Gang Gang Dance, whose set will definitely be one of Bumbershoot's best
By now, most of you have probably had the conversation with your


Six Reasons Why Bumbershoot's Iffy Music Line-up Shouldn't Keep You Away

Gang Gang Dance, whose set will definitely be one of Bumbershoot's best
By now, most of you have probably had the conversation with your friends bemoaning the unfortunate abundance of crap plaguing this year's Bumbershoot music line-up and trying to figure out which day is worth attending -- if it's worth going at all. The mainstage orgy of bubblegum pop so saccharine it'll make your teeth hurt (with the notable exception of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) is especially discouraging.

After dealing with my initial disappointment with Bumbershoot's line-up, I ultimately decided that there are still a lot of really good reasons to go this year. Sure, there are some crappy bands playing, but there are a lot of good ones, too. And after trying to convince half a dozen of my friends -- many of whom are from Seattle or have lived here for 5+ years -- to come with me, I've pretty much got my reasons down pat:

1. It shouldn't be that crowded.

Not only is it supposed to rain all weekend -- suck it up and deal, people: you live here year-round, don't you? -- a lot of the folks who would've otherwise gone are either broke or can't justify spending the money to go see the three or four bands they actually care about. Meaning more lawn space and shorter bathroom lines for you!

2. All the t(w)eenagers and their parents should be firmly planted at the mainstage, freeing you up to go see the good shit unmolested by young'uns whose parents might not look kindly on that king-sized joint in your hand.

I don't know about you, but getting mauled by all the ten-year-old Katy Perry/All-American Rejects/Black Eyed Peas fans sounds about as pleasant as chewing off my own arm. I mean these youngsters no ill will, but that doesn't mean I want to watch a show alongside a whole gaggle of pint-sized Fergie fans. Fortunately, those little rapscallions (and their poor, poor parents) will likely be at the mainstage while you're footloose and fancy-free watching the good bands elsewhere. Which brings me to this:

3. Subtract the mainstage from the equation, and the line-up is not half bad.

Okay, it's not great, and there are some questionable choices on the local front, but there are good local bands too. On the whole, it's a decent little buffet of music. Saturday, for example, features all kinds of good shit: Mayer Hawthorne, Gang Gang Dance, Os Mutantes, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, De La Soul, the Long Winters, Cordero, Akimbo, Past Lives, Natalie Portman's Shaved Head...need I go on? Best of all, most of these bands don't overlap, so you've got a really good chance of seeing almost everything there is to see that's worth seeing.

4. The line-up being just okay is not necessarily a bad thing.

If the line-up was really stellar, you might find yourself feeling disappointed that you only got to see about a quarter to a third of the bands you would've liked to see due to scheduling conflicts and basic human needs like, say, taking a piss. With a line-up like this, you're not going to be running all over the place trying to catch half an hour of this and half an hour of that and burning yourself out after four hours. You've actually got a shot at seeing most of the bands you want to see.

5. There's a lot going on here that's worth seeing, and it's not all musical.

McSweeneys' New Fiction?! David Cross? Spencer Moody doing spoken word poetry? A chance to interrogate the writers of motherfucking LOST?! Songs are just poems with words, you know. Plus, many of these things take place indoors, which is where you'll want to be if the sky really starts dumping on us.

6. Bashing on Bumbershoot is something you have license to do only if you've lived in a cultural wasteland for most of your life.

Ok, this isn't really a reason to go, but it is a reason to quitcherbitching and consider how few places there are in America that are not only nice places to live, but also hold really fun arts festivals in the middle of the city -- just because there are enough people here who care about such things and need art to be happy.

As someone who grew up in a city that (so far's I know) still has no decent music festivals held within hundreds of miles of it (Warped Tour does not count), I think all the entitled native Seattleites (and transplanted Portlanders) who've been complaining about Bumbershoot's iffy musical selections this year should probably step back and realize how lucky we are to have an annual festival like Bumbershoot here in the first place. If we were forced to skip a year for budget reasons, or (God forbid) the festival shut down altogether, we'd all be really fucking sad and suddenly forget all our complaints. I'm not saying we should just take a bubblegum pop marathon lying down. But I grew up in Reno, Nevada, where the biggest event of the summer is the Reno Rodeo. Big name musicians, when they deign to come to town at all, must play either at a casino theater (I once saw Modest Mouse at what was formerly the Reno Hilton, and it was fuckin' surreal) or the Livestock Events Center. No, really. Compared to that, even the crappiest Bumbershoot line-up in history looks pretty damn all right to me.

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