Before I left my house more than twelve hours ago, I told myself I better wear some comfortable sneakers because those moments of rest would be far and few between. How right I was. There wasn't a show where I wasn't standing, looking at the clock on my phone (I don't do wrist watches) and my daily schedule, seeing where I had to be next, and when.
On my way over to catch Art Brut, I stumbled past the Esurance stage, where Blue Scholars, filling in for an absent Ryan Shaw, were about to go on. The energy surrounding the stage and stretching back to the fountain was just about the most kinetic I've felt all day. A sea of hands, smiling dudes in flat-billed ball caps and the scent of marijuana were noticeably present, and I was in the middle, not about to miss one of the cities most important hip hop groups this decade. Geologic and Sazbi hit the stage with a typical hip hop swagger, Sazbi behind the turntables, and MC Geologic front-and-center. Why they weren't originally scheduled to perform at Bumbershoot is beyond me, but for being a last-minute replacement, they absolutely delivered one of the most thrilling hip hop shows I've seen in years. Everyone was into it, myself included, and Blue Scholars were hyping themselves up as much as the audience with a bunch of stuff off their latest, Bayani. Everyone was throwing hands up and shouting along to the call-and-responses, and none of it felt like some forced, play-your-audience-like-a-marionette bullshit that's typical with hip hop shows. Man, I'm glad I just happened to be walking by. Art Brut was dust in the wind.
Afterward, I took a short jaunt over to the Starbucks Stage, where Andrew Bird was performing. Admittedly, beyond giving his latest record Armchair Apocrypha a few spins, I never managed to listen further. Which is surprising, considering his utilitarian drummer/organist, Martin Dosh, has been a favorite of mine for the last four years or so. But it wasn't long after Andrew Bird, the whistling violinist, and his backing band (Dosh and a bass/guitar player), did I realize what all I have been missing out on. It's the music of Dosh on a more symphonic scale, with Bird tending to the plucked strings, whistling cadences and dimly reverbed vocals, slowing building loops and layers into harrowing, entrancing crescendos. Bird could be the world champion whistler, but he'd probably be disqualified because of his name.
Wasn't sure what to expect from Seaweed, the Tacoma band who broke up in 1999 (thanks Technology Pete!) and reunited for this year's Bumbershoot. Word has it that last night they played a surprise set at High Dive in Fremont. When I arrived to their headlining set at the EMP Sky Church, I was instantly taken back to a time I'd rather forget. It was the mid-90s. As Seaweed churned through their mid-90s post-grunge frat-punk, I thought about about all the bros in my high school who listened to Pennywise and Seaweed and called me faggot as they peeled out of the parking lot. As I left, others followed. Walking down the stairs, I overheard a middle-aged woman ask, "Why are all these people leaving? Is it over?" No, lady, it's just beginning. (Seaweed mentioned something about Tacoma getting a show in December.) Most reunions are wrong and unnecessary.
Closed off the night with peacenik gypsy Devendra Banhart, who I unfortunately missed the first thirty minutes of no thanks to Seaweed. I wasted no time finding an open plot of grass in the Beer Garden where the sound and stage view were both pretty solid. Since it was approaching the end of the night, I thought it would be nice to rest my head on my pack, close my eyes, and just listen to Banhart's woodsy gentle croon and rollicking abandon carry into the night. Unfortunately, it's a big no-no to lay down (strictly enforced by security, er, Relax Detractors), so I stood through the rest of the set that worked in some off his last album, Crippled Crow, and a couple new one's off his forthcoming album, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon that he hasn't played live yet (His tour began yesterday in Vancouver).
On my way out, I fought against the massive crowd leaving Memorial Stadium, where Fergie was still performing (with what sounded like an actual band). No word on if she pissed herself tonight. But her voice sounded pretty shitty.