Bumbershoot Saturday was hot and cold, weak and strong
The AEG produced Bumbershoot 2017 felt under attended, over staffed, stripped down, and under informed almost across the board. There was less art, fewer stages, and less of the silly, fun artful Seattle spirit that had infused the festival throughout its history. The attention paid to sponsors and more controlled functionality seemed to drain the life out of the event but maybe the financial issues Bumbershoot faced, that threatened to end it in the past had to be dealt with this way. Still, fewer music stages and truly headliner acts made the event feel less important this year.
The Funny or Die people held a panel discussion of comics and comedy writers who rather than entertain, chose to essentially whine about how difficult it is to make jokes in the Trump era since they felt his actions were already "so absurd." "I was going to do a joke about the eclipse saying, 'We'll be lucky if we get through the week without a blind President and then he goes out and looks directly at the sun!" one of the panelists complained. KEXP hosted a performance, in studio for Filthy Friends that was sent out on Facebook Live... but not shown on the monitors in the performance space.
Staff all across the festival had no idea where the entry and exit points were, even though many of them were equipped with walkie-talkies. Key Arena as the home for DJ's and lightshows was organized such that if you wanted to go to the floor of the space you entered through one door, and to sit in the seats you walked around to the other side. People stayed away in droves. Inside the audio mix was so over driven by bass you could feel your internal organs vibrate. Local vendor Full Tilt Ice Cream was promised a beer garden but found out only on Thursday night on loading in that their signature beer floats were not going to be allowed.
The 85 degree day meant it was alternately sweaty and cold as people went from the sunshine then inside venues like the Key Arena where the air conditioning was on overdrive (possibly due to to the lack of people to heat it up), to Bagley Wright Theater where it was humid and around 80 degrees.
A visit to the Chipotle booth was confusing since for some of the spiciest food there, they had zero beverages.
That didn't mean there were no highlights. The Skins rocked the Mural Amphitheater as singer Bay Li laughed, smiled, danced and sang in a blistering rock n' roll performance.
On Saturday night on the Bumbershoot MainStage, Kaleo wowed the crowd with a strong performance that introduced the band to many.
Then the Weezer faithful showed up by the thousands and the band did not disappoint, delivering a powerful set of their hits, with lead singer and songwriter Rivers Cuomo occasionally dressing up in a sombrero or in a crown and cloak for their hit King of the World. For Thank God for Girls the band flashed photos of women from Oprah Winfrey to Princess Di to Harriet Tubman on the screen behind them to the cheers of the crowd. Sing alongs and a blast of confetti were part of a strong outing for Weezer's show.
Closing out Saturday was the headliner Lorde whose intimate confessional lyrics are a contrast to her energetic and interpretive live performance. Jumping and almost writhing at times Lorde cruised through some of her best known material as back up interpretive dancers expressed some of the emotional intent in the songs. At one point Lorde spoke about "riding the Ferris Wheel here in Seattle five times" and noting "How many of my fans are teenage girls." The sound for Lorde was possibly the best of the show as her voice was clear and carried out into the surrounding area of the grounds. That was actually a good thing for those near the International Fountain where a live video projection of her performance was being projected on the spray from the fountain, creating an ethereal effect, matching the sometimes sad, sometimes defiant nature of her songs.