Beth and I started out our first day of Bumbershoot by going for coffees at Caffe Ladro. The drinks were good, but it was kind of creepy because one of the guys working there wasn’t wearing anything but a pair of overalls.
Flatstock – We entered the Bumbershoot grounds and headed over to Flatstock, a convention dedicated to concert posters and the artists who design and create them. We didn’t buy anything, but I did get to talk to the guys who created my Minus 5 and Swell Season posters. Here’s what the room looked like coming in:
Trey McIntyre Project – The first Bumbershoot performance we saw was a modern dance project choreographed by Trey McIntyre. I usually say “dance-schmance”, but I ended up liking most of this. I could’ve done without the cross umbrellas, though.
Presidents of the United States of America (PUSA) – My highlight of the first day was the main stage concert by the Presidents. I used to own a cassingle of “Peaches” backed with the delightfully dirty “Candy Cigarette”. I used to love that dang cassingle. I didn’t get to hear the b-side, but they did play “Peaches”, “Kitty”, “Lump”, and a few fun covers. Here’s their complete setlist:
Main set: Lunatic to Love/Kitty/Feather Pluckn/Rot in the Sun/Boll Weevil/Some Postman/More Bad Times/Back Porch/Lump/Shreds of Boa/Flame Is Love/Love Everybody/Ladybug/Volcano/Dune Buggy/Mixed Up S.O.B./Body/Ghosts Are Everywhere/Mach 5/Peaches/Kick Out the Jams–>Shout
Encore: Video Killed the Radio Star/We’re Not Going to Make It
And here’s a video of the last 14 seconds of “Lump”:
Väsen – The next band we saw was Väsen. I never thought I’d ever see the exact same Swedish folk band two times in the same year, but that’s exactly what I did. Beth and I saw them at a fancy refurbished church back in March. It was a very proper affair with the politest audience ever. This time we saw the band from a field of grass while a hippie with tattoos on his face did an interpretive dance. I managed to capture “Festival Guy” in the middle of his dance with the guys from the band in the background:
PS I Love You – We caught a few songs by this duo. They had a DFA1979-lite sound to them. I probably would’ve liked them had I known their songs beforehand. As it stood, we decided to leave the grounds for a bit and do some shopping over at Easy Street Records. I got a CD of George Seferis’ poetry and a hits collection by the Animals. Beth found the ultra-rare Sonics tribute. I was jealous.
Vetiver – I’d heard a song or two by Vetiver, but I wasn’t prepared for how good they’d be live. I was very impressed. The song-specific highlight for my entire weekend was hearing Vetiver cover “Streets of Your Town” by the Go-Betweens.
Somewhere around here Beth got on my case for not sufficiently enjoying what she calls “festival food”. She bought a potato with green goo on it and I made myself eat some of it to placate her. For being a potato with green goo on it, it was quite tasty. I ended up eating most of it. Beth knows best, I guess.
Vusi Mahlasela – I didn’t think I’d care much for this South African singer, but he ended up being a pleasant surprise. An even bigger surprise was that I actually knew one of his songs. I found myself singing along to “Say Africa” and was perplexed that I somehow knew a song by a guy I’d never even heard of until a few minutes before. Beth’s iPhone soon revealed the answer: the song was featured on the Live at KEXP, Volume 6 collection (which I own and have listened to ten times, of course).
Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs – I’ve been a fan of Ray LaMontagne ever since I saw him perform “Trouble” on Conan in what must’ve been late 2004 or early 2005. I remember writing his name down and going out to Shake It Records the very next day to buy his CD. Well, I’m sorry to say that Ray LaMontagne’s Bumbershoot performance was one of my biggest disappointments of the festival. Ray has always had a ragged voice, but it sounded like he needs to quit his tour, go back home, drink some hot tea, and not speak to anyone for a couple weeks. We left after a particularly rough version of “Trouble”.
Sunday was the dud day of this year’s Bumbershoot. We only ended up seeing three different performances before ditching the festival and going for a shopping trip at the sadly deserted Silver Platters.
Broken Social Scene (BSS) – Being a person who shops in record stores, reads music magazines, and spends at least an hour a day on the internet (okay, two hours), I couldn’t help but know of Broken Social Scene. But it was a situation where I’d heard of them without ever actually hearing them. It took me a couple songs to appreciate their approach, but I ended up liking the band and their concert quite a lot. In fact, my song-specific highlight for the entire day was Lisa Lobsinger singing “Anthems For a 17 Year Old Girl”. I also enjoyed the band’s cover of Modest Mouse’s “The World At Large”. That cover was the only song I knew from the entire show, but I mentioned to Beth afterwards that I’d like to track down each of the songs BSS played and make a mix in the setlist order. Here’s what that would look like:
Setlist: Lover’s Spit/Stars and Sons/Texico Bitches/ 7/4 (Shoreline) /Fire Eye’d Boy/Sweetest Kill/Cause = Time/Anthems For a 17 Year Old Girl/Meet Me in the Basement (inst.)/The World At Large/KC Accidental
And here’s a picture of the band onstage. It’s not a particularly good picture, but I really like the way the audience looks in the light:
Tennis – I’m not all that familiar with Tennis, but Beth bought their CD despite the fact that its cover art is annoying. I couldn’t bring myself to buy it, but I listened to their Daytrotter Session a couple times. They’ve got a good poppy sound. All their songs sound like a ba-ba could pop up at any minute. I like that, of course. Pop, pop, pop. We watched their concert from five or six different locations. We just wandered around, paused for a few minutes to listen, and then moved on. We eventually cut out to go see Jessica Lea Mayfield. That was a mistake. Oh well.
Jessica Lea Mayfield – Beth and I saw Jessica Lea Mayfield at the No Depression Festival a couple years ago. I described her as being “repetitive and slightly boring” but smart enough to end her set with a Buddy Holly cover. Well, we didn’t stick around to see if there were any cool covers in her Bumbershoot set; we only managed to make it through half of one song. I know we’re all supposed to like Jessica Lea Mayfield now that she’s popular and has a hoop through her nose, but her band sounded terrible. If we’d stuck around much longer, I think I would’ve thrown something at the guitarist in the referee jersey.
Right about here I was beginning to think that festivals should be two day affairs. We went down anyway. We had tickets and the lineup looked a lot better than yesterday’s.
Whim W’Him – This was my second modern dance performance. The accompanying poetry was spotty, but the dancing itself was interesting. I particularly liked the second part of Monster where the dancers flailed around on the floor. Sometimes they looked like malfunctioning robots and other times they looked like corpses coming back to life. It was kind of weird.
Big Boi – Yes, it’s awesome to hear live versions of Outkast songs like “So Fresh, So Clean”, “Ms. Jackson”, “B.O.B.”, and a whole bunch of stuff from Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, but Andre 3000 was sorely missed. There was nobody around to sing the Anne Frank line from “So Fresh, So Clean”, so they just skipped over it. Damn, that’s probably the best line in all of hip hop and they just skipped over it. I was quite grumpy. Sailor Babo didn’t seem to mind, though.
Sharon Van Etten – I’d been hearing some Sharon Van Etten buzz on the internet and decided we should check her out. She didn’t attract much of a crowd, but I liked what I heard. I particularly liked the first two songs she played by herself before the band came out to join her. My personal highlight was a song called “Give Out” which featured the line “you’re the reason why I’ll move to the city, you’re why I’ll need to leave.” It doesn’t look like much typed out, but it sounded profound in the song.
Over the Rhine (OtR) – I think the best concert performance of the entire festival was Over the Rhine’s show at the Starbucks Stage. They played twelve songs, nine of which were from their latest record, The Long Surrender. The songs were the perfect soundtrack for sitting out on the grass beneath the Space Needle while the sun was going down. It was just a lovely experience. The hands-down highlight of the show and the entire day was “Infamous Love Song”. That’s a damn fine song right there and you should probably buy yourself a copy of The Long Surrender just so you can listen to it whenever you want.
Here’s a shot of a girl who looks like April from Parks and Recreation taking a picture of OtR’s Karin Bergquist. April was up there the entire time. She must’ve taken 300 pictures:
Here’s Over the Rhine’s setlist:
Setlist: The Laugh of Recognition/Rave On/Undamned/The King Knows How/Oh Yeah By the Way/I’m On a Roll/Infamous Love Song/Only God Can Save Us Now/Drunkard’s Prayer/Trouble/Days Like This/All My Favorite People
And yes, I think it’s kind of funny that I flew from Cincinnati to Seattle to see a band from Cincinnati. They don’t sound nearly as good here, though. I swear.
Daryl Hall & John Oates – All I really want to say about Hall & Oates is that absolutely nobody goes to their concerts to hear “Adult Education”. That song is horrible and should be stricken from their setlist immediately. I went to hear “Maneater” (which they didn’t play when I saw them back in 2007), “She’s Gone”, and “Sara Smile”. Beth went because I wanted to go. Once my three songs had been played, we got the heck out of there. We hopped on a bus full of crazy people, hipsters, and the unbathed. It was a long ride home full of many interesting sights, sounds, and smells.
Oh, here’s the definitive Bumbershoot 2011 photo. I couldn’t work it in above, but wanted to include it anyway: