Bumbershoot day one: Cloudy with a chance of music
Day one of Bumbershoot, Seattle's three-day music and arts blitz, gets off to a sunny/cloudy start.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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On the first day of Bumbershoot 2009, the weather seemed to indicate the simultaneous arrival of autumn and last hurrah of summer: Long sleeves mingled with sunglasses, polar fleece with face paint, gray skies with French fries. Marijuana smoke wafted intermittently and folks hit the beer garden at noon, but the vibe was chilled-out.
Thousands of people milled around the Seattle Center campus for the opening of the annual three-day music and arts festival, which began in 1971. They soaked up the usual sights and sounds, and mostly looked like traditional Bumbertypes.
Like the weather, they were waffling: Gaggles of teens and families with strollers ate pad thai from booths, looked at printed schedules, and casually argued about which performances looked most interesting.
You could plan your day, or not. Either way worked.
If you wandered from the giant skateboard half-pipe by the International Fountain, you might have headed south to the Fisher Green stage and seen the Olympic Sound Collective pronounce itself "the sound of nails being hammered into the coffin of modern jazz."
Then you might have continued southeast to the Mural Amphitheatre and seen Kristen Ward and her band do earthy, '90s-style radio-rock. Afterward, you might have met Ms. Ward, and maybe even snapped a photo with her. Would she sign your CD? Yes, she would.
Strolling east, maybe you caught Everest, a rock band with a lot of guitars and a row of ancient-looking amps. Maybe you noticed one member wearing a Green River shirt (old local grunge), and one teen fan on the grass with a Lynyrd Skynyrd tote bag (Southern rock guitar fetishizers). Maybe you thought that seemed appropriate.
Moderate crowds made it possible for you to graze. For whatever reason — the weather? the economy? $50 tickets at the gate? — Seattle Center didn't appear as choked with festivalgoers as it has been on some sunny Bumbershoot Saturdays past.
But maybe you didn't wander. Maybe you came to see Katy Perry, who became an MTV sensation by singing about kissing girls. Onstage at Memorial Stadium, she played in front of a pink backdrop that had her name written in shiny cursive letters with bubbles all around it.
There was a big inflatable strawberry bandied about by the crowd and an inflatable flamingo onstage. Perry wore a swimsuit with a rump ruffle and looked like Veronica from the Archie comics. Her legs were the stars of the stadium, and her voice was tuneless.
If you were 13, maybe you loved it.
Then maybe it was time for a gyro, or a Thai iced tea, or a loaf back by the fountain. You could duck into one of the literary arts rooms, or go check out the poster exhibition by Fisher Green, or keep circling the grounds and seeing whatever looked most impressive at any given time.
At 4 o'clock, what looked most impressive was Mayer Hawthorne and the County, who brought "baby-making music" to the Fisher Green stage. It was throwback, Motown-style, and so much fun, you might just come back tomorrow.
Andrew Matson: 206-464-2153 or email@example.com
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