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Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival 2013 – DAY 1
August 31, 2013
Since 1971, the annual Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival has been held at Seattle Center, an area that was originally constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair and is home to the Space Needle (erected for the same purpose). Throughout the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, my friends and I sneaked in just about every single year, catching a variety of amazing acts which include WEEN, David Byrne, Built to Spill, Benevento Russo Duo, Daniel Johnston, The Ramones, Public Enemy, Sam Bush, Maceo Parker, Sonic Youth, and Rat Dog. I even saw a truly remarkable set by Tiny Tim, about a month before his passing. But that was in my youth, when I was swift, reckless, and uncatchable. When I would ride the bus from the suburbs to the city, buy a set of markers from the QFC supermarket across the street, that is no longer there, and forge wrist stamps on friends and strangers alike. It’s an annual celebration and, as all-ages event after all-ages event slowly disappeared for the youth of the greater King County area, Bumbershoot has remained–as does the memory of getting pulled off stage for trying to breakdance during Beck‘s set at the Memorial Coliseum in 1997, and getting a security beatdown.
Until last year, it had been about a decade since I had returned to Bumbershoot. Whether or not it was the actual festival or myself that got completely derailed and was missing the mark, everything seems to have realigned and the lineups are as solid as ever. Beyond the music, there are fascinating panels and a number of high end comedy stylings for your amusement. Little seems to have changed and, while I’m aging and nostalgic, it’s great seeing the young hooligans and knowing that someone has probably jumped a fence, done something like smoking opium during a Neville Brothers show. New acts will be discovered here, a reunited favorite will hopefully live up to your anticipation, and, unfortunately, someone will, most likely, perform that you won’t know that you missed out on until it’s far too late. In an effort to remedy the later we’re providing a list of recommendations for acts that you might want to check out, just like we did last year. With the assumption that you’re not only too lazy to come up with your own ideas about what acts to see, but also too incompetent to organize your own fucking schedule, this list has been separated chronologically by day and time, just for you. Alright, let’s get started.
Here’s a list for…
SATURDAY, August 31st
It’s a convention style set up with various screenprint and poster artistst. Whenever you’re not doing anything and have some down time, check it out. It will be up every day. The set of complimentary WEEN posters pictured above were created by Gregg “Gigart” Gordon, who’s work we’ve featured before on Monster Fresh. There will also be more than 70 more different artists represented from around the nation. Go pick yourself up something nice.
Technically, this one is listed as “Mike Vecchione, Marc Maron,” but I don’t know who the fuck Mick Vecchione is, so I won’t be endorsing him. Seeing as he’s listed with Marc Maron, however, he’s probably got his shit together, as far as the joke telling game is concerned.
These days, most people seem to know about Marc Maron because of his hugely successful podcast WTF?, while he’s begun to pick up additional fans due to his brand new show, Maron, which began airing on the IFC network earlier this year. As for myself, I’ve never seen the show and, while it is admittedly pretty great, I’ve only heard the podcast a couple of times. What I’m getting at is that I can be counted among the nerds who have been following Maron’s comedy career for far longer than they can remember–he’s been at it since the 80s–and, since this performance will involve Maron displaying his standup chops, I’m excited to finally get a chance to see him do his thing. Even with his successes in other mediums, Maron has not left his roots, and he is a standup at heart–he holds the record for any comedian, appearing on Conan Obrien 47 different times. Maron came up with folks like Louis CK and the late Mitch Hedberg, and it’s great to not only see guys like this still going, but to see them finally get some of the recognition that they have so clearly deserved for decades.
Brooklyn’s Joey Bada$$ didn’t choose the greatest moniker for himself, but cut him some slack… he was still in high school. In fact, many of the members of his crew Pro. Era still are. But don’t let the name or the age fool you, because this kid is perhaps the greatest single thing that I’ve witnessed happen to rap and hip hop music in quite a while. Joey’s material harkens back to the time when rap was actually considered an artform and was respectable–in other works, when genuine talent was a prerequisite. And not only is he coming with fire, but his entire crew has skills, which is what undoubtedly keeps him sharp, on point, and legit, avoiding that Wale territory, where a guy with potential just sells out to make a bunch of terrible sports car raps. Along with fellow Brooklyn crews, Flatbush Zombies and The Underchievers, Pro. Era is part of what some are considering to be like a second coming of what The Native Tongues (Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep, The Jungle Brothers, De La Soul) were in the early 90s. I caught an amazing tour last year that featured all 3 of the groups and was so impressed that I wound up writing 3 different reviews to cover it. In fact, the Pro. Era set was so tangibly authentic that I had to move back from the front of the stage because almost started tearing (no shit). I have never experienced something like that at a rap show before. This time around Joey will be solo. If you haven’t heard of this guy yet, you will soon. We’ve watched him slowly blow up over the last year and he earned a coveted spot on the cover of the XXL 2013 Freshman Class issue, bringing some credibility back to that list. Don’t miss this one.
3:45pm @ Music Lounge
There’s a good chance that you’re wondering where the Music Lounge stage is located and the answer to that is kind of a shitty one: it’s not exactly open to the public. The music lounge hosts intimate live performances which are recorded by KEXP and the only way to get access to them, beyond being media or working for the fest, is to sign up through the stations website in advance or to purchase a Platinum Pass. Gary Numan will also be performing later in the evening at 8pm on the Tune In stage, but it overlaps with the Charles Bradley set (see below). Likewise, Charles will be playing in the Music Lounge right before Numan’s set at 2:30pm. It’s one of the only real conflicts of the weekend.
While most people in the states may primarily know Numan for his smash 80s hit “Cars,” he is far from a one-hit-wonder. In fact, he’s a highly respected musical pioneer whose work has garnered him legions of fans for decades, has helped leave a permanent impact on electronic and industrial music, and continues to influence endless musicians, past, and future–many of which have become legends in their own right.
This is one of the awesome option that Bumbershoot provides which add dimension to the festival outside of the typical music and comedy acts. The image above is one of Jim Woodring’s intricate psychedelic renderings. I’m posting his work in particular, because we’re huge fans, but he’s not the only one featured here. Read the description belwo–taken from the Bumbershoot website–for a breakdown of what exactly will be going down.
“Fantagraphics Follies features some of Seattle’s most accomplished cartoonists performing diverse works in a late night talk show format hosted by Larry Reid. From Kelly Froh‘s stand-up comedy to Eroyn Franklin‘s shadow puppet show; Jim Woodring and his giant pen to Peter Bagge‘s pop combo Can You Imagine?; Danny Bland‘s grunge-era novel to Ellen Forney‘s moving memoir, this program offers a colorful snapshot of the current state of Seattle’s counterculture”
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires
The amazing backstory of Charles Bradley’s life and eventual rise to fame are nothing short of inspirational. Through homelessness, the murder of his brother, being abandoned by his mother, and more tragedy than anyone should ever have to endure, Charles always had music in his soul. Inspired by a James Brown performance that he witnessed when he was 14, he’s had aspirations to be a performer ever since. In fact, it was as a James Brown impersonator and under the name of “Black Velvet” that he was first discovered by the premier label for soul revivalism, Daptone records. But even as an artist on their roster, his skills were still shelved indefinitely. It wasn’t until guitarist/producer Thomas Brenneck (Budos Band, Dap Kings) formed the Menahan Street band and convinced Bradley to start writing more personal and autobiographical tracks that told his story, when he truly found his voice. Now in his 60s, Bradley’s has finally found the success that he fought so hard for most of his life, with his Brenneck produced debut, No Time For Dreaming and his live performances are even more impressive. Heartfelt and soulful, his set at the Sasquatch festival last year is in the running for the very best concert that I saw all year. No joke. At a 1pm on the mainstage performing to jaded teenagers, he killed it. An 18 year old girl even started crying. This is a sure bet for one of the greatest and most real performances that you’re likely to catch in a long time. Plus, being a Seattle performance, there’s the possibility that he may even break out his inspired cover of Nirvana’s “Stay Away.”
Charles Bradley will also be performing earlier in the day at 2:30pm on the intimate Music Lounge stage
[only accessible for Platinum Pass holders and those who ]
After Charles Bradley, the best move might be to just stay posted up at the Starbucks stage to catch Maceo Parker. Not only was Parker a key member of James Brown and the JBs and Parliament Funkadelic, but he also went on to perform in offshoot projects by Fred Wesley, Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, and Bernie Worrell. Later on, he appeared on the early Red Hot Chilli Peppers album, Freaky Styley, appeared on De La Soul’s classic Buhloone Mindstate, and was featured on a ton of Prince and the New Power Generation releases. Other impressive names that he’s worked with include Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bill Laswell’s Material, Bryan Ferry, Living Colour, and Keith Richards. It’s fucking Maco Parker for chrissakes! What else do you really need to hear.