It’s Bumbershoot 2013, and as usual, we’re going, laden with equal parts sunscreen and umbrellas. Here’s a quick whip-round of the SunBreakers picks, ranging in brevity from extreme (Kelsey) to exhaustive (Tony). For preparation and #protips, see our other article on surviving the beast that is Bumbershoot.
Kelsey: Saturday: Kendrick Lamar, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, The Physics, Gus + Scout, The Flavr Blue. Sunday: Death Cab for Cutie, Fidlar, The Comettes, Matt & Kim, the writing staff of NBC’s Parks & Recreation. Monday: Allen Stone, Alt-J, Deerhunter, Bellamaine, Sol, Hot Bodies in Motion.
Josh: My main hope for Bumbershoot is that the TWELVE zombie attacks, flashmobs, and Thriller tributes will mark a turning point in Seattle’s zombie tolerance. Let’s round them all up in Memorial stadium, give them a good scrubbing, and hope that this is a successful last stand on the part of humanity.
This year is a lot of “how do you not see” pseudo-nostalgia acts on my must-see lists:
Saturday — HEART: much better to see them headlining Key Arena than a casino.
Sunday — The Breeders: much better to see them on a reunion / playing Last Splash straight through than never at all.
— that they’re playing at the same time as The Zombies doesn’t make anything easier
— the “playing the hit album from top-to-bottom” does make for an interesting pairing with DCFC bringing Transatlanticism back out for its 10th birthday. This in itself is a weird mirror of Gibbard’s Postal Service 10-year reunion this spring. Just wrap your head around both of those albums being released in the same year.
Monday — Superchunk: sad that Laura Ballance won’t be on bass due to hyperacusis, but glad that the band is touring anyway.
… there’s also the matter of the difficulty of getting excited about seeing these non-arena bands that I sort of like trying to make themselves heard in the challenging acoustical setting of the concrete cavernous Key: alt-J, MGMT, fun., Tegan & Sara, Ra Ra Riot, Kendrick Lamar.
Seth!: Charles Bradley: Bradley envelops you in a no-irony zone pulsing with energy, and just does not let up.
Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside: There are bands that make music (think Talking Heads). Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside play music. If you like bands that hold the “meta,” the honky-tonk-esque sounds of SFTSO are for you.
Maceo Parker: Parker played sax in James Brown’s band. He and his band of funk all-stars play what I would call high-energy fusion — probably not your #1 genre, but he’s a tremendous musician and performer and you won’t regret checking him out.
Courtney: Overall, I’m impressed with the Theatre Puget Sound Stage this year, but I’d highly recommend Audrey and Nelson presented by Annex Theatre and written by Bret Fetzer. Hysterical and absurd, Audrey and Nelson is the puppet sex musical of choice to diversify your Bumbershoot experience.
MvB: Obviously everyone of a certain age will be listening to The Breeders play Last Splash “in its entirety” on Sunday, then guiltily sneaking into DCFC.
But I’m also excited to catch a dyspeptic David Bazan casting a little dark Pooh-bear cloud over the party on Sunday: “Bazan’s most recent album, Strange Negotiations, focuses his energies toward the external, centering on his disappointment in the current state of accelerating American and global social fragmentation.” Sweet.
On the performing arts side, Seattle’s answer to Spalding Gray, monologist Matt Smith, is back with My Last Year with the Nuns. If you’ve ever been an 8th-grader at a Catholic school, this is the show for you. Or, if you know someone who was an 8th grader at a Catholic school, this will no doubt explain a lot. I second Courtney on the Audrey and Nelson puppet sex musical pick — what Bret Fetzer doesn’t know about puppet sex musicals isn’t worth mentioning.
Tony: I’ve heard some grousing about this year’s music lineup, which has me scratching my head with enough vigor to wear away bits of scalp. WTF? From this corner it looks utterly amazing, so narrowing choices down entails as much pain as it does pleasure for me.
Two sets of vintage Brit Invasion vets will play Bumbershoot — The Zombies, and Eric Burdon and the Animals — and they both should be well worth catching. The Zombies’ founding lead singer Colin Blunstone possesses a spectral, airily-soulful voice that sounds exactly like it did forty-some years ago. And with a repertoire of alternately luminous, strange, and soulful songs that’ve influenced everyone from Nick Drake to Elliot Smith to Portishead to that old gasbag Sting, they’re about the most resonant, relevant so-called “nostalgia act” you can get.
Meantime, I haven’t seen Burdon and the Animals live, but Burdon’s sandpaper howl has had a seismic impact on no-bull rock acts like The White Stripes, The Black Keys and local boys Hobosexual — so I’m crossing my fingers for greatness.
Baroness were one of the undisputed live highlights of Bumbershoot 2010, a volcanic metal/prog/psych band that delivers musicianship and full-bore energy in lethal doses. A traumatic tour bus accident almost put ‘em out of commission last year, but they’re back with a vengeance. Bring your earplugs and be ready for some whiplash-inducing head banging from band and audience alike.
Saturday night’s 8 p.m. programming offers one of the most maddening dilemmas of Bumbershoot ’13. Do you go for English synth-rock pioneer Gary Numan, without whom 90 percent of today’s electronically-minded acts (including those pasty-faced mopers in Radiohead) wouldn’t exist? The stylings of late-blooming soul dynamo Charles Bradley, who provided Bumbershoot ’11’s most deeply soulful 45 minutes? Or the irresistible, warmly-gruff voice of local folk troubadour Kris Orlowski? Flip a coin — twice — to make your final selection: You won’t go wrong, regardless of the outcome.
Some of the best alt-rock acts of the Gen-X years will be stopping at the Fest this year. If the Deal sisters’ feisty and yummy harmonies remain intact, The Breeders‘ set should be a kick.
Superchunk bring their urgent, yelping indie rock to the Fountain Lawn Stage Monday in the wake of a great new long-player, I Hate Music. And best of all, So-Cal pop punks Redd Kross blow in for a set that’ll be equal parts bubblegum-catchy and fiercely rocking, all in one crunchy sour-candy package (their set at Chop Suey last year blew the top of my head off). Hell, with indie-punk godfather Bob Mould playing as well, it’s like a time warp with Lollapalooza ’92 as the key stopping point.
If you’re looking for music that’ll augment your recently-legalized cannabis consumption, you could do worse than catching Seattle experimental collective Midday Veil, whose already-mesmerizing psychedelia might well sound even more stratospheric after a few Sunday afternoon bong hits. Crystal Castles‘ noisy, trippy electro-pop (and the alien/creepy/sexy/cool charisma of lead singer Alice Glass) should likewise appreciate with similar augmentation.
Two great homegrown soul/funk acts that I’m excited to catch: Allen Stone, whose pipes remain a live force to be reckoned with, and Down North, a groove collective that plays funk hard enough to cut diamonds.
Comic nerds are in for a treat Saturday night with Fantagraphics Follies. This history of Seattle’s most durable underground publishing company comes replete with stand-up comedy from Kelly Froh, a live set by cartoonist Peter Bagge’s band Can You Imagine?, and novelist Danny Bland reading from his book In Case We Die, accompanied by Seattle producing/music maverick Steve Fisk.