Friday, May 3, 2013

Bumbershoot & Shaky Knees

I like Death Cab For Cutie.  A lot.  They write good pop songs and 2011's Codes and Keys made it onto my Top 10 list of albums of that year.  So it was not disappointing to see that they've been named as the headliners for this year's Bumbershoot festival in Seattle on August 31 through September 2, and will be performing their break-out album, 2003's Transatlanticism, in its entirety.  That's a hell of a lot better than last year's announced headliner, Tony Bennett, or the previous year's Hall & Oates.

The problem is that after Death Cab for Cutie, the other marquee names include 70s embarrassments Heart, teen favorites like fun., Bassnectar, Sara & Tegan, and MGMT, or bands that I've already seen before (Alt-J, Ra Ra Riot, Deerhunter, Charles Bradley, David Bazan, Mates of State, and Ramona Falls), in some cases multiple times (The Joy Formidable, Thao, and Sallie Field).

But, hey, a festival that includes Death Cab, Alt-J, Deerhunter, Thao, and Sallie Field is nothing to sneeze at, and the lineup also includes several bands I've been wanting to see for a while now, like Crystal Castles, !!!, Washed Out, The Men, Matt Pond, Lissie, Diamond Rings, Tamaryn, and Cascadia 10, an afro-pop outfit that were scheduled to play Bumbershoot last year but had to cancel.  With any luck, all of these bands won't be playing at the exact same time.

The full schedule for Portland's MFNW (Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Austra have already been announced), which immediately follows Bumbershoot, will be released May 28.

Meanwhile, The Joy Formidable, who seem to enjoy playing festivals (we saw them in 2011 at MFNW and Music Midtown), will be playing tomorrow at Atlanta's inaugural Shaky Knees Festival.  This is kind of a big deal for Atlanta - the first major, non-EDM or hip-hop music festival other than the crassly commercial Music Midtown that I'm aware of (there is the Atlanta Jazz Festival, but that's of an entirely different nature as well as genre).  


I will be there and posting remote updates here and on my Facebook page, but I already have some grave misgivings about this event.  First of all, there's a 100% chance of showers Saturday (90% Saturday night), dropping to 60% Sunday and Sunday night.  And this is an outdoor festival. 

Secondly, there's no parking anywhere near or around the festival.  What was once a perfectly suitable parking lot next to the god-forsaken Masquerade has been transformed into the Historic Fourth Ward Park, the site of most of the festival, and a third stage will be at the Masquerade's outdoor (naturally) Music Park, which is the current parking lot for regular Masquerade events ever since the park opened.  The nearest MARTA station is over a mile away, and although the festival will be running a shuttle, they're only promising one per hour, so fans may have to wait up to 59 minutes to catch a bus.  The festival promoters have also made a few parking lots for other facilities available for the event for an undisclosed fee, but they're also quite a walk away from the festival (although there will reportedly be shuttles running from the parking lots at some undisclosed frequency).  The promoters' solution to the inaccessibility of their event is to advertise that there will be a free bicycle valet, which is great for those who live close enough to bicycle to the event and willing to ride in 100% chance of rain, but doesn't do much for the other 99% of us.  I might wind up just taking a cab (hopefully not a Death Cab).

My final misgiving concerns the way the event has been managed so far.  I bought tickets well in advance, only to discover that they didn't include the "special" late-night (and indoor) performance by the two bands I most wanted to see (The Black Angels and GOAT).  Further, they had to send out an email this week to correct the confusion from their own prior announcements that suggested that one had to exchange the purchased tickets for a wristband prior to the event in order to gain admission to the festival (why not just let them in with a ticket, like at Bumbershoot, but if wristbands are needed for admission, then why not just send out wristbands like MFNW does and not make the fans have to wait in an otherwise unnecessary line?).

That leaves the schedule, which admittedly does include a few good bands (The Joy Formidable, Hanni El Khatib, and Band of Horses) and at least one excellent band (The Antlers, but whom we're seen three time already).  I'm looking forward to Jim James' set, but the schedule is forcing me to have to choose between Kurt Vile and Oberhofer (I'll go with Vile on general principal, plus I've already seen Oberhofer at Bumbershoot 2012).  After The Antlers, the weather will determine if I'll stay to hear the over-played Lumineers, or head back home to watch Game of Thrones.

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