Bumbershoot day two, in the pouring rain
It was pouring yesterday morning – thick, persistent rain – but the forecast predicted clearer skies toward midday. Regardless, I’d already decided to start my second day at this year’s Bumbershoot festival indoors at the KEXP music lounge. I grooved through a good hour with Ra Scion from local hip-hop troupe Common Market before opening the gates to what would become Roots Music Day at Bumbershoot.
It was aptly instigated by local singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone, who played her lounge set sans rhythm section. If you’re unfamiliar with Cahoone’s work, suffice it to say the words “quiet” and “sad” come up a lot in print. I’ve typed them a number of times myself. This early in the day, with the rain still falling outside, the quiet and sad felt even quieter and sadder. It was a beautiful little heartbreaking set. Later in the day, on the Starbucks stage, in comparison, Cahoone’s set was darn near energetic. The quiet and sad was still pervasive in songs like “Baker Lake” and “You Might As Well,” but multi-instrumentalist Jeff Fielder pulled in the energy with a number of inspired solos. Pulling mostly from last year’s Only as the Day Is Long, her cover of Buck Owens’ “Love’s Gonna Live Here” downright rocked, and a nameless new song left a solid impression.
The best moment of the day came on the same stage, with Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women. Laurie Lewis unleashed more than a few fiery fiddle solos while Alvin’s chemistry with Christy McWilson meant formidable vocal performances, regardless of who was singing. Cindy Cashdoller’s lap steel deserves a merited mention, as it dominated many of the instrumental breaks. This is a large, incredibly tight band who clearly feed quite strongly from each other’s incredible instrumental skill. There are still a number of remarkable artists to check out today, but Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women may prove to be my favorite band of the whole festival.
Other highlights from Day Two came from Brett Dennen, whose vaguely reggae-inspired music transformed the soggy field in front of the Starbucks stage into move-and-groove party, and the understated cleverness of Todd Snider. It was late and rather dark by the time Snider took to a far-away side stage. It felt like kind of a shame that a songwriter of his skill be showcased so far from the center of attention, but those crowded around to watch his set didn’t seem to mind. He moved through a handful of tunes before opening the floor to requests. Probably the most crowd-pleasing moment came in the form of “Alright Guy,” though “Just Like Old Times” and “Tension” were my personal highlights.
Hey Marseilles, another up-and-coming local outfit, and Handful of Luvin’ both piqued my interest early on, and I’d be remiss not to mention the incredible energy of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on the mainstage, with all their confetti, bouncing giant eyeball balloons, and Karen O’s costume choices. It was quite a day at Seattle Center, and I can only guess today will be just as memorable. On the schedule: Black Joe Lewis, Cave Singers, Grand Hallway, the Devil Makes Three, Akron/Family, Soulsavers, and more. Here’s hoping the rain gives us a break.