Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fun at Bumbershoot 2007!

For the first time in eons, yours truly hit Bumbershoot, Seattle's biggest Music and Arts Festival, on Labor Day (Monday, September 3) with pals Bob Suh and Bob Bohan in tow. And a good time was had by all.

We were each bound and determined to get our $35 worth (I'm geezer enough to remember balking at a $15 all-day ticket: Ouch), and blessedly, we did. It was a textbook Bumber-experience in almost all the right ways.

We enjoyed an only mildly patience-eroding stay in line.Strange/wonderful art/hobby displays (in particular, some nifty Lego constructions by a Seattle Lego-builders' Club) awaited.

God bless America, and God Bless strange performance art.

Then there was the music...

The wait at Memorial Stadium for Brit soul prodigy Joss Stone had most of the crowd (us included) sweating like pigs, but her cool soul stylings were worth the wait. She's barely old enough to legally buy a beer here in the states, but possesses a set of elastic, soulful pipes that owe more to Dusty Springfield and Gladys Knight than this week's show-offy assembly-line yelpers. I'd give fellow limey rhythm and blues goddess Amy Winehouse the edge on consistency of material, but Joss's emphasis on groove and nuance over immediacy gave the proceeds a sultry, hypnotic vibe (the heat helped, too, I'm sure). This was my first exposure to her music, and it won't be my last.

...And Comedy...

After Joss Stone, we took in some fun improv at the Vera Project: local improv trio Blood Squad fabricated Cthulhu High (a hilarious mock horror flick) onstage, and veteran Seattle troupe Jet City Improv ran through a lively inventory of improvisational theater sports, including a very funny mini-musical based on a small object (the object--suggested by one particularly brilliant audience member? Tom Cruise).

More Music...

The mighty Roky Erickson stood as the highlight of the day from this corner (yeah, I'm biased--see preceding entry). Looking fit and happy onstage, the psych-rock legend hit his hour and twenty-minute set with a vigor that was nothin' short of astonishing. The passage of time may have chipped away some of his unearthly upper register, but the guy's rock and roll growl still packed more ass-kicking power than 99.4% of the competition out there. His backup band the Explosives (particularly virtuoso guitarist Cam King) absolutely cooked, and Erickson remains the only human being so godlike and cool that I officially excuse him from rocking a mullet.

Solo gems like "Creature with the Atom Brain" and "Cold Night for Alligators" took up the bulk of the set, but he and the Explosives also pulled out a ripping version of "You're Gonna Miss Me" and a drop-dead gorgeous rendition of the Elevators' finest quiet song, "Splash 1 (Now I'm Home). 'Twas, simply put, rock and roll heaven.

..And the chance to rub shoulders with a Legend.

The garage-rock icon stuck around after his well-received performance, shaking hands and gladly autographing stuff. One on one, the gentle, sweet, and vulnerable man at the autograph table sat in sharp contrast to the demon onstage, but he seemed truly happy to get some adoration from a couple of generations' worth of fans. Meeting him was, if you'll pardon the mawkishness, awe-inspiring.

Oh, yeah, we also caught Ted Leo and the Pharmacists' great, caffeinated set of power pop, too. They were awesome, and I'm hoping I'll be able to catch 'em when they're back in Seattle in October.

Sorry for the lack of structure here, but I wanted to get somethin' about our nifty day up and at 'em. Good night, all.