Despite the sunny skies and a heavy early crowd, Bumbershoot got off to a bit of a rough start when the fest’s first act, the Flavr Blue, encountered technical difficulties after a single verse of its first song.
As the trio switched cords and ran a diagnostic on one of its three electro stations, enthusiastic frontwoman Hollis Wong-Wear begged patience. “This is one of those beautiful awkward moments that make festivals great,” she said. That might not be true, but the crowd at the TuneIn Stage, quickly swelling from a few hundred to a thousand, didn’t seem to mind the delay at all. In particular, a colorfully clad group of revelers halfway back, stage right, were having a ball. Or a reunion, actually. The Bumber Buddies, as this group of revelers have come to be known, are familiar to most festival veterans as those people who you will find dancing through rain and shine and, as was proven, technical glitches.
More and more folks in outlandish garb showed up, hugs were exchanged, elations shouted to the sky and, as soon as the Flavr Blue got its bass going, the untethered dance of the Bumber Buddie began.
The Flavr Blue proved a fitting opening for the Buddies, delivering booming two-step beats, adorned with skittering hi-hat and the soulful recitations from Wong-Wear. The band seemed to quickly forget its troubles and had the crowd wide-awake, fists pumping.
“We are thrilled to be out here this evening,” Wong-Wear said later in the set, before catching herself. The slip was understandable; the vibe was nocturnal even as the sun rose to its pinnacle.
After, the Bumber Buddies convene. Next on their list: Nacho Picasso. But not before some more dancing to the interstitial music at the stage. “We all met down here 15 years ago,” the bald gentleman in the kilt told me. “We’ve got about 40 people now, and we recruit more every year.”
In that moment, another women joined the group, younger and wearing bright pink sunglasses. She was not greeted with hugs, but with smiles. A stranger, but not for long.