Fleet Foxes (I'm lucky to call frontman Robin Pecknold my brother) kicked off the day in the festival's equivalent of the eye of the storm,>"/>
Fleet Foxes (I'm lucky to call frontman Robin Pecknold my brother) kicked off the day in the festival's equivalent of the eye of the storm, the plush, air-conditioned KEXP Music Lounge and played a beautiful set chock full of new material, that even I hadn't been privy to yet. Highlights included the guys nailing the many part harmonies of "White Winter Hymnal" and Brother Pecknold showcased his golden pipes solo with "Oliver James", a minimalistic melodic folk tale. A longer set later in the day at EMP's (always eerily corporate) Sky Church stage gave them a chance to supplement the newer jams with some they've played out in the past like "My Love."
Chicago's Andrew Bird was up next in the lounge (for his second set of the festival), who I've never had the chance to play, not did I know much about going in. He was incredible, starting off with a sound check that would have been worth the ticket price (well, maybe not the $35 ticket price, but easily $15 or $20) alone. Using a violin and pedals to loop many different parts, he was like a full orchestra one man show. For the main course, he ran through a range of material from his own, where he seemed to magically morph his violin into everything from ukelele to guitar and even a flute to a cover of friends, The Handsome Family's "The Giant of Illinois" which sounded much better even than the original. A couple songs into the set, he kicked off his shows, likely to allow a greater sensitivity for the pedals, to reveal a set of pretty nice striped socks.
Light in the Attic's The Blakes will have no problem garnering a rabid fan base with their forthcoming full-length release on the local label. These guys were made for rock and roll, in the most classic sense, and their showing at Bumbershoot did nothing but solidify that. Dressed all in vests, the guys sweat their way through rock jammers that included crowd favorite "Pistol Grip" and lyrical content like "If you're not with another man, then I'd like to be with you tonight." Later in the day, as their frontman strutted past a group of young fans who called out "You rock!" as he walked by, he turned, pointed at the kids and said "No. You rock!" before heading backstage to watch the Frames.
Barsuk husband and wife duo Viva Voce (Portland's Kevin and Anita Robinson) have a tough time putting on a bad show- Anita alone can hold the interest of the crowd with her serious shredding skills, and today was no exception. Dressed in a flowing summer dress, she wailed on her whammy bar while Kevin posted up behind the drum kit, looking on in admiration as they ran through much of the material on their latest release Get Yr Blood Sucked Out like pros. Kevin gave a shout-out to Easy Street, calling them out despite the fact that the stage's main sponsor was national chain FYE. How punk rock.
Sonic Boom Record's Siberian ran through a clean sounding, energetic set of good old fashioned anthemic indie rock replete with squealing tween girls in the front row, snapping pictures on their camera phones and arguing over their favorites. Frontman Fin could likely hold his own in a karaoke showdown with Thom York if he needed to.
I was giddy over the chance to catch Roky Erickson's set, as I'd just seen (like many others) You're Gonna Miss Me, the documentary that chronicles his struggles as a schitzophrenic, going from putting out records with the 13th Floor Elevators to putting together a band with child killers and rapists in a loony bin to living with his mother and about a thousand electronic devices that are always on. The crowd clearly loved him, and shouted their sentiments at the stage between each song. I only caught the end, but from what I saw, the guy clearly hasn't lost it. "Two Headed Dog" and others came through like the rock gems they are, executed with Erickson's bluesy yowls.
The auditorium wasn't quite as overflowing with hipsters as I'd imagined it would be for Miranda July's powerpoint presentation (no joke) on her website/book Learning to Love You More, a group of over 60 assignments that people can do themselves and then submit, but those that were perhaps getting a prime spot for the Wu missed a sweet performance. Suffering from jet lag (she'd been in Ireland the day before) and sporting an awesome, what must be a perm induced, afro July took the crowd through several assignments to demonstrate the idea. During an assignment called Heal Yourself, she even passed out to the crowd, note cards with the steps to follow to cure heartache, (Step 1: If you were living together, get a new bed. If you can't afford a new bed then sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag until you get rid of the old mattress) which she said did work for her during a recent break up. She encouraged even those in what may seem like solid unions to take a card and "keep it in you wallet, because really, you never know."
Enter the Wu: the floor at Memorial Stadium was packed solid when the Clan took the stage, opening with "Wu Tang Clan Ain't Nothing to Fuck Wit" and, as they showed over the course of their raucous set, they still aren't. A tribute to their fallen comrade O.D.B had the crowd chanting so loud, I could hear it all the way home as I headed up the hill, tired and happy after riding the beast that proved to be one of the best years Bumbershoot I've had yet. Now, back to bed.