While technically the second day of Bumbershoot, it was officially my first day at Seattle’s premiere music festival. And let me start by stating that the weather was hot. Like stupidly hot. It was 90+ degrees with humidity and a massive sea of humanity.
While, the media “tent” offered a bit of a refuge, it was minimal considering that you had to exit the the festivities from the Seattle Center grounds to get to the entrance of the Cornish Playhouse and with a day as warm as it was, there were no real amenities. Even to the fact that only the men’s bathroom was available and the women had to chance it if a guy was already in there or not.
But to reiterate what Brandon said previously, getting my credentials was painless and well-organized. It has, and continues to be, one of the best festivals at making sure that we have access and our media passes without delay. My day started with trying to cool off before sitting down to chat with Grammy-nominated duo, Sofi Tukker. We had a fun chat (which you can check out HERE)!
The Saturday concert lineup was going to be a bit of a challenge for me because there were so many acts that I really wanted to see including Weezer, Lorde and the aforementioned Sofi Tukker.
But first, I headed over to the KEXP studio to catch the duo, The Maldives. Their stripped down set in the KEXP Gathering Space was a great way to start. Their sensible acoustic folk rock is really what the Seattle indie scene is about and the local duo had a blast playing in front the packed room. Their interaction with the crowd was fun, but the focus was certainly on the music. In a moment of light-heartedness, lead singer Jason Dodson spoke on the realization that he was literally playing in front of the KEXP DJ, who was located in the booth behind him. There were laughs and waves between Dodson and the DJ.
After The Maldives, I was planning on heading over the Western Washington Honda Dealers Main Stage at Memorial Stadium to start my wait for the Icelandic
blues/rock band, Kaleo, but was completely distracted as I was walking past Mural Amphitheatre by a hard-rockin’, soul-infused band, The Skins. Fronted by lead vocalist Bay Li, the Brooklyn quintet gave quite the performance. With their set scheduled to be only 40 minutes, they barely took any time to interact with the crowd other than to ask the audience to give well wishes to bassist Daisy Spencer, who was unable to make the show because of illness. The Skins put on an inspired, energetic set that would have rocked any stage, anywhere.
After The Skins set ended, I quickly made my way down to the Main Stage at Memorial Stadium to catch the last few songs by Cape Cod band, Highly Suspect. The trio, consisting of twin brothers, bassist Rich and drummer Ryan Myers, and their best friend,
guitarist/vocalist Johnny Stevens, have this style that is a mashup of alternative rock, blues, punk and, for good measure, grunge. Their rendition of their Grammy-nominated singles, “Lydia” and “My Name Is Human”, were outstanding and were both worthy of their accolades. The driving
guitars and strength of the percussion along with Stevens’s emotional and powerful vocals created a buzz throughout the crowd that translated into forest of fist pumping.
Highly Suspect thoroughly warmed me up for the first act of the the day that I knew I couldn’t miss. When the schedule came out, I circled the Icelandic band, Kaleo, as a must-see. I had given them my 2015 Lemonade Award for Best Album and I was unable to see them the first time they were in Seattle back in October of last year. Well, I was finally going to be able to see them live and my patience was rewarded.
Kaleo‘s smooth, blues-y rock sound is absolutely stunning. While, I knew that there was serious talent, I could not fathom how easy it was for the band. Lead vocalist JJ Julius Son is unreal. He makes the hardest parts of his songs sound completely effortless and the band- guitarist Rubin Pollock, bassist Daniel Kristjansson and drummer David Antonsson – make the most difficult rhythms and beats seem like child’s play. They played pretty much everything from their debut album, A/B, including starting off with “Broken Bones” and continued with “Hot Blood”, and
capped it off with their biggest single, “Way Down We Go”. I still cannot stress enough how effortless it seemed.
After Kaleo left the stage and their fans started to filter out, I stayed in the mix because up next was Weezer. I knew that this was going to be a big draw. There was a huge amount of buzz prior to the start of Bumbershoot about how excited people were for Weezer
and Lorde being lined up back to back. With the stage change completed, the instruments tuned and the lights dimmed, more and more people started cramming in. It was getting ridiculously tight as people pushed and shoved their way through the crowd to get closer. I can tell you that I have been in some venues where it was tight and cramped, but, in most cases, people were willing to give you a little space to breathe. This crowd was the complete opposite. There was no regard for anyone’s personal space or space in general. People kept shoving and trying to press forward even though there was no where to go. As Weezer took the stage, Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wilson, Brian Bell and Scott Shriner jumped right into “Hash Pipe”.
Pretty sure it is an absolutely fitting song for Seattle. As the track was playing through it’s familiar guitar riff, I had a guy next to me say, “Why isn’t any sparking up right now?” And honestly, it was a valid question. A few seconds later, a familiar scent wafted through the air and all seemed to fall in to place. Maybe it was the contact high or maybe it was the fact that I was losing consciousness from being smashed by bunch of stoned teenagers, either way, Weezer
was playing and that was a great thing. I am not sure that I enjoyed it as much as I could have because of constantly trying to stay on my feet, but I know that Weezer just kept playing non-stop.
After about five songs, I could not handle being smashed any longer, so I took my leave. What I did hear of Weezer was fantastic and I would love to see them again. In the years that I have
covered Bumbershoot, this particular crowd was probably the worst and couple that with 90 degree heat and humidity, I was out. Sorry, Weezer. I also knew that getting back to the stage at Memorial Stadium for Lorde would probably be damn near impossible, but I was willing to risk it.
In the mean time, this gave me an opportunity to follow through on a promise to Sofi Tukker to catch their performance back at the Mural Amphitheater. A bit of fresh air, a quick water break and a bite to eat helped considerably as I walked my way to the other side of the Bumbershoot grounds. I got to stage a bit early, so I had a front row view of the New York jungle pop duo. From the moment that their set started it was a damn party. Everyone danced. Everyone clapped. Everything had a great time. Their unbelievable energy and constant movement kept everything fresh and lively. Their profanity-laced tracks, “Greed”, “F*ck They” and “Batsh!t Crazy”, were
standouts. They took a few moments between tracks to get the crowd into it – and may be catch their breath a bit – but they never really stopped bounding around the stage. Sofi Tukker closed with their hit single, “Drinkee”, off of Soft Animals, to a huge roar as they kept the party going by extending the track into a makeshift jam session. The Grammy-nominated duo left nothing to be desired. At this point, they were the best performance at Bumbershoot.
As they closed down the Mural stage, everyone exited quickly to get back to Memorial where
Lorde was about to put on the final act of Saturday’s lineup. The singer-songwriter from Aukland made a huge splash in the music world earlier this year with the release of her sophomore album, Melodrama, and everyone was ready. Not only did the floor/field of Memorial fill up, but the stands on either side were as full as I’d ever seen them for a Bumbershoot artist. Thankfully at this point in the evening, the temperature had dropped a bit and the people were not as pushy as during the Weezer set. I actually had a pretty clear view of the stage without being crushed.
She opened with a couple of familiar tracks, “Tennis Court” and “Magnets”, to get the crowd going, then proceeded to do a wonderful blend of her both of her albums, Pure Heroine and Melodrama, including “Homemade Dynamite” and “Team”. The crowd was into it and followed her every direction as she bounded across the stage with her dancers. She
then took a minute to chat about how her writing session with Jack Antonoff “Liability” came about and how she “vomited” the lyrics out. As Lorde began the song, you could feel the complete vulnerability and heartache. Her ability to convey her emotions through her music is up there with the best of them.
Her version of “Royals” was entertaining as she had the crowd singing the chorus for her. As the night came to close, she asked the crowd to give what energy they had left to dance. She dropped into the opening lines of her big hit “Green Light” and the everyone lit up and started singing along and dancing. And with the fireworks being fired off around the exterior of the stadium got one last huge cheer.
It was a great boost to end Day 2 of Bumbershoot. I was now ready to get home, get some sleep and do it all over again the next day.
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