Monday, September 7, 2009
My time at this year’s Bumbershoot was a bit limited, but I did manage to take in a couple of performances.
Following the Carrot with Jason Webley
It had probably been 10 years since I saw Jason Webley perform. At that time, he was just a solo act, playing an accordian and singing “old-timey” style songs. So there was no way for me to anticipate the high concept performance art piece I was about to witness.
A hush gathered over the theater and the lights dimmed as a lone, strange figure emerged from the curtains. He was wearing a strange looking mask, no shirt and bright orange pants. He then proceeded to pick up a doll, play a record on an old phonograph, and lurk around the stage in an unusual manner. “This is weird,” muttered Jewelry, my Bumber-companion for the day.
Shortly after the lone figure disappeared back behind the curtains, a band emerged and locked into a groove. Webley marched triumphantly onto the stage and started leading the crowd in a chant of “FOLLOW – THE – CARROT.” Being slightly hungover, I found it difficult to show the same amount of enthusiasm as the rest of the crowd, but lightly chanted along regardless.
Webley then launched into his set, performing a number of songs with his rock solid backing band featuring upright bass, drums and violin. His music is actually very hard to classify. I turned to Jewelry, and asked, “what the hell would you call this? Its sounds kind of like folk, or gypsy music, but it’s also like he’s singing sea shanties. “Maybe we should call it pirate-core then,” she responded.
Mid-set Webley stopped the music and read a story. It was a bit hard to follow, but included tales of a miner searching for gold, but never quite able to find it. There also seemed to be some reference to this mysterious carrot.
We were anxious to check out more entertainment, so we left before the show ended. I found out later though, the end of the set involved Webley leading the whole crowd outside, Pied Piper style. He had a gigantic carrot on a stick, and had everyone follow him down into the International Fountain and get wet.
I’m still confused about what Webley was trying to get across with the carrot, but nevertheless his performance was unique and engaging.
Bringing Beard Rock to the Masses: The Cave Singers
Jewlery and I made our way though the masses and didn’t stop until we were front and center at the Mural Ampitheater, where the Cave Singers had just started their set. It was the perfect afternoon for a Cave Singer’s show too – the sky was overcast with rain threatening, and the crowd swayed gently back and forth in time with the music.
“We’ve been hanging out having crazy conversations all day, and doing some drinking,” lead singer Pete Quirk said. “I take that back, mostly we’ve just been drinking. Much like their music, “The Singers” seemed very relaxed on stage, comfortable and confident in delivering their quaint brand of indie folk. Former Murder City Devil and Pretty Girl who made Graves, Derek Fudesco, added some technical, groovy guitar techniques to keep things interesting.
The band played a great set that included hits “Seeds of Night,” and “Helen” from 2007’s Invitation Songs as well as a bunch of new material from the recently released Welcome Joy.
Then as casually as their set had started, Quirk waved lightly at the crowd, said, “thank you guys,” and left the stage.