Bumbershoot 2008

Our friends Matt and Oralea flew up from San Francisco to spend the weekend at Bumbershoot 2008 with us. Bumbershoot is a huge arts and music festival that takes place in Seattle at Seattle Center (most famously the home of the Space Needle).

This was probably the 10th Bumbershoot that I’ve gone to, the 5th that I’ve bought full passes for, and the 4th that I’ve gone to with Matt. The last is amazing since he has never lived in Seattle. It’s a great festival though — crowded but manageable, a good lineup of music, and a bargain at $80 for a 3-day pass. Most similar festivals that I’m aware of cost $80 per day.

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down

Mono in VCF

Nada Surf

The lineup this year was good. Matt and I missed getting to see Neko Case due to the new rule of no SLR cameras in the stadium. Christine and Oralea did go and said the show was great. It sounded good from outside. We spent the rest of Saturday with Mono in VCF, The Walkmen (who I first discovered at Bumbershoot — I’m sad to say that their 2008 show didn’t impress me like their 2004 or 2005 show did), and Nada Surf (who were fantastic).

Matt, Oralea, Bob and Lisa figure out who to see next

The Sunday schedule was a bit slow and so we didn’t spend much time at Bumbershoot. We met some of Oralea’s friends for breakfast downtown, explored Bumbershoot’s visual arts (there was a stunning and sobering exhibit of photographs of servicemen disabled by the war),and caught bits of a few acts. The Tripwires were a fun local band,sort of alt-countryish, and the Tiptons Sax Quartet brought us into the evening. There we parted ways with Bumbershoot and headed home for dinner at Pies and Pints.

Yesterday it was just Matt and I at Bumbershoot and we had a pretty full day. In the morning we saw the “Made in Seattle” segment of the One Reel film festival. One Reel is a show within a show at Bumbershoot of short films, none of which are duplicated during the 3 day weekend. I wish they’d do a recap in the winter or put out a best of DVD. Then we caught Two Gallants (a favorite band of mine in recent years), DJ Cheb I Sabbah, Del the Funky Homosepian, and then Mike Dougherty.

Two Gallants

Strange Fruit (from Melbourne, Australia)

Del the Funky Homosepian

I can’t really finish off this post without a bit of ranting. In the last few years Bumbershoot has done the following very frustrating things:

  • The Seattle Center Opera House is no longer a venue. This is a major loss, it had the best acoustics at the event and it was nice to see some performers while sitting down. Some of my favorite Bumbershoot memories are from the Opera House: Beth Orton, Cat Power, Low, and Robyn Hitchcock come to mind immediately.
  • The EMP no longer lets you access the bar between shows. EMP tends to get good smaller/newer bands during Bumbershoot and was sort of our home camp in years past. We didn’t spend much time there this year due to the lack of seating, the painfully hard concrete floors, no bar, and security guards who wouldn’t let you even sit on the floor.
  • No SLR cameras at the mainstage and removing the lockers in the Center House was a really annoying combo of events. This kept us out of the Neko Case show.

Despite these things Bumbershoot was tons of fun and I look forward to next year. It was also great to see Matt and Oralea again.

One Comment

  1. beth h says:

    I went to Bumbershoot years ago, when that classically-trained Japanese violinist won the Jimi Hendrix guitar competition (on a cobalt blue electric violin, she played a searing version of Red House that blew everyone away; she kept the money, but graciously gave the first-prize electric guitar to the second-place winner because she didn”t know how to play guitar). I had a grand time, even though the costs of the trip ate about half my month’’s pay at the time.

    Sad to hear that the Opera House is off-limits now. I”m with you, a great venue for the right bands.

    Now that I”m hitched, a return trip to Bumbershoot seems unlikely; she’’s not into crowds and prefers a more Folklife kinda scene. Thanksfully, I live in PDX and have my pick of some respectable local shows throughout the year, so it’’s not a complete loss.