Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sunday at Bumbershoot

Sunday was another Beautiful day in Seattle and we headed down to Bumbershoot for a day filled with music. First up was Eighteen Individual Eyes playing good mid-tempo guitar oriented rock. Interesting name, no idea what it means. I like the haunting vocals, the way they fit in with the slightly droning guitar sound is nice. They also have a good control of the dynamics, with the instruments pausing here and their while the vocals play off that. Excellent song structure.

Next was Gold Leaves, this one has a beautiful ease about it: The acoustic guitar and quiet synthesizers along with the occasional vocal harmonies give it a wonderful feel. The guitarist on the left is sitting at a pedal steel guitar - an instrument I associate more with country music, but I wouldn't particularly call this country. I've never been that good at figuring out or assigning genres anyway. I like how the instruments blend and the vocals and harmonies all add to a quietly emotional yet stately song. The song I video taped was over 7 minutes long (and I probably missed a little at the start), but it doesn't overstay it's welcome at all; it develops changes and grows, gaining some intensity with the drum solo and the instruments fading into a simpler pattern, very nice.

Next was the Ty Curtis Band with a good chunky guitar oriented rock approach. I've always loved electric guitar and they put some good guitar playing front and center, but don't overwhelm the music or the song with it. I like the way the guitar moves up front, then moves back for the verses, then comes back up front. Good beat, tight band, nice approach. The extended guitar solo around 2:45 in was also quite tasty. So far the early afternoon bands were putting on great shows in the bright sunlight.

Next was Theoretics, a Seattle based "live hip hop" band. Live hip hop refers to using a live band rather than tapes or sequenced music, and I'm a fan of the approach - in case you can't tell, I love live music. The introduce the band and then play "Go" which is a great song. The band is pretty large so I mostly manage to cut the keyboard player out of the video, sorry about that. They had a guest vocals by Camila Recchio a few songs later, she sings beautifully but I didn't manage to get video of that song. Camila also did guest vocals with Knowmads a bit later in the day so you can at least check her out in that video.

The only time I went in to the main stage at the Key Arena all weekend was to see Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. I don't like the "reserved" feel - chairs to sit in, no crowding, nobody really moves much. Personally I like it when there's a crowd, I like it better still when the crowd is into it and the band feeds of that, and best when a mosh pit gets going, but Bumbershoot always has it in for mosh pits. Signs outside the Exhibition Hall (where the more punk bands usually play) explicitly say moshing and crowd surfing is not allowed. Anyway, back to Sharon Jones She's got a great band, tight arrangements, great vocals, very nice set. On the other hand, the seating and lack of crowd intensity led me to head back out to the smaller stages petty quickly.

Back outside at the Sub Pop stage Niki & the Dove were playing spacey slow atmospheric music Different, nice vocals and one dude providing interesting backup sounds between the keys and some sequenced or perhaps recorded instrumentals.

Next over to the TuneIn stage for Eldridge Gravy & The Court Supreme I enjoy the patter - "reminds me of a time in 1926" indeed, even I'm not that old, but it set the stage for the song. I love the horn section and the wailing backing vocals. I ended up recording more than 9 minutes of the performance, I definitely enjoyed their sound. Interesting hat stuff going on with Eldridge, several other bands had hats happening too, seemed like a minor Bumbershoot theme. All the rest of the band had dark glasses too - it might have been a thematic decision, or perhaps just a reaction to playing in the middle of a bright Seattle late Summer day.

Heading back to the Exhibition Hall we stopped for a moment at the YR booth to watch a bit of Deep Sea Diver The Vera Project organized several teens to host these and ask bands a few questions between songs, a nice experience for a bunch of kids I really like, thumbs up to Toyota for sponsoring it, the Vera Project for organizing it, and the kids for getting up on stage and interviewing the bands.

On to the Exhibition Hall for Barcelona I like the songs, the sound was good although my Flip had some problems with the volume so it doesn't sound as good in the video as it did live. I like the way the song loops back to the line "I don't wanna know" and then the guitar echoes the phrase, tasty. I saw a little bit of Barcelona at a previous Bumbershoot, I liked what I heard but I didn't know much about them. Turns out they're local, and I really enjoy their sound - and that's about all I know; that's petty much all I need to know.

After several well done songs by Barcelona we headed over to the Promenade stage for the Knowmads set, with Camilla Recchio (who was also with Theoretics) adding some vocals. The crowd was larger and active, so the video is from a bit further back. I've seen quite a few Knowmads shows but this was the first time I've seen them with a full band - they had a guitar, bass and drums as well as lead vocals by Camila and I really enjoyed it. The way they use "People Get Ready" with Camila's vocals soaring to intro the song and then return to it repeatedly gives the song a great structure; I've always liked that spiritual so it really worked well for me, one of the best Knowmads performances I've ever seen.

Back to the Sub Pop stage for The Jezabels, a four piece band out of Australia Interesting sound, the song I've posted ranges from a nice grove to a sort of operatic peak based on the lead vocalist's ability to really soar and nail the high notes with a lot of power, very nice effect. Good variety of sound within just the one song, another rewarding set in a day full of them.

Yelawolf was next on the TuneIn stage This is the more traditional hip hop experience, a dude rapping with a DJ running some electronic equipment behind them. Nice flow, fast lyrics with a rapid beat on occasion.

Headed up to the Starbucks stage (the Mural Amphitheater) to see the Harmonica House Party with Lee Oskar and Magic Dick Nice harmonica workout, I enjoy how expressive the harmonica is when played well, and the rhythm fills in nicely.

Next we headed back into the Exhibition Hall to catch Civil Twilight For some reason the high end is too bright in this video; it didn't sound that way live, but I had hearing protection in so who knows what it sounded like unprotected. I enjoyed the song, the way it builds and the backing vocals feeding in, this was better live than the video makes it sound (too much hiss, rats).

The Young Evils played a nice set of their guitar oriented distorted rock with Mackenzie Mercer's vocals hovering over them on this one: More dark glasses - a good bright Seattle summer day can be pretty dazzling, and it's nice when Bumbershoot gets some good weather. I think the bands aren't used to playing outdoors in the sunlight though, especially local bands like the Young Evils. Most of the year we don't get much bright sunlight, and most opportunities to play are indoors in a bar or club. The Young Evils made the most of their opportunity in spite of the sun.

Next the Fruit Bats played a nice set of upbeat songs on the Sub Pop stage:
I've seen Fuit Bats before and they always put on a fun show.
I have to admit my comments are getting shorter as I work through the videos I recorded, I saw so many bands that I'm running out of interesting things to say about them. There are lots of great bands to see, but after seeing 60 in 3 days it's hard to think of something original and interesting to say about each. It's a good problem to have though, too many good bands and not enough imagination to comment usefully...

Next was the The Dirtbombs on the TuneIn stage, I think I filmed this one from the beer garden. I'd never heard the Dirt Bombs before and found them instantly likable, fun beat with a good guitar sound, I enjoy the bit about 2 minutes in where the music drops out, giving the vocals an additional punch.

Next AM and Shawn Lee played an interesting set on the Promenade set. The guitar sounds they incorporated into this song were more varied, swapping back and forth between a slightly muddled echoing rhythm to a more ringing lead approach which sets off the vocals nicely. The rhythm section also provides some great emphasis and transitions and they get the audience participation going a couple minutes in, nice effective set:
I think this one ended up black and white because I used my digital camera and it's settings were wonky. It still works pretty well.

Back inside the Exhibition Hall for The Promise Ring. I know very little about them but I enjoyed their set. Classic dual guitar, bass and drum lineup rocking out on a midtempo rock song, nice stuff.

Mudhoney is a local legend that I missed in the nineties when they played Pioneer Square venue like the Buffalo regularl, I was busy raising babies and toddlers back then so I didn't get out much. I was glad to finally get a chance to see them live! I don't know their catalog, when I searched for "I Like It Small" I found some recent performances and nothing else, so I suspect this may be a new song but I don't really know. I like it, it plays against the traditional simplistic excess in most modern songs. I thought I recorded at least one more by Mudhoney, and I saw them do "Touch Me/I'm Sick" which is one of their legendary tunes, but somehow I didn't manage to get a copy to YouTube. Rats!
This is definitely one of the "bucket list" local bands that I had regretted missing back in the day, I'm glad I got to see them and that they still put on a powerful fun show.

Lee Fields and the Expressions played a good old school love song, great horn section and tight arrangements. I love the staccato lyric over the punchy horn section late in the first minute, the way the transitionin and out of that is nice.

Deep Sea Diver had a great sound. I filed this with my digital point and shoot camera. Somehow it ended up in an odd color mode where it's almost black and white, at least the sound is serviceable. Nice classic reference - Psalm 23 has always been a favorite of mine. I definitely want to see Deep Sea Diver again.

I only got a short bit of Blitzen Trapper, sound is a little ragged in the video, it was quite impressive live. The music sounds like it's from some lost twentieth century decade, I can't quite tell which. Blitzen Trapper Enjoyed this, yet another band that I want to see again.


We finished up with Wanda Jackson at the Mural Amphitheater. Wanda embodies an amazing accumulation of rock and roll history. She was one of the first in so many categories and she has great stories. She was in the studio with Elvis Pesley, and she's coy about it but she may've been into more of his business than that. I saw her and 2003 at Bumbershoot on the same stage. In 2003 she played some guitar and sang, this year she stuck to the vocals, allowing the Dusty 45's to handle the instrumental parts. The Dusty 45s are great - the flaming trumpet bit is awesome all by itself, and the show they put on with Wanda was killer, filled with classics and obscurities, covers and overseas number 1 hits - from Japan.
After a few songs where the energy was moderate, lower than last time, she brought things down for a moment and spoke of her conversion experience and sang "I Saw the Light." A noticeable portion of the audience, probably more than 20%, walked out. it felt disrespectful, they were getting into it until she started speaking of her spirituality, it felt like they wanted a novelty act, not an actual complex person with their own attitudes and beliefs.
Their loss, Wanda singing spirituals is a wonderful thing and it visibly amped her up. As she finished "I Saw the Light" with an intense climax, drawing out the final repetition of the title phrase as the band crescendod I realized that she needed a song like this that spoke to her heart, or I should say from her heart. She took a moment to thank us for allowing her the opportunity to talk to us and her graciousness made me feel like the idiots who bailed on the performance could be forgiven, she didn't mind the disrepect. From then on her intensity increased and the packed in crowd enjoyed classic timeless rock and roll.

No comments:

Post a Comment