It’s never easy opening the Mainstage on the first day of a festival, but it’s doubly hard when the stage is indoors – and the rest of the fest is bathed in late summer sunshine. When you also consider that touring Aussie sensation Missy Higgins has a limited following Stateside, it’s clear that she had her work cut out at Bumbershoot.
Luckily for those dedicated enough to head into the KeyArena early on Saturday, Higgins is the consummate professional – and she has plenty of talent to spare, too. Her piano and guitar pop tunes may skew a little mainstream for Seattle’s grunge-infected tastes, but the fans continued to pour through the arena’s doors as her set played out, the trickle turning into a flood that soon filled the floor. I guess she had the sunshine beat after all.
As for those tunes, the setlist was picked mainly from her latest album, The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle, with the occasional old favorite thrown in for good measure. ‘Where I Stood’ drew the largest response from the fans, maybe thanks to its use in Seattle medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, but the largely teen (and Aussie) crowd soon warmed to the new material too. Her current crop of songs put out a slightly darker, louder vibe than some of her earlier hits, and when Missy revealed that her long hiatus between albums was due to an extended period of self-doubt and writer’s block all the pieces slotted into place. Thankfully those dark days have produced some unlikely gems.
Missy Higgins was always destined to be a lighter touch than most of Bumbershoot’s rock’n’rap lineup, but her songwriting talent is beyond dispute. When she closed up with ‘Scar’ and ‘Steer’ back to back the gathered faithful were rewarded for their decision to turn their back on the September sun. This year’s festival has a surprisingly Aussie-heavy lineup, including Gotye and The Jezabels. Let’s hope some of them get to see the sunshine.