Bumbershoot 2014: Top 10 Sets + Photos

Festival Review


    Photography by Brittany Brassell and Breanne Joyce 

    Seattle’s Bumbershoot has been a local mainstay since 1971. It’s about as Seattle as you can get. The whole thing literally takes places under the all-seeing eye of the Space Needle. We even got a bit of gray skies and rain this year, all too appropriate considering the festival’s name.

    For those who’ve attended one or more festivals over the summer, Bumbershoot feels like the day spa of musical destinations. There are countless food and clothing stands, massage sessions available, and you get to go home to rest and shower every night. Plus, two of the most magic words any festivalgoer will gasp at: indoor plumbing. It’s about as restful as you can get for three days of music outdoors.


    Bumbershoot is also often praised as being extremely family-friendly. It’s not uncommon to see parents walking with their young kids through the crowds or teenagers enjoying their first taste of concert freedom. This year’s lineup strongly played up to that generational divide. Bands ranged from legacy acts like The Replacements and Elvis Costello to trending party rap like Danny Brown and Schoolboy Q. It was a chance to see young artists share a bill with the artists who laid the groundwork for them. Going from new wave to Wu-Tang could be a bit disorienting, but it offered a little bit of something for most everyone.

    –Dusty Henry
    Contributing Writer

    Most Amount Of Ass Everywhere

    Big Freedia

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    Ass. Butts. Rumps. Derriere. No matter how you phrase it, Big Freedia’s set was an ode to the human backside. Decked out in all black with silver jewelry and shades, she and her twerk team gave Bumbershoot an indoctrination on what bounce music is all about. This is why Big Freedia is going to conquer the world. Her ode to ass may seem exclusive for the club, but Big Freedia can’t be limited by these superficial boundaries. She can take an early afternoon set in the rain and turn it into the biggest party of the weekend.

    Though her latest record, Just Be Free, is an adrenaline rush in itself, it’s an experience that really can only be translated correctly live. Most of the crowd up-front knew what they were in for and reveled in every twerk-filled moment, but it was more amazing watching the people in the back who just happened to find themselves there with mouths agape and awkward smiles. And no disrespect to Freedia’s killer dancers, but there was no bigger reaction than when the Queen Diva herself bent over on the DJ table and showed her own moves.


    Headliner Your Dad Wishes You Would’ve Gone To

    Elvis Costello and the Imposters

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    As mentioned earlier, Bumbershoot has a split generational demographic. Walking into Memorial Stadium, it was clear where all the older attendees had wandered off to: Elvis Costello and the Imposters career-spanning set. But the younger generation could’ve stood to learn a thing or two from “elders.” Costello’s set was as vibrant as his periwinkle hat. People danced in their seats and erupted in applause after every track. The band was in top form, sounding nearly indistinguishable from even Costello’s early records. Ask your dad to borrow some Costello records and mourn your decision to skip his set in favor of G-Eazy.

    Most Bittersweet Moment

    The Lonely Forest

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    The Lonely Forest has been a Seattle mainstay over the past nine years. In a way, it’s almost too appropriate that their last show would be a set at Bumbershoot. As the stage’s emcee introduced the band, he assured the crowd that this should be a celebration instead of a mourning. But it was hard advice to take. For their part, the band played in top form and focused the set on material from their fan-favorite sophomore album, We Sing The Body Electric!, bringing out deep cuts like “Centennial” and “They’re on to Something”, but they still brought out a fair amount of material from their Chris Walla-produced Arrows.

    As frontman John Van Deusen bantered with the crowd, it became clear how many die-hard fans came out to give a proper send-off to the group. But despite how great they sounded and how much heartwarming camaraderie the band had, it was all undermined by the depressing notion that this was the last time any of us would see them perform again (assuming they don’t hit the reunion circuit later down the road). It was an emotional send-off with the band taking shots, embracing, and throwing themselves into the crowd.


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