Aug. 27--Talk about overcompensating. The past few years, there haven't been any stages in Memorial Stadium for the Bumbershoot Music and Art Festival at the Seattle Center. This year, there'll be two.
The main stage finally moves back outdoors (from KeyArena), which is good news. The spacious floor of the stadium has always been plenty big for a main stage crowd, plus all the food joints and vendors, plus all the folks who just wandered in for a lie-down, a slice of pizza and a bit of shade. It's also a better people-watching venue than KeyArena will ever be.
But the big stage won't be at the stadium's west end this time out; it'll be on the eastern half of the football field, facing the south grandstand. And a new venue, the End Zone Stage, will be tucked into the southwest corner. The two stages will alternate performances, providing almost nonstop music in the Center's largest venue, and relieving the congestion around the rest of the grounds.
And there's more good news, venue-wise: The God-awful stage outside of EMP, where bands went to be ignored and spectators went (or, more accurately, didn't go) to cook to death on the sun-drenched asphalt that used to house half the Fun Forest, is no more. Unfortunately, though, the Broad Street stage isn't making a comeback.
KeyArena joins that westernmost "out of bounds" area where the Northwest Court stage once was located, and where the visual arts exhibits used to provide an intriguing and sometimes amusing respite from the crowds elsewhere. The exhibits will be in the Fisher Pavilion, while the popular Flatstock is crammed back into the Armory.
Though this year's musical lineup has been criticized for its lack of big names (pretty much an annual occurrence, actually), it's really a deep, eclectic and interesting three days of offerings. The main stage lineup on Saturday -- Panic! at the Disco, Elvis Costello and Wu-Tang Clan -- is illustrative of that eclecticism, and the more alternative sets on the End Zone stage will only add to that something-for-everyone vibe.
I don't know where I'll end up for much of the three days of peace, love, sunburn and commercialism that is Bumbershoot. But here are a dozen stops, and some also-rans, where he doesn't think he could go wrong, in chronological order:
6:15 p.m. Saturday,
BS Sez: Elvis Costello has followed his musical curiosity in a career spanning more than 30 years. Best known for his performances with The Attractions, The Imposters, and more recently The Roots, he has also entered into acclaimed collaborations with Burt Bacharach, The Brodsky Quartet, Sir Paul McCartney, guitarist Bill Frisell, The Charles Mingus Orchestra, record producer and songwriter T Bone Burnett, and Allen Toussaint. Citing his musical eclecticism paired with "fiercely literal lyrics," Allmusic calls him "one of the most innovative, influential, and best songwriters since Bob Dylan."
8 p.m. Saturday,
Fisher Green stage
BS Sez: Critically acclaimed musicians Aimee Mann and Ted Leo have joined forces as The Both. The duo's self-titled debut builds on a friendship forged while they were on tour together. Combining their differing musical vocabularies and mutual admiration for each other proved to be a boon, taking the songwriting into new and interesting directions. Bumbershoot is The Both's first appearance in Seattle.
10 p.m. Saturday,
BS Sez: From her groundbreaking family gospel group The Staples Singers to her legendary solo career and current collaborations with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, Grammy winner Mavis Staples continues to blaze a soulful R&B trail while never relinquishing her gospel roots. It's no surprise that Rolling Stone considers her one of the 100 greatest singers of all time.
ALSO SATURDAY: Youngblood Hawke (1:45 p.m., End Zone stage); The Lonely Forest (break-up gig; 3:30 p.m., Fountain Lawn stage); Shelby Earl (5:15 p.m., End Zone stage); Wu-Tang Clan (9:45 p.m., Main stage); The Afghan Whigs (10 p.m., Fisher Green stage)
12:30 p.m. Sunday,
Fountain Lawn stage
BS Sez: With two beards, four amps, the mind of a scientist, and more raw talent than Scott Baio, Hobosexual is the antithesis of metrosexual, excessively coifed, artificial cool. When Hobosexual's beard powers combine, the result is a wall of sound so powerful and prolific that it rivals two Voltron energy swords and a Samuel L. Jackson monologue. Hobo's unapologetic electric mayhem is a triumphant return to bombastic rock and roll. Hobosexual will annihilate you -- then leave you begging for more.
THE DREAM SYNDICATE
4:30 p.m. Sunday,
BS Sez: In September of 2012, legendary Paisley Underground band The Dream Syndicate played its first show together since 1988 to commemorate the 30-year anniversary of the release of its revered first album, The Days of Wine and Roses. This year, the band embarks on another series of dates to mark the 30-year anniversary of its second album, Medicine Show. "We've just been taking each short run of shows as they come and making sure that they remain fun for the audience and us," says singer/guitarist Steve Wynn. "As it turns out, it's just gotten more enjoyable and exciting as things have moved along."
5:30 p.m. Sunday,
Fountain Lawn stage
BS Sez: Bumbershoot veterans Schoolyard Heroes are back with a very special performance -- their first since disbanding in 2009. After placing second in EMP's Sound Off! Competition in 2003, the youthful horror-pop band quickly gained attention and a substantial following, releasing two albums on local indie The Control Group and a final on major label Stolen Transmissions. This is the band's fourth Bumbershoot appearance, and a rare reunion you won't want to miss.
6 p.m. Sunday,
BS Sez: Bumbershoot is proud to host one of a very small handful of performances by The Replacements, and their only West Coast appearance aside from Coachella. With a caustic sneer, a wounded heart, and world-weary wit, these alternative rock pioneers have cemented their place in musical history with rippingly melodic tunes that have influenced bands from Green Day to The Hold Steady.
BIG STAR'S THIRD
8 p.m. Sunday,
BS Sez: An all-star cast gather to perform Big Star's iconic third album, "Sister Lovers." The band's imperfect masterpiece is performed with its original string and wind orchestrations by Jody Stephens (Big Star), Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow (The Posies), Mitch Easter (Let's Active), and Chris Stamey (the dB's). For this orchestrated live performance, the core band is joined by guest vocalists Skylar Gudasz and Brett Harris and a host of VIP special guests to be announced -- all backed by a 12-piece local ensemble of strings and brass.
THE HEAD AND THE HEART
9:30 p.m. Sunday,
BS Sez: It wasn't that long ago that the members of Seattle's The Head and the Heart were playing local pub Conor Byrne, strumming their acoustic guitars, stomping their feet, and singing in harmony as they attempted to attract the attention of customers. After releasing their debut album on Sub Pop three years ago, the band's music began to reach audiences all over the United States and the rest of the world. The Head and the Heart quickly went from playing open mic nights to selling out headlining shows in prestigious venues around the world -- holding onto that unbridled energy and excitement all the way.
ALSO SUNDAY: Charlie Musselwhite (2:45 p.m., Starbuck's stage; Los Lobos (10 p.m., Starbuck's stage); Bootsy Collins (10 p.m., Fisher Green stage).
1:30 p.m. Monday,
End Zone stage
BS Sez: Snowboarding champ Shaun White formed Bad Things with childhood friends Anthony Sanudo (guitar) and Lena Zawaideh (drums), later adding Augustana bassist Jared Palomar and frontman Davis LeDuke. Never one to simply phone anything in, White and his bandmates have delivered a world-class album of laidback, radio-friendly alt-rock that'll have you humming along instantly.
8 p.m. Monday,
BS Sez: Jonathan Richman has been writing songs, making records, and performing live for most of his life, winning fans and making friends around the world with his guileless honesty and playfully catchy compositions. He's revered by countless fellow artists, and has built a remarkably loyal international audience through his tireless touring. His deceptively straightforward songs embody timeless qualities of humanity, optimism, emotional insight, and a boundless sense of humor, untainted by cynicism or transient notions of hipness.
8 p.m. Monday,
Fisher Green stage
BS Sez: Neon Trees new album "Pop Psychology" is an upbeat collection of sleek, modern alternative pop songs powered by singer-songwriter Tyler Glenn's bright melodies, huge choruses, and witty lyrics about the challenges of finding love in the digital age. With disarming honesty, songs like "Love In the 21st Century," "Text Me In The Morning," "I Love You, But I Hate Your Friends," and first single "Sleeping With A Friend" cleverly capture the millennial concerns referenced in the titles and deliver them in impeccably shiny sonic packages. It's inspired -- and inspirational -- pop that cuts across genres and generations.
ALSO MONDAY: La Luz (12:30 p.m., Fountain Lawn stage); Capital Cities (2:30 p.m., Main stage); Hurray for the Riff Raff (6:15 p.m., Starbucks stage); The Reverend Horton Heat (9:45 p.m., Starbucks stage).
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