Bumbershoot Music Picks

Our guide to the festival's highlights.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 2 ANNA OXYGEN You never know quite what to expect from this one-woman band, but more often than not, keytars, electronic drumbeats, Jazzercise, and a newfangled version of the blues figure pretty prominently. And then there are the visuals. Oxygen dreams up characters for her electro-folk junk/punk songs and imagines their lives with slide shows and odd home movies. EMP Sky Church, 3:15 p.m. SMOOSH Last year's She Like Electric keeps on finding an audience thanks to slow-building national media coverage (they were interviewed by The Believer's music issue, for instance), the local sister duo's live shows get tighter by the month, and the new stuff they've been playing sounds as good as the debut. Let's hope for another record soon—but this appearance will tide us over till then. EMP Sky Church, 4:45 p.m. BEYOND REALITY Comprised of Jonathan Moore of Jasiri Media Group (who won the Mayor's Award for Excellence in Hip-Hop in 2003) on decks, emcee Erica White, and their son/hype man Upi, Beyond Reality is one of the most positive and creative units around town. What's Next Stage, 5:15 p.m. THE DONNAS They don't have a lick of originality in them, and neither did their great forebears, from Joan Jett to the Ramones. Instead, they have hooks, chops, and enough badass stage presence to make it even more fun than it already looks like. Plus, after six albums, they've even got—whaddaya know?—a varied catalog to pick from. Mainstage, 6:15 p.m. SKERIK'S SYNCOPATED TAINT SEPTET Versatile and dauntingly prolific as he is, saxophonist Skerik could have brought any number of the configurations he works with to Bumbershoot this year, but we're happy he chose the Syncopated Taint Septet, because it's probably the most fun. Hammond organist Joe Doria, drummer John Wicks, trumpeter Dave Carter, alto saxophonist and flautist Hans Teuber, trombonist and electric pianist Steve Moore, and baritone saxophonist Craig Flory round out the group. Bumbrella Stage, 6:45 p.m. AKIMBO Sandwiched between a band that shot to local fame earlier this year (RazRez) and one that's finally seeing its due (the Ruby Doe) is one of Seattle's most intense hardcore bands. Twisting time signatures beyond recognition, bassist Jon Weisnewski's growl leads a spiral of guitar and drums that threatens to blow the house down, every time. EMP Sky Church, 7:45 p.m. MAVIS STAPLES Bouncing gracefully between gospel and R&B for over four decades, Staples is one of the first ladies of American song, and she keeps on proving it with strong albums like last year's Have a Little Faith (Alligator), not to mention "Hard Times Come No More," her album-stealing contribution to the superb Stephen Foster tribute disc, Beautiful Dreamer (American Roots Publishing). Blues Stage, 7:45 p.m. M. WARD Portland troubadour Matt Ward's raspy homages to old-time folk and blues, most recently on Transistor Radio (Merge), have earned praise from those who pine for simpler times. Whether performing alongside Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst or covering Alejandro Escovedo and Johnny Cash, his songs are like crackly transmissions from the '50s and '60s—gentle, nostalgic, and soothing. Backyard Stage, 8:30 p.m. GARBAGE One of the few leading ladies of '90s alt-rock still standing, Shirley Manson found her best gig sticking with Garbage, who need her hotheaded charisma to appeal to anyone who doesn't cream over the words "Butch Vig" (that is, most of us). Whatever you think of their latest, Bleed Like Me, they've always been explosive live, thanks to Manson's presence. Mainstage, 9:30 p.m. SATURDAY, SEPT. 3 CAROLYN MARK "Said you like fireworks/Well, I'll give you fireworks," goes the refrain from the lead track on Mark's fine new Just Married: An Album of Duets (Mint), and in her low-key, good-humored way, she delivers. Since most of her singing partners won't be here, we'll just have to settle for stuff from her other albums, like 2004's great The Pros and Cons of Collaboration. Aw, shucks. Backyard Stage, 1:30 p.m. INFOMATIK + MERCIR + VIVA VOCE + IQU + EVA + JUNKIE XL The Sky Church gets progressively more electronic today, as Infomatik channel Ian Curtis (well, to be sure) at midday, followed by Mercir's indietronica in the vein of great forgotten bands National Skyline and Antarctica. Viva Voce's Anita and Kevin push electrofied garage rock against Kento and Michiko's theremin and talkbox in IQU before house DJ Eva primes the crowd for Junkie XL, who makes big beat that rockers can dance to. EMP Sky Church, 12:15 p.m. + 1:45 p.m. + 3:15 p.m. + 4:45 p.m. + 6:45 p.m. + 9 p.m. MAVIS STAPLES See Friday. Blues Stage, 2:15 p.m. IAN MCFERON BAND Whether it's McFeron's funky take on folk, Alisa Milner's distinctive Texas fiddle, or the fact that all five of them are young and hot, the boy and his band have found an ever-growing local following this year. Those who regard roots-rock as a no-man's-land should steer clear— your feet may start dancing of their own accord. Backyard Stage, 3:15 p.m. BILL FRISELL/TONY SCHERR/ KENNY WOLLESEN With his guitar(s) and a toolbox full of toys, Frisell can fry your senses with psychedelic abstractions or charm you with Eno-esque ambience. He's collaborated with both Elvis Costello and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Frisell has range to spare. In this trio, Wollesen's drums and Sherr's bass add to the excitement. McCaw Hall, 3:45 p.m. ANDRE FERIANTE A festival staple and frequent guest on KING-FM (98.1), Feriante takes his classical guitar seriously, having studied in Madrid with Maestro Andres Segovia, played Vivaldi in Rome, and appeared on Colombian radio. Here, he's a fixture at dinner clubs and cafes, where his flamenco-style rhapsodies conjure sun-soaked Mediterranean beaches . . . and get to your date's head like so much wine. Northwest Court Lounge, 4:30 p.m. MINUS THE BEAR Not only is Minus the Bear's new Menos el Oso (Suicide Squeeze) one of the best local releases of the year, it's one of the sharper indie-rock albums to cross our paths in 2005, period. Crisp writing, gorgeous guitars, and regular-guy vocals from Jake Snider with some actual oomph—what more do you want? What's Next Stage, 9 p.m. DIGABLE PLANETS The hip-hop trio may have called it quits after just two albums—1994's mind-expanding Blowout Comb and the previous year's acclaimed Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space), but not before they hipped a generation of kids to jazz via skillful samples, socially aware lyrics, and New York City sass (though Ishmael Butler is a Seattle native with a fine band, Cherrywine, that's currently on hiatus). Bumbrella Stage, 9:15 p.m. TIFT MERRITT A North Carolina lass who trades more in country than alt, Merritt hit back-to-back Tractor shows and the KEXP studio this February supporting her second solo work, Tambourine. On it, Jayhawks and Black Crowes producer George Drakoulias helped fold traces of Aretha, Dusty, and Van Morrison into Merritt's top-notch songwriting and impassioned, surprisingly large voice. Backyard Stage, 9:15 p.m. SUNDAY, SEPT. 4 THE PHARCYDE If it seems like it's been a while since these goofy, sharp California MCs were in our consciousness, that's probably because last year's The Humboldt Beginnings, like 2000's Plain Rap, isn't exactly in the same league as their two cult classics, 1992's Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde and 1994's Labcabincalifornia. We're betting the earlier stuff will predominate this set, however. Mainstage, 12:15 p.m. IGUALES Tighten it up now! Last year, founding Iguales member Aaron Walker's Big World Breaks provided the soundtrack at Bumbershoot's B-boy battles, as his instrumental percussion quartet tends to do at clubs around town. There's no scheduled dancing at this year's fest, but when you hear Iguales, it's move it or lose it. Bumbrella Stage, 12:45 p.m. TALIB KWELI There couldn't be a better endorsement for the former Black Star rapper than Jay-Z's Black Album big-up, but Kweli's own work speaks for itself. He may have started crafting radio-ready tunes like "Never Been in Love" recently, but he still can't be accused of dumbing them down for his audience. Mainstage, 1:45 p.m. WHEEDLE'S GROOVE First, Light in the Attic made its name with sharply appointed reissues of rare R&B. Then they found some of the rarest—and coolest—of that R&B had been made right here, and put that out, too. Now, they've gotten some of the artists from last year's fine Wheedle's Groove compilation to play a big ol' revue, featuring Robbie Hill, Overton Berry, Pat Wright (from the Total Experience Gospel Choir), Bernadette Bascom, and Ron Buford, with local-hero DJs Mr. Supreme (the CD's co-compiler) and Dynomite D. Blues Stage, 1:45 p.m. MATH AND PHYSICS CLUB They love Belle & Sebastian so much they're putting out their quiet, charming songs four at a time, in color-coded, strikingly designed EPs, and they've built enough of a following in such a short time that this should be one of the buzzier shows at the festival. Not buzzing, though—let's just say it's a good thing they're playing indoors, where the distraction of competing sound systems will be less of a problem. EMP Sky Church, 2 p.m. BO DIDDLEY You can read it in Rolling Stone (which recently ran a superb feature on him) or even better, the liner notes of his titanic Chess Box, but Bo Diddley is one of the sui generis geniuses of rock and roll—from any era. He will play that cool, rectangular guitar, sure, but his beats (yes, there's more than one) will get under your skin as well as your feet, and when he's on, there's nothing like it. McCaw Hall, 3 p.m. COMMON See CD Reviews. Mainstage, 3:15 p.m. SCHOOLYARD HEROES Nineteen-year-old vocalist Ryann Donnelly leads this band of horror-noir shredders as they conquer Seattle's all-ages scene (and beyond) with devastating shows and their just-released Control Group album, Fantastic Wounds. All in a day's work—and in a prom dress, no less. What's Next Stage, 4 p.m. JOHN WESLEY HARDING & FRIENDS: SONGS OF MISFORTUNE See CD-R Go!. Bagley Wright Theatre, 4:15 p.m. SWAMPDWELLER The self-titled debut of this Bebop & Destruction offshoot, led by B&D's Marc Fendel, is one of the smartest, most addictive Seattle albums of 2005. With six songs totaling just under an hour, it's unhurried, but its acidic jazz (not acid jazz, thank God) is frisky anyway, with the compositions shifting their layers like a happy, groove-oriented Frankenstein. Highly recommended. Northwest Court Lounge, 4:15 p.m. JOE BATAAN Bataan belongs on any short list of Latin-music greats, having pioneered the fusion of Latin jazz and black R&B into a Latin soul that pre-empted disco and vied with boogaloo for hip status in '60s Nu Yorica. He even got in on hip-hop early (see 1980's "Rap-O Clap-O"), and named disco's greatest label with his 1974 album, Salsoul. In short, he changed the course of popular music more than once. Go pay tribute with your ears, feet, and hips. Bumbrella Stage, 4:45 p.m. THE POSIES There have been several partial reunions over the years since the Posies' initial breakup in 1999, but Every Kind of Light (Rykodisc) is their first album with the original membership intact, and it picks up where the band's '90s albums left off. It may be a "Last Crawl," as the album's highlight is titled, but it's a pretty nice one. Backyard Stage, 7 p.m. JESSE SYKES & THE SWEET HEREAFTER 2004's Oh, My Girl (Barsuk) has Sykes and her band bleeding misery and hope through thoughtful arrangements, evocative guitars, and perfectly smoky vocals. Live, the band manages to be twice as purposeful, twice as imaginative, and twice as wonderfully hazy. McCaw Hall, 7:30 p.m. JUANA MOLINA It's fitting that Argentine singer- songwriter Molina's Tres Cosas is out on Domino Records, home to both the quirky electronica of Four Tet and gentle folk of Bonnie "Prince" Billy—a synthesis Molina approaches with barely there electronic textures, whispered vocals, and shimmering acoustic guitars. Northwest Court Lounge, 8:15 p.m. ISRAEL VIBRATION This harmony trio of roots-reggae lifers' consistency is just about unmatched, and it's displayed nicely on Sanctuary/RAS's splendid recent This Is Crucial Reggae compilation. That collection ends with a live track that stands up with any of the disc's studio recordings—a good omen for this show. Bumbrella Stage, 9 p.m. ELVIS COSTELLO After a good, raucous new album (2004's The Delivery Man), Costello hit the road this spring with a dizzying, lengthy (two-hours-plus) show with his band, the Imposters. For Bumbershoot, he'll be alone with his guitar—and, of course, one of the most dazzling songbooks in existence, not to mention more covers than the Pike Place Market newsstand. Mainstage, 9:45 p.m. MONDAY, SEPT. 5 THE DECEMBERISTS In what is surely the most bizarre lineup of the day (and the entire fest), everyone's favorite nautically obsessed pop songsmiths prime the stage for Dashboard- fucking-Confessional. Say what? It's true, so you'd best get there early for a good spot, or you'll have to walk the plank, mate. Mainstage, 12:30 p.m. KJ SAWKA Kevin Sawka is one of the few live drum and bass artists in Seattle, creating his own songs on the fly—via a half-acoustic, half-electronic drumkit with triggers for sounds, samplers, and a laptop—rather than spinning records. This time, he'll perform as a trio with Christa Wells on vocals and Kent Halvorsen on keyboards. Bumbrella Stage, 12:45 p.m. CHARMING SNAKES Just when you feared that hand claps were forever gone from the arsenal of garage rock and it's kiss-off cousins, along came this local four-piece's Ammunition (Dirtnap). Someone in this band wants to be Phil Spector, like, really bad. Appropriately, however, the hand claps never seem like happy applause, the walls of sound have been sprayed with graffiti and partially demo'd, and the sound is more modern than retro. EMP Sky Church, 1:45 p.m. MEREDITH MONK Monk is one of modern composition's most revered figures. Her most recent work was 2003's Possible Sky, her first orchestra piece. She also issued Mercy on ECM New Series in late 2002. McCaw Hall, 4 p.m. EARLIMART This L.A. folk-pop band's Treble & Tremble (2004) never pretended to be anything other than a tribute to the late Elliott Smith, and while it's uneven, nearly two years after the singer-songwriter's death, Earlimart's hushed tones—now inextricably bound to Smith's—should be extremely moving live. What's Next Stage, 4:30 p.m. KINSKI See Talk Talk. EMP Sky Church, 6:15 p.m. TED LEO + PHARMACISTS These Jersey-based purveyors of infectious, literate-but-not-elitist punk make the rounds so often on their never-ending tour that we're giving them honorary Seattle residency. They keep improving, too— last year's Shake the Sheets (Lookout!) is their best yet. What's Next Stage, 6:15 p.m. KEREN ANN Having just played a show at Woodland Park Zoo, inter- national chanteuse Keren Ann takes a crack at performing for another sort of menagerie. After a long weekend of getting pushed around in the sun and overcharged for strawberry shortcake, her breezy songwriting should be appropriately soothing. Northwest Court Lounge, 7:45 p.m. FLOGGING MOLLY Banjo, spoons, tin whistle, fiddle, uilleann pipes, accordion, mandolin, guitars, and frantically pounding drums are the instruments you'll hear from this seven-piece band, who've repeatedly rocked the Warped tour with their Celtic-punk fusion. What's Next Stage, 8 p.m. MICHAEL FRANTI AND SPEARHEAD If Franti and his troupe's antiwar sentiments have lately turned facile—from the smart Spearhead (1994), Chocolate Supa Highway (1997), and Stay Human (2001) to 2003's flaccid Everybody Deserves Music—well, we need all the lefty gadflies we can get, and besides, Spearhead can still put on a hell of a show. Bumbrella Stage, 8:45 p.m. IGGY AND THE STOOGES With Rhino remastering and reissuing their still-volcanic first two albums, Virgin issuing a two-disc Iggy Pop overview, and amazingly well-received first reappearances two years ago, James (Iggy) Osterberg, Ron and Scott Asheton, and ringer Mike Watt (filling in on bass for the late Dave Alexander) are probably the most fitting finale to a festival that skews old-but-unbowed we could possibly ask for. That, and they rock harder than God. Mainstage, 9:30 p.m. info@seattleweekly.com Bumbershoot runs Fri., Sept. 2–Mon., Sept. 5, at Seattle Center. Tickets: $28 one-day pass/ $45 two-day pass/$80 four-day pass; $8 ages 5–12 and 65 and over. www.bumbershoot.org.

 
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