Answers & Advice: Dude, What Happened to Bumbershoot?

You're just going through the cycles of life. I've seen this many times before.

Dear Mister Roderick: How come Bumbershoot really really has sucked the past few years? This year we are skipping it because it sucks so hard. We miss real rock bands and Seattle music . . . not Fergie and any other flavors of the month. Thanks.


Roderick: I’ll be honest with you, “Lauren”: Bumbershoot always has about the same mixture of cool local bands, weird but inspired national bands, a handful of boring alt-country bands for the moms and dads, and one or two completely misguided “Fergies” in the hopes of selling 10,000 tickets to preteen girls in Snohomish County. What you’re noticing is not that Bumbershoot is getting worse, but that you are going through the cycles of life.

I’ve seen this many times before: A young woman falls in love with Bumbershoot, then after a few years the relationship cools. She starts to imagine a life without Bumbershoot; starts to wonder what her life would have been like if she’d never met Bumbershoot at all. Pretty soon, she invents some problem with Bumbershoot where she throws the whole relationship back in Bumbershoot’s face. This is totally natural.

Pretty soon you’ll go back to Bumbershoot, but only to see the independent film and comedy, which you’ll be sure to mention to everyone. Eventually you’ll be sitting on the grass in a gingham dress listening to boring alt-country and thanking God for Bumbershoot. It’s the way of things.

What’s a “reasonable” number of funnel cakes to eat in one day at Bumbershoot?

—Chris, Seattle

There are a lot of variables in answering your question properly, Chris, but for the sake of argument I’m going to assume you are an average-sized American male and weigh 345 lbs. In that case, and assuming that you have already eaten a package of hot dogs before leaving home, I would suggest pacing yourself throughout the day by eating roughly a funnel cake an hour.

Your goal should be to have the constant threat of vomit in the back of your throat without actually vomiting more than about a cup and a half of funnel cake and hot-dog liquid. Hope that helps!

I bought tix prior to the lineup announcement. When will I get ’em in the mail?


You should be receiving your tickets any day now. If they haven’t arrived by the first day of the festival, I would definitely write another letter to the newspaper.

Hi: I’d like to know “where it’s at” in Seattle from Sept 3–17. I’ll be in town for work and want to make the most of the music and food scene. I saw BOAT is playing on the 10th, but any other suggestions would be great. Also, when and where to get the best food-truck bites around town? Thanks,


Alicia: In my experience the absolute BEST way to learn about Seattle and see a great slice of local culture is to stop by the Comet Tavern on your first night in town, get shitfaced drunk, and go home with a bike messenger. Strike up a conversation with his squat-mates in the morning over cigarettes and day-old banana bread, and soon you’ll be whisked away on an anarcho-Marxist pedaling adventure!

Did you say food trucks? How would you like to eat fresh eggs from chickens that live UNDER a truck? Your Seattle pals will encourage you to try new things, like stretching your pierced-ear holes to accommodate test-tube stoppers! Soon you’ll be asking yourself how you managed to go so long without a tattoo on your sternum of a snake eating its tail, and the soul-sucking shitstorm you used to call your mainstream “life” will fade away in a blissful rain of dark beer and vegan bacon.

I envy the voyage of discovery you’re about to undertake.

Where are you going for Labor Day weekend? Dave Matthews Band’s Caravan at the Gorge, or Bumbershoot at Seattle Center?

—C. Roy, Top Hat

This is phrased like a trick question, “C. Roy,” as though choosing between Dave Matthews and Bumbershoot was some kind of barometer of taste. In fact, I will make my decision based on the time-tested methodology I’ve employed for more than a decade: I will be attending the first of these events to offer me free passes!

Some people asked me why I didn’t go to the Capitol Hill Block Party? Well, I was in San Diego, but also: They didn’t offer me any free passes! That is bullshit! So what if I was in San Diego?

The thing about this town, “C. Roy,” is you have to take a hard line with promoters or they start to think that THEY run the show, know what I’m sayin’? If the Dave Matthews people get back to me with some free passes before the Bumbershoot people, I know somebody who’s digging his yoga pants out of the dirty-clothes basket.

Dear John: Will Bumbershoot this year drop all the unlistenable acts that appeal to the ne’er-do-well youngsters who should be out working anyway and not going to festivals, and appeal instead to real people like me who want to see Crosby, Stills and Nash and Neil Diamond?

Be Seeing You,


I’m going to guess from the artists you mention, and from your unlikely alias, “Bart,” that you are a member of the baby-boomer generation. I completely sympathize with your plight. For more than 40 years you’ve been spoon-fed the legendary culture of the ’60s into your gaping, insatiable maw, and it is absolutely shameful of Bumbershoot to book mainstage bands that don’t have at least one former member of WAR or Tower of Power.

Why should you have to truck all the way out to Chateau Ste. Michelle to hear some REAL music? It’s about time the baby-boomer generation stood up for itself. You’ve been silent long enough!

What the hell is up with the suck-ass beer gardens at Bumbershoot? Real bummer, man.


The problem isn’t Bumbershoot’s beer gardens, “Anonymous,” it’s that Seattle has a longstanding policy of restricting access to alcohol for the good of the whole community. The governing logic is that if ONE underage person has ONE drink of beer ONE time, all underage people will instantly become pregnant, get herpes, and have back-alley abortions. This would cause the fabric of Seattle culture to come apart faster than edible bikini bottoms in a Spokane hot tub.

The Liquor Control Board is duty-bound to herd adult drinkers at Bumbershoot into crowded pens, far, far away from the seductive pull of music, lest the animal lusts unleashed by the taboo rhythms spark orgiastic riots that spread pregnancy and herpes everywhere! I’ve seen this happen in France and other places, like Baltimore, and it is disgusting and great.

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