Bumbershoot 2016, Day Three: Finding Flatstock wasn’t easy

I was talking to a former co-worker who has a stall at Flatstock, one of the visual-art mainstays of Bumbershoot. This year the exhibit, which features dozens of local graphic and poster artists, was moved into the Exhibition Hall.

Anybody who used to go to concerts in the ExHall knows it’s a crappy place to listen to music. Evidently, it’s also a crappy place for Flatstock.

The problem is that Flatstock, whether in the Center House — oops, copious apologies, make that The Armory — or Fisher Pavilion, was a destination for some, but a welcome walk-up thing for many others. Folks in the area with a little time to kill could stop in, and maybe shop in. It was good for the vendors, and a nice change of pace for a lot of Bumbershooters.

But the ExHall venue is out-of-the-way for most attendees. Traffic through this year’s Flatstock was “awful,” according to my ex-colleague. It looked awful, even though he said Monday was their best day of the three, and it also looked weird to not see people four deep in every aisle, checking out the posters, t-shirts and other wares.

New Porno0914_flavrbluegraphers and Schoolyard Heroes never deserved to have to play in the ExHall. And Flatstock doesn’t deserve to have to show there, either. Maybe AEG can figure out a solution by next year.

A few impressions from Day Three:

  • More Venue Bitching: Got to the KEXP stage 20 minutes early and was still shut out from seeing one of my Festival Objectives, Thunderpussy. Checked back a couple of times during their set, but there was always a long line, and no one could go in until someone came out. And that, owing to the kinetic nature of Thunderpussy’s shows, wasn’t happening. Again, it’s nice that KEXP has its own cozy venue. But a lot of their artists aren’t getting the exposure they should, either because the place is a bit of a trudge to get to, or because, once you’ve made the trudge, you might not be able to get in, anyway.
  • Even More Venue Bitching: The long lines for KeyArena‘s shows were re-arranged somewhat for Sunday, after Saturday’s cluster(you-know-what). Wait times seemed shorter Sunday; I don’t know if that’s because some of the artists didn’t have the drawing power of the Saturday ones, or if any refinements in the system eased the pressure. It still seemed like there were thousands of kids waiting an inordinate amount of time just to get in. If there’s a push to keep KeyArena full throughout, this is an unhealthy side effect.
  • I wonder when running became such a thing in the Memorial Stadium venue. Not a few people, once in a while, trotting to catch up with friends or to fill a vacant spot before someone else beats them to it. No, lots of people, individuals and groups, trying to Usain Bolt their way across the crowded stadium floor. Hacky-sackers are one thing, but when you’ve got whole track teams worth of sprinters bearing down on you, oblivious to anyone’s presence but their own, there are accidents waiting to happen. I have bruises to prove it.
  • Speaking of Sunday’s Memorial Stadium shows, I will never be a fan of Tame Impala. And you can’t make me. I think they should immediately be renamed White Urkel.
  • From the bad news of not getting in to see Thunderpussy comes the good news of getting to see two of the day’s other best acts, Seattle’s The Flavr Blue (pictured above) on the Fisher Green Stage and Maiah Manser on the Starbucks Stage. The Flavr Blue’s electronic hip-hop R&B, with a taste of guitar-band bravado thrown in, is totally engaging, and Hollis Wong-Wear, Lace Cadence and Parker Joe put on a show that is utterly professional and lots of fun at the same time. Star power. Manser was one of several big voices on the Starbucks Stage Monday, along with indie pop belter Bishop Briggs and a pair of country singer-songwriters, Margo Price (traditional country; good) and Maren Morris (country/hip-hop, if there is such a thing; better). If you like a little variety, the Starbucks probably was the day’s strongest stage.
  • Out of curiosity — in large part because they’re such a young band that was given a plum spot on the Fisher Green schedule — I checked out Grave and the Pink Slips, a punky little outfit fronted by 17-year-old Grace McKagan, daughter of Guns ‘n’ Roses and Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan. The songcraft was limited, partially because they’re really young, but more likely because they simply ran out of lyric possibilities that rhymed with “F**k.”
  • Didn’t stay long at Third Eye Blind‘s set. Still mad at them from an awful Memorial Stadium show the last time they were here, when I was seriously contemplating rushing the stage and seeing how many of them I could punch in the throat before being wrestled to the ground by security. Not to mention that “Semi-Charmed Life” still is the soundtrack for many of my nightmares …
  • On my way back to the ferry, I noticed that Mark Farner was playing last night at the Triple Door. Mark — Grand Funk, “Closer to Home” — Farner, for Pete’s sake. Why wasn’t he at Bumbershoot? I didn’t even know he was in town, which is one of the major embarrassments of my career.

You realize, of course, that I write this stuff when I’m bleary tired, so anything you don’t agree with, you can just shrug it off. Won’t bother me in the least …

Anyway, another Bumbershoot is in the books. Forty-six of ’em now. And next Labor Day weekend, we’ll have a chance to do it all again, complain about every little thing that’s wrong, and still have the best weekend of the year.

If you go — and you should — say hi …

— MM

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