Rain or shine, crowds piled into the Seattle Center for day 1 of Bumbershoot.
Labor Day weather is certainly always hit or miss in Seattle, and as a Bumbershoot veteran, I can tell you that the rain and drastic rise in ticket pricing (and incredibly disorganized transition to an AEG hosted event from One Reel) didn’t stop anyone from attending the festival this year. Crowds wrapped around for at least 3 blocks, anxiously waiting in the Will Call line to see one of the best Bumbershoot lineups I’ve seen come together in the Seattle area. Here are a few highlights from the first day of the festival this year.
Endearing Australian twosome Big Scary started off the day when the sun was still shining, and drew crowds towards the Rhapsody stage as they entered the festival. I had some time to catch up with drummer Joanna “Jo” Syme before they hit the stage to discuss her excitement for their first ever Bumbershoot performance. “We just flew into Seattle yesterday, so our North American tour’s still in its infancy… No dramas or excitement yet. We got the tinned tuna through customs without a comment, and I haven’t killed anyone on the roads yet so that’s good,” she said. I love the energy these two create so effortlessly, and the powerful, stripped back personal new single Organism was such a treat for the eyes and ears to experience in person. Big Scary has a strong following in the Seattle area and Jo made sure to mention the feeling is certainly mutual. “Aah, PNW – I know what that stands for after touring with Seattle’s Say Hi last year,” she said. “His song “North-Western Girls” was pretty popular up in this corner, so I came to learn about this regional pride. I love this part of the states, it’s where I talk most about moving to one day. We’ve had great support from KEXP and we’ve got a lovely bunch of friends up here, so this is one of the highlights of the tour. Plus we’re playing on Broad Street stage which is in the shadow of the Space Needle, so we can multi-task and get our tourist on during the set.”
“You know we were nervous we were going to have a thin turnout because in Texas if it drops below 32 nobody comes outside and the same can be said with rain. But I’ll be damned if you Seattle folks didn’t come out to play today,” said Jonathan Clay. You really can’t help but fall in love with Jamestown Revival’s tender texas duo Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance. They radiate that southern charm, and even though it was pissing rain during their set, they kept the crowds huddled in groups bouncing back and forth to their fun folky songs. You can tell these childhood buddies turned successful bandmates love performing with each other, switching from singing into the same mic, and harmonizing their acoustic guitars off each other. Their powerfully intimate 2014 hit single California put them on my radar last year, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I think after their Bumbershoot set, they should be receiving an invite back to Seattle in the very near future!
The sleet rain and thunder may have sidelined festivalgoers in doors early in the afternoon, but by 9:00PM nothing stopped crowds from corralling into Memorial stadium in anticipation for Abel Tesfaye aka the Weeknd’s set. He’s likely solely responsible for a sold out Saturday, and he kept fans energized and on their feet through his entire set – more than making up for a drenched, soppy day in the rain. That Hair. That Voice. There are few words that will do his stage presence justice, but I’ll say he puts on one hell of an invigorating show, and I’d be hard pressed to say another act could top his performance this year. The Weeknd is one of few R&B artists who actually sounds just as good, if not better live than recorded, and if you missed his Bumbershoot debut – well you missed out. BIG TIME. In short, Mr. Tesfaye KILLED IT playing hits like Can’t Feel My Face, The Hills and Tell Your Friends. The Weeknd wrapped up one hell of a first day at Bumbershoot!
Photos by Bumbershoot.
Bumbershoot Festival | Seattle Center | September 5-7, 2015