-Large Urinal in the middle of Bumbershoot Grounds-
Vancouver should re-name the stupid Harbour Centre, because beside Seattle’s “Space Needle” we’re looking pretty dumb here. To compete with the greatness of Seattle landmarks, I suggest the re-naming of the Harbour Centre, a building i’ve avoided since childhood when I confused the revolving restaurant with the Gravitron. I propose “Deep Space Ocean Tower” or “Sky Disc Future Town.”
At the foot of Seattle’s Space Needle and bordered by the amazing Experience Music Project building was Bumbershoot. The big-little festival filled with friendly faces, a good and strange line-up, and an outdoor PNE- like market with booths such as “buy-a-blankie to fund Cat Rescues.”
Oh Bumbershoot, such a strange indie/commercialized beast. I forgive “The Shoot” for succumbing to the allure of dollars that Toyota spent to be everywhere at the festival, mostly because festivals like these are expensive, but also because of the human hamster wheel, shrinky dink station, and the free beer cozy and bandanna I got. However, I simply cannot forgive the giant rotating cat faces with speech bubbles that they filled with text they probably copied from my Mom’s email forwards 2 years ago. Terrible.
Around the same time I liked Shrinky Dinks (ie: a little bit too far into my teenage years), I liked a certain song called “Lump.” My Bumbershoot weekend started with a nostalgic little Presidents of the United States of America visit. The Presidents, who are Seattle natives, were probably pretty sure they would never play a fairly full stadium anytime soon, unless they were joined by Superdogs at the Agrodome or something. But the Key Arena was pretty impressively crowded. I have no idea what they played but I yelled “It’s Lump or “Peaches” before pretty much every song, just hoping. The band knew everyone’s plan though, and they saved the two nostalgia gems for the end of their set.
-Lil teens dont need no official bumbershoot gig to play-
Bumbershoot has a really broad demographic. Looking around from my vantage point at the Bud Light corral, the crowd was peppered with 40 year olds sporting faded Pink Floyd Tattoos, pretty people wearing really tight high waisted jeans that look as comfortable as wearing a child’s lifejacket crotch strap, “fancy” people dressed like gay nutcrackers, and kids who were just there to play in the giant fountain water park thingy that was in the epicenter of the festival.
-This couple really liked Bumbershoot and maybe found some drugs-
I fit in somewhere between the child in the fountain and the gay nutcracker, so I felt pretty in my element the whole time at Bumbershoot. The acts were as diverse as the crowd, so I was hoping that there was life beyond my brief scream fit during “lump.” Saturday evening I was pleasantly and drunkenly surprised with my favorite show of the festival. I found my favorite 45 minutes of the weekend by stepping out of the lovely sunshine and into the “metal stage” a dilapidated ballroom with huge pillars, lasers, and so, so much hair. Valient Thorr is the best. The venue was ¼ filled and the lead singer was a drooling overweight god of a man. He had that amazing “long hair with mini bangs combo” that allows maximum head thrash with minimal hair-in-mouth disruptions.
-Valient Thorr lead singer “Valient Himself”-
After I giggled like a little bitch while getting my Valient Thorr album signed and stared at the lead singers sweaty belly with my gift face on, we moved into polar opposite territory and saw the lovely Shebazz Palace. They are so classy. After white –people-head-banging to metal in the dark, it was quite a departure being in summer sun and standing on grass watching Shebazz Palace do their effortless little choreographed moves. Then I got some dumplings and watched Tennis, a nice lil band with great hair. I am endeared to people who look like muppets.
-Tennis pretty lady Alaina Moore-
A huge crowd formed for Das Rasict, who looked really stoned, which I think is normal, but the first few songs were illegible and a lady was flat tire-ing my foot as I tried to find a spot in the crowd that wouldn’t put me within 1/2 an inch of a preteen who smelled like value village and baby powder. So I left. Overall, Das Racist on the Bumbershoot sound system was like when I sing along to BET, just really wrong. My less grumpy friends stayed and apparently they got way better and the sound improved.
-Tycho leading psychedelic party nap time-
A festival highlight that didn’t include my desire to braid Valient Himself’s beard was Tycho, who played in the heavenly E.M.P venue “sky church” in front of massive projections of frontman ISO 50’s art. Towering ceilings, hissing fog machines, and amazing acoustics make this narrow venue an amazing place to have my preschool-esque “time out” from Bumbershoot in the cavernous sky church watching pretty pictures and listening calmly.
-Valient Thorr sweaty God of beards-
Later that night, after indulging in the amazingness that is buying liquor at the grocery store, I drank too many energy drinks and champagne and felt it was the perfect time to sit still and look polite at the Orchestra. Seattle got it so right when they choose Ludovic Morlot to be their new conductor, I want to sit in a rowboat with him while he makes me sandwiches and explains how the little wavy stick controls the musicians.
I like Classical music. I listen to it even when no one is there to hear it and think how smart I must be. The Seattle Symphony cats are pretty awesome, they’re clearly excited about having a full audience, and the prospect of experimenting with tradition for a younger crowd. I geeked out hard when a dude came out to do an electric bassoon piece with looping pedals, It sounded like outer space covered in 4 loko. Morlot also announced he’s hosting an open contest where young composers will work on pieces inspired by Nirvana. I can’t wait to get parking lot drunk and go see that too! I was so pumped up by the Orchestra and my love for booze that after Bumbershoot I ended up getting in a beer throwing friendly fire battle and getting attacked by a ping pong machine. Apparently I also “Port Mann Bridged” A LOT, which I explained to onlookers as “my personal version of the Jersey Turnpike.” The USA brings the best out of people, but sadly, my “best” that night colored my interpretation of the final day of Bumbershoot.
-Ping pong machines are not a toy-
The next 12 hours I basically whined, puked, and got stung by a bee.
I just wanted to find a medium sized box to crawl into and cry, so I did the next best thing and sat in the super loud and echoey Key Arena in the early afternoon for Big Boi. Seeing him was cool but the hype man’s voice was overpowering everything else. Some hot bitches from the crowd got pulled on stage to dance during a few songs, like “Tangerine” and “Shutterbug” …and even the lady with the teeny tiny baby didn’t let the little breakable human clutching her get in the way of getting d.o.w.n.
Then on to Yacht…..oh Yacht. I loved the dude when he was a solo weirdo on the stage of Richards. Then he brought his awkward, kinda bookwormy girlfriend into the mix 4 years ago and she was nervous and I really liked her too….then either he got a new girlfriend or the bookworm got bodysnatched by Annie Lennox. They grew a full band, called “Straight Gaze” and during their disco rave Talking Heads-ish set I got irritated and left to go get a caricature of myself as a centaur.
Also, there was a Homeless man in a Penguin suit following me around like Pete Tong’s cocaine badger. Somehow he got into the press section of Atari Teenage Riot and stole my beer.
-photos by Connor Mcguire-