05 September 2006

Let's hear it for the 2-0-6

I was lucky enough to spend Labor Day weekend at Bumbershoot 2006 in Seattle. Besides seeing a lot of great bands, I had the chance to take in a weekend's worth of visual arts, weird food and a ton of other cool shit before returning to the cultural backwater of the West Coast. Okay, maybe that's a little harsh, "cultural backwater of the west" probably belongs to Fresno, Corona, or at least some place with a phone number beginning with "9-0-9."

But that's another post entirely. This post is about Bumbershoot and will attempt to highlight the coolest and most interesting things that went on during the three-day music and arts festival.

Oh, but first I should set the scene . . .

Bumbershoot takes place each year in downtown Seattle. The festival takes up seventy three acres and is roughly bordered by: the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center, Key Arena, and the globular EMP. It's pretty damn big and I spent my first hour there just getting oriented.

Looks-wise, Bumbershoot is your basic music festival: hordes of people, hot sun, the scent of fried dough and grilling meat wafting on the breeze. Teenagers with greasy long hair form drum circles on the grass and beat out the rhythm of a squandered trust fund.

Most of the action takes place on the seven concert stages, but over the years, Bumbershoot has grown to include comedy acts, improv theater, film shorts, and visual arts. This year included an indie craft market where you could purchase iPod cozies, DIY space travel diagrams, and even pasties (NOTE: I am not talking about the English snack food).

Walking around, waiting for the next show to start, it's possible to see one's own past, present and future:

There's me ten years ago: in a cluster of tough-looking chicks (tough for sixteen) with a couple flightly gay guys. Totally ambivalent about everything - except the chick-fronted rock band we're about to see. Get out of my way, I'm headed to the front of the stage.

I know there's a me-ten-or-twenty-years-from-now walking around. I wonder who she is? I hope she's not the woman with hair down to her ankles and the necklace made out of cat-shaped wooden beads. Maybe she's the buff chick in the tank top with the camelback - oh, but she's got a really flat butt. Hmmm, I think it's time to bring on those festival highlights.

#1 Clever T-shirts
It's ironic the way hipsters seek out clever t-shirts to differentiate themselves from "the norm," yet there are so many of the same one. Where do all those "D.A.R.E. to keep kids off drugs" T-shirts come from anyway? Is there a Hipster Depot I don't know about?

But there are some who rise above the tousled fray, for example, a young, overweight Philipino teen had a bright orange shirt that read, "I Cannot be Your Private Dancer."

Another one I really liked was on a college student hobbling around Kanye West on crutches. His pink shirt read, "I Promise I'll Be Gentle."

I think my favorite was worn by this lanky teenage kid with red hair. The faded ringer tee had a smiling cartoon tomato on it. Above the tomato was printed, "You say 'tomato' . . ." (and beneath it). "I say fuck you."

Barry says he looks forward to (one day) seeing these all of these shirts on overweight immigrant kids.

#2 Finally, something good that came out of Vancouver, WA
More evidence there are only two degrees of separation between every person from the Pacific NW - this year's Bumbershoot logo was designed by Andrio Abero who I went to elementary school with. Yes, prior to being a graphic arts genius, Andy was quite adept at pegging me with a dodgeball.

If it weren't for all the head injuries, I could have made this

I found Andy, and a myriad of other cool shit at Flatstock - the concert poster exhibition at Bumbershoot. Hundreds of concert posters were available for sale, many of them recent but some ranging back fifteen years or more. That Built to Spill poster you didn't tear off the telephone poll because it was too soggy? Now you can buy it for $50 and meet the guy (or gal) who designed it.

#3 Other Weird Art
Secondlife artI'm Weird

What is it? What ISN'T it? Yes, well, the more accessible stuff isn't fun to write about and is even less fun for you to read about.

The dark room with the big screens is literally modern art - they are installations developed in the online world of Secondlife.

The deer was by far the weirdest thing in a really interesting gallery made up exclusively of, well, I guess you'd call it the housewife medium. All of the pieces were created either by sewing or baking. Below this paragraph are a couple of images from another installation - a gal made candy to go with different members of her family. The mom's candy was like an orange gumdrop but salty on the outside (I guess that's how her mom liked to eat citrus). The brother's candy was chewy like a toffee but tasted like banana (his favorite food) the artist had mixed in nutmeg to mimic her brother's skin color. Odd - but also delicious. How often do you get to eat someone's art?

Please keep the soilent green references to yourself . . .
my family is delicious
they'll never find the body . . .

#4 Thank You Master May I Have Another
Speaking of stuff that's unhealthy to eat - hot damn do I love Sishkaberries. I'd quit my job and devote 2007 to running the Shishkaberry booth at the OC Fair except I'd eat all the profits. These things are f-ing delicious and I'm not a big sweets person.

What you see here is the oreo model, however, they also come in plain chocolate, white chocolate, and rainbow sprinkles.

These things are obscenely good. After three straight days of research I can tell you that, scientifically, four hours is the minimum interval you must allow between shishkaberries. If you go for a second one before four hours has elapsed, you will get a stomach ache. It's also a bad idea to eat elephant ear that, when fully extended, is larger than your own torso.

#5 Really bitchin' music
Last but not least, I saw a lot of great performances over three days. I'll put together another post with photos and some more details, but briefly - here's a list of everyone I got to see:

  • Jamie Lidell
  • Rollergirls Flattrack Derby
    (Seattle Vs. San Francisco)
  • Deerhoof
  • Shooter Jennings
  • Cloud Cult
  • The New Pornographers
  • Maria Bamford
  • Mates of State
  • Blue Scholars
  • Kanye West
  • Rocky Votolato
  • Cancer Rising
  • Bettye Lavette
  • Bitter:Sweet
  • CocoRosie
  • Metric

More importantly - I now have a massive list of bands I missed that I heard are worth checking out. If you are a fan of Halou, Crystal Skulls or Mountain Con and have any recommendations, I'd appreciate it.

Lastly, a huge huge huge thanks to Lisa and Heather for hooking me up and letting me crash with you and driving me around and letting me eat all your whole wheat squares. Youz galz are the best!


Anonymous said...

You may have missed halou at Bumbershoot, but they are playing in Santa Monica at the Temple Bar on 9/14.

Anonymous said...

Actual roller derby?? UGH! Once again I've missed roller derby. Dammit. I keep trying to see the Rose city Rollers, but I'm always out of town when they're are...playing? Is that what it's called?

How was Deerhoof?

Anonymous said...

I <3 the Rat City Rollers. I have contemplated joining the league in Tacoma but I have no time to beat people up on rollerskates.

That's so crazy that Andy Abero designed the art for Bumbershoot. His sister (Amy) was my age.

Here's a random fact for you. Did you know that bumbershoot is another word for umbrella? It is.

In other random news, the people next to Phil's old house (the ones with the super wierd ugly thing above the garage) are selling. Mimi's old house is now owned by two hilarious gay guys. Also, my mom met the people who own the tacky house across from your mom and she says they are even tackier than their house. Thought you'd like to keep up on the Riverside Drive gossip :)

Anonymous said...

You can actually check out halou and snag an mp3 to put on your blog from Promonet



(feel free to email me with questions..)

Anonymous said...

Hey Megan, it was really good to run into you at Bumbershoot/Flatstock. Maybe see ya next time!