Before leaving for Bumbershoot 2015 I wrote 10 Things: Artists I Just Can’t Miss. As circumstances would have it, I did end up missing 4 out of 10 acts: Nacho Picasso, Raz Simone, Ellie Goulding, and a talk from writer Ijeoma Oluo. I did, however, see some other great artists I hadn’t heard of (like The Bots and Seattle rapper Dave B.), a “super secret” standup show, and a different writers talk called “Writing the Northwest. The entire weekend was a blast, but I was most impressed by sets from The Weeknd, Kehlani, and Ben Harper.
Here are seven revelations I had during the epic Bumbershoot weekend:
Bumbershoot and Seattle need to be cooler about Cannabis
No cannabis allowed. Still? The leaf’s been legal for literally years now and the stores have been open since March! What’s the point in having legal weed if you’re still going to give us slight anxiety when we sneak it past security? Still, that didn’t stop a tremendous amount of ganja smoke clouds to manifest at every set I attended – including Key Arena. Even though the pat-downs at security got more thorough each day, the festival workers were all relatively chill about the Bumbershoot Cannabis policy, which was barely enforced at all except in the beer garden. Next year there had better be some sort of a pot garden or stoner tent to smoke at…but it can’t just be some patch of concrete hidden between two buildings with zero stimulation. I’m thinking we can set-up something really nice on one of Seattle Center’s many grassy knolls. Preferably one with a tree.
I NEED to see The Weeknd again in concert
And like, soon. In my first post I mentioned that I half-expected shaky vocals from the R&B singer during his Bumbershoot set, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I may have been more crossfaded at his show than at any other set—it’s how Abel would have wanted it—but my hearing was acute. Abel’s vocals were so on point, I didn’t even care that he didn’t sing “Real Life,” one of my favorites from “Beauty Behind the Madness.” His performance made me more obsessed with other songs from the album, like “Losers,” which is now burned into my memory. I’ll travel if necessary to see Abel again, and it looks like his “The Madness” Fall Tour might just be doable!
I’ll handle your social media, Bumbershoot
I do think that Bumbershoot needs to employ my services, since they clearly need help in some areas. For one thing, their participation on social media is severely lacking. Their Twitter account only favorites tweets, and they didn’t answer many questions from festival goers. Also, why did the Bumbershoot Live SnapChat story not become available until the third day? This is just one example, but the underlying revelation is that working for a music festival would be right up my alley and probably a lot of fun.
The promotional Otter Box charging station was bullshit
After my phone died at Hozier’s truly stellar set, I hussled over to the OtterBox booth where a bunch of irresponsible adults hoarded over bundles of cords with little to no supervision. Many people struggled to determine what was a charger and what was a demo case. And since there were so many people plugged in to the same power source, it took fucking FOREVER to get enough charge to turn my phone back on. After the OtterBox staff kicked us out at 9pm, I was told there were more charging stations in Key Arena. And go figure, that T-mobile outlet played host to the most beneficial time I spent in Key Arena all weekend.
I greatly dislike Key Arena…for concerts
Key Arena: where the seats coerce you into sitting (not dancing), and the acoustics are heinous. Quite frankly, I’m bitter towards the venue because I fell asleep during Chance the Rapper’s set by no intention of my own. LET ME EXPLAIN: 1) They didn’t fill the floor to capacity like they did for Zedd, so the vast majority of Chance’s fans had to sit on the second or third balcony where there are fold down seats. Normally I would have stood and participated, but unlike many festival goers, I was only running on regular old legal substances like marijuana, alcohol and caffeine. It had been a very long day, and watching Chance the Rapper’s set from the third balcony made me feel very disconnected from him. I could barely see him! I may or may not have nodded off and then left early at my friends’ request. It’s perhaps my greatest regret from Bumbershoot 2015. Had we not driven up from Portland at 7am, and been mobbing around Seattle and Bumbershoot all day, jamming out to Jhene Aiko and The Weeknd, I may have not been so sleepy. Throughout the weekend, the venue also housed electronic dance acts like Zedd and Bassnectar, and I just don’t understand why. Unless it’s the type of show that you’ll want to be sitting for, the act should be held in Memorial Stadium where it’s not pitch black and there aren’t comfy seats. I understand that Memorial Stadium is more expensive to book, but it’s just an all-around better experience. You know what Key Arena would actually be perfect for? Seattle Sonics games.
Kehlani is About to Blow the F**k Up
Truthfully, she already has. The 20-year-old–thoroughly tatted–Oakland native had a cult-like following come out to see her Bumbershoot set. Many of
them us showed up early to make sure we could get a good luck at the young star. Kehlani was accompanied by the equally adorable DJ Noodles, who had no trouble pumping up the crowd and even stepped out to do some choreography with Kehlani. Even while dancing, Kehlani sang superbly. She has a ferocious yet relatable energy that makes it impossible not to sing and dance along with her. Opportunely, the early Kehlani krowd (forgive me) also got to see another R&B artist they were likely to enjoy…
Future-soul singer Gallant
So who knew about Gallant and didn’t tell me? His stuff is baby-making music—point blank—and it’s addictive as hell. I almost characterized him as neo-soul, but his sound really does take it a step further than the soul + R&B love child that emerged in the late 1990s. His compelling lyrics and stunning falsetto blend to create a very sexy progressive sound that’s reminiscent of Maxwell and D’Angelo’s, but distinctly futuristic. One of my favorites from his setlist, “Weight in Gold,” starts with references to space: “black dust in orbit, cascades down like a parachute/ Bricks on my shoulders, this gravity hurts when you know the truth”.
I’m grateful to have developed a high level of independence
The only other time I went to a music festival it was last summer at Capital Hill Block Party. I attended the festival on press credentials for Seattle Met magazine and spent the weekend mostly by myself. While I did meet up with some friends a couple of times over the weekend (and made some festival friends to get brunch with), I actually enjoyed all the alone time and being able to stay on my favorites schedule. So I figured when I went to a music festival with a couple friends it would be a different kind of treat that involved a higher degree of recreational substance use, mobbing around in trendy outfits, grabbing free samples from all the vendors, and just being able to enjoy all the live music with my friends without the duty of being on assignment. And to some extent, that was an accurate prediction. But because my friends do not share my passion for certain interests and artists, I spent much of day 2 and 3 enjoying the company of my own damn self. And just like Capital Hill Block Party, I had a lovely time with me. I’m grateful that I can do my own thing at a big festival and don’t need other people by my side to thoroughly enjoy live music.
I would definitely go to Bumbershoot again–alone, or with friends.
♥ Jenni Moore (@JenniferKayMo)