Bumbershoot: Day Two
Seattle Center; Seattle, WA

[09-03-06]

Day two was not kind to me or many
of the festival goers. It had nothing to do with the temperatures or a lack of
food and water, but with the size of the mob trolling the grounds. Compared to
Saturday, the amount of festival goers doubled, causing massive headaches and
massive lines. With Key Arena shut off, there were fewer bathrooms, fewer
concessions (not that it was noticeable), and fewer places to seek the indoor
cool of air conditioning.

It didn't help matters that two of indie music's hottest acts — The New
Pornographers and Spoon — were sharing the early bill at the main stage. Minus
a few scraps of shade emanating from the stage's massive rig, the sun beat
down on the beer- and cigarette-soaked turf. Those smart enough to seek the
shelter of the stands were doing themselves a favor. However, I am a fearless
(also known as a pale white boy willing to roast in the abnormally hot Seattle
sun) journeyman seeking any inkling of a story to share. I arrived just in
time to catch the last few licks of the New Pornographer's set. Perhaps it's
an indie sin to state that I just don't enjoy the New Pornographers as a
group. I'll pay money to see Carl Newman or Neko Case play solo shows (or in
the case of the later, with her “Boyfriends”), but other than a track or two
from each of the band's albums, I don't find myself fully enjoying their brand
of super group power pop. Of course, the sizeable audience negated any
negative aura I was giving off.

Deciding to kill some time between the sets of indie juggernauts, I exited to
the grounds to check out what smaller treasures the other stages hid. First
stop was Dengue Fever. A large cluster of dancers were fighting for territory
among the grass loungers, so getting an up close look at the band was near
impossible. Factor in that press access to smaller stages was nigh, and you
can pretty much see that the day was starting off terribly. Bumbershoot
mistake #2: Shitting on the press.

Before I go any further, I should clarify my views of being a "member" of the
press. I didn't expect to have better treatment than the paying festival
goers. I didn't strive to cut in lines, get in people's way, or shove cameras
in between the audience to capture a band in performance. I never trampled
over people to get to a show, and I sure didn't expect some giant spread of
food and drink at the press room. I was, however, under the impression that
press would have access to viewpoints and stages easier than we did. I'm sure
complaining about getting into a festival for free is something many of you
could care less about, but I noticed I wasn't alone in feeling alienated — a
large majority of paying customers felt that Bumbershoot was falling flat on
its face. Usually a festival is organized enough to get people to where they
want to be and into the shows they want to see; this year everything collapsed
under the weight of neglect. Everything was hurried, and everyone paid the
price for it. It was easy to ignore during the first day's activities because
the crowd was significantly smaller than that of day two, not to mention more
polite.

Back to the action, I was tired of trading elbows and shoulders with the crowd
at Dengue Fever, so I made my way to the Northwest Court to catch the Kelley
Johnson Quartet. Needless to say, the jazz was just what I needed to calm me
down from an early overload. I was beginning to dread Bumbershoot, but the
cool and collected Kelley Johnson soothed me back to health. Once she wrapped
up, I sucked it up and returned to the main stage to catch Spoon.

The crowd for Spoon was exceptionally large for this time of day and this type
of music. I guess more and more folks are getting turned on to Spoon via word
of mouth and car rides where friends thrust the CD into their player of choice
and will their passengers to like Spoon. Fortunately, Spoon is a great enough
band that the forced exposure isn't needed. Spoon came out to thunderous
approval and began tracing over their catalogue's sharpest numbers. The
highlight of the show came from a surprise appearance from David Cross, who
gave us an interpretive dance to "The Beast and Dragon Adored." Before I knew
it, flocks of teenagers began thrusting themselves closer and closer to the
stage to catch a glimpse of Cross. I guess I never knew how popular he was. I
couldn't take the swells of kids, and since I had seen Spoon just last year
and the set was quite familiar, I decided it was time to roam the grounds
again.

I was pretty much killing time until Vashti Bunyan's set. I thought about
checking out some comedy acts, but it seems they weren't friendly to the
press. I'd beat the long lines and yet I was continually turned away. The time
I'd waste standing in line would not be worth all the missed music, so I
sucked it up and went on my merry way. In retrospect, killing time in line to
get a few laughs, wasting an hour or so, and soaking up some air conditioning
would have been the wiser move. No matter where I ran, no matter the artist or
band — Matt Costa, Jeremy Enigk (admittedly, I was a pretty big Sunny Day Real
Estate fan. Shut up!), the Crystal Skulls or even Floyd Standifer at my
favorite pavilion; the NW Court — no one was very entertaining. Each was more
boring, harder to stomach, and easier to ignore. Never the signs of good
performances. Sunday was turning into a wash. By the time Vashti Bunyan hit
the NW Court stage, I was ready to endure the bus ride and head home. I stayed
long enough to hear Bunyan serenade an older crowd for a few numbers, but I
just wasn't in the mood. I know someday I'll wake up and kick myself for not
staying, but sometimes a cold beer and a comfortable loveseat trump a unique
musical experience.




(Day One)
(Day Two)
(Day Three)