Bumbershoot Festival Seattle WA - September 2-5, 2005

Bumbershoot Festival Seattle WA - September 2-5, 2005
Drum circles, yummy forearm-sized burritos, films, art, beer gardens and, of course, hundreds of live music performances, the eclectic, humungous Seattle arts festival known as Bumbershoot has been returning annually for three and a half decades. Whether you are into the latest indie rock, folk, jazz, old school punk or hip-hop, there is something for everyone. It's physically impossible to catch everything you want to squeeze in but you're bound to stumble across some great discoveries. While the amazing touring exhibition "Flatstock," featuring contemporary concert poster artists, is worth a mention, here is a run-down of the musical gems: On Day One, Garbage set a great tone; fronted by the enigmatic Shirley Mason, the '90s favourite pulled out an impressive set of tightly polished rock with just enough electronic touches to leave the arena-sized crowd wanting more. Being able to switch from a rocking arena show with the likes of Mudhoney and Iggy Pop & the Stooges to a small outdoor stage featuring a Dylan-esque alt-country act like M. Ward is a large part of the festival's charm. Personal festival favourites came mostly in the form of rising independent West coast acts like Canadian-made the Be Good Tanyas and Carolyn Mark. Mark's onstage banter is always hard to beat, and her songs were equally entertaining. It will be sometime before the Seattle music scene is associated with anything other then grunge, but there is a softer indie-rock renaissance afoot, with acts like Minus the Bear and Damien Jurado among them. While I sadly missed the secret performance by Death Cab For Cutie (drat), I did catch Seattleite David Bazan (Pedro the Lion) in his electronic, Postal Service-ish undertaking, Headphones and Los Angeles-based Earlimart was another new discovery. On the hip-hop front, the main-stage bill featuring the Pharcyde, Talib Kweli and Common was somewhat disappointing, conceivably because of the stadium setting and the early afternoon timeslot. Digable Planets and Spearhead, on the other hand, each kept new and old fans on their feet, pulling out all the stops. Although the Digable Planets recently put on a mediocre Vancouver performance, here backed by an impressive live band, the Brooklyn trio was hot. Likewise, Michael Franti (Spearhead) made for a great end to the festival, proving again how he's one of the most captivating and engaging live performers out there.