The Ladies Had It at Bumbershoot's Sunday

Morgan Keuler
Sunday's Bumbershoot had bigger bands and bigger crowds (I hear Key Arena was full for Macklemore's set, so that's 13,000 right there), and felt more like itself than the previous day's overall subdued vibe. But dedicated festgoers also had worse hangovers and more-tired feet (or was that just me? It's a lot of walking to get around the Seattle Center campus!). Here's a bit of what I saw.

The day started with The Lonely Forest in the Key. The last time I saw the band, I remarked they were better suited to an arena than the Croc, so here was the chance to prove that theory. And indeed, as singer John Van Deusen's vocals soared over the thousands-strong crowd and guitarist Tony Ruland and bassist Eric Sturgeon paced the stage like two hungry predators, it seemed they had found their place. Video screens felt like a natural extension, perfect for the moment at the end of the set (during the epic "We Sing in Time," natch) when Ruland surfed out into the crowd with his guitar. Onward and upward, guys.

Up next, the frenetic sounds of San Francisco's Thee Oh Sees. Their hyperactive garage tunes were fun for the eyes and the ears, as they paid attention to the visual element with double drummers (one of whom was Lars Finberg of The Intelligence, a new Oh Sees member) and splashy instruments like a glowstick-green 12-string electric guitar. A friend remarked that frontman John Dwyer looks like Mickey Rooney's badass little brother, which is apt. But what I want to know is, how does a hard-touring band like Thee Oh Sees maintain the enthusiasm and energy they bring every time? Every show I've seen of theirs has a level of paint-peeling intensity unique to them. However they do it, they should (and will, I'm sure) keep it up.

The rest of the day was all about the badass lady contigent. First up were Tennis, whose innocent and dreamy songs belied the accomplishments of their creators. As Dave Lake noted, the impeccably coiffed and stylish couple that make up the band met in college, then sailed down the Eastern Seaboard before forming a band to write about their experiences. The result is infinitely pleasant, with Alaina Moore's girl-group-style vocals topping keyboards and clean guitar lines. And if the back story makes you jealous, you're not alone. After a few songs, I found myself a bit bored of the "Be My Baby" songwriting (and drumming--the same beat on every song). I'll check back in when they make their version of Shoot Out the Lights.

I caught a few songs of Kaylee Cole's new, almost gothic band before returning to the fountain lawn for the unstoppable Warpaint. OK, I know I've raved about them before, but is there a cooler band out there? "Warpaint are all about tension and release, in the surging bass lines and staccato guitars, the interplay of vocal parts, and the singing itself, sometimes gentle, sometimes desperate and edgy," I said the last time I saw them. This time, what most impressed me about the band was not their tightrope-walking tension but their ability to write songs that are both long and interesting the whole way through. That, and the fact that in addition to being an all-woman affair, their guitar tech was female as well. Girl power!

Warpaint's set pretty much marked the end of my serious festgoing for the day, though Toro Y Moi was a dancey surprise. And even though I didn't stay for the whole thing, I declare crimson-haired Alison Mosshart of the Kills the last badass female musician of the day. See you tomorrow, Bumbershoot.

Spotted: Chris Walla shepherding his proteges The Lonely Forest around the fest.

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