Elvis Costello Fly Moon Royalty John Roderick Mavis Staples Seattle Center Stephin Merritt The Both Wu-Tang Clan

Bumbershoot 2014: the Saturday of your life

“It's never too late to have a happy childhood.”  ― Tom Robbins


I am looking at the Bumbershoot 2014 schedule for the first time today. Just two days before it all comes down. It's not because I'm lazy, though I am that (sometimes). Or a procrastinator (all the damned time). I prefer to walk into Bumbershoot blind, peroxide-clean, wet eyes stinging from smoke like a resurrected bird from some trickster's ashes. To play. Not music. I'm not a musician. (I may have been, once.) But I play with what I want to experience. So to do a preview for you takes great pains, as I would much rather love experiencing every Bumbershoot like adolescence the first time through; scared deathless. 

So this is what I would do if I were you when you get there. But I refuse to be strapped into time constraints. I want to construct this schemata out of need — out of greatness expected from previous experience and performance and recordings — out of play. There's a general schedule, but I fully intend to throw us into every ditch by the side of the clock on the way. 

What Goes On: Saturday, August 30th

11:45 AM, Fisher Green Stage – Fly Moon Royalty

Never seen 'em live. They tend to play all those hippie festivals, right? I have the feeling this will be a great way to wake up though. I loved The Gossip! I wonder if that skinny little girl I danced with at CHBP to The Gossip remembers that we were the only two people dancing that afternoon. Swarms of Seattle statues standing statue-like still. Hey, do people dance in Seattle yet again?

12:00 PM, Words & Ideas Stage (this just in! DON'T MISS THIS!)

“Why This? Why That? Why Now?”
Moderated by John Roderick. Subject experts now confirmed:

Saturday: Why Beards? Why Twerking? Why Now?
Beard Expert: Elan Gale (Television Producer)
Twerking Expert: Skip (dancer for Big Freedia)

Roderick has a beard? Really? They couldn't get anyone beardier than him? *Ahem.* Peronally, I hope he changes it up with "Skip" — I'd have my sticky tip money ready if Roderick would do the twerking instruction instead. Come on. Roderick. Twerking. Possum-slaw! Anyways, spending time with John Roderick is like hanging out with Bob Dylan-at-his-coolest-and-most-funny in the doc Don't Look Back, except he's picking mostly on himself. This makes me very happy. [Editor's note: A++++.]

12:30 PM, Fountain Lawn Stage – Otieno Terry (DON'T MISS THIS!) 

If you were there that night at the EMP Sound Off! this year when it was a sure bet Mr. Terry was going to win that whole damned battle of the bands, you wouldn't think of missing this set. It's not his work with Hightek Lowlives, it's even more intimate and less restrained, and you might just stop here and go home after he unleashes… real soul music. 

1:45 PM, Words & Ideas Stage – Literary Death Match

This is a little complicated to understand, but trust me: it's the right thing. Seven electric minutes from each writer, a great time limit, keeps 'em popping. Long-time TIG supporter David Schmader is one of the judges, so just hearing his deliciously dry wit in response to the contestants should be worth coming in for.

2:30 PM, Comedy at the Bagley – StarTalk Live with Bill Nye and Eugene Mirman

Eugene Mirman. Doing anything. Bill Nye, who I imagine is really Cliff Maps. When I read Cliff Maps, I hear the voice of Bill Nye. It's a Seattle thing. 

2:45 PM, Fisher Green Stage – Big Freedia

I'm taking what they're giving 'cos I'm twerking for a living. Twerking for the weekend. Finest Twerksong. Right To Twerk. Twerker's Playtime. 

Okay, I'll stop. This is what you wanna dance to on the grass for sure. You know, dance. You guys all do that now, right?

3:00 PM, Starbucks Stage – Gregory Porter

This new jazz vocalist's slippery sultry saucy Blue Note-label album Liquid Spirit got played all year in the Big Freak Media offices. Match this with Otieno T. earlier and you will have an absolutely aces first day at the mighty Bumbershoot, without even hearing any forlorn music about teenagers breaking up sung by 40-year-old dudes everywhere else on campus. 

3:30 PM – Words & Ideas Stage (this just in!) – (HEY, DON'T MISS THIS!)

Arts & Culture: Stephin Merritt (god yes it's Stephin Merritt!)

Moderated by Brangien Davis (Seattle Magazine) (she's talking to Stephin Merritt!!)

You should probably come hear the estimable Brangien Davis chat with that bourbon-bittersweet little dude from Magnetic Fields, Future Bible Heroes, the Gothic Archies, and that one really weird tour with .38 Special. (Stephin. OHMYGOD. Merritt.) Five minutes of Merritt quipping, Quentin Crisping, slipping crispy bon mots beneath your attention span is worth the admission to three other festivals. Hooray, Bumbershoot! One time I intrviewed him and borrowed a question from a big fat old rare book of interviews, and after I asked him that question, he named the book to me, and said he liked it too. If you're an aspiring songwriter, music writer… oh jesus, just trust me.

4:00 PM, Comedy at the Leo K. – The Comedy Womb

I don't know anything about them other than from the schedule, in which they are "female-focused (but not female-exclusive)" comics, and I'm all about that. There's some other misogynist comedians at the festival this year and I am going to make sure I see every woman-friendly comedian troupe instead to make up for their odious presence. Not even kidding. 

4:15 PM, Pavillion Stage – Tomo Nakayama

Dolorous, heart-aching sweetness. Grand Hallway dude under his own name, his songcraft a gorgeous shimmer of soul love. Bring a date, later snog like snakes on speed (but get a get room first, jeez!).

4:45 PM, Starbucks Stage – Donnie & Joe Emerson

They had to cancel their appearance at the Light In The Attic Records Summer Extravaganza (caveat: I drank up all the label's bourbon at that party the first five minutes I was there and then started crying, left by 6:30 PM), so now you can catch up with them! More caveat: I've never listened to Donnie & Joe Emerson! They created a whole rock and roll world for themselves in Spokane, decades ago. It's a magical world lots of critics love, and this is how I want to discover D&JE for myself: live at Bumbershoot. Please do this with me. Then I will go home with you and drink all your bourbon while we listen to their Light In The Attic records for the first time.


4:45 PM, Comedy at the Bagley – Paul F. Tompkins' Dead Authors Podcast

It's Paul F. Tompkins. Doing anything. See it. Most wonderful comedian alive. Not the funniest, nastiest, most brilliant. Just such a sparkling spirit, unpretentious, vulnerable, and genuine. And very very very funny.

5:15 PM, Words & Ideas Stage – Black Weirdo (DON'T MISS THIS!) 

THEESatisfaction helms this, the most important cultural event you will ever witness. It's like a Black Queer EMP Pop Conference with killer mixes and dancing and it is the shape of things to come. Might be hard for anything to follow this. Riz Rollins, Erik Blood, and other true Seattleites touching deeply and changing everything with their stories. Tastes like a movement and feels like disco-very.

5:45 PM, Comedy at the Leo K. – Laughs Comedy Spot Showcase (DON'T MISS THIS!) 

Brett Hamil, Duane Goad, Cameron Mazzuca, Brian Moote, and Jonas Barnes doing funny. The most hilarious minds of our general populace, blossoming right in front of you. I am in particular a big fan of Brett, whose comedy writing and cartoons in City Arts Magazine proves how perfectly in-touch that glossy is. Do yourself a favor and skip some packed-out super-comic complaining about customer service from an airline, and hear some street-legal ground-game gotchas. This is one of the biggest up-and-coming regional shows to hit at the festival. 

6:15 PM, Mainstage – Elvis Costello and the Imposters (DON'T MISS THIS!) 

You should never miss a chance to see Elvis Costello live. Solo, with a band, with anyone else. He fills up any venue he performs in, as big and bold and baroque as Sinatra, and it's a good bet he'll kill it at the Mainstage this year too. Costello is kind of like a the anti-Dylan: You go to see Dylan because anything can happen, it can be great, it can be awful, hey, it's Dylan, you saw him before either of you died. Costello has never been in better shape, he is super-generous with his best songs and always spot-on in performance. Sure, he's probably going to play some of his newer works I just can't ever seem to get into no matter how much effort, and yeah maybe I don't ever need to hear "Watching The Detectives" again (one of my favorite songs of all time, but does he ever not play it?). BUT: He might pull out "Talking In The Dark," or "I Want You," or "Veronica." And he will thrum your heart and massage your feels, ferociously. Not kidding: He's one of the last of the few real greats still around, and you will have that realization wash over you with every dubby bass-line, organ splash, crunchy strum, crowded croak or quicksand croon. 

8:00 PM, Fisher Green Stage – The Both

Nope, I don't have the album. Nope, I don't have either Aimee Mann's or Ted Leo's last couple albums either. I've always loved 'em but I've been busy. I'm hoping this will turn me around, get me back on track. Seriously. I want to dive back in. I have the feeling this will be that eternal return-discovery you in many ways come to Bumbershoot for. 


8:00 PM, Comedy at the Playhouse – Jeneane Garofalo and Doug Benson

I have kept up with these two, not always happily. Jeneane is a genuinely sharp comedian, but she kind of reminds me of novelist Denis Johnson: I'm forever loyal to her intuitive 90s slacker mysticism and mordant topicality. She's shrill, but someone needs to be screaming and fuming and I rage right along with her about a lot of it too. Yet, I often crave transcendence. Maybe this show will do it. Doug, he's legal now in Washington, right? I hope we don't get ticketed going to his show. Etc. etc. 

9:45 PM, Mainstage – Wu-Tang Clan 

If I didn't put DON'T MISS THIS up in the line above to tip you off, would you have skipped it? Nah, me neither. No way any of us are going to miss this.

10:00 PM, Starbucks Stage – Mavis Staples  (DON'T MISS THIS!)

Oh yeah, if you're not getting harder than Chinese algebra at the show above and want to feel your feet warmed by a God-kissed bliss whilst clapping your hands sore, get blessed by this soul maven. She should end your night like a deep tissue massage for your spirit. Classic R&B and a perfect way to end this swarm of everything all at once on the first say. Welcome home. 

Bumbershoot Elvis Costello Mavis Staples The Both The Lonely Forest

Bumbershoot 2014 music picks: Saturday’s dream(weaver) list

Now it is time for me to plan my ultimate list of musical goodness for this year’sBumbershoot! I’m a planner by nature, so I HAVE to make a list, but I like to refer to it as a “dream list” because inevitably I will get distracted by something shiny and forget which stage I’ve planned to go to next. SO.

Here’s what I’d see on Saturday, 8/30 in a perfect, focused world:

Fly Moon Royalty
Fisher Green Stage

Adra Boo’s voice is a symphony of amazingness, and every time I listen to her I simultaneously want to dance my ass off and cry because it’s so fucking beautiful.

Panic! At the Disco
Mainstage (the newly revitalized Memorial Stadium)

Whenever I hear a PAtD song, it’s impossible for me not to start my own private dance party. Sure, it’s a little mainstream-movie-music sometimes, but it’s poppy and bright and makes me wanna move, so. yeah. I LIKE IT.

Shelby Earl
End Zone Stag
Shelby Earl is simply gorgeous, in every single way. I would listen to her sing anything. LITERALLY ANYTHING.
Elvis Costello & the Imposters

This guy. THIS FUCKING GUY. I realize it’ll be impossible to get anywhere near the front of the stage for him, but I’m gonna try.

The Both
Fisher Green Stage

Aimme Mann + Ted Leo = The Both, as in, take both my money and my heart, please.

Mavis Staples
Starbucks Stage

Holyshit, Mavis Staples. What else is there so say?

Other stuff I’d like to check out on Saturday:
Cumulus, The Lonely Forest, Power Up, Dig-Dug (because, THAT NAME).

Aloe Blacc Brandi Carlile Bright Eyes Charles Bradley Cold War Kids Elbow Fitz and the Tantrums Fleet Foxes Gillian Welch Imaginary Scoop Mavis Staples Moondoggies On The Road Phosphorescent Ray LaMontagne Stevie Wonder Telekinesis! The Cave Singers The Head and the Heart The Walkmen We Are Augustines Yellow Ostrich Zilker Park

Here we go, Austin! Here we go! *clap!* *clap!*

Yup. There sure are a lot of exclamation points up in that headline, and with good cause: we're heading off for Austin City Limits this weekend, to catch some bands and some tan in the near-hundred-degree sun. Between pre-trip laundering, hydrating, charging our camera batteries and getting all that three-ounce-or-less business handled for the flight, we thought we'd take a minute to let you know about some of the acts we're particularly excited about this year — especially since there seems to be a particularly strong PNW presence to be reckoned with every single day of the 'fest.

{Cave Singers / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Brandi Carlile / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

The start of the fest on Friday is kind of like easing in to that hot, soapy, not-too-dirty-yet festival bath. Hometown heroine Brandi Carlile will be getting things going early in the day, and we're hoping her sweet sounds will put us in the right kind of mood to slide over into Ray LaMontagne's late afternoon set — they're both playing at the AMD stage starting around 2p. As the day darkens, we hope to get a little more gritty with the Cave Singers, and while Cold War Kids and Bright Eyes blow their sets out back-to-back {on the Honda and AMD stages respectively, for those of you following along in your custom-made schedules at home}, we might have to weasel our way forward to get a bigger-than-Bumbershoot-sized helping of Charles Bradley as he closes out the Vista Equity stage just before forever-legend Mavis Staples. As to whether we end day one with Kanye West or Coldplay — my vote's on Kanye. But seeing as the fest is all sold out except for a few Sunday passes, we might not be able to make it close enough for a photo report. Fingers crossed!

Pending crowd surges (and weather permitting), we hope to also make time to get a little Delta Spirit, Smith Westerns, Kurt Vile, and Santigold into our schedules too!

{Aloe Blacc / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Telekinesis / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Then, we'll be off to sweet, sweet Saturday. Also known as Dance Party Day. Also known as Stevie Motherfucking Wonder Day.

No matter which way you arrange the docket we'll be starting our day with Telekinesis, and then shifting over to catch Aloe Blacc & The Grand Scheme on one of the main {Bud Light} stages — and at that point, it'll be pretty tempting to park our white-girl selves there for the day to have a chance at even a relative glimpse of Stevie Wonder's headlining set at 8p. Mind you, it wouldn't be the end of the world to take the day in with sets from J. Roddy Walston & the Business, Allison Krauss & Union Station, and Cee Lo. However, with glittery gems like Phosphorescent, Iron & Wine, the Moondoggies, Fitz & The Tantrums, Gillian Welch, Wanda Jackson, and My Morning Jacket shining their respective love-lights all over the park — we might just have to venture out to see some of it. This will likely be determined by a coin toss, and you'll just have to wait for the photos sometime next week to find out what happens…

{The Head and the Heart / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. Easy like Sunday morning, for sure! Yellow Ostrich, yes. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., yes yes. The Head and the Heart, yes to the frigging YES. The Walkmen? Yes. Broken Social Scene? YES. But holy hell in a handbasket, ELBOW {!!!!!!!!!}. Which, on some level, is just as mind-melting of a concept for us as being in the presence of Stevie Wonder the night before. That's a stretch, of course — but for us, Elbow : minor league alt.indie.ihavenoface-ness :: Stevie Wonder : major league legendary status-ness.

Sunday's second half of the day must-sees that we'll be running from stage to stage to catch include (but are not limited to) Gomez, We Are Augustines, Fleet Foxes, and Hayes Carll, all of whom combo together to put us into a reflective, insightful, foot-moving, sun-kissed state. And capping the night off will be none other than Arcade Fire, who'll be launching their modern anthems out into the sweltering nighttime.

Here's to keeping track of our luggage, our earplugs and our water bottles! We'll have a full report with photos next week post-fest.

{Photos by Victoria VanBruinisse. From top: Cave Singers at the Moore (2011), Brandi Carlile at the Crocodile (2010), Aloe Blacc at Sasquatch! (2011), Telekinesis at the Crocodile (2011), and The Head and the Heart at the Comet (2010).}

Colin Meloy Imaginary Scoop Mavis Staples Pickwick The Presidents of the United States of America

Bumbershoot preview: how to get the most out of your Saturday {9/3}

With over ninety-something options vying for your attention from opening gates until the closing bell, making the most out of your day(s) at Bumbershoot definitely takes a little bit of planning. All the normal festival rules apply: pack light, wear layers, don't forget the sunscreen (and remember pace your drinking!)…. but on top of all that — first and foremost — get that schedule out and go over it with a fine-toothed comb. We did, and came up with a handful of can't-miss acts and installations to help make your Saturday the best it can be:

Flatstock {all weekend, Fisher Pavillion}
A true no-brainer for the concert-lover in all of us, Flatstock fuses memories of some of the greatest shows on earth with track-stopping-ly gorgeous graphics. For as far as the eye can see — almost literally — and for all three days of Bumbershoot, Flatstock displays row after row, booth after booth of a staggering per-square-foot amount of artistic content. With so much talent in such a small space, and no additional costs to check it out once you're on Bumbershoot grounds, you'd be silly to pass it up.

Andrea Gibson {12p, Words & Ideas stage}
We know, we know — spoken word isn't everybody's bag. However, and we speak from firsthand experience when we say this: you do not want to miss Andrea Gibson's performance at Bumbershoot. Period. She's an incomparable writer / poet / activist, and will be doing an event with Youth Speaks Seattle at noon. Believe these words: if any part of the installment involves Andrea doing one of her pieces, you'll literally be beside yourself at very sight and sound of it. PS, she hardly ever makes it out to the Pacific Northwest — all the more reason to get down to Seattle Center early and start your day at the Words & Ideas stage.

The Presidents of the United States of America {2:45p, Main stage}
You. The Presidents. "Lump." Dance party. We'll see you in the front row.

Pickwick {6p, EMP Level 3 stage}
With a wide appeal and an addictive sound that's catching the attention of the masses these days, Pickwick is sure to be a crowd pleaser at their pre-sundown Saturday set at Bumbershoot. They manage to fuse a melancholy verbosity with an upbeat tone — making them the danciest sad-chord sex- / sep-tet this side of the Puget Sound.

Colin Meloy & Carson Ellis: Wildwood {7p, Words & Ideas stage}
HarperCollins Publishers, in their infinite wisdom, have signed a three-book deal with Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis — and the first book of the 'middle-grade' series is upon the world. Wildwood had been described as "incredibly original yet timeless – nothing less than an American Narnia" and that the two of them have managed to "tap into the greatest potential of an illustrated novel; the words and images invigorate each other in a way readers rarely get to experience." Take a break from the dance party and get up close and personal at the Words & Ideas stage at 7p before capping off your night!

Mavis Staples {9:30, Starbucks stage}
We're lucky to have some honest-to-goodness legends among us at Bumbershoot this year, and Mavis Staples is one of them. She's enjoying a newfound resurgence in popularity among the younger set thanks to last year's collaboration with Jeff Tweedy, and coupled with her long-standing fame and capabilities, Mavis Staples is once again a veritable force to be reckoned with. While there's many choices you can make to round out your evening on Saturday, hitting the Starbucks stage to see this performance should be the priority on your list.

Stay tuned! Sunday and Monday recommendations are on the way.

{All photos by Victoria VanBruinisse.}

Broken Social Scene Fitz and the Tantrums Hall & Oates Imaginary Scoop Mavis Staples Minus the Bear Nomeansno The Kills The Lonely Forest

Bumbershoot 2011: May 31st is the last time to get the $29 Any Day Pass; and just announced: Grant Lee Buffalo

performance dance @ Bumbershoot 2009

{Bumbershoot photo: Erik Clineschmidt Photography}

One Reel, the talented folks behind putting on Bumbershoot, is reminding festival goers this year that the deadline for the extra-special Any Day Pass is coming up soon: May 31st. The neat idea is that if you buy this $29 ticket before then, you can pick any one of the three days to go on, so as the artists are announced (day by day) till then and you can put together the best bill for yourself any time before Labor Day Weekend. (Also, earlier in the week before, if you figure out which of those days it’s going to pour on, as it seems to do at least one day every year, you can choose an alternate day.) This is a reward for old school Bumbershoot fans (like me) who attend at least one of the days, and like the wiggle room up to the splendiferous event. The only catch being snatching up one of those tickets before the new month. May 31st! And then the Any Day Passes are all gone!

Just shouted-out for Bumbershoot 2011 today is Grant Lee Buffalo, who is joining these already-confirmed artists:

Wiz Khalifa, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Minus the Bear, Little Dragon, Broken Social Scene, The Kills, The Lonely Forest, Mavis Staples, Fitz and the TantrumsRay LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs, Leon RussellThe Presidents of the United States of America, Urge Overkill, Over The Rhine, Toro Y MoiAtari Teenage RiotNoMeansNo, STRFKR … and more to be announced!

So with all this talk about SIFF and Sasquatch and the Block Party right now, why should you be making plans for Bumbershoot? It’s like three months away and everything! Well, you may have heard that this year things are being cleverly reconfigured to be more appropriate to the actual music world readers of (say) Three Imaginary Girls are into: Special focus on milieus like the Decibel Festival, and an entire day of metal programming (!), to serve more specific needs of committed fans. For me, serving fandom needs beats out monstrously overexposed headliners you can’t see and don’t want to hear “Any Day” (ha! As in “Pass.” Oh whatever). (All I remember of the humungous stadium gig for the Sex Pistols in 1996 was Johnny Rotten kept some kids’ shoe. Otherwise, I’m still dreaming of the Mekons playing a couple of times, or Magnetic Fields and Tiger Lilies blowing minds in the smaller theatre house shows.)

Here are the highlights on the Any Day $29 ticket:

– $29 Any Day Ticket is the only ticket that gives you the freedom to change your plans until the last minute.

– $29 Any Day Ticket is the best value for a single-day ticket.

– $29 Any Day Ticket is a limited offer — available until May 31 or while supplies last.

Once One Reel announces the daily music lineup on June 1, ticket prices will increase to $35 and be day-specific.

Of course, the $75 3-day pass is still the best value overall for diehards!