Friday, Sept. 1 @ Seattle Center
By Lindsey Potter
Photos by Casey Brevig
From the minute I get off the bus at Key Arena for my first trip to Bumbershoot in several years, I feel like I’m swimming upstream.
After a few “jump-into-the-street-and-risk-being-hit-by-a-car” maneuvers, I manage to get in line to pick up my pass and get inside. Before relief sets in, I quickly realize that going through security will be a cumbersome experience as well. Three people ahead of me in line are having trouble. The first are a pair of girls who didn’t get the memo that even tiny, 90s-style backpacks are forbidden. On the other side of me, a guy echoes their protests. He thinks he should be allowed to bring in his Hershel bag. None of their efforts are warmly received.
As I approach the check-in table, a security guard is already starting to inform me that I need to “come back with a different bag” (aka hide your bag in the bushes and hold all of your stuff in your hands and hope for the best”) as well, but upon further review I’m waved through. Things are looking up.
I’m excited by this year’s lineup and specifically the main stage acts scheduled for opening day, so I’ve got a tight schedule to keep. But there are too many distractions. En route to the first stop on my agenda I change directions because I NEED to get a better look at the inflatable white bunnies guarding the Bumbershoot sign. After appearing in a dozen or so Instagram stories I make it to the central fountain in hopes of orienting myself on the festival layout and location of the various stages. But my attention quickly turns elsewhere again. People in red jumpsuits are doing some sort of interpretive dance.
Sometimes the Bumbershoot inertia gods are on your side, though, and wanderings land me at the Fisher Green stage just before BROODS’ performance.
Lead vocalist Georgia Nott emerges in a metallic gold windbreaker with balloon sleeves and white shorts and the band launches into one of their newer songs, “Conscious.” It’s difficult to believe such a strong, raspy voice can emerge from such a tiny frame, but Nott’s got energy and charisma that far outpace her size. She lights up the stage as she leaps and dances across it, stopping only to breathlessly introduce the band behind her. She caveats all of this with “I am going to be dancing, but I’m not professional. So not good. But the singing will be.” But we’re all enamored with both.
After Broods, I begin the gradual migration to the main stage for the second half of Big Sean. Between numerous check-points where I need to scan my wrist band I begin to wonder if I’ll ever make it down to the field in Memorial Stadium, but, lucky for me, the entire place was one giant dance party, making the journey enjoyable in itself. There’s a stand at the base of the first set of stairs selling frozen boozy beverages, too, and a random M&M promoter shoves multiple fun sized bags of their candies into my unsuspecting hands on my way in. How could I not have a good time?
By the time I establish myself in a solid spot in the middle of the crowd, Big Sean’s got stage flames going, so I think my timing is pretty darn good. The whole stadium erupts when “I Don’t Fuck With You” starts. It feels like everyone inside the stadium is unified in hatred for a former significant other.
I had grand plans on navigating the Seattle Center grounds deftly enough to catch all three of the evening’s final performers, Flume, Die Antwoord, and Flo Rida, but my Memorial Stadium experience serves as a reality check. Instead of spending time navigating the crowd from one stage to the next, I opt to hunker down here for electronic artist Flume.
The set starts with a giant screen adorned with a psychedelic flower covering the stage. A disembodied beat begins to flood the stadium, slowing building until the screen drops revealing the Australian artist and a series of neon lights above him.
I don’t stop moving the rest of the night.
Flume runs through both new and old tracks including fan favorites like “Say It.” We’re all dancing and sweaty and lost in the moment until fireworks erupt at the end of the set, signaling a very clear end to day one of this year’s festival.
Well played, Bumbershoot.
Click on the image below to check out more of our pictures from this year’s Bumbershoot 2017.