I already felt bad enough that I was going to have to split my
time between two of the acts I really wanted to see in Day Two
action at The ’Shoot, hitting the first half of
Lemolo‘s show on the KEXP Stage and then catching
the last half hour of the triumphant return of Reggie
Watts to Fisher Green.
It wasn’t until day’s end, as the Hyak nursed its way back to
Bremertron on one engine, that I realized there was yet another
band I should’ve been seeing. I’d been curious about the
alt-country edge of Escondido, but they were on
the Starbucks Stage at the same time as both Lemolo and Watts.
Curse Bumbershoot. Curse KEXP and AEG. Curse them all, for not
consulting … me, I guess. I would’ve told them to space those three
acts out a little. And I would’ve been right.
At least I got to see two out of three, if half-sets count.
Lemolo — Meagan Grandall, with drummer
Adrian Centoni, predictably filled the little
coffee-house cubby-hole over which those hipsters from KEXP
preside, and were doing their usual mesmerizing job, leaning
heavily on tunes from “Red Right Return.” And
Reggie, well, he just manages to be the best bandleader, soul
singer, beat-boxer and comedian on the grounds, all at the same
time. He makes you laugh and dance at the same time.
I couldn’t help but watch, while Lemolo was limbering up and
then breaking into their set, the seemingly endless stream of
people being herded through the maze of walkways that, eventually,
funneled them into KeyArena. (At least I hope they
did. Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing any of those kids
I know, once they got in, they got what they wanted in the Key;
the musical equivalent of car chases and explosions. But I still
felt sorry for all that time they waited in line, while I was
experiencing two different kinds of music that invited me to
listen, and think, and interpret, and didn’t simply appeal to me on
a visceral level.
On the plus side, I guess, with all the kids waiting in line and
crammed into the Key, it leaves a little elbow room outside for the
rest of us.
A few notes on Saturday’s BumberDay:
- I really wanted to dislike Joywave,
the Rochester, N.Y.
band that preceded Watts at Fisher Green. But their music was
smart, catchy and had a sense of humor, and they won me over
- The Starbucks Stage was a much hotter place to be than on
Friday, with several strong acts. I can’t vouch for Escondido (see
above), but enjoyed retro R&B crooner Desi
Valentine, fun and sultry crooner Donna
Missal and — especially — the charming pop-punk of the
all-female Spanish four-piece Hinds (pictured).
The problem with the Starbucks Stage this year is that it’s used as
much for a conduit for people coming in from the Broad Street gate,
who in past years were able to fan out in several directions. The
grassy amphitheater, for many, is merely a place to be walked
through, and the bands on stage often don’t get the attention they
merit. I saw that happen a few years ago when they tried a stage
outside of EMP, on the pavement where a lot of the Fun Forest used
to be. I was shocked that people came in through the entrance and
blew right past a fine little band called Lake Street
Dive. Spectators were on their way somewhere else,
ignoring a band that was on its way to big things.
- Speaking of problems with stages … While I guess I enjoy the
hipster aesthetic of KEXP’s venue, it’s not very conducive to
discovery of bands by casual fans. Some of my favorite memories
from Bumbershoots past are of idling around and happening upon a
performance that became a highlight. The old Flag Plaza
Pavilion, now the cheap seats for Fisher Green, was one of
those places you could be walking past and hear somebody
(Peter Himmelman and Phat Sidy
Smokehouse come to mind, if that gives you any idea how
long ago this must’ve been) that stopped you in your tracks. The
KEXP Stage is the opposite. You have to very specifically be going
there, and you have to go a ways away from much of anything else
(except those long, serpentine lines into KeyArena) to get
- I was surprised how much I liked the evening Fisher Green set
by JoJo (Levesque), who was a pop princess in the
early 2000s, but has been pretty quiet. She and her band delivered
a set filled with hooks and energy, and she does have some vocal
chops. She seems like she’s ready to elbow her way back onto the
Sunday, we’ll see if I’m still around for Death Cab for
Cutie‘s 9:10 set in Memorial Stadium, or if I’m worn out
by Billy Idol (8:30, Fisher Green). There’s
another three-places-at-one-time conflict
(Thunderpussy plays at KEXP at 4:10, and
The Flavr Blue starts at Fisher Green at 4:30) to
be resolved, leaving Maiah Manser (4:20, Starbucks
Stage) as the odd act out.
If you go, say hi …