Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saturday at Bumbershoot

I've been looking forward to Bumbershoot all year, it's the first festival I budget for: buy the Bumbershoot tickets, then think about what (if anything) else I want to see and can afford. I've been going since I was a teenager in the seventies and it was free for 4 days. I especially loved it because I got to see all of the bands that normally only played bars and were thus usually unavailable. I take my kids as much as they can stand it, and they're good sports so the girsl go all 3 days with me. Ben just hit 13 (teenager!) so he went one day with us this year too.

Logistics always have to be dealt with. Get your supplies, sun block (if you're lucky and the weather calls for it) or rain gear as needed, some food and water, and make sure all of the cameras are charged and cleared of old pictures or videos. I always try to get there at 11AM so I can check out the arts and so on, but always run late so I'm lucky if I get there at 12 when the bands start.

Once again we arranged to pick up my daughter early and get to Bumbershoot as it opened so we could check out the visual arts for an hour before the bands start - always the optimists! I ran late enough getting out of the house that we were down to 30 minutes before the bands if things went well. Things did not go well.

As we got my daughter we noticed that I failed to get all of the correct tickets for the festival (I inadvertently swapped a Sunday ticket in for a Saturday. Doh!) We headed back towards home, losing more time, only to find that my car wasn't going to be able to complete the trip. We had to get a ride back to my daughters after picking up the correct ticket so that we could have her drive us, losing even more time. Sigh. Ended up missing the first few bands. Rats.

On the other hand, the weather was gorgeous and there were lots of bands! We made it to the Key Arena to see Brite Futures, kicking off this years Bumbershoot with fun dancy party music, nice way to start!

The girls and I saw Brite Futures perform as Natalie Portman's Shaved Head four and a half years ago at the EMP Sound Off and I've seen them several times since and each time is a bigger party. Hair is a recurring Brite Futures subject:

We stopped in and listened to a bit of the Great Mundane, the Sky Church is an excellent venue for any kind of music.

We didn't stay to dance much since there were more bands to see like Kris Orlofski and the Passenger String Quartet:

The strings and rich deep multipart vocals give the music an almost orchestral feeling, much more layered than typical rock or pop, very nice:

Back outside for an excellent Champagne Champagne set

Champagne Champagne puts on reliably fun shows, they're getting to be one of my favorite local hip hop groups.

Wagon put on a fun set of guitar oriented classic rock to western influenced sounding numbers that had a good chunk of the early crowd dancing, the song "Keep It On the Down Low" builds to a nice climax that had the audience moving and applauding:

Next it was back to the Key Arena for a family favorite: The Presidents of the USA!
We've all seen the Presidents multiple times at Bumbershoot, Presidents Day shows, even a secret Microsoft show and they always deliver. Speaking of delivering, here's a mailman themed song in honor (sort of) of my dad:

So many Presidents songs are silly and insane and just fun as hell to rock out to. Spiders driving dune buggies gets me very time:

Spiders fat ass abdomen stuck in the bucket seat - who else but the PUSA could've written that?
The Presidents also have an excellent sense of movement and their rocking out transitions kick ass. A song about peaches that gets us all jumping then singing along, then moving to the harder guitar in the verse repeatedly, classic Presidents and really nobody else does anything quite like this:

I got several other good songs by the Presidents like Love Everybody, Old Man On the Back Porch, I Will Survive and Kick Out The Jams/Shout was killer, you can track those down on my youtube channel.
They ended like they usually do with "Video Killed the Radio Star" and nailed it:

It's always interesting coming out of a dim indoor venue to the bright sunlight, somehow it feels like coming back to reality; maybe I'm just flashing back to the seventies concert experience. I was able to catch Yuni In Taxco even though I had missed their set earlier, since they did a YR Radio tent interview and performance I was able to catch - kind of a make-up, which was cool!

I only managed to catch a bit of The Nortec Collective: Bostich and Fussible on video:

The sun washes it out, and it's too short to do them justice. Describing them doesn't really do them justice either but I'll try. They had a tuba player and an accordian player playing against some sequenced tracks, quite different but quick and uptempo, talented musicians having a good time, definitely fun.

We also caught Vasen, they use an instrument I'm unfamiliar with, it's a string instrument played with a bow and it has keys that change the pitch of the string, quite different. Fascinating classical sound to my ear with the way the melodies, themes, and timing intertwine.

Valient Thorr in the Exhibition Hall with lasers! Fun show, amusing band name and the facial hair seemed to follow Brite Future's theme of the day.

P.S. I Love You put on a great set on the Fountain Stage, I saw P.S. I Love You earlier this year at the Vera with Diamond Rings and they get a very full sound for just 2 people. The drummer plays a loud thrashy fast style and the guitarist plays a bass pedal and sings with the result being surprisingly musical and full sounding, not what i would've anticipated, but they put on consistently excellent shows with fun fast songs every time.

I only managed to catch a bit of Shabazz Palaces, I've heard they've played some shows with Thee Satisfaction lately but there was no sign of Thee Satisfaction in the bit I saw:

We caught the MarchFourth Marching Band, not a great angle visually but the music is amazing for a marching band. The dudes dancing on stilts were fun too!

Pentagram put on a hard powerful set in the Exhibition Hall, I caught the laser effect spelling the band name at the beginning of this bit:

As a technical geek I love the laser effects. I got a more complete song by Pentagram too, the sound isn't great (too much volume overwhelms my Flip) but it started out pretty distorted so it isn't changed that much:

Vetiver was quite a contrast, lighter and calmer, well constructed songs, very nice:

I had never heard of Little Dragon (not that unusual, perhaps 1/3 of the acts were unfamiliar to me) but they quickly won me over with their upbeat catchy pop tunes.

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue had a nice horn oriented groove, very fun to listen to:

We caught a little of the Lawnchair Generals, as usual the lights/visual effects in the EMP Sky Church were great:

STRFKR put on a good set too. When I saw them at the Vera Project they were kind of crowded together and some musicians were facing each other rather than the audience. Perhaps the Fountain Stage is larger or maybe they just decided to face the audience, but I aplaud the choice. Facing the audience makes the performance more immediate and engaging.

I saw one song by Craft Spells but I didn't get it recorded.

I'm sad to say that I wimped out by 9PM and ended up missing Minus the Bear and Ray LaMontagne and Mavis Staples, too sore and tired. Dang. I did catch a street musician on the way back to the car,

but that was the end of the evening as far as music went.

One day of Bumbershoot complete, 22 performances watched, 2 more days to go.

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