Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bumbershoot, Day Two


Today, Sunday, was supposed to be the slow day for me at Bumbershoot, the day I just had to exercise a little patience and endurance to get from Saturday to Monday, although I kept wondering how a day that featured both Kishi Bashi and Pickwick could ever be considered "dull."  But as it turns out, the weather held up (mostly sunny, no rain), and the music, after a slow start, was terrific. Here's a recap:



To be honest, I never really gave this guy much of a chance, just stuck my head in the Pavillion Stage for a minute or two, and then wandered off to go see Hobosexual.



A drum-and-guitar duo, the unfortunately named Hobosexual played loud, crunching rock with long hair flying and metal influences clearly displayed, but it was hard to figure how seriously they were taking themselves, and how seriously we needed to take them.



Far better than the first two bands of the day, Golden Gardens trafficked in ethereal, slightly gothic, electronic soundscapes, with spacey vocals floating over the wash of sound.  They kept asking us to dance, but we didn't. Welcome to Seattle, folks.



Loud.  Metal. Ignorable.



Kishi Bashi didn't start until 3:00, and at one point this morning I thought about staying away from the festival until then, but I'm glad I got there early enough to catch those initial bands and to get a good position one row off the rail for Kishi Bashi.  The people around me didn't seem to know him or what he does, and it was fun watching them discover as he unpacked his bag of tricks.



After a slow start, the festival schedulers put me through the paces for the next several hours.  After K. Ishibashi's set ended at 4:00, I had to rush over to the Endzone Stage in Memorial Coliseum to catch Craft Spells, who started promptly at 4:00.  I missed their first song (After The Moment?) or two, and got there as they were already playing, but I stayed for the rest of their short, 30-minute set.



80s faves The Dream Syndicate started at 4:30 just as Craft Spells finished, so I had to hustle from the Endzone Stage in Memorial Coliseum to the Starbucks Stage by the mural for their set.  Bonus points for an extended John Coltrane Stereo Blues full of squealing guitar dissonance, and for getting to see Mike Mills Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey watching the set from backstage.




Negativland's set overlapped with The Dream Syndicate's, so when it sounded like the latter was wrapping it up, I bolted over to the Pavilion Stage to catch Negativland's set in progress. Much to my surprise, there was a long line to get in (I apparently underestimated Negativland's popularity with the Seattle audience), but once inside, I was treated to their caustic wit, righteous indignation, and bizarre mix of sampled sounds, highjacked video, and electronic music.



Things slowed down after the Negativland set, and I was finally able to get some dinner, and I met Tomo Nakayama walking through the crowd with his new puppy (he was kind enough to gracefully acknowledge my recognition).  After eating, I had to choose between watching the band Pickwick (the best band you never heard of), hear an all-star, Big Star tribute, or catch San Fermin, all scheduled to play at the same time (why couldn't the organizers put any of these bands on before 3:00, when I would have appreciated their presence?).  I eventually moseyed over to the Fisher Green Stage where Pickwick was scheduled to start in about 45 minutes, and surprisingly was able to get a spot right on the rail at center stage, a rare feat for a crowded, evening set.  I almost didn't recognize lead singer Galen Disston due to his new haircut (the former, Dylanesque look is gone), but Pickwick was on fire and played unquestionably the best set I've heard from them yet, and they even trotted a six-man horn section out onto the stage to accompany them on their final three or four songs.  A special night by the band, and I knew that I had made the right choice.



My original plan had been to leave after Pickwick, but since I got the center stage rail, I realized that all I had to do was stay right where I was to get the same spot to see funk legend Bootsy Collins from a once-in-a-lifetime vantage point at the front of the stage, a nearly impossible feat for a Bumbershoot headliner (and I can honestly say I don't expect to ever see Bootsy from that spot again).  Bootsy is a natural entertainer and showman, and his set was fun, exhilarating, thoroughly entertaining, and, well, funky.  I'm glad that I stayed.

So that was the "slow" day. I didn't expect to be rushing around so much from one stage to the next on the "slow" day, nor to have heard so much terrific music.  A slow start to be sure, but once it going, wow.  And Monday looks to be every bit as special. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bumbershoot, Day One


Okay, to get the most obvious and most irrelevant thing out of the way first, it rained today, for the first time in four years of coming to Seattle for Bumbershoot,  Not that it mattered, it was a light rain, a drizzle really, and I spent most of the rainy hours indoors at the Pavillion Stage, where most of the acts I wanted to see were playing, anyway,  In fact, if it had been a sunny and beautiful day, I still would have spent most of my time indoors to see those same bands I saw today in the rain anyway. So nothing was lost due to the rain, and I got to wear my raincoat all day.

It's late now and I don't have the time or energy to post a whole lot about who I saw today, other than to post a few pictures and the briefest of one-liner recaps.



A Seattle hip-hop-influenced r&b band playing the outdoor Fisher Green Stage at the very beginning of the day.  I didn't stay around for much of them, as I wanted to get indoors for Modern Kin.



Drew Grow, formerly of Drew Grow & The Pastor's Wives, who opened for The Head & The Heart at The Georgia Theater a few years ago, is back with a band that looks like most of The Pastor's Wives and put on a hard-rocking, satisfying opening set for the day.



Snarling Seattle punks Dude York impressed us two years ago playing a small tent at Bumbershoot, and since then the lead singer grew a mustache but lost none of his bite. 



The comedy acts are a big part of many people's Bumbershoot Festivals, and may be the only part for some folks, as far as I know, but since this is my last Bumbershoot and I've never attended a comedy show here, I braved the lines and caught Bill Nye The Science Guy with comics Eugene Mirman (who opened for Andrew Bird a few years ago at The Tabernacle) and Paul F. Thompkins for a panel discussion with a couple of astrophysics professors.  Laughs abounded.



Tomo Nakayama, the grand voice behind Grand Hallway, playing his music under his own name. Dreamy, lush, folk-pop masterpieces on a dreary Seattle afternoon.  Would have been perfect with a pot of herbal tea.



First of two discoveries today, Iska Dhaaf (Somali for "let it go") are a drum-and-guitar duo who play fascinating, complex, psychedelic songs.  It would be great to hear more from them in the future.



Minneapolis' Channy Leneagh, two drummers and a bassist show Seattle what electronic rock music could sound like if the musicians were as intelligent, sexy, and talented as Polica are.  It had been over two years and too long since we last saw Polica when they performed at The Drunken Unicorn in Atlanta.



Singer-songwriters Aimee Mann and Ted Leo have joined forces as The Both.  There was a good give-and-take between them, but I didn't stay long as I wanted to check out the buzz about Yuna.



The second discovery of the day.  Yuna is a Malaysian singer with impeccable English (not that it should matter) who sings with a clear and wonderful voice.  It's not rock and certainly not indie rock, and not really my genre, but I was totally captivated and blown away by her vocal skills and presence, and just when you thought you'd heard all of her neo-soul love songs, she picks up a ukulele and plays a  pop song so cheerful it makes Kishi Bashi sound doleful by comparison. With any luck at all (both for her and for us), she could be a major star.



The pride of Staten Island took the stage 25 minutes late (early by hip-hop standards), and kicked the Mainstage's butt with their old school rap.  Confession time:  I left before their set was over, as did a large portion of the crowd.

Friday, August 29, 2014



The Crocodile is a music club at 2200 2nd Avenue at Blanchard Street in the neighborhood of Belltown in Seattle, Washington. Opened as the "Crocodile Cafe" on April 30, 1991 by Stephanie Dorgan, it quickly became a fixture on the local music scene. After opening the Crocodile Cafe, owner Stephanie Dorgan later married R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck who became a partner in the Crocodile. Buck often played there with his other band, The Minus 5. Dorgan and Buck divorced in 2006 and the Croc closed unexpectedly in December 2007.


After months of speculation, a group of business people and musicians including Alice in Chains' Sean Kinney purchased the establishment and reopened it in March 2009 after much-needed renovation. 

I walked past The Crocodile today during my walking tour of Seattle. Looking at the calendar of upcoming shows, I can safely say that both The Earl and 529 have more frequent, and higher caliber, bookings.


However, I'll grant you that Seattle has a unique beauty all it's own.


Also, I got to ride the monorail today.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks will play The Earl on 9/11 this year, the night after Little Tybee and Adron and the night before Islands and Teen play the same stage.

After a most disappointing summer, this will be an epic run.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tomo Nakayama

Tomo Nakayama and Grand Hallway at Bumbershoot, 2011 
Hard to believe at this moment in time, but this weekend I'll get to ride the Monorail myself and get to hear Tomo Nakayama perform.