Now, I've been to my share of outdoor concert festivals. But this one was different. First, most don't take place around a well-known landmark. Bumbershoot is set up in the Seattle Center, which, to all of you from outside the Puget Sound area, means the Space Needle. From many of the event's stages, you have a full view of the Space Needle. Which is cool.
A few other things that make this unique:
- Re-entry privileges. I watched two bands this afternoon (more on that in a bit), got my ticket and hand stamped, and went home. Where I ate my food and drank my beer. Granted, if I didn't live a stone's throw from the Seattle Center, I couldn't have done this, but it made a gigantic difference. Instead of spending a day on my feet eating overpriced greasy food, I was able to go home and sit on a real couch in between bands I wanted to see.
- You can bring stuff in. Mainly water. Which, again, standing in a crowded field all day watching a band gets you thirsty. And I could bring in my water.
- The "economy" ticket. For $50, you get a one-day ticket (it's a three-day festival) that grants you access to the Mainstage. Tonight, the mainstage was Rise Against, Hole and Weezer. I didn't want to see any of those bands. I wanted to see smaller bands on smaller stages. Bumbershoot allows this via an "economy" ticket. Brilliant.
- Horse Feathers - Portland, OR-based four-piece. Violin, Cello, Guitar and Banjo. And they were outstanding. They have the "Fleet Foxes harmonies" going on. Elegant songs, though, I felt more suited to a cool evening than standing in the warm sun.
- Hey Marseilles - Seattle-based I-don't-know-how-many-piece. They were a flipping army on stage. Strings, guitars, all kinds of drums. Horns. They were incredible. All kinds of layers to their songs. I'm definitely going to check out their album To Travels & Trunks.
- Ra Ra Riot - I have had this Syracuse outfit on my "must-see" list since their first album and their latest, The Orchard, did nothing but enhance my desire to see them. Just amazing. So well rehearsed and so energetic. It was hard to pick a high point of their set, but there were several. A song from their first disc "Ghost Under Rocks" was intense as you might expect a song at least partially about the drowning death of a former band member to be. Songs like "Shadowcaster" from the new album were also excellent. Go see this band.
- The Dandy Warhols - My fourth time seeing the Portland, OR masters. They never disappoint. They have such a deep catalog and they can put together a set for whatever crowd they need. With the larger festival crowd, they stuck to material that most people would know instead of some of their deeper tracks that you might get at a show they headline on their own. They were in great form, as always... just wish the rules of the show had let them play another hour!