As with last year, I was able to go to closing night of Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival. I was pretty excited to get to see a couple of favorites (Third Eye Blind and Billy Idol) as well as a few new artists we recently featured (Margo Price, Maren Morris and Melanie Martinez). Like all festivals getting everything situated with media passes and wristbands was a bit of a challenge, mostly because the organizers continually move the locations from year to year. Really though, it wasn’t too bad considering I was about 20 minutes late and the staff graciously issued my passes anyway.
I made my way down to the Main Stage at Memorial Stadium to catch the first act I truly wanted to see: Melanie Martinez. Getting there a bit earlier than I expected I ended up catching the last few songs by the opening act, Barns Courtney. I figured it would give me a chance to get my camera set up, you know checking the exposure, shutter speed, etc., and I also found myself trying to get a decent vantage point to grab a couple clicks. But I was pleasantly surprised by the bluesy, folk rock that Barns Courtney was blasting throughout the stadium. His song, “Fire”, was brilliant, catchy and had the crowd rockin’ along and for it being the opening act, the crowd was pretty energetic. I caught myself bobbing my head along with the beats while Courtney crooned with his gravelly voice. Honestly, it was a great way to start the third day of Bumbershoot.
If this was the way the acts were going to go this evening, I was going to be extremely happy. As the set up of Melanie Martinez‘s stage was happening, I started floating around the crowd hearing the buzz as they waited for the next act. Finally bumped in to Brandon (Enyeart) and his cousin, Danielle who had showed up ready to catch Melanie Martinez in her full, bizarre glory. I was not disappointed. The stage was built up with a bunch of huge baby blocks that spelled out “CRY BABY” and a giant crib in the middle. She popped out of the crib and went straight into her album, Cry Baby.
A brilliant live singer, though I expected nothing less from a veteran of The Voice, and Martinez is as quirky and odd as advertised. She bounded around the stage in her nightie and two-tone hair singing her ass off. I think the only drawback was the amount of smoke she used on stage. At times it was difficult to see her. Seriously though, it was a great show, but I didn’t have a ton of time to linger.
Brandon and Danielle were staying at Memorial for rapper G-Eazy, but I was off to catch Lemonade artist, Margo Price at the Starbucks Stage. I took a short detour while heading to the secondary stage to grab a bottle of water and a snack, but I still got to the stage a little early and Bishop Briggs was on stage killin’ it with her huge vocals and some down home alt-rock themes. The London-born singer/songwriter was bounding all over the stage and, at times, seemingly out of breath, but never missed a beat. She looked like she was having the time of her life smiling the entire time as the crowd continue to pump her up. There wasn’t a lot of crowd interaction, but she definitely had everyone’s attention. Bishop Briggs ended with two high energy songs, “River” (her current commercial hit) and “Hi-Lo”, which I’m sure will be a single soon. Both are killer tracks and should be listened to immediately. As soon as her set ended, the crowd dispersed leaving me a clear path to the front of the stage.
It was going to be a perfect view for the next couple of acts that were on my list, Margo Price and Maren Morris. As most know, country music is not really my area of expertise. Brandon usually covers this genre and in this particular case, he reviewed both artists’ albums. But, I did have the opportunity to listen to both albums, Price‘s Midwest Farmer’s Daughter and Morris‘s Hero, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch both artists live in back-to-back performances. Only at Bumbershoot can that really happen, especially after an alt-rocker like Bishop Briggs and a pop artist like Melanie Martinez.
Finally, Margo Price took the stage. I knew I was going to be in for a treat, but I was not expecting the shear powerhouse vocals and brilliantly constructed songs to flow forth. I mean there are times when an album pales in comparison to the live version. It’s happened a few times for me, Adele and Imagine Dragons to name a couple, and now Margo Price. Honestly, these side stages at Bumbershoot sometimes have the best acts and I witnessed to one of those. She did not miss a single beat, was spot on with her guitar and just kept plugging along keeping the crowd in awe. I would absolutely see Price again, which will hopefully be soon.
Next up: Maren Morris. There was a bit of a snafu with the sound and setup ran over a little bit, so unfortunately, before Morris even took the stage, the set list was shortened to fit her into the allotted time, but you knew there was no chance that “My Church” was going to be cut. While, Margo Price was much more of a throwback country artists, Maren Morris, while still certainly country, is a much more modern version. The tiny, powerhouse singer/songwriter from Texas was spectacular in her own right. As she came out on stage, she started by opening with the first few lines of Janis Joplin‘s “Mercedes Benz” and people went berserk. She hopped right in and never slow down once. Even being at the front of the stage, Maren Morris was so energetic that at times it was difficult to get a good clean photo of her. She moved and flowed around the stage with her golden mic never stopping. I couldn’t imagine how she could put on a 2-hour show and maintain that sort of energy, but I know that she would give it a shot and die trying.
As soon as Morris closed down her set with a brilliant version of “My Church”, I knew I had to get to the Fisher Green stage to get a decent view of Billy Idol. Luckily for me I was able to catch the last few songs of Third Eye Blind. I remember having seen Third Eye Blind at the Puyallup Fair back in the day and it was nostalgic getting to hear Stephan Jenkins belt out, “Semi-Charmed Life.” Seriously, though, Jenkins still has it. That man can still sing with the best of them and he proved it with a cool little acoustic encore. Also, in typical Third Eye Blind fashion, Jenkins got a little sentimental and appreciated the crowd and Bumbershoot for having them back. He explained that the last time they played this festival it was one of the very last times his mother got to see him perform and all of those feelings and memories came flooding back. It was nice to see them put on a good set, but really it was time for Billy Idol.
I had marked Billy Idol down as the act that I wanted to catch at this year’s Bumbershoot. Not Halsey. Not Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Not Pretty Lights, but Billy Idol. The 60-yr old British rocker is a rock icon and there is no way I was going to pass that up. As fans started to press forward toward the front of the stage, I was surrounded by people of all ages. There were some teens, twenty-somethings, but as expected, most of the crowd was made up of adults in their 50’s and 60’s reliving parts of their youth. Honestly, I didn’t blame them one bit. I had the same experience with Third Eye Blind and I was ready for Billy Idol.
Holy crap! When he finally hit the stage, it was chaos! I have never seen so many fists pumping and the crowd was louder than I would have expected for an outdoor stage. Even at 60, Billy Idol had an amazing stage presence that was hard to fake and his low grumbling vocals were stellar. His versions of “Rebel Yell” and “Cradle of Love” were spectacular and I couldn’t have asked for a better end to my evening and to the end of Bumbershoot 2016! Until next year!
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.