Technology with attitude

No Bumbershoot Required – The Biggest Hits From Seattle’s Sunny Bumbershoot Festival


Now that the dust is settling on Bumbershoot 2011, it’s time to look back on one of the sunniest festivals in recent memory. With three full days of sunshine, some truly inspired scheduling, and as much free granola as you could fit into your fists, there was plenty to love at the Labor Day weekend festival this year.

Here are our Top 5 Hits from Bumbershoot 2011:

5. The Non-Music Line-up. Yes, most people come to Bumbershoot for the music – but it has always been a music and arts festival, and there was so much to enjoy outside of the music stages this year, if you could bear to step out of the sunshine. Manos: The Hands of Fate reimagined as puppet theater? Three days of Comedy Bang Bang? A DIY mural-by-numbers? You didn’t have to listen to a single note all weekend if you didn’t want to.

4. Bigger And Better Films. No, we still haven’t got to the music. The film element of Bumbershoot has often been relegated to the sidelines, but a strong offering this year meant that there was plenty to keep the film buffs happy too, and some screenings were filled to capacity. The short films included a performance by Oscar winner Colin Firth in Steve, a controversial look at male prostitution in Everybody Loves Paco, and the best of SIFF 2011. Who needs sunshine?

3. The Seattle Renaissance. We’ve heard it all before. Seattle is a great music city, Seattle bands are on the rise, the Seattle scene is alive and kicking… but this time it just happens to be true. Take your pick from Pickwick (pun intended), Campfire OK, Grand Hallway, Massy Ferguson, Fly Moon Royalty, Mad Rad, Curtains For You, Motopony… all put on great shows, and for once the Seattle-weighted line-up was actually a blessing. If you haven’t seen all these bands already, catch them soon at a venue near you.

2. Indie Hip-Hop. For years the hip-hop element at Bumbershoot felt like an afterthought, a nod in the direction of a different counterculture… but no longer. Not only were the big headliners present in the form of Macklemore, Wiz Khalifa and Big Boi, but the indie hip-hop acts were just as good – if not better. I’m talking about Shabazz Palaces, Mad Rad, Astronautalis, Das Racist… the list goes on. I guess alt-rock has finally released its grip on the entire festival experience.

1. Good Old Fashioned Rock’n’Roll. And just as indie rock gave way to hip-hop, so hip rock gave way to traditional rock’n’roll. I’m talking about Hall & Oates, Leon Russell, Fitz and The Tantrums… and don’t forget The Jim Jones Revue‘s blistering set in the sunshine on Day One, too. We fell in love a full three days before Letterman got his hands on them. None of these acts were rewriting the songbook, but it didn’t matter – all of them turned it up to eleven, and entertained the gathered masses in the shadow of the Space Needle. What more could you ask for?

You can find all our coverage of Bumbershoot 2011 here, including reviews of headlining acts, photo diaries, artist interviews, and special reports from the film, comedy and art exhibits.