And here we go again — day three of this year’s Bumbershoot!
I was running a little late on my way out the door this morning, so rather than spending any time wandering when I showed up, I went straight into the stadium and made it in about halfway through Black Eyed Peas’ set. While I’ll freely admit that hip-hop isn’t my strongest subject, the bill for today’s “Hip Hop 101” show was too good to pass up. About all I really knew of Black Eyed Peas was the single from a couple years back with Macy Gray, “Request Line,” but I thought they did a fairly good job. They even got Reggie, the lead singer for Maktub, up on stage with them for one song, which was cool to see.
After Black Eyed Peas finished, we were treated to about 30 minutes of standing around in the hot sun and waiting — very glad I actually thought to put on sunscreen this morning. Eventually, though, old-school hip-hop pioneers De La Soul hit the stage. They’re a group I’ve known of for quite a while now, and they had a blast playing with the audience and getting everyone involved. At one point they were listing off some of the many artists they’ve worked with over the years, mentioned Tribe Called Quest…and then brought one of the members of Tribe onstage with them for a couple songs. At first I thought it was Q-Tip, but then I think I heard them say another name, so I’m afraid I’m not entirely sure who it was. Still, a fun show. I took off after De La Soul, though. The third act for that bill was Common, who I’ve not heard of, and I needed to find some shade for a few minutes.
During my wandering, I happened upon a street performer who I remembered from my first year at Bumbershoot. I think his name is David Kelley (though I could be wrong), and he finishes his act by balancing upon three boards stacked on eight wooden blocks on top of a free rolling section of pipe, while juggling three machetes and holding a pointy stick in his mouth with a spinning plate on the stick. Pretty damn impressive each time I’ve seen it. Even more entertaining, though, was that he had picked a helper out of the audience to hand him the knives, stick, and plate once he was on the blocks. However, after handing the various implements of destruction to the kid, David stepped back, as if the kid was supposed to do the trick. Amusing in itself, but even more so when the kid shrugged and started to try to step up onto the contraption! David quickly assured the kid (and his parents) that he didn’t need to make the attempt after all.
Next up on my music list was Golgo Bordello, who were…well, they were certainly entertaining. The music was very loud, fast, raucous gypsy/cossack type music, and while they weren’t the best singers or musicians I’ve ever heard, they more than made up for in pure insane energy. The lead guy was tearing all over the stage, and at a few points added to the percussion by slamming his microphone on the stage hard enough to dent it — by the end of their set, the only mic he could find that still worked was the one that had been attached to the bell of the saxophone player’s instrument. Completely crazy, was the verdict of more than a few people I heard talking as we all walked away afterwards.
I meant to catch the end of Chuck Prophet’s set at the blues stage, but didn’t end up making it over there in time. So instead, I hung around to see just what the deal was with the Space Harp, an art/music installation at the base of the Space Needle. This turned out to be a fascinating show. The Space Harp itself (or, technically, Earth Harp) is a huge stringed instrument, with the strings reaching from a platform at the base of the Space Needle to a point about halfway up the Space Needle, at about the 250 foot level. Each string has a wooden stopper at some point to tune it, and they are played by being rubbed with rosin-coated gloves. Quite an impressive piece of work, and their compositions (assisted by drums and electric violin) were very fun. Definitely worth the time to see!
This little bit of childhood ingenuity was probably my favorite part of the entire day. At some point, some kids had discovered that with the relatively smooth slope of the bowl of the International Fountain, if you wet the stone down, then you can sit your butt down on a frisbee and go sliding down the side of the bowl! There was a group of about six kids doing this, occasionally joined by older kids (from teens to twentysomethings) who couldn’t resist the urge to give it a shot.
I ended up sitting and watching this for at least a good half an hour. At any given point, you’d have two or three kids running into the fountain, filling water bottles, and then running back up to dump them onto the slide area to keep it nice and wet. Meanwhile, there was the occasional cry of glee as one of the kids went zooming by. Sometimes they’d coast to a stop at the bottom of the slope, but every so often one would have the right amount of momentum to send them careening directly into the jets of water from the fountain. So much fun to watch, and probably to do, too — though I didn’t ever give it a shot myself.
I ended up having to take a break for a bit and run back into downtown Seattle to get more batteries for my camera. Once I made it back to the Seattle Center, I took a few minutes to wander through the video game area by the carnival. There are a few little-kid rides in the building, and there was an older gentleman, clearly ready for his shift to end, resting on one of the Dumbo cars. I noticed him on my way out, and grabbed a quick shot.
Impromptu drum circles have a tendency to pop up all over Bumbershoot, at all times, and with all sorts of spectators. Generally, you’re more likely to have a fairly large crowd of hippies gathered around and dancing, but this one caught my eye because the dancers were primarily your average trendy Abercrombie and Fitch or Gap dressed teens. While it made me laugh, it was also pretty cool to see some of them drop the pretension for a bit and just cut lose, have fun, and enjoy the beat for a while.
The two big headlining bands for the evening stadium concert tonight were Cold and Evanescence. Cold I don’t really know at all, and the only thing I’d heard from Evanescence was their single off of the Daredevil soundtrack, which got a resounding “Eeeehhh…” from me when I heard it. Having seen both of them live now, I can safely say that contrary to the promo copy in the Seattle Weekly’s event schedule, Cold sounds like every other modern pop metal band out there, and Evanescence sounds like every other modern pop metal band out there if the other bands had female singers. Neither of them were really bad per se, but they didn’t do much to really impress me, either. Considering how happy Evanescence said they were because local radio station The End was willing to “try something different” when they started playing Evanescence’s single, the only real difference I could see between them and any other modern metal was that they have a female vocalist. If people are hungry for strong, heavy, female-led music, as seems to be the basis for much of Evanescence’s popularity, I’d quite happily recommend any given Pigface track that has Meg Lee Chin on vocals, or the Kidney Thieves, or probably quite a few other bands that I can’t come up with right now.
But then, Pigface and the Kidney Thieves aren’t mainstream enough to be picked up by MTV or radio. I guess people will just continue to be sheep instead…
Anyway, enough grousing. Another good day done. Not as strong as yesterday, but not a bad day by any means. Tomorrow brings a strong opening with the alt-country/bluegrass sounds of Leftover Salmon and Nickel Creek, and a strong end to the weekend with Wilco and R.E.M. Should be fun!