After 5 years living in Seattle, I finally made it out to Bumbershoot for the first time this past weekend. It was absolutely magical. I’d never been to any outdoor music festival before, so it was definitely a new experience in which I learned valuable lessons for my next festival (namely, never wear heels EVER, and accept that being surrounded by high-schoolers is strange, yes, but also an inevitability) and saw some mind-blowing performances.
I wasn’t very familiar with YACHT before seeing them perform, and I’m still not sure how I feel about their music, but they put on a hell of a show. They were very bizarre but not in an alienating sort of way; they were mesmerizing and incredibly engaging, pausing to answer questions between songs and even allowing fifty-plus people to dance onstage with them during a song. The vibe was really fun.
This show was absolutely crazy. Not only because Macklemore is an incredible performer, but because he’s Seattle’s hip-hop hometown hero and there was so much love for him packed into the full Key Arena: during his opening song, there was a veritable sea of arms raised and bobbing in affirmation, and it was breathtaking. After more than a decade of trying to make it, Macklemore arrived during his performance, and it was emotional and kind of magical to watch, like something profound was happening and things might never be the same for him after this, but in a good way. I think everyone felt it.
3. Shabazz Palaces
I had seen them once before, but they were even better this time around. Their beats are so layered and hypnotic that it’s impossible not to move to them, and let me tell you, it’s amazing the smorgasbord of sounds that can come from just two people. They just seemed like really chill guys who are a little mysterious and reticent to engage in stage banter, like they’re less interested in winning the crowd over with their personalities than they are in letting the music speak for itself. I respect that. And their music speaks volumes.
Oh my lord, incredible. This performance so exceeded my expectations. It was so atmosperic and understated; them just playing their instruments and vibing on their own sound was absolutely captivating, which just goes to show that stage presence can manifest in so many different ways. Their harmonies were gorgeous, and all four ladies were fantastic musicians… their drummer, especially, was unbelievable. As in, I could not believe what mad game she had.
1. Charles Bradley
Don’t judge me, but I burst into tears the moment he started singing, and I didn’t stop crying until he left the stage. He has the most beautiful voice that is laced with hurt and emotion and soul so palpable that it just made me lose it, and his story is so heartbreaking and triumphant simultaneously. Through my tears I was smiling though, because he’s a performer in the same vein as James Brown: all charisma and dance moves and theatrics. Such a delight to witness. And he honestly seemed like the most humble man, so grateful and full of love toward the audience. I’m not exaggerating one bit when I say that watching Charles Bradley perform was a religious experience for me.
Charles Bradley (I did not take this photo, but I wish I had)
After such a wonderful experience at Bumbershoot, I’m a little bummed that I won’t be able to attend next year. I’ll tell you why I won’t be making it to Bumbershoot 2012 tomorrow… it’s big news!