We’re back with the next installment of our Bumbershoot 2011 recap. Adam Finley was in the fray, fighting for photo pit space, eating funnel cakes, and avoiding the beer garden because he was on assignment and wouldn’t let Nick Wan down for anything. This is the second part of his journey.
Tweeting from inside the Press Room at a major festival was a giant check off the bucket list. It looked like what I imagine the CNN Correspondent room in Baghdad looks like– laptops and giant cameras everywhere, and it was intimidating for a newbie. I arrived early enough to soak it in, grab a nibble, and send this tweet before the music started.
@Nickwan you crazy for this one!
Opening the day was Motopony, a Seattle outfit that sounds a bit like Cold War Kids and has phenomenal energy. Singer Daniel Blue opened the set by saying “We’ve never played at noon on a Monday before” but based on his stage presence and pandering to the photo pit (jumping on the monitor just as my camera’s batteries died… argh why!?!?!) it’s easy to see why MTV has started to take notice of these guys.
I rushed from Motopony to Legendary Oaks, a jangly Americana band that has flirted with the big time since they began in 2008, thanks in part to lead singer Craig Schoen’s connections with Nada Surf, Jets To Brazil, and The Notwist.
Fly Moon Royalty was one of my favorite discoveries from this year’s Bumbershoot– a collaboration of dancers, singers, keyboardists, and rappers centered around producer/DJ Action Jackson and singer Adra Boo. They absolutely rocked the stage, ignoring the fact that it was just shy of 1:00 and insisting that the crowd dance. Not only did Fly Moon Royalty insist, they made the crowd dance with ear-catching electro-soul that I can’t wait to put on an end of summer mixtape.
Fact: while Fly Moon Royalty may take the crown for best new Seattle electro-soul act, COCO O. is the most adorable frontwoman in Danish electro-soul, hands down. She and her band, Quadron, took the stage for a satisfying set that sounded like Amy Winehouse (R.I.P.) covering minimalist Motown with the bass turned up to 11. It was perfectly rhythmic and sensual, and COCO O. killed the audience with her sparkly dress and hilarious commentary (“I can sightsee while I sing!” she bubbled, pointing at the Space Needle).
I had a decision to make: see Grand Hallway, a band I reviewed as one of my first assignments for 402, or catch a band I’d never heard of. I opted for Grand Hallway because I had a feeling their live show would wow me more this time around, and I was correct. The larger space and better engineering gave them a crisp, clean sound that filled the hillside. The gang started their set with fan favorites (“Blessed Be, Honey Bee” and “Seward Park”), immediately engaging the willing crowd.
However, I apparently made a mistake. For as solid as Grand Hallway was, the band that I skipped, Head Like A Kite, was where the party was at. Head Like A Kite defies description; it’s a tangled, chaotic, beautiful mess of Elvis suits, electronic Neil Young covers, a singer who looks like Steve Zahn, a panda with an electric razor, and a rapper. Oh, and Asya from Smoosh. I arrived too late to get into the photo pit, but was able to snap a few shots. Full review to come.
Unmistakable festival highlight and fan favorite YACHT took the stage next. Vocalist Claire Evans was in fine form, wearing what appeared to be a bleached burlap sack and engaging the audience with constant antics. Musical partner Jona Bechtolt was no slouch himself, flailing around the stage and obviously having a great time. This wasn’t lost on the crowd, which picked up on the intense energy of the thumping, shrieking live YACHT experience and danced the afternoon away.
I ended my day with a double feature of guitar mastery. First was Dennis Coffey, an old hat who had his first radio hit in 1958 and spent the 50+ years since playing on dozens of Motown hits, maintaining a strong solo career, and having his work sampled by everyone from LL Cool J to Rage Against the Machine. Coffey and band didn’t fit in with the youthful hipster bands at Bumbershoot, but within minutes he had drawn hundreds of people to watch him lay down some unbelievable guitar riffs.
Last, I caught Texas guitar institution Ian Moore with his backing band The Lossy Coils just as the sun was beginning to set over Bumbershoot 2011. Like Coffey, Moore was not a huge fan draw, but a few songs in and the hillside was littered with people drawn by the power of his guitar. I’ve never listened to Moore, but I will now make a point of giving his newest album El Sonido Nuevo a solid listen.
And that’s the beauty of festivals, especially Seattle festivals which feature a diversity of music that you won’t find in many other places. Crowds intermingle, genre lines are crossed and crossed again. An old woman watching Das Racist with the tiniest hint of a smile; the kid in the Wiz Khalifa shirt watching Dennis Coffey destroy the electric guitar; two little kids dancing to Jim Jones Revue; and lonely me rushing back and forth, trying to enjoy the music I love and document it the best I could. I hope to do it again soon. For now though, I gotta go write a couple live reviews and catch back up with life. I’m out.