Top 10 Moments from Bumbershoot 2013

posted by Kelsey Stoulil on September 05, 2013

Photo: Allen Stone by Kelsey Stoulil

Seattle, Washington -- If you ever had any doubt (and why would you?) that music was alive and well in the Pacific Northwest, the 43rd edition of Bumbershoot was enough to quiet all the naysayers. Thousands headed out to Seattle Center this past weekend for a three-day celebration, full of music, food, beer, and zombies (they were generally harmless).

This year was the 7th time I have attended Bumbershoot, so I couldn't help but get a bit nostalgic for years past. The first time I attended, one-day passes were $15(?!?!) compared to today's price of $65. There were less performers, but that also meant less festivalgoers and some wide open spaces. But alas, the glory days of roomy festivals have passed, and we are left to play the cards we have. That being said, Bumbershoot's revamp for 2013 proved wildly successful, minus the whole Key Arena as the mainstage decision, and I can confidently say that it is ranked as my second best one to date. (Number one is reserved for my first Bumbershoot, aka my first festival ever, you can't really overthrow your first festival.) So sit back and relax as I recap the top ten moments of Bumbershoot's valiant return to festival stardom.

10. Mary Lambert Covers "Teenage Dirtbag"

Mary Lambert performed at Bumbershoot this weekend as a part of The Round 100, serenading the crowd with a few original songs, as well as an old classic by Wheatus. Before launching into the anthem of disheartened youth, she said she was first drawn to the song because she thought it was about lesbians, but came to realize it was just sung by a dude with a high pitched voice. Nevertheless, it is still a song that resonates with adolescence, and her soft, pretty version is one I would have played on repeat during my angsty phase.

9. Adding to my Flatstock Addiction

I have a moderately debilitating addiction to posters. But not just any posters, I'm talking fancy, commissioned, screen-printed posters, so Flatstock is basically a paradise for me. Each year I inevitably spend countless hours and dollars on posters that can later be found littering the walls of my apartment, each representing a different band and a different mood. People also find my large collection pretty impressive (or pathetic), which only fuels the addiction. Anyways, Flatstock held its 41st exhibit at Bumbershoot this weekend, featuring an array of local and national designers. As always, their work was excellent, causing much internal conflict when I limited myself to only one poster. In the end I settled on one of Modest Mouse circa 2008, which I'm happy to report looks great in my living room.

8. $7 Cocktails

A reasonably priced drink is usually unheard of at a festival, but somehow Bumbershoot pulled it off. I took my excitement to the internet, tweeting "$7 gin and tonic at a festival??? @Bumbershoot I love you even more." To which the festival responded, "Just doing our part to prevent malaria. #quinine." Cheap drinks and a sense of humor? Bumbershoot, are you single?

7. Ivan & Alyosha & Their Shoes

A band made up of attractive men who sing about love to folk-esque tunes are sure to make any girl swoon, but throw in some great footwear and I'm head over shoes (sorry, I had to). As I made my way to the Plaza Stage for one of my top bands of the weekend, I couldn't help but start singing along to the catchy lyrics of "Easy to Love." I headed for the photo pit, and embraced my front row seat to the shoe show. Boots, oxfords, and beat up Chucks were all in attendance, capping off each of the lads outfits, and stomping away to the beat. Forrest Gump said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, and based on those of Ivan & Alyosha, I've got to say these gents are definitely a group to keep an eye and an ear on.

6. Beat Connection Filling in for Icona Pop

I was heartbroken to hear that Icona Pop, one of my favorites of the past year, had to cancel their appearance on Saturday due to an illness. Fortunately enough, local favorites Beat Connection were able to fill the slot. The crowd was large for a Saturday afternoon set, especially since Kendrick Lamar was playing at the same time. Whether they still thought Icona Pop was playing, or they had decided to come out for Beat Connection, the crowd was enthusiastic and danced along to every minute of the set. It was great to see a local band create as much, if not more, excitement than an internationally recognized one.

5. The Pork Belly BLT

I have already regaled you with one story of a BLT, so I will keep this one short and simple. PORK BELLY BLT. There isn't really much more to say, except that if you have never had pork belly, you need to crawl out of whatever hole you are living in, and find some, stat. Unless you are a vegetarian, in which case, have fun eating your tofu substitutes. Also, I am taking it upon myself to find the best piece of swine at each festival I attend, so get ready Treasure Island, I'm coming for your bacon.

4. Chatting with Gus + Scout

I got the chance to chat with Gus + Scout, the folksy, alt-country duo, after their set on Saturday. These two are no stranger to the limelight; Gus is son of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner and Scout, the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, but they are definitely paving their own path as musicians with a genuine passion for what they do. Stay tuned for the full interview with them next week.

3. FIDLAR and Their Fans

The mood of the audience can have a large impact on a live performance. No one wants to play punk rock music to a crowd in hip-hop mood, or vice-versa. Luckily, FIDLAR and their fans were on the exact same page Sunday afternoon, creating an infectious energy around the TuneIn Stage that couldn't be ignored. With each feeding off the other, Zac Carper and bandmates thrashed about the stage, while the audience lost it. Like, literally lost it. A large group of teenage boys swarmed the barricade, each looking more deranged than the last. Conscious of this, the band began to throw themselves to the ground, or into each other, and the crowd kept up. Whether their songs about cheap beer and skateboarding were your cup of tea or not, I can guarantee that not one festivalgoer passed their set without at least one passionate head bang.

2. Allen Stone

Bumbershoot has had a rough go the past several years. An increase in the number of festivals, as well as ticket prices, and less than stellar lineups helped drive down the number of attendees. Jon Stone, Executive Director of One Reel, the company that produces Bumbershoot, recently told the Seattle Times, "It’s become clear to us that, no, we’re not a Coachella or a Bonnaroo. We’re a regional arts festival. And we’ve decided to plant our flag there for the future. It’s a long-term commitment. That’s what we want to be."

With that attitude, Bumbershoot dove head on into 2013, drawing heavily from local talent worthy of international recognition. When Allen Stone took the stage Monday night, he seemed to embody that idea entirely. The Seattle favorite has made appearances at national and international festivals in the past year, but it was clear that he was most appreciated here at home. He began his set by announcing that this was "not a performance, but a gathering of people who believe in the power of music," and proceeded to give an enthralling performance to a crowd enchanted by every note. I was so eager to capture every moment with my camera, I filled up an entire memory card. After Stone had shown off his dance moves, he prompted the audience to take part in a dance off. With the sound of his luscious voice still ringing in my ears, I decided to head home a little early. There were still another round of performances left that night, but I wanted to leave still high on the energy of Allen's show, because no one would be able to top it.

1. Death Cab for Cutie

Going in to the Bumbershoot weekend I expected that Death Cab would be my favorite act. What I didn't realize was how above and beyond my expectations they would go. I have seen them perform a number of times, 10 to be exact, and each time was better than the last, but only slightly. Their performance Sunday night was billed as one of only two this year in which they would play their classic album Transatlanticism in it's entirety. Wanting to preserve the cohesiveness of the album as an art form, Ben Gibbard spoke only once in the beginning of the show. The transitions and placement of the songs on the album came through beautifully live, and emphasized the journey that is listening to an entire album.

My friends and I mouthed the words to every song, and looked at each other nervously as the first bars of "A Lack of Color" played; we were lost in a dream of nostalgia and didn't want to wake up. Glancing at my phone, I noticed there was still another half hour left in their time slot, and Ben cheerfully announced, "And that's the end of part one!" A simultaneous squeal erupted from the throats of every girl in the arena, which I am not ashamed to admit I was a part of. The band went on to play songs from across their catalogue, even the rarely performed "405," which left us locals feeling proud.

As the show ended, a flood of beaming faces exited Key Arena. My cohorts and I, overcome with excitement, burst into our own a cappella version of "Soul Meets Body," to which the crowd around us joined, and we danced and sang our way out of The Seattle Center. True story.

It was most definitely a weekend of epic proportions, so hold your head high Bumbershoot, and we'll see you in 2014.

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See Also:

Photo Highlights: Bumbershoot 2013
Cultivora's Top 5 Picks for Bumbershoot 2013
InstaWorld: Bumbershoot 2013 Edition