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September 4, 2011 at 8:50am

BUMBERSHOOT REPORT: Day One

Seattle rapper Macklemore and his DJ/producer Ryan Lewis are worth heading indoors today.

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NOTES FROM THE GRASS >>>

Day one of Bumbershoot 2011 has me thinking about scale in music.

As far as I can tell there are no small music stages at the festival this year. In the past the Northwest Court stage provided a quiet, out-of-the-way venue for acts that benefit from a lack of noise pollution. Jazz combos, solo folk singers and the like. No such luck this time around.

On some level it's nice that no band is relegated to "the little stage," but it also limits the groups that would benefit. Sitting on the fountain lawn listening to Campfire Ok open the day, I couldn't help feeling like I'd much rather see them at a smaller, intimate venue-such as a house show in Tacoma put on by the Warehouse on Sept 24, perhaps?-rather than a big stage pointing right at another, bigger, louder stage.

On the other side of the spectrum you get a band like Brite Futures. Formerly Natalie Portman's Shaved Head, these Seattle natives have achieved a decent amount of success over the years, but sometimes it takes an event like this to bring out a band's strengths. Without Bumbershoot, would they ever have had the chance to play in the KeyArena?

Hot damn, did they take that chance and run with it. Whether anybody knew it or not, this is a band born to kick it in an arena. The room to run around, the light show to match their bombastic synth-rock, and the crowd to rock the fuck out with them from start to finish. There's no logical reason why Brite Futures should not be huge. Listen to some MGMT, or some of the synthier Arcade Fire cuts, and then go see Brite Futures, and tell me they shouldn't be out there with the rest of them.

Sitting between the two, in an odd sort of way, are the Presidents of the United States of America. Here's a band that fits in anywhere. They can pack an arena-at least in Seattle-and they certainly know what to do with it. But you feel watching them like it would be a hell of a lot of fun to catch them in a club instead.

My point, if I have to have one, is this: I get that shying away from mega-huge-and mega-expensive-headliners gives the festival a chance to push all the acts to a great middle ground of treatment. And in some ways, it's cool. But there is such room for variety at any level of popularity, and I wish that Bumbershoot had the environment setup this year to allow excellent bands like Campfire Ok to thrive and impress as much as Brite Futures did.

OK, quick, a few predicted highlights for Sunday before my editor cuts off my word count ...

1:30 PM - The Lonely Forest (KeyArena)
In 2006 the Lonely Forest got their Bumbershoot start by winning SoundOff. 2009 saw them rock the pants off a capacity crowd in the Sky Church. 2011 finds them in the Brite Futures slot, an opportunity to show their arena-quality stuff. At this rate in 2013 these skyrocketing Anacortesians will just take over the entire festival from the top of the Space Needle.

6:45 PM - Manos: The Hands of Felt (Center House Theatre)
If you don't know what Manos: The Hands of Fate is, you're probably better for it. Suffice to say, it's widely regarded as one of the worst movies in the history of cinema, and even the MST3K episode is barely watchable. And now someone has turned it into a musical puppet show. What's left to be said?

8:00 PM - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (KeyArena)
They have conquered Washington hip-hop. And they rap about Dave Niehaus.

See you on the grass.

Filed under: Events, Music,

Comments for "BUMBERSHOOT REPORT: Day One" (1)

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Bronwyn said on Sep. 04, 2011 at 12:34pm

could not agree more with you guys. Brite Futures rocked my sideways ponytail off.

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