It has been a custom in my family to get together each labor day weekend and attend Bumbershoot. Last year my youngest sister from Pittsburgh and my cousin from San Diego flew in and the four of us with vastly different tastes in music, had an awesome time listening to artists of varying styles and different genres. There was something for everyone. Blues for the hubs, rock for the cuz and I and hip hop for the baby sis. We saw such wide ranging artists from Elvis Costello to Wu Tang Clan to Mavis Staples. The fun bands Capital Cities and Panic at the Disco and plenty in between. Bluesy rock, R&B, Jazz, folk. Every kind of music you can think of and some that we hadn’t. Like Mexican Electronica, which was great by the way. And so on. That being said, my hopes were very high this year. But what a disappointment it turned out to be. Almost all of this years line up was Alternative music. One of the draws for us in years past was the diverse mix of music and styles. This year it was evident that the line-up was geared to a younger audience.
Bumbershoot has transitioned from a local arts festival into a mega music festival. Back in the 80’s a single day ticket was $4. This year a single days ticket was $109. A gathering of local talent to discover has become something else all together. Before, you could just wander from one stage to the next and sample all of the artists. Now everything is fenced off and you are herded in and out of the performances like cattle. Welcome to the big time!
Management was taken over by mega concert promoter AEG, so the artsy town centered Bumbershoot of old was turned into a Coachella-esque music festival. The upside of this is that there were plenty of big names in the evenings. And it was a make or break year for the festival. With over 80,000 attendees, Bumbershoot is saved for the near future and will be back next year. Good or bad, its no longer the festival that we have grown accustomed to.
So now that I have that off my chest, I’ll tell you about the actual festival and our experiences this weekend. This year only my cousin Candice came to town for Bumbershoot. On Saturday, she and I took the train up and attended the days festivities on our own as the husband went to play golf instead. It was cool and cloudy but the forecast was for a dry afternoon. Our first act of the day was at the Starbucks stage underneath the Space Needle, Elle King. Elle King is an American recording artist whose musical style encompasses country, soul, folk, rock, and blues. She loves banjos and hobos. Born in Ohio and raised in Brooklyn, Elle retains her roots in a style that blends those worlds of both grit and mid-western charm. She ties her old soul and rock ‘n’ roll influences into a sound that’s all her own.Topping the charts with her song Exes and Ohs, Elle delivered a killer rendition of the Beatles Oh Darling.
Also on Saturday, we saw The White Buffalo which is singer/songwriter Jake Smith. A gritty roughhewn baritone who writes songs about rebels, outsiders and troubled souls battling their way through lifes obstacles. Six of his songs were used in the edgy TV series The Sons Of Anarchy. (BTW, best show ever!)
Then on to Grace Love and the True Loves, a nine piece Seattle based band that reminded us of a great 70’s soul and R&B band. It’s the hip swinging, booty shaking, heart freeing sound you crave to hear live, but rarely do.
And we were on our way to see the Airborne Toxic Event before Fitz and the Tantrums when we got a weather alert for a possible thunder storm. It was decided that we would go into the food court and have a bite to eat just in case it rained. Just as we sat down with our dinner, the skies opened up and it rained cats and dogs. Not Chihuahuas either, I’m talking Great Danes. And it rained, and rained. And poured. And more thunder. Just as we finished our meal, I overheard a couple of cops saying that due to close lightning strikes, all outdoor acts had been cancelled. I guess it’s time to go home then. It looked like it was clearing a bit so we made a run for the train platform. We didn’t get too far before it started again. Soaked to the skin and hair plastered to our faces, we sat shivering on the train ride home. In stead of spending the evening with Casey Musgraves and the Weeknd, we put on our jammies and watched a move. Theres always tomorrow!
On Sunday morning we woke up and saw that the rain was continuing. The forecast was sketchy and we decided to hit up the Tin Room for brunch and bloodys instead of braving the elements again. We spent a relaxing day indoors watching movies and sports. Then a nice dinner at the new Italian restaurant, Frankies B-Town bistro.
On Monday, Roger decided to tag along with us to the final day of the festival which looked like it was going to be a nice sunny day. We decided to drive up this time and were lucky enough to find a parking spot near by. Off to a great start! The weather was perfect and in the seventies and we breezed right into the gates. We started of with Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. A soulful Memphis sound with its deep-gut grooves, snaky guitars, churning Hammond and irresistible horns, you’ll find a sensitive, introspective dude, who bravely tells it like it is, breaking through his reticence to expose often harsh truths about the life he’s lived, the people he’s hurt and the despair he’s struggled with.
Next up was BØRNS . BØRNS may hail originally from the lower peninsula of Michigan but his dreamy blend of folk, glam and electro rock sounds like it comes straight from the cosmos. BØRNS is currently working on his debut album which will be released this fall. We then traipsed over to the main stage to see Robert Delong. A one-man band reminiscent of the Chemical Brothers.
We also saw Seattle based alternative singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski.
Because it was going to be an early morning for all of us on Tuesday, we decided to call it a day after that. The evening line up was indeed stellar though. Had we stayed, we would have seen, Hozier, Ellie Goulding, Ben Harper, and Bass Nectar. On Sunday we missed, the Melvins, Social Distortion and Faith No More. I missed the Northwest roots of the Bumbershoot of the past, but hey that’s progress for you.