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Friday, September 12, 2008

Sons & Daughters: Interview

posted by on September 12 at 6:55 PM

Stranger contributor and photographer Dagmar Sieglinde scored a post-Bumbershoot interview with Scottish hottie and Sons and Daughters singer Adele Bethel...

Sayeth Ms. Sieglinde:
I talked with Adele, a week after the band’s performance at Bumbershoot in Seattle. She is a gorgeous Glaswegian with an earthmoving voice and an intimidating figure. She’s a demon onstage – and just as cool offstage.

You guys were amazing at Bumbershoot – it was really nice outside with the Space Needle.
Adele Bethel: Thank you. I think it was the coolest festival we’ve ever played.

I love those gold gloves you were wearing. Where did you get those?
A.B.: I bought them when we were at South by Southwest in Texas. They’re actually part of a cheerleading or ice-skating outfit with a tutu. It’s really ridiculous so I cut them off the outfit.

Continue reading "Sons & Daughters: Interview" »

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Your Favorite Bumbershoot Photo: We Have a Tie

posted by on September 4 at 5:15 PM

Two photos TIED (each getting 32%) for your favorite Bumbershoot photo in the Stranger's Flickr Pool. Congratulations to laviddichterman and BrittneyBush! The two photographers have won tickets to any upcoming Stranger-event of their choice (and hopefully they'll be taking pictures). Here are the winning photos:

lavid1flickr.jpgby laviddichterman

monotonixflickr.jpgMonotonix by BrittneyBush

You can see all the finalists here. Thanks to everyone who shared their photos with us, and to the hundreds of you who voted!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Vote For Your Favorite Bumbershoot Photo

posted by on September 3 at 1:18 PM

We have hundreds of Bumbershoot photos in our Flickr Pool, and here's the best of the best. Take a look, and vote for your favorite. The winner will get free tickets to any upcoming Stranger-sponsored event, including the Genius Awards VIP party (free booze and food, but gotta be 21+), Hump!, TV on the Radio... basically, anything listed on our promotions page.

Thanks to everyone who shared their photos with us!

lavid1flickr.jpgby laviddichterman

saulflickr.jpgSaul Williams by kjten22

scarfman.jpgby joshc

The rest of the photos and the poll is after the jump...

Continue reading "Vote For Your Favorite Bumbershoot Photo" »

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


posted by on September 2 at 4:49 PM

Random things I heard people saying (and lots more photos) from you-know-where...

"That T.I. show made me horny. Should we just go?"

ti-2-dagmar.jpgphoto by Dagmar Sieglinde

More after the jump. Please keep reading...

Continue reading "Overheard" »

PWRFL Power's Text Message Contest

posted by on September 2 at 4:30 PM

PPflickr.jpgPWRFL Power by ohnobody in the Stranger's Flickr Pool.

During his Bumbershoot performance, PWRFL Power instructed the crowd to get out their cell phones and text him the funniest comment they can think of. He gave out his number, and promised the best remark would get a knitted sponge made by his grandmother.

Here's a sample of what he received:

- You don't look a day over 15 to me
- my girlfriend wants a threesome
- your boobs are not that gigantic but thats okay cause your small and japanese
- Min hummer har diabetes
- lets meet and swap skinny jeans
- aneta wa sioizodes sho!
- your sponge: I want it so i will write a haiku because im dirty
- chocolate cactus song guitar sound so nice to me i love grandma's sponge
- I farted and then poop came out
- i own all the pawn shop. So I'm rich.
- Does your G-ma wash you with that Spunge? Oooooooh
- your eyes were sparkling like champagne. My loins were rising just like Charlemagne.
- So there were 2 muffins in an oven. one muffin said,, is it hot in here or is it just me? and the other said, AH! A TALKING MUFFIN!
- I ran over your cat with the training wheels of my baby sister's bike. Sorry

He says he also got a few weird calls, but I'm guessing that since they didn't follow instructions, the callers won't be eligible for the sponge.

I Wanted (Almost) Everything at Flatstock

posted by on September 2 at 2:00 PM

I was at Bumbershoot for three hours this weekend. I missed These Arms are Snakes, I missed Feral Children, I missed motherfucking Superchunk. I spent the majority of my weekend moving and moving and unpacking. And playing some songs on the radio. And then moving some more.

But the one Bumber-related thing I have worth mentioning is this: Jay Ryan continues to be one of the best poster artists in the world of poster art. Flatstock is always a highlight of Bumbershoot for me (despite my terrible habit of spending way too much money there). This year, though, with a drained bank account due to first and last month's rent, deposit, yadda yadda yadda, I was too broke to buy anything (including Strawberry Luna's adorable alphabet prints for a measly $15).

Nonetheless, I still loved a lot of what Flatstock had to offer, including everything at Jay Ryan's booth. Especially the adorable penguin poster he made for the Blue Planet Live concert series and the Tortoise poster of kitties in bowls.



Swoon. He's my favorite.

There were also some locals with impressive collections--Nat Damm, Andrew Crawshaw of Broken Press, Design Medicine... and then there was an art print of a little kid dressed as a cowboy riding a seahorse, and I have no idea who the artist is but I want one. So if you know, let me know. It'd look really cute in my new bedroom.

Monday Bumbershoot vs. My Money

posted by on September 2 at 1:28 PM

After spending most of Saturday and Sunday moving all of my worldly possessions halfway across town in a Volkswagen Golf, and dropping more than I had in my bank account on first, last and deposit, I arrived for the third and final day of Bumbershoot, exhausted, broke, and late. When colleague Dave Segal caught me trying to pour a cup of water from an empty water jug in the Press Room, it was time to go view some music. We agreed to walk to the Sky Church for Feral Children, and were met with a cursory line held by a security guard who continually allowed teenagers to cut in front of us. Inside the Church, Feral Children were several songs into their set. They looked somewhat anachronistic under the array of flashing and blinking lights afforded by Paul Allen. Sound quality from the side of the room was a bit sub-par, and the lights made me dizzy. Neverthless, several quality songs were witnessed before I was forced to move on.

photo by Dagmar Sieglinde

Next it was off to Arthur & Yu on the opposite side of the Center. A Mirror Pond ($7, plus a $1 tip) was much needed after bumping into approximately 37 people during the traverse. It was, of course, not nearly enough alcohol to curb such crowd-induced anxiety, but my financial situation rendered me incapable of purchasing more.

BB8%24Beer.jpgMy $8 beer two minutes after its purchase.

Arthur & Yu put on a fine set of subdued, relaxing numbers, including some new material that went well under the setting sun.

BBArthur.jpgphoto by Blush Photo

After Arthur & Yu, Mr. Segal and I stopped at the Horn of Africa stand, where he purchased a delicious iced tea ($2), and I tried a lentil Sambusa ($2), both of which were excellent and bargain-priced relative to most things in the Center during the last three days.

We then foolishly attempted to "stop by and check out Del [the Funky Homosapien] real quick." Predictably, the Fisher Green Stage lawn was packed with droves of hip-hop fans and marijuana smoke, the combination of which rendered Del almost invisible. Our photographers clearly had a better view:

BBDel.jpgphoto by Blush Photo

Due to the aforementioned lack of view, and my attention span deficit, my focus fell on the statue guy to the right of the stage. He was dutifully shaking hands and doling out hugs when not being a statue, but some just weren't interested.

BBstatue.jpgKid won't make nice.

Thankfully, Mr. Segal wisely pulled me out of my trance in time to make it to what was to be the apex of both our Monday Bumbershoot experience, Battles. I'd never seen Battles before, but I'd heard plenty of good things about their live show, and they did not dissapoint. Drummer John Stanier's sparse-but-thunderous drumming is the perfect backdrop for the band's minimalistic future-rock structures, and the sound at the Broad Street stage was true quality. With the air here containing equal parts marijuana smoke and patchouli, Battles' precise sound cut through the fog like razor wire.

BBBattles.jpgBattles heal the masses, by Blush Photo

End tally:

Total dollars spent: $13
Total acts seen: 4
Total number of people bumped into: 347
Winner: My new landlord.

Death Cab For Cutie

posted by on September 2 at 12:28 PM

2820220181_c783631556.jpgDeath Cab For Cutie by Michael Landry from the Stranger Flickr pool

Maybe someone else here on Line Out will be able to better do justice than I to Death Cab For Cutie's Bumbershoot-closing headlining set last night, but for me nothing was going to top Superchunk. Still, I figured I'd give the band a chance. There was a time when I was a huge DCFC fan, roughly through the first couple few records. (Also: Postal Service, yes!) But for the last couple records, the band has grown increasingly vanilla, bigger but not necessarily better. They're still totally proficient, and Ben Gibbard remains a fine singer and a sturdy songwriter; they just haven't landed a song that's wowed me for a while ("The New Year" was the last one to come close).

In any case, a half dozen songs in, and the band still wasn't wowing, although "The New Year" sounded fine in the big, starry stadium, flickering with those little neon flashing trinkets people were throwing around. I was hoping to hear a couple older numbers right up front to get me hooked, but it all seemed like newer stuff. And after those first six songs, when a friend offered a ride home, exhausted from three days of Bumbershoot, I decided to bail. On the walk out, "Company Calls" was echoing out of the stadium, and though I love that song (and most all of We Have the Facts), I wasn't bummed to be leaving. I've seen a lot of great Death Cab shows, last night's just didn't seem like it was going to be one of them. I do hope it was for everyone else, though.

Update: Turns out the mere six songs I caught was still more of Death Cab's set than any of my colleagues here on Line Out managed to take in of last night. So, in the interest of fairness and because no more detailed post is forthcoming, an attempt to further explain the vanilla turn-off that was the first half-dozen songs of Death Cab For Cute:

First, a point of clarification: I suppose “Why’d You Want to Live Here,” the third song they played, is more or less an older song, and one that should resonate mightily with anyone who’s spent, say, 12 hours or more in LA. And it’s a pretty fine Death Cab number—cutting sentiment, steadily driving verses, though with more of an extended sigh than a proper chorus. The sound was okay overall throughout their set, although Death Cab's lighter moments can just float right away in that giant open-air stadium, especially if you've left the front following Superchunk.

“Bixby Canyon Bridge” is a bit of a snooze—if you want Gibbard meditating on Keruoac, a better bet is Styrofoam’s “Couches in Alleys,” which features the DFCF singer. “Crooked Teeth” and “Long Division” provided some small shots of energy, Gibbard swinging his guitar in time while singing his verses, and while the former has a nice enough chorus, the latter’s one-word refrain, while melodically agile, wasn’t much to sing along to. “Grapevine Fires,” which Gibbard introduced by observing, “Sometimes beautiful things do happen,” has some nice turns of phrase—the alarm clock of impending doom, for instance, or the paper cups borrowed from Something About Airplanes—but it was, again, kind of a sleeper. I know Death Cab's always been more of a mellow band—I wasn't expecting them to come out and be Cheap Trick or whatever—but for whatever reason (their's was a fresher sound at the time? less pop-cultural saturation? I'm a bitter old gas-bag?), I just dig Death Cab's older songs more, and on this final night of the weekend my spent ass either needed more energy or more old gems right out the gate to keep me on my feet.

Monday: Unsurprisingly Good

posted by on September 2 at 12:07 PM

Monday at Bumbershoot was solid but offered few surprises. I would have loved to have been wowed by Blitzen Trapper and Feral Children, as they were my first-time hopefuls, but found myself unfortunately un-enthused by both their sets (Sorry Dave, but memorable is not how I would describe Feral Children. I found their songs to be a lot of random snacks when all I wanted was a proper meal). Monotonix were too rock and roll for Bumbershoot. Though it was funny that they were the first band I’ve ever seen be asked to stop playing at the festival, it would have been more awesome if, like, they could have kept entertaining the hundreds of people who were eating them up.

bent1.jpgBlack Eyes and Neckties by Chad Syme

Black Eyes and Neckties absolutely killed their radio session for KEXP. Singer Brad Lockhart was sporting a wheelchair and a foot brace, still reeling from his Total Fest tumble. There was a bit of apprehension towards the end of the set as to whether guitarist Josh Holland was going to jump up on the broadcast table and do something stupid to all the KEXP laptops, but thankfully for everyone involved he limited himself to surfing the prop table the band brought along with them.

Battles were the best band of the weekend. They can’t help it; they’re just too good to be anything less. There are too many elements to nerd out on: the skills, the gear, the riffs, the grooves, the inhuman hi-hat/snare prowess of John Stanier. And after a Sunday plagued with terrible mixes thank god Battles were personally on stage a half an hour early tweaking every knob and amp until their sound was perfect. I keep coming back to see them every chance I get and I am never the slightest bit disappointed I did.

I’m sure it’s never fun for any band that has to follow them, but Minus the Bear gave it a good effort. Though I was mocked by some of the journalists leaving the backstage area to go see Death Cab, I actually like Minus the Bear. It took a few songs for them to get warmed up, but they always find ways to remind me why I’m still a fan: the tastefully dirty chorus of “This Ain’t a Surfin’ Movie,” the exploding start and stops of “Double Vision Quest" complete with u-ziq keyboard ending, the still-perfect-after-all-these-years futuristic power ballad “Absinthe Party.” The Ian Williams/Dave Knudsen DL-4 party was a nice way to finish out the long weekend, even if the bill probably should have been flipped. I'll take unsurprising, as long as it's unsurprisingly good.

Share Your Bumbershoot Photos

posted by on September 2 at 12:05 PM

You have all day today to upload your Bumbershoot photos to The Stranger's Flickr Pool, and quite possible win tickets to any upcoming Stranger-sponsored event of your choosing!


posted by on September 2 at 11:12 AM

2821450533_6ba96e8fc4.jpgSuperchunk by smohundro from the Stranger Flickr pool

For me, the whole weekend was leading up to Superchunk. They took the Memorial Stadium stage in a cloud of fog machine smoke flooded with pink and blue and yellow lights. After Stone Temple Pilots the night before, it was great to see Superhcunk up on that stage looking like normal dudes (and lady) instead of total douchebags, rocking out in front of just regular stage lights instead of some retarded screen-savers.

They started with the fantastic "Throwing Things," sounding just perfect if a little less heavy on the feedback than in the old days. They played a solid set, leaning on the harder, faster (more hyper) songs in their catalogue, which was kind of a bummer as I've been really digging into their mellower numbers lately. But then, I really could have watched them play three headlining sets this weekend just to cover more ground.

In any case, the set was a blast, Superchunk rocked hard, and kids crowd-surfed seven or eight at a time (I got the impression there were a lot of younger folks there who were just super amped for Death Cab and unable to contain themselves, but everyone seemed to have a good time, so maybe the 'Chunk won some new converts). Mac McCaughan cracked, "I was worried there wouldn't be enough crowd surfing, but it looks like my fears were unfounded." Man, the '90s really were a golden age for sarcasm.

They sped through "The First Part," "Detroit Has a Skyline," "Baxter," "Driveway to Driveway," "Why Do You Have to Put a Date on Everything?," "Cast Iron," "Slack Motherfucker," "Precision Auto," and closed with "Hyper Enough" (there were a couple more in between that I didn't quite catch; Bob in the comments identifies them as "Mower," "Misfits & Mistakes," and "Package Thief"). "Detroit," with its lines about listening to records on repeat, crushes, and how nothing works out, is a jam. "Driveway to Driveway" is epic. "Slack Motherfucker," subcultural relic though it is, remains fun as hell to scream along to, even in a football stadium. "Hyper Enough" made a fine closer for a set that felt too short and too fast, giddy and fleeting and nostalgic, like being a kid again for 45 minutes.

Two Gallants

posted by on September 2 at 10:26 AM

2821111332_d135751366-1.jpgTwo Gallants by Blush Photo

Man, best laid plans. I had meant to get down to the third day of Bumbershoot in time to catch Paramore (really, I wanted to see this band one time) or at least Monotonix (who were sure to be a total fiasco), but it was just not to be. Instead, the first set I really made it in time for was Two Gallants. The choice between them and the simultaneously performing Dan Deacon was no choice at all. Deacon was doing his crazed camp counselor schtick (which I'm sure he does as sincerely as Two Gallants does theirs) inside the dank Exhibition Hall, while Two Gallants were playing out in the afternoon sun on the Broad Street Lawn. There was just no way I had the energy or inclination for Deacon at this point in the long weekend. Two Gallants, though, was just right. You could sit on the grass and still se them. Their ragged, road-worn acoustic folk sounded fine floating over an outdoor crowd, especially their anthemic jam "Nothing to You." Dude probably gets the Conor Oberst comparison a lot, but the band really do have a similar, shaky quaver to their singing voices. I remember when these guys just played house shows and teen centers when they toured through Seattle; it's nice to see them rocking such a big festival crowd.

Bumbershoot, Day 3: Battles Rule Seattle

posted by on September 2 at 8:03 AM

2821165148_73711237a6.jpgDan Deacon tries to keep 'em separated, by joshc from the Stranger Flickr pool

You know the deal with Dan Deacon, right? He’s not so much a musician—though he’s quite a fine one, when he gets around to it—as he is a summer camp counselor with power-drunk tendencies and control-freak issues. Deacon’s shows largely consist of him instructing his minions to sprint around, hold hands with audience members, slap high 5s, make random, whimsical gestures, form human tunnels through which others dance, and to generally break out of the conventions of a typical live musical event. At this he succeeds (kids will do anything he says), although the shtick can become tedious after about 15 minutes, and one wishes he’d focus more on his exceptional musical talents.

As usual, Deacon set up on the floor and immediately drew the mostly 21 and under Bumbershoot attendees around him, so he was obscured unless you were smack up against his gear. He began by chanting the Offspring’s famous chorus, “You gotta keep ’em separated” as if it were a sacred mantra. (The Offspring had just finished playing Memorial Stadium and Deacon mocked them sporadically throughout the afternoon.)

“Okie Dokey” started the set proper with some toytown Suicide à la “Rocket USA.” A small lime-green stuffed dinosaur was tossed around; you know the drill. Then came some more kiddie-punk Giorgio Moroder-esque/Martin Rev-like throbbing electronics, de-eroticized for the safety of minors. A new song was aired, sounding like uptempo bubblegum Neu!, a fab, percolating soundtrack to inspire incredible bursts of energy. It did the job.

(Spotted in the audience: a 40something guy with a looonnnggg curly mullet and a 20something dude in a tie-dyed onesie.)

After more “you gotta keep ’em separated” mockery, Deacon unleashed some of the most effusive electro pop ever, something so joyous it would’ve been too much for Mardi Gras and the Fourth of July combined. The track gradually slowed until it seemed like it was being sucked into a black hole, and then it was resurrected into a gruesome brown tone before transforming into a Boredoms-on-Ecstasy flourish. Jesus should be so lucky to have the Second Coming scored by this piece. (By the way, Deacon’s music somehow can thrive in Ex Hall’s abysmal acoustic environment, much more so than Brother Ali’s hiphop the day before.)

I needed some mundanity after Deacon, so I walked over to J. Boogie’s Dubtronic Science thing for some Latino funk and jazz, replete with flute, trombone, decks, and congas. Amid the feel-good jams, I was shocked to hear the theme song to ’60s TV show My Three Sons surface. Does anyone else remember that? Good, good.

On to the EMP Skychurch to catch a glimpse of Seattle quintet Feral Children. They packed the place and their surging, sinewy rock, with its memorable hooks and vocal quirks, triggered thoughts of Mission of Burma and Pixies. Feral Children—keep an ear on them.

At the Wells Fargo stage, Arthur & Yu eked out solemn, pensive folk non-rock. It was kind of dozy, marked by laggard mallet hits on the drums and sedate guitar strums. I felt an urgent need for Battles and some Rockstar Energy Drink, so I strode over to the stage bearing that brand name.

Battles.jpgBattles cause Space Needle to genuflect, by Blush Photo

No contest, Battles ruled this Bumbershoot. Bassist Dave Konopka and guitarists Tyondai Braxton and Ian Williams all hold their weapons high on their chests, and somehow this adds to their nerdy übermenschen appeal. The first song started with Konopka’s momentous bass solo, before the other three joined in to instigate a hard, staccato clamor. Drummer John Stanier sounded way funkier than I recall him ever being. The next track used the sound of a car engine backfiring to create a hypnotic rhythm. Guitar riffs came at us like Taser zaps. Stanier proved himself time and again to be more precise and powerful than any drum machine. I wrote “vital and apocalyptic” in my notebook, the first time those adjectives have been scribbled so close together in my 25 years of music journalism.

Battles2.jpgBattles' Tyondai Braxton: "Atlas" slugged, by Blush Photo

Battles’ guitarists also play keyboards and both finger their instruments with the sort of pointillist finesse that makes me think of King Crimson’s Robert Fripp and Soft Machine’s Mike Ratledge occupying the same body. (That sound you just heard was all the world's prog-rock aficionados having multiple orgasms.) They generated thrilling hairpin dynamics and radiant textures, resulting in music that’s paradoxically lean and excessive (in all the right ways).

“Atlas,” of course, provoked the greatest crowd response. A “Rock & Roll Pt. 2” for an advanced alien race, the song is a strange new hybrid of glam, techno, and math rock. Braxton’s heliumized, loop-da-loop vocal acrobatics and a naggingly gripping keyboard motif that inverts the Get Smart theme make this a template for the future of... I'm not sure yet, but it's damned exciting.

Battles ruled this Bumbershoot with awesome musicianship in the service of innovative ideas. It was as simple—and as complicated—as that.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Monotonix and the 4-Song Set

posted by on September 1 at 11:07 PM

Everyone knew it. The Bumbershoot staff was visibly on edge at the very first note. The Israeli maniacs barely made it through four songs before security pulled the plug, hit the lights up, and demanded the crowd leave the Exhibition Hall. Singer Ami Shalev thanked all for coming, and asked that everyone "please leave happy." The crowd gobbled up every last bit of merch, like it was made of fried gold.

mono-crazy.jpg Monotonix by Blush Photo

Bumbershoot killed the show because of "crowd surfing" which included one large garbage can. Have other bands been booted? Is playing less than four songs a new Bumbershoot record?

mono-moon.jpg Monotonix by Blush Photo

Monotonix return to Seattle on September 27. The Comet Tavern won't mind a crowd-surfing garbage can. Also watch Lineout in the next day or so for my video interview. The band makes a plea to Mark Arm of Mudhoney. It may or may not involve crowd surfing.

Don't Forget: Upload Your Bumbershoot Photos, Win Tickets to Anything*

posted by on September 1 at 2:16 PM

Going to Bumbershoot? Taking pictures? Upload them to the Stranger's Flickr Pool (don't forget to tag them Bumbershoot) and you could win tickets to any upcoming Stranger-sponsored event. Wanna go to the VIP Genius party with free food, booze, and music? Wanna go to HUMP! for free? How about Fucked Up at Vera?

15 (or so) of the best photos will be posted Wednesday morning, and Line Out readers will vote for their favorite. The winner will get tickets to any one event of their choosing (age-restrictions apply).

Here are a few stand outs so far...

walkmenflickr.jpgThe Walkmen by mraaronmorris

swilliamsflickr.jpgSaul Williams by kjten22

babyflickr.jpgBumbershoot Baby by laviddichterman

Can't wait to see what else you guys get! All photos must be uploaded by Tuesday at 5 pm to be considered for the contest. Good luck!

*Anything includes any upcoming Stranger-related event listed on this page, exclusing the Co-Ops Rock show with the National (it's a benefit, after all).

Lee "Scratch" Perry vs Stone Temple Pilots

posted by on September 1 at 1:40 PM

2818685636_8633fbd87e.jpgLee "Scratch" Perry by Corey Bayless

Lee "Scratch" Perry vs Scott Weiland: Who's more crazy? Dave Segal makes a convincing case for Perry, who wore lit incense in his hat, rhymed a lot of stuff with his name, riffed on variations of "rub-a-dub dub," extolled the virtues of marijuana, and just generally looked like Juan the Frye Apartments Guy fronting a dub band. Which is to say: Awesome!

2817024756_558b4ca3c1.jpgStone Temple Pilots by Dagmar Sieglinde

But holy shit, Stone Temple Pilots! Over at Memorial Stadium, the '90s band was playing in front of some ridiculous screen-saver video backdrop straight outta Windows '95—a black and white spiral, some dancing plaid, dots and loops, fucking sunlight refracting underwater! Weiland preened on the monitors and strained his throaty voice against his band's brutally average stadium "grunge," spotlit so as to stand out from the flying toasters or whatever the fuck was going on on that screen. They played "Creep." They played "Plush." They played a motherfucking version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" with Weiland mumbling/scatting over languid bass and guitar noodling. It was insane. (Jherek Bischoff and Nick Tamburro from the Dead Science were there, so who knows, maybe their next joint will be a avant rock opera about Velvet Revolver—I would listen to that over Core in a heartbeat.)

Quiet Keys and a Crumbled Temple

posted by on September 1 at 1:15 PM

If you’re going to have a two-man guitar and drum blues band play the main stage you need to get the basic mix right. The guitar is supposed to be leading the way - it can’t be buried in the mix behind the drums and vocals. Some of the Black Keys riffs are huge, Led Zeppelin rock riffs, but a lot of them got lost in the open air. Still, most managed to translate the intensity despite the hushed volume (aside from the guitar the whole thing should have been louder anyway). Regardless, it was great to see such raw chemistry on the main stage. You don’t even miss the rest of a band thanks to the added intimacy of the two person interplay. Watching them transition and work off each other is great entertainment, and right when you might start to drift or lose interest they pull you back in with a building, thumping climax. It’s frustrating when the instrumentation and performance are both stellar but it still sounds bad – and granted, there’s an amount of that you have to expect from a festival show - but this one was kind of a bummer.

Waiting for STP, the floor was a sea of grass, a mighty, stinky cloud wafting into the floodlights. What does a die-hard Stone Temple Pilots fan look like? They're not as noticable as, say, a die-hard Alice in Chains fan, who most likely still looks exactly the same as they did in 1994. It was impossible to make a stereotype of the leftover STP fan from the people standing around me - were most of these people here just because it’s Bumbershoot, and this was the option they were given? There were plenty of dudes screaming, “STP!” as loud as they could, but also a guy right behind me shouting “My nuts!” over and over and asking everyone around him to give him some weed. I ask the couple standing next to me, probably in their early 40s, why they’re here. “We’re dedicated fans,” says the lady. “We have them on our Ipod.” The man, once obviously wild but now cooled out in his jean jacket, replies with a solemn smirk, “I’m just here to smell pot.”

The band has their giant tour van drive them directly to the side of the stage, and they open with the unforgettable sliding guitar of “Big Empty.” It’s an odd choice to open with such a slow song but everyone knows all the words and chants along. The guitar solo at the end is appallingly lazy and poorly executed. Next they break into “Wicked Garden,” and a totally grunge rainbow lava lamp effect comes up on the screen behind them. The band all seem so tired, like they’re going through the motions, refusing to let this be even the slightest bit of fun. “Big Bang Baby” is a good song on record, but they play it way too slow, and Weiland’s voice is already raspy and weak. When they start “Lady Picture Show” I’ve had enough. This band isn’t even trying to play music, they’re building a retirement fund.

The Saturday Knights

posted by on September 1 at 1:10 PM

2816260365_5baba08dc4.jpgThe Saturday Knights by sonoazure from the Strang Flickr pool

So Kid Sister cancelled right around the time the Stranger's Bumbershoot Guide was hitting the presses, leaving a big TBA on the printed schedule. A TBA gracefully filled by TSK, who are always, always game to, you know, Mingle. Andrew Matson introduced them, but I was busy making my way over from the Weakerthans. Tilson and Barfly are perfectly complimentary MCs—Tilson all bright cartoonish energy; Barfly all derelict and gruff. Suspence goes beyond DJing and scratching to play tambourine, sing choruses, and destroy every mic stand he can get his hands on. And their backing band, featuring Truckasauras/Foscil's Tyler Swan sitting in on drums, was rollicking but not overbearing.

The band front-loaded their set hard, kicking off with "45," and keeping the momentum up through "Count it Off," "Dog Park," the pop-singer shout out "Foreign Affair." The Knights were fun as ever, the ideal summer festival act, hip hop enough for the heads, rock enough for the rest, affable as all hell, working the hometown crowd with easy aplomb. They peaked, though, with a fun, affectionate little flip of the Fleet Foxes "White Winter Hymnal." First, they played it's chorus through straight, Tilson singing along, and then Spencer looped the chorus, dropped a beat, and Tilson just murdered it: "I was walking in the snow/I was picking up the snow/Tryin ' to bag up into kilos/and move it on the block/and buy myself a yacht/to go boating with some rich folks" (those lyrics are a best guess). The keys were a little too loud, drowning out the Fleet Foxes loop, but it was otherwise totally inspired.

Their set dragged a bit after that, as they padded out their hour-long slot with some call-and-response and freestyles, including a flip of Band of Horses' "The Funeral" and a number sampling the Black Keys, who were playing simultaneously at Memorial Stadium. For the latter song, they were joined by guest MCs Bles One ("I'm gonna murder this weed/smoke it in the first degree") and Gatsby, who delivered an especially breathless, restless verse. Nothing quite topped that Fleet Foxes grab though. That shit was priceless.

Snakes in the Bass Cave

posted by on September 1 at 12:27 PM

snakes.jpgPhoto by Corey Bayless

The best part about These Arms Are Snakes' performance at the impressively crowded Exhibition Hall was seeing the young kids lose their shit. I have fond memories of being 13 at Bumbershoot, moshing and crowd surfing for the first time, seeing Beck (Jesus, was I really 13 when he played Bumbershoot for Odelay?). If today’s youth want to rally behind TAAS than good for them. Kids want bands that act like rock stars, and by god Steve Snere loves being a rock star. He spent the better part of the last half of the set in the crowd singing on top of a sea of hands, giving those screaming fans a sweaty Snere stain to remember their first post-hardcore concert. Thanks to the Snakes putting on a great, energetic show, the kids probably didn’t realize or care that the acoustics in that room were a big bassy fart. The band sounded fine until you got further than 30 feet from the stage, then all semblance of mix was lost in the echoing cavern.

Returning later to check out Brother Ali, I stood by the mixing board, and though I was facing the stage and only about 40 yards back it sounded like the show was around the corner in another room. I was frightened and by the albino rapper - it would seem he has good fuel for his rap fire. But I could barely make out any of his words, the bass was dominating and farting, and his beats never did anything interesting. I lasted 3 songs before deciding to waste my time on Stone Temple Pilots. I am not particularly stoked to see three more shows in the Exhibition Hall today.

The Weakerthans

posted by on September 1 at 12:16 PM

2817799103_bb725879cd.jpgWeakerthans by Corey Bayless

Too bad Bumbershoot stuck the Weakerthans in the Exhibition Hall stage. It's no fun waiting in a long line funneled through a single door to stand in a dark hall while what's left of the summer is fading outside. Still, the Weakerthans are well worth it.

John K. Samson leads a band that look a little like trade unionists—the Indie Rock Local #446, maybe—and they do deliver their big rock gestures (windmills, synchronized guitar swings) with certain workmanlike charm. Samson introduced "The Reasons" as a "love song to the laborers—it's still Labor Day, right?" The song was the first of the weekend to give me a little chill, and I wasn't alone—there was a pretty big crowd for the band; next to me, a gray haired lady smiled and bobbed up and down to the beat, a few rows back a guy was mouthing along to the lyrics. At times, the crowd seemed unable to contain their enthusiasm, breaking into inappropriate applause during breaks in the songs or tried (in the usual, rhythm-impaired Seattle way) to clap along in time to songs too quiet for that kind of treatment. The next song, "Tournament of Hearts" was dedicated to "all the curlers" in the world, most of them in Canada.

Samson is just one of the finest lyricists working in indie rock these days, and song after song—"Benediction," "Reconstruction Site," "Aside," "Left and Leaving"— proved it better than any excerpts here possibly could. "Reconstruction Site" sounded especially sweet, with its lines about "a float in a summer parade" and its bridge about the little boy falling asleep on "the long ride home," wondering about how everyone dies someday. "Left and Leaving"'s bridge, "I wait in 4/4 time" was another chill-inducing moment. But their sped-up performance of "Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist" was undoubtedly the giddy, geeky highlight for me. They ended with "Plea From a Cat Named Virtue" and "(Manifest)" from Reconstruction Site—the cat song was, of course, a big hit. Anarchists, trade unionists, laborers, curlers, and otherwise—everybody loves an anthropomorphized housecat. They added some goofy guitar noodling to the bridge, Samson jokingly made the mic stand squeak during the song's most quiet part, one of the guitarists knocked his baseball cap off windmilling too hard. The Weakerthans might not be the most impressive band of the weekend, but they're a perfectly reliable, proletarian pleasure—easily my day's highlight.

OMG Myspace is Sooo Funny

posted by on September 1 at 12:11 PM


The premise for the “Myspace Show” isn’t as dumb as the name might imply. It’s an improv comedy act much like Upright Citizens Brigade’s Asssscat (and even features UBS’s Matt Walsh), but instead of basing the improv on a monologue this show gets audience members to show their Myspace profiles on a big screen and while being interviewed by Human Giant’s Paul Scheer, then the details of the page and discussion are turned into long-form impromptu comedy. The first guy that’s picked from the audience turns out to be a minor celebrity himself, a guy by the name of Craig Slike who was “the Mole” on the ABC reality show of the same name. In his interview, Scheer uncovers that Craig has been to the Playboy mansion 5 times and has lots of juicy stories, and that he gave someone the Heimlich in a restaurant the other day, and that he blah blah boring blah blah the whole thing starts to turn into this sincere interview with this grasping non-celeb who is more than happy to have a few hundred people pay attention to him. The whole idea behind this show is to rip on a normal person’s Myspace page, not let some former reality star get on stage and talk himself up for ten minutes. Silke does a good job convincing the audience he’s important - the kid sitting next to me remarks, “This guy’s probably the most famous person here.” I can’t help but think it’s some kind of shitty publicity stunt, but the comedians seem as surprised as anybody that this dude isn’t just anybody, he’s some sort of “somebody.” Thankfully, as soon as the interview ends the rest of the comedians come back on stage and pull off some truly impressive live comedy. UCB does some amazing stuff, but they haven’t been on their A-game at Washington festivals recently: their set at Sasquatch was ruined by Mike Patton and some of their imporv at last year’s Bumbershoot was a bit of a flop. But this show is one of those instances when everything fit together perfectly, with the comedians brilliantly managing to include every last detail of Silke’s ego-patting interview into a non-stop barrage of jokes. Improv comedy requires a unique set of skills, and Paul Scheer and Rob Huemel from Human Giant won big points in my book after demonstrating how funny they can be on the fly. If you’re going to the festival Monday, they are well worth checking out at 4:30 at the Charlotte Martin stage.

Bumbershoot, Day 2: “I am a madman, yay!”

posted by on September 1 at 11:28 AM

Random observation/newsflash: There are a lotta effin’ white people up in this piece.

Now on with our regularly scheduled B-shoot wrap-up.

Howlin Rain are first on my agenda today, and from song one, the northern California quintet unapologetically fling us all back to 1970 with rock so elemental and soulful they could be pushing a particularly virulent strain of Christian fundamentalism and I wouldn’t give a damn. Front man Ethan Miller (Comets on Fire) finesses out ululating, whammy-barred solos with lumberjack force while Joel Robinow’s Nord Electro 2 swells provide Howlin Rain’s crucial foundation and swirling embellishments. Punk never happened for Howlin Rain and the crowd’s quite all right with that.

Howlin Rain's Ethan Miller pours it on. Photos by Corey Bayless.

Set highlight “Lord Have Mercy” climaxed with a deity-summoning raveup and feral, snarling solo from Miller, evoking what Blue Cheer would sound like if laced with the Allman Brothers Band’s DNA. Howlin Rain go right up to the precipice of masturbatory hard-rock excess, but peel back before plummeting into Spinal Tap-esque parody.

After the set, a white guy who probably hadn’t yet reached drinking age said, “I was waiting for demons to pop up. Man, that was loud. I got good hearing. I gotta save it for Stone Temple Pilots.” He was doing so well for a while there…

Over at Fisher Green stage, eight members of Orgone were laying down the kind of funk and afrobeat that keeps our species alive and vital. A particularly spirited, cowbell-intensive rendition of Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa” made me think that it should be adopted by Obama posthaste as his theme song. You know, for that extra push late in the campaign.

Orgone transitioned from song to song without pauses for a half dozen tracks, making seamless segues, as if they were their own DJs. It’s awesome. When vocalist Fanny Franklin entered the fray, things moved into a more conventional Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings soul-funk revue mode. “Seattle, are you on the grass?” Franklin asks with a double entendre so obvious I’m surprised I haven’t heard it before. It is established that, yes, Seattle is indeed on the grass.

2817250434_bc7fe294a5_m.jpgOrgone percussionist Stewart Killen

Orgone are a well-oiled funk/afrobeat machine, ideal for outdoor summer fests (although it felt more like fall Sunday) and percussionist Stewart Killen was a motherfucker on his diverse kit. During one Fela Kuti-esque joint, a dad held his infant daughter aloft as if she were flying as he wove through the throng. (Don’t worry, she had headphones on.) Cutest thing at Bumbershoot… maybe ever. But pops should’ve waited till Orgone covered “I Get Lifted.” Just sayin’…

I was pumped to see Brother Ali, the greatest albino Muslim rapper of our time, but I mistakenly figured that Exhibition Hall would by now have solved its worst-sounding-venue-in-the-world issues. Not the case. All definition from all frequencies of the sound spectrum are lost in the vast rectangle of hard surfaces here.

Nevertheless, Ali had the large, largely youthful crowd (the power of Rhymesayers empire surely has elevated his profile) eating out of his very pale hands from jump. If Brother Ali had commanded his fans to piss into the mouth of the person next to him/her, everyone would be gargling urine within seconds. Ali’s stage presence is authoritative without being thuggishly macho and his voice has a confident, Ice Cube-like timbre to it. He fearlessly speaks truth to power and delivers affecting personal tales, too. What a shame that “Uncle Sam Goddamn,” one of the best tracks of 2007, was neutered in this nuance-nullifying box.

I bounced outta there to check Lee “Scratch” Perry at Fisher Green. He came on about 20 minutes late, donning a silver glitter hat with incense sticks burning on its crown. The 72-year-old dub-producer legend now emphasizes his crazy ol’ front-man persona over sonic invention. Perry’s backing band—the White Belly Rats—play their stadium dub with supreme competence, but much of the set tonight seemed dead in the ass (even the Bob Marley covers, brah) and Lee’s onstage patter and lyrics inspired more head-shaking than admiration.

Lee "Scratch" Perry: mad as a hatter

I am a madman, yay!” went the refrain from one track. Other lyrics reflected on partying and young pussy, with "Pum Pum" containing this gem: “Pussy may come, pussy may go, but Jesus Christ remain”; whatever you say, boss. Check the video for the track on his MySpace for some serious creepiness.

The most cogent thing Perry said all night was, “Let’s ban cigarettes and legalize ganja in Seattle.” He exited the stage with, “We gotta have some peace.” Right?


posted by on September 1 at 11:15 AM

2817132258_20654bdaa4.jpgTI by Dagmar Sieglinde

Memorial Stadium was pretty packed for TI's afternoon set yesterday. The sun was beating down, and from up in the bleachers it looked like people were spontaneously combusting, there were so many plumes of fragrant smoke rising out of the crowd. People managed to reek up a goddamn open air stadium, which I think says a lot about how dedicated yesterday's Bumbershooters were to having a good time.

TI was also dedicated to providing the good time, as were his two hypmen and DJ Drama of the Gangsta Grillz series. The King started with "Beat Down Low," and the bass in the Stadium—apparently responsible for muddying Beck to all shit last night—resounded and rumbled all the way up to the cheap seats. He played maybe 30 seconds of the giddy "Rubber Band Man," letting the crowd sing it before cutting it off to play "Ride Wit Me." (Spotted at TI: Saul Williams in civilian drag, Aziz Ansari and Paul Scheer, some music critics.) TI did "Da Dopeman," whose chorus Jeff Kirby claims to have written years ago. He (TI not Jeff) talked about how nothing short of a casket was going to keep him offstage, how all the people who were talking about how he was done clearly "don't know me." He launched into "You Don't Know Me," to huge applause. For his next song, he asked if there were any ladies in the house, and then Drama set off a chain of gunfire/explosion noises—as if to say, "Are there any ladies in the audience? Because I will blow your asses away (with love)." He rapped his spot from "Love in This Club." He did "Bring 'Em Out," Swizz Beats' ridiculous rave whistles trilling through the arena, setting off waves of pogoing and raised hands. He did his part from "Superstar" in between two rounds of the song's limp blue-eyed soul chorus, and it seemed like you could hear TI nailing his cadences but you couldn't really pick out his rhymes, just the inflections on the beat.

He dedicated the mawkishly literal "Live in the Sky" to Big, Pac, Jammaster Jay, and everyone in the crowd who's lost someone they love. He took his shirt off for "Do U Potna" and "Big Things Poppin'" (Larry Mizell: "Shirt's off, it's business time"). He did a speech about everyone's responsibility and obligation to register to vote, about the size and sway of the hip hop generation and how it has to change the laws to reflect their needs (he didn't endorse a candidate, though). Then he played "What You Know?" Rather than end on that highpoint, though, he did another slow jam for the ladies, offfering that if anyone in the audience's boyfriends weren't giving them what they needed, that TI would he happy to take care of them (presumably by having Drama blow them up); they kicked into "Whatever You Like"—girls literally ran towards the stage.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

!!! (Chk Chk Chk if You're Google)

posted by on August 31 at 12:26 PM

2815354502_f64711029c.jpg!!! by Kelly O

There was, for me, no conflict whatsoever about skipping Beck to watch !!! last night. Despite the jabs at Beck's Fluxus-friendly faith in the Stranger's Bumbershoot Guide, I don't have anything against the guy as an entertainer—and he is one hell of an entertainer. I even like a lot of his music; it's just been several years since he's made a record that would get me to brave the Memorial Stadium crowd (where, btw, I heard the sound was ass for his set). Really, the choice was simple: somewhere in the Stadium and craning my neck at Beck, or right up front dancing my ass off to !!!? Easy.

2815356510_6b8c03cd3e.jpg!!! by Kelly O

!!!, though, are not quite the band I remembered. They've been through some line-up changes lately, losing both sometimes vocalist John Pugh (now with electro funk duo Free Blood) and mixer/musician extraordinaire Justin Van Der Volgen, who's doing who-knows-what, as well as their whole horn section. Seattle expat Shannon Funchess has replaced Pugh on vocals, and while she brings a lot of style and some serious pipes to the mix, it's still a very different animal than !!!'s old, sprawling, brass-enhanced disco beast. The horns are made up for with the addition of more keyboards and effects, although often the band just plays stripped down to percussion, bass, guitar, and vocals. Frontman Nic Offer responding to some audience request by saying their new drummer didn't know how to play that song, in fact, he said, "He doesn't know how to play any of the songs we don't like playing!" The same audience member must have asked Offer to strip, because he then said, "You take your clothes off...So don't ask for something you can't give. You can't play 'Intensify,' either!" He remains a deeply funny dude, but it was definitely a bummer that the band didn't break out old hits like "Me & Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story)" or "Intensify."

Offer wouldn't have had much clothing to take off anyway, though, as he was just wearing short shorts, a t-shirt, and some slip-ons. Another band member was wearing shorts but had towels duct taped around his legs. It seemed like these guys were as surprised by the screeching halt of Seattle's summer as the rest of us. But Offer said that while he was freezing backstage, he was feeling fine up on stage, and indeed after a couple songs, with the crowd dancing and pogoing and just generally causing friction, things warmed up nicely. (A note to the people who stand right up front for a dance band, don't dance, and then look aghast every time some reveler nudges into them a tiny bit: Kindly fuck off. I don't dance in the front row for Neko Case, don't bum my party for !!!.)

In fact, all the non-dancers must've kindly fucked off, because a few songs into the set, the whole crowd (at least as far as I could see) was moving. Highlights of the set included Yadnus," "Must Be the Moon," "Heart of Hearts," and whatever song they played off their first album ("Feel Good Hit of the Fall"? "Kookooka Fuk-U"? I forget). Also fine if not outstanding were the handful of new songs the band played out; no new anthems on the level of their old hits, but everything sounded groovy enough, playing well to the band's new strengths (ie, synths and Funchess). (A side note: the band's new lineup, with the synths and all, really made me miss Outhud and hope that they might strike some of those style grooves in their new stuff. They don't, and I can't help but wonder if their new stuff might sound more that way if Van Der Volgen was still on board.)

2815356106_4404194666.jpg!!! by Kelly O

The best moment by far, though, was when Funchess had them bring the stage lights all the way down and told the crowd to imagine they were at a rave ("You ever been to a rave?") an hour or so outside of Seattle with a couple thousand of their closest friends. And with the lights down and the whole crowd moving, it sure as hell felt like a renegade massive in the middle of a field rather than a big, caged-in music festival. After that party there was just no question of whether I was going to try to catch the last few songs of Beck—there was no way it could have been anything but a let-down.

Bum, Brrrrr, Shoot! Day One

posted by on August 31 at 12:25 PM

During my walk to the Bumbershoot entrance, I caught some of Lucinda Williams’ set wafting out of Memorial Stadium; her warm, familiar, folk rock undoubtedly went down a treat with the menopausal/annual-prostate-exam/NPR-listening demo.

Credentials secured, I beelined to the Fisher Green Stage to catch Nino Moschella and Darondo. Moschella and his bi-racial troupe did 30 minutes of feel-good funk, topped by Nino’s Jamie Lidell-esque white-boy soul vox. It was all very sly and stoned. “We all just wanna love on ya,” the percussionist unctuously announced at one point.

Then Darondo came out for the final half hour, duded out in shiny bronze zoot suit and suspenders and white chapeau. After a mic mishap during the first song, “How I Got Over,” things went smoothly for the sexagenarian sex machine. An obscure soul singer who’s enjoying a late career revival thanks to UK DJ Gilles Peterson and Ubiquity Records’ Luv N’ Haight imprint, Darondo comes on like a raunchier Al Green. His spiel about fellas using whipped cream and cherries on their ladies for romantic/carnal enhancement slayed the crowd. “It might get a little wet down there,” D cautioned. “Don’t worry about that.”


Darondo: Suspendered, animated. Photo by Kelly O.

Darondo closed his show with the lewdicrously [sic] funky “Legs (Part 1).” But before breaking into this molten track, he explained, “Radio wouldn’t play this because they said it was too… lacificus? What’s that word?” he asked Moschella. “Lacificus,” his mate replied. Comedy.

Afterward, I happened upon five African dudes from multiple generations playing myriad percussion implements. They were effortlessly mesmerizing and I tossed a Washington into their bucket. I doubt I'll witness a more pure, joyful display of art all festival.

Continue reading "Bum, Brrrrr, Shoot! Day One" »

Saul Williams vs Man Man

posted by on August 31 at 11:50 AM

Saul Williams by Kjten22 from the Stranger Flickr Pool

Estelle vs the Walkmen wasn't the only conflict yesterday, it was just the only one I'd worried about beforehand. Indeed, having seen Saul Williams' Black Bowie/Native American Alien thing at SXSW this year, and having never seen Man Man, I hadn't planned to catch Williams yesterday at all. But then I was there at the Fisher Green stage with a friend who was way amped for the set, and Williams' band started making a fantastic noise, all digital buzzing and beat mulching, tinny and sharp and totally at odds with the prevailing feel-good festival vibe, and I thought maybe I'd check out a few songs. They came out to the stage one at a time—bright, primary color attired drum machinist followed by tinfoil spaceman guitarist followed by futurist Blackula keyboardist followed by Mr Tardust himself, with young child also with neon green feather hanging in the back/wings of the stage (a friend: it's like Bad Brains on Halloween). He dedicate the set to Chief Seattle, which is way cooler than the average, "What's up, Shelbyville." I mentioned it at SXSW, but it's worth repeating, the rock band thing is a great look for Williams, who clearly enjoys the fuck out of playing the rockstar (and I say playing not because he's not a legitimate rock star, but because he plays the part with a serious dramatic flair, climbing the rafter, striking the stances, etc). His band, too, rocks the shit of their not very "rock" gear, the drum machinist especially, standing on his table of gear, pounding then stomping on his MPC. Remember digital hardcore? It's back. There was, of course, the usual Seattle festival dissonance when an African American gets radical on stage—the sea of white kids fist-pumping along to lyrics about Malcom X (see also: Dead Prez at the Evergreen State College)—but that hardly diminished the powerful performance.

2813748914_6d856106ff.jpgMan Man by Kelly O

Over at the Broad Street Lawn, Man Man were like a reverse image of Williams: all white dudes in all white attire with all white faux native face-paint. Casual listens have yet to land any of the band's albums in my regular music rotation, but holy hell do these guys kill it live, upping the percussion to turn their boozy/drugged carnivalesque songs into a wildly unhinged dance party. Also, watching the band impressed upon me something that I realized when watching their Philly brethren Pink Skull (while we're on Man Man's Philly family, can I also say a kind word about Need New Body? They had a jam back in the day) back at Nectar not too long ago—these guys aren't fucking around, or they are but they're also seriously good musicians, playing saxophone for one bar then hitting percussion for the next, hitting the drums in an off-kilter mess like Animal from the Muppets while still keeping time, murdering the piano while still barking out vocals. I'll be revisiting my Man Man records, although I'm still not sure I'll ever want to put them on at a dinner party, but I'll definitely be at their next Seattle show.

The Walkmen vs Estelle

posted by on August 31 at 11:48 AM

This was the one head-to-header yesterday that I really struggled with ahead of time. On the one hand, Estelle, an up and coming R&B singer with a Kanye-dusted summer hit, "American Boy." On the other, the Walkmen, a studiously trad East Coast rock band with one amazing anthem, "The Rat," now several years behind them. Turns out I watched a little of both and wasn't too impressed by either.

2814639916_d4e6393cd5.jpgThe Walkmen by Corey Bayless

The Walkmen are a perfectly fine rock band—not "fine" like jewelry or china, but "fine" like "whatever." They played the excellent ballad "In the New Year" from their latest, You & Me, and it sounded great, instruments swaying and serenading as if at some NYC/Old World sidewalk cafe, singer Hamilton Leithauser's voice strained and striking the notes just so. Leithauser, it should be noted, has a name that makes him sound like some minor heir, and from afar he has kind of a James Spader from Pretty in Pink look (if you wanted to be a dick, you might imagine him going boating with the Vampire Weekend kids). Damn, was the Broad Street Lawn crowded, though—standing room only, right up to the paved walkway, and with lines in the beer garden so long you'd expect Eugene Mirman to be doing stand up at the end of them. The crowd was enough to keep me from waiting around for "the Rat," so if anyone with more fortitude than I was there, did they play it?

2813879978_f41bcf803e.jpgEstelle by Kelly O

The Fisher Pavillion's rooftop beer garden was far more pleasant, although from up there Estelle didn't seem too remarkable, even with a full band and three backup singer/dancers. Her voice is clearly competent, as was her band, and she's certainly young, pretty, and stylish enough for Youtube (insert tired rant re: MTV/playing music videos here), but I can't help but agree with a fellow beer gardener who said she should just "bring Kanye West out" already.


posted by on August 31 at 11:27 AM

2813701099_858ea60752.jpgGrynch and D.Black by Corey Bayless

Late pass me, guys: Yesterday was the first time I caught an entire set from Grynch, who impressed the hell out of me with his guest spot with the Physics at this year's Capitol Hill Block Party. On that big stage, from up in the beer garden on top of Fisher Pavillion, Grynch looked tiny. Tinier than usual. But he and DJ Nphared sounded plenty big. The beats were big and bass-heavy enough to rumble the lawn, and Grynch more than makes up for his slight physical stature with energy, breath, and deftness on the mic. An Eminem comparison is probably lazy and racist, but on at least one song, rapping about how he doesn't look the part of a rapper and maybe he should try acting, Grynch's self-aware humor and tongue-twisting punch-lines definitely reminded of that other white meat. Most of the time, though, Grynch had plenty of his own style, especially on the breezy 206 summer ode "Summertime" and the appropriately aggressive "When the Beast Comes Out," which was like a battle rap only with no takers. Also good was a little a cappella interlude in which Grynch, in a sure-footed cadence, acknowledged his local buzz while examining his less than monumental place in the larger rap scheme of things, concluding that, in that world, he "still ain't shit." Has Seattle evolved its own definitive hip hop style yet? If so, that shrewd, comic self-deprecating stance (so "alt") certainly must be a part of it.

Throw Me the Statue

posted by on August 31 at 11:04 AM

I tried to make it down to Bumbershoot a 12:30 yesterday for Throw Me the Statue, but a late brunch date and a slow, ass-packed bus delayed me until about 12:45. So I only caught half of the band's set, but from what I saw it was another fine, if not exceptional, performance from them. The Juno-60 and the the kick drum seemed a little loud from where I was standing, and the band might have missed a couple marks, Scott Rietherman's next line not quite landing on the final beat of the preceding drum fill. But then, it was just past noon.

"Young Sensualists" sounded great as always, really accelerated by live drumming; "Yucatan Gold" also benefitted from a live percussive intro. Their regular horn section was on hand for a couple songs (one or two of these horn players would reappear later with the Walkmen and Man Man). Throw Me the Statue played a couple new songs, "Parade," which they debuted at Capitol Hill Block Party, and another one, no name, that they had just written as part of a week-long EP recording session which they said they were halfway finished with. This debut was less impressive than "Parade," key-heavy and mellow, without a big (or really any recognizable) chorus and with none of the former's grand guitar sweep. The time-slot and the so-so show may have made for not the greatest introduction for any Bumbershooters seeing the band for the first time, but they still have one of the best albums with many of the best songs to come out of Seattle in the past year; here's hoping they sort out that EP.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What's Happening at Bumbershoot Tomorrow?

posted by on August 29 at 12:49 PM

A weird side-effect of organizing something like the Stranger's Bumbershoot Guide is that, though you become intimately familiar with everything that's happening that weekend well in advance, by the time the event actually rolls around, you've likely forgotten everything. Thankfully, the online version of our guide has a helpful customizable schedule tool (the web 0.0 print version has a still handy grid). In just minutes, I've sorted my shit out, foggy editorial brain and all. So, here's what I'm going to try to take in tomorrow (I've yet to decide between Estelle and the Walkmen):

Throw Me the Statue Rockstar Stage Broad Street 12:30 PM Seattle’s Throw Me the Statue seem almost too smart to be a pop band. Singer Scott Reitherman’s lyrics are frequently oblique, with choruses more often built around dense turns of phrase than simpler romantic sentiments. And yet their debut album, Moonbeams, is one of the catchiest most easily enjoyable records to come out of Seattle in a while. Their shifting live lineup (still with glockenspiel!) is scrappier than Reitherman’s mostly solo recordings, but just as stellar. ERIC GRANDY

Grynch Fisher Green Stage 2:15 PM
Local rapper Grynch recently released his second album, My Second Wind, a work that makes clear to the hiphop community that he has substance and something fresh to say. The young man can rhyme and has an honest love for the art. For him, it’s not about salary, it's all about “not faking the funk.” CHARLES MUDEDE

The Valley EMP SFM's Sky Church 3:30 PM
The Valley’s eardrum-flattening, screaming Sea-Tac runway velocity is hands down one of my favorite things to see live. You can call ’em grunge revivalists, but don’t front; their anticute, fuzz-laden, blue-collar bombast blows the anemic neon hordes away like the special snowflakes their home-schooler parents always told them they were. To quote Jadakiss: Fuck the frail shit. LARRY MIZELL JR.

Estelle Fisher Green Stage 5:45 PM
This British R&B singer hit it massive in England with her “American Boy,” featuring Kanye West, and her critically acclaimed album Shine (Atlantic). She’s been slower to break over here, but with Bumbershoot as the second show on a North American trek, she could reverse that in person. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

the Walkmen Rockstar Stage Broad Street 5:45 PM
NYC band the Walkmen are reverent traditionalists, paying homage to Harry Nilsson and John Lennon with a full-album remake of Pussy Cats, and otherwise, more generally, keeping the rock torch burning. The band have mellowed since the bitter burst of 2004’s breakout single “The Rat,” but band-leader Hamilton Leithauser remains a sharp, if sweetened, songwriter, backed by a band as comfortable with reclining ballads as they are with more ragged fare. ERIC GRANDY

Mono in VCF EMP SFM's Sky Church 6:30 PM
Is there a James Bond flick where the villain’s elegant, technological wonder of a headquarters is housed deep within the core of a runaway Arctic iceberg? NO? Well, could there be one? Because Mono in VCF’s Bristol-damaged glacial psychedelia would be perfect for the theme song—listen to lead vocalist Kim Miller blowing down “No Blood in Bone” and tell me you can’t see credits rolling. LARRY MIZELL JR.

Man Man Rockstar Stage Broad Street 7:30 PM
Philly carni punks Man Man may have crafted their most upbeat and accessible album to date with 2008’s Rabbit Habits, but that doesn’t mean they’ve gotten any less weird. Their colorfully seasick shanties and blotto piano ballads are as cluttered with intriguing instrumental junk as ever, lead singer Honus Honus’s voice remains chaotically sweet and sour, and the band continue to indulge in peculiar but persuasive percussive jams and chants. Live, they make for a reliably demented circus. ERIC GRANDY

Nada Surf Starbucks Stage | Mural Amphitheatre 8:45 PM
Nada Surf’s latest album, Lucky (released on local label Barusk), is the band’s most sophisticated release to date. Its songs are filled with pretty strings, strong choruses, and gentle harmonies featuring guest stars like Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. These boys have grown up quite nicely since their goofy 1996 high-school anthem “Popular.” MEGAN SELING

!!! Fisher Green Stage 9:15 PM
I once made the mistake of taking too literally !!!’s cover of the Magnetic Fields’ “Take Ecstasy with Me” and spent a show of theirs melted into a corner of the Croc when I should have been dancing my ass off. Still, every time I properly remember seeing the band (pronounced “chk chk chk”), I’ve dutifully shaken my butt and gotten on down, as their disco-punk-funk juggernaut is just unstoppably fun. ERIC GRANDY

What's on your list?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Alts vs Alts

posted by on August 28 at 1:30 PM

Picking up on yesterday's "alternative" vs "indie" thread (with respects due to Michaelangelo Matos' fine Idolator post on the subject), allow me to direct your attention to the Stranger's Bumbershoot Guide, in which you'll find Monsters of Alt, a chart of the careers of Bumbershoot's '90s heavyweights—Superchunk, Beck, Stone Temple Pilots, and the Offspring. The piece props up the idea of "alt" that Matos (I think convincingly) rails against, that it's specific to the '90s. But hair-splitting aside, it's really just an excuse to make fun of Scott Weiland for being a junkie and Beck for being a Scientologist.

But, if we can get serious again for a moment, Stranger reader Paul Waldrop II writes in with some important corrections:

Errors of note conserning STP in your Article:

No. 4 was released in 1999 not '97.

You failed to mention their 2001 album "Shangri-La Dee Da"

Paul Waldrop
Instictional Designer

Sent from my iPhone

Thank you, Paul. Our sincere apologies to anyone who's ever listened to either of those albums, whenever they came out.


posted by on August 28 at 11:25 AM


The Stranger's official Bumbershoot guide is out today on the streets and the tubes, and as always it is a fucking throw-down. Inside, you'll find:

A head to head chart of the career arcs of '90s alt monsters Superchunk, Beck, Stone Temple Pilots, the Offspring, and Sweetwater.

Joan Hiller on Superchunk.

Brandon Ivers on Beck.

Sam Mickens on Final Fantasy.

Dave Segal on Darondo and Orgone.

Casey Catherwood on Dan Deacon.

Eric Grandy on the Weakerthans.

Charles Mudede on Del the Funky Homosapien.

Jeff Kirby on Monotonix.

David Schmader on Nick Thune.

Brendan Kiley on Bumbershoot's "Mini Fringe Festival"

Mudede (again) on William Gibson

Jen Graves on the Seattle/Tehran Poster Show

Annie Wagner on Bumbershoot's Film Shorts

A. Birch Steen on Sherman Alexia and other "Stranger-associated felons and deviants"

As well as a customizable schedule, map, and blurbs on every single act appearing at the festival.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


posted by on August 26 at 2:55 PM

Bumbershoot is this weekend, are you ready? It's a huge clusterfuck, I know--hundreds of artists spread out over acres of land... but we've tried to make it a little easier on you. Head over to to see which events we recommend, read what we have to say about every artist performing, and create and print your own daily schedule (so you can weed out the crap).

(And after Bumbershoot, don't forget to upload your photos to the Stranger's Flickr Pool!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Take Pictures at Block Party/Win Passes to Bumbershoot

posted by on July 24 at 12:00 PM

Going to Block Party? Take your camera! The photographer who uploads the best, quintessential Block Party shot to The Stranger's Flickr Pool will win a pair of weekend passes to this year's Bumbershoot!

Uploading photos to the Flickr pool is free and easy--after the Block Party, put up your awesome pictures and tag 'em "CHBP." The best shots will be chosen Monday afternoon, after you've had a day or two to upload your shots. All finalists will be posted on Line Out and readers will vote for their favorite. The winner gets a pair of weekend passes to this year's Bumbershoot! Holy shit!

Shoot the bands, shoot the crowd, shoot the the pyramid of beer cans you build while waiting for Vampire Weekend to start--it's just gotta show what your Block Party weekend is all about. Good luck, shutterbugs!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Death Cab for Cutie/Superchunk Added to Bumbershoot Line-Up

posted by on July 17 at 12:18 PM

This was actually announced days ago, but in the flurry of Sub Pop and Block Party stuff, it got lost in my in-box. So I apologize for the delay in telling you this but... SUPERCHUNK IS PLAYING BUMBERSHOOT.

Superchunk - "Hyper Enough"

Here's who was just added:

Death Cab For Cutie / Superchunk / Tapes ‘n Tapes / The Weakerthans / Two Gallants / Sweet Water / Cheb I Sabbah & 1002 Nights featuring Riffat Sultana / Vicci Martinez / Black Eyes and Neckties / Tiptons Sax Quartet / Mono in VCF / Thee Emergency / Vince Mira / Manooghi Hi / Feral Children / Speaker Speaker / The Physics / The Tripwires / Sage / Grieves / Choklate / Das Vibenbass / The Valley / Velella Velella / The Maldives / Shim / Shane Tutmarc & The Traveling Mercies / Mariee Sioux / The Round (featuring Damien Jurado, Jen Wood, Buddy Wakefield and others) / The Lonely H / Nick Vigarino / The Staxx Brothers / Lushy / New Faces / School of Rock: Northwest All-Stars / Jazz Northwest: WSU Faculty Ensemble

And who's here we already knew about:

Beck / Stone Temple Pilots / T.I. / The Offspring / Keyshia Cole / Lucinda Williams / Neko Case / Paramore / Band of Horses / The Black Keys / Nada Surf / Ingrid Michaelson / Del Tha Funky Homosapien / Jakob Dylan / !!! / Mike Doughty / Old 97’s / Xavier Rudd / Anti-Flag / Minus the Bear / M. Ward / Lee “Scratch” Perry / Man Man / Joe Bonamassa / Saul Williams / Brother Ali / Battles / Aiden / Kid Sister / The Walkmen / Sons and Daughters / Asylum Street Spankers / Unearth / Estelle / Dan Deacon / Blitzen Trapper / Sondre Lerche / Bedouin Soundclash / Scary Kids Scaring Kids / Tim Finn / The Whigs / Dale Watson / John Vanderslice / Flobots / Thao with the Get Down Stay Down / Final Fantasy / Adele / The Fall of Troy / Orgone / Langhorne Slim & The War Eagles / Forro in the Dark / These Arms Are Snakes / The Blakes / Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby / Pacifika / Arthur & Yu / Darondo & Nino Moschella / Ian Moore / Mark Pickerel & His Praying Hands / Throw Me The Statue / Barcelona / Kinski / Tyrone Wells / Monotonix / J-Boogie’s Dubtronic Science / Howlin Rain / The Shackeltons / West Indian Girl / Ravens & Chimes / Hadley Caliman Quintet featuring Thomas Marriott / Star Anna / Grynch / The Hands / Joshua Morrison / Matt Jorgensen +451 / PWRFL Power / Chester French / The Girls / Kate Tucker & the Sons of Sweden / Beehive / Ashleigh Flynn

More info is at

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More Bands Added to Bumbershoot Line-Up

posted by on June 19 at 11:18 AM

As of today, Bumbershoot 2008's line-up now includes the Offspring, Nada Surf, Old 97s, and Flobots.

More artists will be announced in July. Here's the latest full line-up:

Beck / Stone Temple Pilots / T.I. / The Offspring / Keyshia Cole / Lucinda Williams / Neko Case / Paramore / Band of Horses / The Black Keys / Nada Surf / Ingrid Michaelson / Del Tha Funky Homosapien / Jakob Dylan / !!! / Mike Doughty / Old 97’s / Xavier Rudd / Anti-Flag / Minus the Bear / M. Ward / Lee “Scratch” Perry / Man Man / Joe Bonamassa / Saul Williams / Brother Ali / Battles / Aiden / The Walkmen / Kid Sister / Sons and Daughters / Asylum Street Spankers / Unearth / Estelle / Dan Deacon / Blitzen Trapper / Sondre Lerche / Bedouin Soundclash / Scary Kids Scaring Kids / Tim Finn / Dale Watson / The Whigs / John Vanderslice / Flobots / Thao with The Get Down Stay Down / Final Fantasy / Adele / The Fall of Troy / Orgone / Langhorne Slim & The War Eagles / Forro in the Dark / These Arms Are Snakes / The Blakes / Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby / Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses / Pacifika / Arthur & Yu / Darondo & Nino Moschella / Ian Moore / Mark Pickerel & His Praying Hands / Barcelona / Kinski / Throw Me The Statue / J-Boogie’s Dubtronic Science / Tyrone Wells / Howlin Rain / Monotonix / The Shackeltons / West Indian Girl / Star Anna / Ravens & Chimes / Hadley Caliman Quintet featuring Thomas Marriott / Grynch / Joshua Morrison / The Hands / Matt Jorgensen +451 / PWRFL Power / Chester French / The Girls

I'm still more excited about the Block Party...

Visit for tickets/more information.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ludacris Added to Bumbershoot Line-Up

posted by on May 1 at 10:54 AM

Also added: Mike Doughty, Kid Sister, and Man Man.

Here's the updated (partial) line-up:

Beck / Stone Temple Pilots / Ludacris / Lucinda Williams / Neko Case / Ingrid Michaelson / Jakob Dylan / Del Tha Funky Homosapien / !!! / Mike Doughty / Xavier Rudd / Anti-Flag / Lee “Scratch” Perry / Saul Williams / Brother Ali / Joe Bonamassa / M. Ward / Man Man / The Walkmen / Kid Sister / Asylum St. Spankers / Dan Deacon / MIDIval PunditZ / Blitzen Trapper / Bedouin Soundclash / Scary Kids Scaring Kids / Tim Finn / Dale Watson / John Vanderslice / Final Fantasy / The Fall of Troy / Orgone / Forro in the Dark / Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses / Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby / Arthur & Yu / Darondo and Nino Moschella / Pacifika / Ian Moore and many more to be announced.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

First Chunk of Bumbershoot Line Up Announced

posted by on April 9 at 9:26 AM



Beck, Stone Temple Pilots, Lucinda Williams, Neko Case, Ingrid Michaelson, Del Tha Funky Homosapien, Jakob Dylan, !!!, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Saul Williams, Joe Bonamassa, M. Ward, The Walkmen, Asylum St. Spankers, Dan Deacon, MIDIval PunditZ, Blitzen Trapper, Bedouin Soundclash, Tim Finn, Dale Watson, John Vanderslice, Final Fantasy, The Fall of Troy, Orgone, Forro in the Dark, Ryan Bingham, Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby, Arthur & Yu, Darondo and Nino Moschella, Pacifika and many more to be announced.

Literary Arts:

Graphic novelists Dan Clowes and Adrian Tomine, sci-fi legend William Gibson, a special edition of Starlee Kine and Arthur Jones' Post-It Note Reading Series, authors Nathan McCall, Francesca Lia-Block, Kevin Sessums, and more.

Other shit:

Gage Academy Drawing Jam, One Pot Residency, Seattle-Tehran Poster Show, exhibits from the Henry Art Gallery, a spectacle from Strange Fruit, dance and puppets from Joe Goode and Basil Twist, Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Tickets are $80 for all three days right now. I think I'm most excited for William Gibson.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

One Last Thing...

posted by on September 5 at 12:50 PM

I forgot to mention, on my wrap-up of Monday, about the off the grid show at the Claimin' Space exhibit. When I dropped by, Fourthcity MPC freak ER Don was rocking a set of glitchy beats, juggled jazz loops, and futurist samples. This is an Akai MPC:


This is what ER Don does with it:


The magic man plays Broken Disco next weekend, Friday the 14th at Chop Suey, along with Alex Under, Dean Decosta, Milkplant, DJ dAb, and (full disclosure) yours truly.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Clan, In Da Front

posted by on September 4 at 4:40 PM

Yo, I feel like straight crap. Bumbershoot is all I've done for the last 3 days, with it's shitty-bomb food, smuggled Old Crow, and desperation 4-dollar Miller Lights; my guts are pissed right now. I haven't kicked it at the Shoot like that since high school- except instead of stamp-licking and fence-jumping, it was my lanyard on which hung a fresh-to-death BumberBoard pass. Baller.

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