Bumbershoot 2015 Recap - Saturday


Photo: Paul Moseley

See Paul Moseley's full set of Saturday Bumbershoot photos on our Facebook page!

By Rod Moody

I was told by a friend who visited the Seattle Center grounds on Friday to expect some big changes in the “look and feel” of Bumbershoot. She wasn’t kidding. We arrived about 3pm and saw that the main entrance was backed all the way up Mercer Street, around the corner to Warren, and around another corner, where the old QFC used to be (Republican?). It was ridiculously long….the worst I’ve seen it in many years. Thankfully we had VIP passes, so we went about a half-block further than the main entrance and got right in. Apparently a “computer glitch” was responsible for the long lines and they must’ve worked it out because it wasn’t an issue on Sunday at all.

The layout was VERY different. The majority of the food booths were in the area formerly occupied by the Fun Forest, which made a lot of sense as it freed up the walkways surrounding the Mural Amphitheatre and Fisher Green stages, both notorious clusterf***s in years past. However, the newly-constructed long fences - mainly for the purpose of VIP areas, it seemed - that surrounded these stages prevented easy access to the Broad Street and Fisher Green stages. The Fisher Green stage, which formerly faced the Armory, was moved to face the International Fountain, and the fences surrounding the area made it impossible to access from the walkway alongside the Armory. The VIP viewing areas, however, were fantastic. Perfect front-row left-side-of-stage viewing, and not a whole lot of people in the way.

Our first stop was the Rhapsody Stage to see Grace Love & The True Loves, a nine-piece soul band that is ready to blow up this town. They certainly blew up Bumbershoot! Blessed with a deep, rich voice steeped in the juices of raw soul and gospel, Ms. Love fronted a whip-tight band led by guitarist Jimmy James. The sharply-dressed James spent most of the set with back to audience, keeping one eye on the band and the other on Love. The two of them seem to have a certain telepathy, which spreads to the band, and they cannot go wrong. Among the highlights of the set was the slow burner “Mean To Me,” which featured only Love singing wounded and heartbroken verses over James’s guitar arpeggios for several minutes before the rest of the band joined in. Their cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” was a big crowd pleaser, as Love exhorted the crowd to sing along. The band was also selling - and signing - advance copies of their debut CD (out in October) at Bumbershoot. If you haven’t seen this band yet, do yourself a favor…no one else like them in Seattle!


Grace Love & The True Loves - Photo: Paul Moseley


Grace Love & The True Loves - Photo: Paul Moseley


Grace Love & The True Loves - Photo: Paul Moseley

We quickly headed to the Starbucks Stage to catch some of The White Buffalo, who were new to me, but the song samples I listened to prior to the festival intrigued me enough to check ‘em out. The White Buffalo is the project of L.A. singer-songwriter Jake Smith, who prefers his subject matter on the dark side and his band on the lean side (Smith on acoustic guitar/vocals, a bassist and a drummer). The songs had certain qualities shared by Steve Earle - rough & tumble Americana, colorful stories, and a hint of danger. However, Smith’s vocals, which kind of reminded me of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson with a sore throat, were off-putting, as they were too loud in the mix, completely drowning out the guitar and overpowering the rest of the band as well. After a few songs, it grated enough to drive us over to our next destination….the #Nevertamed stage, where Deep Creep was finishing up the last few songs of their set. I sure wish I would’ve seen the whole thing - they sounded great! Deep Creep is comprised of no less than THREE former Easy Street employees (Cave Singers’ guitarist Derek Fudesco, Cute Lepers’ guitarist Brian Yeager, and drummer Jeff Alvarez) plus former Pretty Girls Make Graves’ singer Andrea Zollo. They mix up garage rock and new wave into an infectious, dance-friendly stew that definitely satisfied their enthusiastic audience.


The White Buffalo - Photo: Paul Moseley


The White Buffalo - Photo: Paul Moseley

What’s that? A raindrop? Uh-oh…a harbinger of things to come? We initially headed over to the #Nevertamed stage not to see Deep Creep (although glad we did) but to wait for Babes In Toyland. The legendary grrrls from Minneapolis were reunited and about to play Seattle for the first time since the mid-90s (minus bassist Maureen Herman, who was fired a couple weeks before). The first time I saw Babes In Toyland was when they played with my band Swallow in Davis, CA on our first tour in 1989. I remember not being able to take my eyes off of singer/guitarist Kat Bjelland. She was possessed….wide-eyed, screaming, and attacking her guitar like it was a monster attacking her. Lori Barbero’s drumming was ferocious and the songs were brutal. Our band was left wishing we had been the openers. While it was cool to see them twenty-five years later, they didn’t have the same effect on me - and really, how could they? Kat still rolled her eyes deep back into the sockets, doing her best to appear as deranged as she did back in ’89, and Lori could still pound the hell out of them drums, but I couldn’t remember what I liked about the songs themselves, although no doubt, they ROCKED. After about five songs I was distracted…by rain. Lots of it. SHEETS of it. I was under a canopy by the beer garden arranging my belongings and when I moved back out into the open, it started coming down. My choice spot under the canopy filled to capacity very quickly. Like many others, we moved under the trees along the border of the beer garden, getting partial protection, but I clearly did not come prepared. Wrong shoes, wrong jacket, umbrella too small for two. Could’ve been worse…LOTS of girls with skimpy dresses out there. Anyhow, I was soaked, as was most everyone still outside, so we made a run to the Armory, a little late to the party - as the place was packed to the gills with the dripping wet. Found out later that water had pooled on the stage, bringing danger to the Babes, so they stopped the show early. I ran into Lori later and expressed relief that they didn’t get zapped. She replied, “I know, right?” Right.


Babes In Toyland - Photo: Paul Moseley


Babes In Toyland - Photo: Paul Moseley

The rain would not stop. Our car was in a metered parking spot on the street and we had a little over an hour before we had to move it. We were starving….the Armory was packed. We decided to get wetter and find a spot to eat outside of the festival grounds. Thankfully, the rain lightened up a bit as we were walking, and we found ourselves at Taylor Shellfish. As we were eating, the rain intensified once again, and we sure felt sorry for those poor people waiting in line to get into Bumbershoot - still so far away from the gate.

Even though two of the artists I most wanted to see - Chris Stapleton and Kacey Musgraves - were scheduled for Saturday night, I made an executive decision and we went home. I warmed myself with a bath and hot toddy, and rested up for Sunday. Luckily, our ace photographer Paul Moseley stuck around to get photos of Chris, Kacey & more...see his full set for the day on our Facebook page!