Six Things I Learned From Bumbershoot 2016: A Review of the Festival

It’s been almost a week since the glorious Labor Day weekend celebration, done up Seattle-style, has ended, and it’s safe to say that I think I can finally feel my feet again. After three days of running from stage to stage, screaming, crying, and praising the artists I never thought I’d see in my life, I leave this year’s Bumbershoot behind, having come out of it with lessons I will hold with me forever, all the way to my grave.


LESSON ONE: STREET TACOS ARE YOUR SAVIOR

It was only the first night with a packed lineup that I absolutely needed to see, and I could not stand to go one more hour without food. Broke and hungry, I wandered the festival grounds, hoping to find some sort of salvation. And that I did; I found five-dollar street tacos. Your choice of chicken, beef, or beans, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, and some super-secret special sauce that stands as proof that this pair or tacos fell from heaven. I knew I found my meal for the next three days. It was also a good incentive to push my way through the crowd and make it to Memorial Stadium, just in time to watch Father John Misty take the stage.

LESSON TWO: BEING SHORT SUCKS, DEAL WITH IT

Speaking of Father John Misty, can we just talk about the incredible view I had during his set? And by incredible, I mean this guy in front of me had a really nice shoulder. And the guys in front of me during Kygo had nicely toned arms. I also liked the hat of the girl who stood in front of me during Anderson .Paak. And I’m sure they were all very nice people. The problem with being in the pit in a large venue such as KeyArena or Memorial Stadium and being 5’2” (besides fighting my way through the crowd, which is the equivalent to herding cattle), is that I almost never get to actually see the artist perform. However, I have learned to simply take in the music for what it is and embrace the beauty of it being played live. Which, may I say, all three of the aforementioned artists played outstanding sets, getting the crowd moving and grooving in their own way. Even if I couldn’t see them, I’m sure they could see me, dancing like a fool, attempting to shoulder-check my way to the front. Also, thank you to the people who decided to make big screens on the side of the stages. You make it easier to live this short-legged life.

LESSON THREE: DO NOT NEGLECT THE BURLESQUE

What took me by surprise were the stellar performances held in the Center Theater this past weekend. I had the wonderful privilege of witnessing two completely contrasting burlesque productions.

The first one was DUMP: A Garbage Burlesque, put together by OK Fine Collaborations. DUMP was premiered at the Seattle Fringe Festival back in February and made its return to the stage for this year’s Bumbershoot. Described as a “wet and wild ride through sex and garbage that will make you wish you brought a moist towelette!”, the witty performance follows a community fighting to preserve the dirty, nasty dump that they live in from being taken over by condo builders and frozen yogurt shops. It can only be assumed that this performance reflects upon the ever changing situation that our own city is going through.

The second one was Namii: Swing, a production put together by Earth Pearl Collective. Swing is a “one womyn show that uses spoken word and burlesque to tell the tale of a queer black womyn’s coming of age story.” Though the telling of a heartfelt struggle, Namii brings beauty to her story through words, dance, song, and audience participation. Her journey referenced playground politics growing up, something we can all relate to in one way or another, and tied them to her path in self-worth and sexuality. If this performance appears in the city again, I highly recommend attending.

LESSON FOUR: THERE ARE SOME SERIOUSLY POWERFUL LADIES IN THIS CITY

If I can name three performances that blew me away without any hesitation: Fly Moon Royalty, Maiah Manser, and Shaprece.

FMR rocked the KEXP Stage on Friday, bringing a marvelous amount of soul and funk to the floor. Miss Adra Boo’s voice resonated through every inch of the open-aired lounge, with her vocal vibrations causing everyone to groove, bringing the audience closer to tangibly feeling the words she was saying. Maiah Manser brought soothing melodies and intense interactions to her set on Sunday afternoon. Doubling the working pieces of her band, her performance was fuller than ever, drawing attendees from across the grounds to feel the power of her newly-grown lyrics. Shaprece did more than just “wow” the audience with her heavenly sounds, backed by the Foster High School choir and fellow artist, IG88. She was praised for speaking her own truths and creating what she called a “lovefest” at the Fisher Green stage on the last day of Bumbershoot.

Watching each one take the stage as their own gave me chills every time. They also gave me a sense of honor as I got to witness the strength of these female voices do what they love to do: sending messages through their music and showing love to those who love them back. It was a pleasure to have experienced the emotions and energy these powerful ladies shared with us this weekend.
*heart eyes emoji*

LESSON FIVE: BRING A PHONE CHARGER

Have you ever told yourself, “Maybe I should bring a charger!” just as you walk out the door, but you’ve already shut it and you know it will be too much work to fumble around for your keys and go back to find a portable charger that might not even be charged itself? That was me. All. Three. Days.

I have never felt as much regret in my heart as I did when my phone died just before Macklemore & Ryan Lewis started their two-hour performance on the second night of Bumbershoot weekend. It especially stung due to the fact that it was a set where nearly every second presented itself as a photo opportunity, and qualified for enough Snapchat videos to make all my friends jealous. Now that entire set can only be played in my memory. It’s a good memory, but I wish I had digital proof, just in case the unusually tall 16-year old behind me who elbowed me square on the top of my head hit me hard enough so that I won’t actually remember anything from that night in just a few short days. I’m fine now and remember every moment like it was yesterday, but you never know.

I’m not quite sure why it took me three days, and mind you two festivals I had attended earlier this summer, to really teach me that portable chargers are literally life.

asklv

(Photo by Priscilla Gamit)

LESSON SIX: DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE WILL NEVER PUT ON A BAD SHOW

Having loved them all my life, it only seemed right to close this memorable weekend with the one and only Death Cab for Cutie. This band is no stranger to Bumbershoot, as they closed the festival back in 2013, performing their 2003 release, Transatlanticism, from beginning to end.

The beloved Seattle indie-rockers opened their set with classics such as “Marching Bands of Manhattan”, “The New Year”, and “Crooked Teeth”. The band, led by Ben Gibbard, tailored the performance to include a variety of songs from the entirety of their career, rather than focusing on one album as they had done before. In return, this allowed the audience as a whole to become a part of the performance with every different song they played. As Gibbard strummed his acoustic guitar under the spotlight, he couldn’t help but smile as the voices of everyone else drowned him out through the heart wrenchingly beautiful track, “I Will Follow You into the Dark”, from the 2005 studio album, Plans. I raised my phone into the air with the flashlight app turned on, because that’s what the youths use instead of lighters these days, and simply started to cry to one of the most beautiful live performances I have ever encountered in my life.

With all that being said, can it be Bumbershoot 2017 already?


PRISCILLA GAMIT | #ISurvivedBumbershoot2016 | General Manager

 

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