Last year was my first outing at Bumbershoot; the northwest’s premier music festival, at least last year it was. Last year the headliner was none other than music legend Bob “Motherfucking” Dylan and along with Neko Case and The Decemberists it was an event not to be missed. So how could they top that? Well since they probably couldn’t they went in a completely different direction, bands that aren’t as famous or good. Okay I’m getting a little carried away here, this year wasn’t bad, but it’s hard to get excited when you’re only there to see Hall and Oates. As much as I love the cheesy pop music of Daryl Hall and John Oates I was shocked to find they could still headline a festival like this, does that mean they’re as good as Bob Dylan? Seems like they should be playing the Emerald Queen Casino but here they were and I saw them and ya know what? It was still fun, I guess it’s more about the entire experience than anything else.
My Bumbershoot odyssey began this year as I was jusr crossing the bridge into the emerald city and got a phone call. My step dad called and me and asked “Hey John, is it too late for your mom to come?” You see at this point I was going to Bumbershoot by myself but my mom had showed some interest earlier, so even though it meant turning around right before my early arrival I turned back and she joined me. This gave me a good opportunity to use a deal I had where I could bring a guest for half price of the original ticket, I’ll take it!
We finally made it to Bumbershoot at about 2:00 and spent the first half hour or so getting some grub and getting a feel for the festival. The first performance we caught was Head Like a Kite a semi electronic group featuring a vocalist jumping around and shouting and a drummer laying down the beats. They were basically the definition of okay, though I enjoyed this other guy in the panda suit on stage (he knew how to work an audience,) Afterwards we continued to wander until we found a fried candy stand. So many times I’d heard about fried candy but never seen it readily available, still full from lunch I decided I’d be back later but my mom got some fried pickles. Actually they weren’t half bad, just imagine a pretty good pickle in a fish n’ chips-like batter with tartar, sounds gross but America has spoken.
By 3:00 I was on my way to check out Big Boi in the Key Arena, my mom just ordering the pickles minutes before would wait outside and checkout some other group. So I walked into the Key Arena to the sound of a booming bass and lyrics being spit out faster than the Flash on laundry day. I’ve heard good things about Big Boi’s solo music but not being much of a hip hop fan I didn’t really know what was going on. Though after a few songs I actually started to get into it, Big Boi along with his co-vocalist, DJ, and drummer did a nice job of getting the audience pumped up always addressing us as “Yo Motherfucking Seattle!”. The house really got into it when ever he delved into Outkast’s back catalog to dust off an old hit. These included; “Ms, Jackson”, “I Like the Way You Move” and my favorite “B.O.B” I can’t believe a person can even speak that quickly.
Afterwards I caught up with my mom near some band named YACHT, kind of a B-52 sounding band, a cute sound I guess. At this point we made our way to the main outdoor stage where some guy, I wanna say Dennis? Was playing funk music, we watched for a few minutes until we decided to check out the beer garden. Inside the garden we both got some Chardonnay that aside from a hint of grape had a fairly disgusting flavor. Bored with the endless jamming of Dennis whatever we decided to wander encountering a delightful street juggler. I’ve always loved street magicians and jugglers so I had to check this out and even though he wasn’t the greatest juggler in the world he was a very finely tuned comedic showman. After this I checked soul singer Charles Bradley for a little bit, he was a great singer but I wasn’t really digging his tunes, whatever.
A few hours and a fried candy bar later we made our way to Key Arena to see Fitz and the Tantrums and then later Hall and Oates. I’d heard of Fitz awhile back and had actually heard the group’s album beforehand so I was well prepared for their R&B laced set. The performance was well polished but some of their songs are definitely better than others. Some of their songs just seem to derivative of preexisting soul songs, but overall it was entertaining, I definitely enjoyed their cover of The Raconteurs “Steady as She Goes” and of course the playing of their infectiously catchy hit song”Moneygrabber.”
About twenty minutes later the long awaited sunday headliners finally took the stage to a fairly full Key Arena. They opened with a slightly altered version of “Maneater” that excellently showcased Daryl Hall’s still marvelous vocal abilities. Oh yeah, Oates was okay too, damn he sure is short though. Most of the songs were enjoyable enough but too many contained cheesy jamming sections that really drew the show out longer than it needed to be. I’d looked online a few days earlier to find that they’ve been playing the same set list for awhile now, it definitely seemed over rehearsed, it’s gotta be fresh every time man! Though I was disappointed by the changes made to classics like “I Can’t Go for That” and “Rich Girl” now with a bluesy piano opening, I still enjoyed seeing these talented musicians show off their chops. “You Make My Dreams” was easily the highlight of the night being one of the few songs played exactly as we all know it and “Private Eyes” was a great closer, there’s something very satisfying about seeing that many people perform the clapping in the chorus.
Seeing that this review is already irrelevant and the fact that I lost interest two paragraphs in probably means I should wrap it up. So in conclusion not a great Bumbershoot but an interesting one. I can’t wait to see who will headline next year… Seals & Crofts? That would suck.