarist Eric Howk’s much vaunted return to the stage (after an accident on May 5th sidelined him for the summer) brought out a huge crowd of supporters in addition to their young and adoring fan base. Some technical difficulties were solved with a well-placed gum wrapper, and the silly string-filled finale (which I missed, unfortunately) was the highlight of the day for many.
Menomena were stellar, but I was actually starting to burn out on fighting through throngs of Seattleites for the privilege of standing through hours of live performances, even after taking a break to enjoy a Cajun alligator kebab. I was allowed onstage to shoot some photos of the band (including their accompanying choir) and then wandered off to wait in line for a Port-A-Potty while humming Shins songs to myself. Maybe it was just my mood, but I stopped into the EMP to see The Pharmacy and all I could hear was an out of tune guitar and a guy whining.
Evidently, more of a break was needed so I headed for the Flatstock poster art exhibition and found Jon Smith’s booth. Jon had brought in a comfy sofa for his friends to relax upon, so I plopped down and dug for change behind the cushions until a pair of ne’er-do-wells from Thee Emergency lured me away to enjoy some local hip hop.
RA Scion from Common Market draws his inspiration from some of my old MC icons (KRS ONE, Chuck D and Rakim chief among them) and it showed in his Bumbershoot performance. He’s an entertaining and chubby bearded man with a decent flow for a Seattle rapper. DJ Sabzi’s beats did a lot to dispel some of my Bumbermalaise (a trip to the beer garden helped as well), and I was ready to finish my evening with one last band… Grand Archives.
They were all right. Nothing I’d consider exceptional, but pleasant. (Wasn’t that descriptive? I hope they pull that quote for their press kit.)
P.S. I heard some of Panic! At The Disco’s set as I walked past Memorial Stadium on my way home. They sounded like the biggest steaming load of prefabricated crap ever dumped on a crowd of screaming kids, but I’m probably just getting old.”
Matt Brown took some excellent photos of his day at Bumbershoot. See more of them on Nada’s MySpace blog.