This year, I'm all about surprises at Bumbershoot. Sure, I'm still going to see those bands that are guaranteed winners--Bob Dylan (likely life-changing), The Thermals (always energetic, with singalong songs), and David Bazan (inspiring yet heartbreaking, all at the same time)--but I'm willing to play a little musical roulette. Here's what I'm guessing has the best chance for surprises.
1. Hole, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Mainstage Three words: Courtney Effing Love. I'm with Ma'chell Duma LaVassar on this one--I think the lead singer (and sole remaining member of Hole) is crazy like a fox. There is no way to really predict what Love's Bumbershoot performance will be like or what she'll say about Seattle, her one-time home. I mean, it wouldn't even be all that surprising if she went on stage and acted like a well-behaved rock star. Between her unpredictable ramblings (Exhibit A is this clip from her recent Behind the Music special), her custody disasters with Frances Bean, and her ability to completely suck on stage, there's really no knowing what Love will do next. (Oh, did I mention Nobody's Daughterwas kinda good?)
2. Parlour Steps, 3:30 p.m., Saturday, EMP Sky Church. This might be the year that Parlour Steps--a 10-year-old band from Canada--actually gets some attention. Then again, I'd never heard of this group until a month ago, and it's possible their whole cabaret-vintage-pop vibe might fall flat live. I am willing to risk it.
Other possibilities for surprises: Bouncing Souls (is it possible to enjoy a band I loved as a teenager but haven't listened to in 10 years?), Weezer (same question), and The Moondoggies (will they play more songs from Tidelands, and will those songs be good?).