Ah, there she blows. The infamous Space Needle located in the heart of America’s rainiest city, though there was not a drop of rain to be seen over Labor Day weekend. Bumbershoot 2017 delivered a variety of eclectic, unique performers who brought the house down.
Music genre – EDM, hip-hop, alternative rock
Capacity: Extra Large (80k+)
Crowd type: Mixed
Water stations: Yes
For The First Timers – Stay near the campgrounds. Seattle is expensive and Ubers, like any other festival, are expensive. There are TONS of hotels within walking distance. *Pro tip – use the app Hotel Tonight.
Standout Food – Two words: Lobster. Tacos.
Musical Highlights – ODESZA
Things To Do — Laser shows at the Science Center, run through the fountain (if you’re wearing your swimmies), view the art exhibits, hit the Sub-Pop shop, explore the city.
VIP or Nah — Not worth it – the festival is too small and it’s easy to get close to the stage without VIP access.
Bumbershoot, regardless of its small personality, captivated my heart. Beyond all else, it provided me with a deeper appreciation for the city of Seattle. I’ve been lucky enough to experience several trips to the PNW. The Mariners, Pike’s Place, and endless bowls of clam chowder have graced my summers since 2013. Few things compare to an afternoon spent exploring the city, complete with a colorful array of fresh flowers and warm, cinnamon donuts just past the famous pig. Staying in a hotel steps away from the venue is essential. Pre-festival activities included oysters at Taylor Shellfish Farms, coffee at the Starbucks Reserve Room, and a very healthy (psych) meal at The Biscuit Bitch. The unique charm Seattle brings is unlike any other place I’ve visited. Everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.
From the moment you enter the grounds, you know that Bumbershoot is unlike any festival of its kind. The KeyArena, the Mural Stage, and the Memorial Stadium are all unique. Hop over to the fountain, grab a sip of cold-brew, and lay in the beer garden grass. Next? Skip to the science center for a laser show or two. Although I can’t say that watching lasers go back and forth on a big screen to Kendrick Lamar’s Backseat Freestyle was the most memorable experience, I CAN say that I will likely never see something like that again. That, alone, is something to write about.
On Saturday, after enjoying some much-needed IPA’s, we went straight to Kaleo. I don’t know if there are enough hours in the day for me to explain how talented Kaleo is. Whatever “it” is, they have it. I have developed a passion for their music in a matter of days because of this performance. I hate to compare, but the lead singer’s voice reminds me of Hozier, and who doesn’t love Hozier? Though I can’t imagine the teen crowd at Bumbershoot had a huge appreciation for this band, I can bet you they now do. One blaring thing to note about this festival is that the crowd was filled with high-schoolers. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it’s a generation I haven’t yet seen at a music festival before. In my experience, the wide variety of festival goers are in their 20’s and up. The 21+ exclusive areas at Bumbershoot were smaller, due to the younger crowd I would assume. I also saw quite a few babies in strollers, meaning that Seattle-natives likely flock to this festival for the abundance of entertainment like food, art, and comedy.
On to Saturday night… Lorde. Not that this is a huge shocker, but she, as per usual, completely knocked it out of the park. Her genuine appreciation to be on stage is admirable. Few artists these days show an extreme amount of gratitude for the opportunities they’re presented with. Time and time again, we hear stories of entitled, over-worked musicians who have lost a true love for their art. Lorde is one of the rare few who thanks the audience, puts on a stellar performance, and makes the crowd feel something. That, alone, is enough to provide a memorable evening. Lorde recently released a new record, Melodrama, which echoed throughout the Memorial Stadium with ease. One of my favorite songs off of this album is Hard Feelings/Loveless, which was incredible to see live. Truthfully, I’d cringe if I saw a video of me during this performance. I was screaming, SCREAMING, along with every single song. I was considering selling my ticket to her Phoenix performance in March, because why would I need to see her twice within 6 months? I can assure you I’ve done a complete 360. Team will never get old and neither will Lorde.
Sunday rolls around and after stuffing our faces with Redhook beer samples and pizza, we’re determined to catch Léon, an artist who is completely underrated. She is a rising star in the flesh. You heard it here first… this girl will be H-U-G-E. She started her set with Think About You and it was clear from the first note she hit that I would enjoy this performance. Her deep, soulful voice mixed with her seemingly effortless charm had me hooked. Pure and utter talent. I will for sure be checking the world wide web for the next show of hers I can attend.
Vince Staples was up next at the KeyArena. I realize I’ve been raving on and on, but that stops now. KeyArena sucked. There is nothing ideal about open seating in a massive arena. Mix that with an eager group of teens and you’ve found my living nightmare. Now, this is not to say that I didn’t enjoy Vince Staples, but after his set, I was ready to go. Personally, I’m a festival goer who thrives outdoors. I feel that music festivals are, and should be, entirely rooted outside. I preferred sets at the Memorial Stadium, the Mural Stage, and the Fischer stage. Had I been on the floor, I may have enjoyed KeyArena more. The kicker? In order to stand on the floor, you had to wait in a line that wrapped around the building. Twice. Nope, no thanks. I’m not here to wait in any lines. (Okay, guilty, I’ve totally waited in a crazy-long line at Coachella for a popsicle).
Moving on to the last and final headliner, Odesza. I pause as I write this, because I truly don’t know how to organize my thoughts on this set. Magic. I have fallen into a pit of obsession and I don’t know if I will ever crawl out. This is coming from a girl who, up until two years ago, had little interest in “EDM” music. Sure, I’d seen Calvin Harris in Vegas, but I seemingly avoided headlining DJ’s at music festivals. I don’t want to say I was ignorant, but I was close-minded. As I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve since adopted a new and improved mindset. The energy of the crowd at Odesza was captivating, not to mention the happiness one feels when dancing to Higher Ground. Add Naomi Wild‘s angelic voice and you’ve hit a headlining home run. Few things on this planet compare to seeing this group live. I want it to be October already so I can flail my way to the front of the crowd at Lost Lake. I will be that annoying friend who goes on and on about how amazing Odesza was, and I don’t care.
If you’re looking for a whimsical weekend spent in the Northwest, look no further. If you’re still not convinced, check out these smiles which didn’t leave our faces for a solid 72 hours!
photos by Hatim Hafid for Festival Squad