Labor Day weekend is nearly upon us, and with Labor Day comes a Northwest staple – Bumbershoot. Music, visual art, dance, comedy, and film take over the Seattle Center for three glorious days. I will be in attendance on Saturday and Sunday, and these are the artists who I will be sure to see (with descriptions for artists who I am particularly excited for).
12:00 PM – Campfire OK
Campfire OK are a local folk band who has the pleasure of opening up the festival. Not an ideal time slot, but if you are heading out you should make a point to catch this set. Their sound is intimate, rustic, and pure. They will inevitably gain comparison to local folk groups like Fleet Foxes but really their sound is quite different. It is more personal, it is universal. It is the sound that you hear on any given night at the beach or in a park, as friends sing and play beautiful songs.
12:45 PM – Yuni in Taxco
1:30 PM – Craft Spells
Craft Spells are a local electronic pop act similar in sound to chillwavers Toro Y Moi, Neon Indian, and M83. Their sound swirls and bubbles, puts one in a trance. It is pleasant.
2:15 PM – Champagne Champagne
3:15 PM – Astronautalis
Astronautalis, a Florida emcee, is one of the more interesting hip hop artists performing today. His music is genre bending and his live show is known to be always entertaining. He has been described as a hip hop version of Beck, mixing spoken word and folk elements into his quirky sound.
5:45 PM – Shabazz Palaces
Seattle’s purveyors of hip hop superiority. This is the best group that the Seattle scene has produced, led by Ish “Butterfly” Butler’s lyricism and artistic vision, the sonic soundscapes created and issues broached in Ish’s songs transcend the boundaries of the genre. Shabazz have accomplished more musically in their three releases than most groups are able to do in their career. Quite frankly, Shabazz make Blue Scholars and Macklemore look like mere children.
7:45 PM – Trombone Shorty
Trombone Shorty is a New Orleans based trombonist who has played with some of the worlds best (in the jazz world as well as the rock world). His solo career got started last year with the release of his excellent album Backatown. He incorporates funk, jazz, soul, r&b, and rock elements to create a truly unique sound. Get yo groove on.
8:30 PM – Starfucker
These Portland electro-poppers have hooks in spades. Instantly catchy and dance-able, their live show is known to be a sight to behold.
9:15 PM – Minus the Bear
One of Seattle’s best, Minus the Bear have been at it for years. Their sound is constantly evolving, spanning from math-based indie pop with electronic elements to progressive indie reminiscent of Pink Floyd. Their most recent album, OMNI, sees the band embracing elements of funk as well. I have seen them numerous times, and their show is always brilliant. As much as they succeed on recording, where the band makes their name is on the stage. Hopefully they play “Double Vision Quest”, as it is one of the greatest songs of all time. Keep an eye on guitarist Dave Knudsen and drummer Erin Tate in particular. These gentleman are some of the best at their craft not just in the Seattle area but in the indie rock community as a whole. They are that good.
1:30 PM – The Lonely Forest
Local favorite who you should be hearing more and more about in the future. Their pop inflected rock has a raw power and energy, reminiscent of early 90’s groups such as Sunny Day Real Estate and current favorites Manchester Orchestra. Having recently been inked to Death Cab guitarist Ben Walla’s record label (an imprint for Atlantic Records), they are making a name for themselves, stretching beyond the local community and soon to achieve full blown national exposure. Don’t miss them, this could be a historic set.
2:15 PM – Mad Rad
Mad Rad’s brand of hip hop is, in a word, chaotic. These guys know how to party, and they want you to party alongside them. Led my prolific Seattle beatmaker P Smoov and insane frontman Buffalo Madonna, the often controversial group is always a riot live. Expect a heavy dose of material from their second album, the Youth Die Young, one of the better local releases of 2011.
3:15 PM – Thee Oh Sees
5:00 PM – Tennis
5:45 PM – Das Racist
Their hit single is “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell”. Enough said.
7:30 PM – Butthole Surfers
Catch a bit of their set if for no other reason to be able to say that you have seen them live. The Butthole Surfers are an incredibly influential band coming out of Austin in the 1980s. How influential, you ask? They were one of Kurt Cobain’s favorite groups.
8:00 PM – Macklemore
Seattle’s son. Storyteller. Tastemaker. Everyone in high school worships him. Hipsters hate him, even though they really dug him for a while. If you are from the Seattle area and haven’t heard about Macklemore…I don’t even. Hype/hate aside, the dude really does have a gift, he is lyrically on point and Ryan Lewis makes some pretty cool beats.
8:30 PM – Toro Y Moi
South Carolina represent. Toro Y Moi is a synth-pop group, chillwave if you are a hip blog kid. Their sound harkens back to the 70’s so much you would have sworn this isn’t modern music. The sepia coated music videos don’t help to assuage that assumption.
9:45 PM – Symphony Untuxed
In what is by far the most bizarre and awesome move made by Bumbershoot this year, they scheduled new Seattle Symphony conductor Ludovic Morlot and a cast of Seattle Symphony members to perform an eclectic mix of tunes that most of the people in attendance will have never heard before. As a classical music fan and performer, I am stoked to see what Morlot does. Longtime conductor Gerrard Schwartz retired this past June and Morlot, a young hotshot, seems intent to invigorate the Symphony and the classical music community of Seattle. Schwartz was, as many musicians and fans have agreed, pretty dang boring. Clean, and boring. Morlot is not. This is anything but. Schwartz would never have done this. Morlot will lead a group in the performance an electric bassoon solo and a bass concerto in which the bassist converses with the audience. Yes. This is awesome.