With the rocky road Bumbershoot has faced over the past year -- financially and internally -- the weather at this year’s festival seemed symbolic. Storms, rapid winds, and heat bursts cycled throughout the weekend, but besides a slight delay due to lightning on the first evening, the programming powered on. The organization kept its promise to retain a focus on local music, and still provided enough national star power to draw people in from all over the Pacific Northwest. While nearly impossible to list all the greats present, there were a few stand-outs from each day that made the event extra memorable.
Free from the thunder and rainstorms that graced the crowds on Saturday, Flying Lotus gave a tremendous and awe-inspiring performance to wrap up the night. Although the crowd may have not been what it should (Key Arena is huge, not really intimate for such a show, as well as The Weeknd playing at the same time) - the show was incredible. The hypnotic sounds blended with the entrancing, sometimes horrifying and always stunning visuals made for a perfect pairing, and his engaging and excited energy made it that much more of a live performance - something that isn't as common as it should be! Your Dead is phenomenal - something I hope will be a trendsetter for more artists of multiple fields to get involved and project their sights and sounds for the future.
I couldn't have been happier to sneak up to the front to see the The Melvins on Sunday. They're a band that needs no introduction, as they've been around for years, but as someone younger who started listening to them while they already had an established following, it was exhilarating. Considering the rarity that is successful bands who've been around for multiple generations continuing to play live and engaging shows, I felt lucky. It was fantastic, and I couldn't stop staring at King Buzzo, whose gaze was impenetrably set on the crowd -- challenging us to respond and match the energy that they gave.
Hands down one of my favorite bands of 2015 has been Seattle’s own Bread & Butter. With a self-description of “hump rock” creators, these guys channel their hangovers, horniness, and heartbreaks through their instruments. Playing on the Rhapsody Stage Monday afternoon was a great fit for them, as a smiling crowd up front danced on the grass, doused with sunshine. The band’s onstage presence is a mix of introspective strumming and slap-happy headbanging, complementing their infectious tunes and double-entendre lyrics. From the rock-bottom pleas within “Desperation” to the crescendo of the rooftop-party-starting “Keys to the City”, this four-piece sculpts relatable anthems for every party animal.
Honestly, I didn’t think I’d enjoy Peaches as much as I did. Before her KeyArena performance, I’d only known a certain mega-hit by her about …. sexual healing, you could say. As she DJed, strip-danced, and drenched the crowd with bottles of champagne, though, I couldn’t stop grinning. She entertained the enormous crowd without a single other person setting foot on stage, wearing her brand of weirdness and affinity for indulgence like badges of honor. Her stage setup was one of the best I’ve seen within that stadium, and the audience ate up her every word.
Polishing off the weekend with Built To Spill was one of my better ideas at Bumbershoot this year. After seeing them several times before, I feared their set may be old hat, but man, they crushed that silly notion within mere minutes. Untethered Moon, released earlier this year, refilled their quivers, and they unleashed the fresh jams on us like fireballs. While their faces onstage may be stoic, the concentration and passion in each note makes it sound like they’re building the Tower of Babel. To them I will forever say rock on, unassuming gentlemen. They remain a seemingly impossible combination: both real and legendary.
Bumbershoot’s fate remains to be seen, but 2015 offered something fantastic for every ear -- and come Tuesday morning, that is hopefully what every music lover remembered.
Words // photos by AJ Dent
Words by Mariama Salia