Of the four-dozen or so musical acts hitting Bumbershoot’s various stages, are nearly half of those are Seattle-based. Two cherished local bands--Heart and Death Cab for Cutie--will get their turns at the huge Key Arena stage, but some of the undisputed musical highlights will surely happen at some of Bumbershoot’s other venues. Do yourself an enormous favor, and fit these ten Seattle bands/performers into your Bumber-schedule.
Down North (Saturday, 2pm, Plaza Stage): Down North play funk so hard it could cut diamonds. With a take-it-or-leave-it fireball of a lead singer in Anthony Briscoe and a rhythm section that rocks as ferociously as it swings, expect to be moving somethin’ fierce at the Plaza Stage.
The Physics (Saturday, 5:15pm, Fountain Lawn Stage):The Physics are one of this town’s finest hip-hop crews, and seeing them rouse a Bumbershoot-sized crowd with their smart and playful grooves should make for a serious party. Their limber rhymes, proudly Seattle-centric lyrics, and imaginative live sound oscillate between old-school rap, dub, jazz, and funk, and they’re never anything less than phenomenal live.
Kris Orlowski (Saturday, 8pm, Plaza Stage): Orlowski’s cut from a classic folk troubadour’s cloth, rendered gloriously distinctive by his voice. It’s a sandy, ragged yet warm instrument that makes good songs great, and great songs stellar. His recent project with Passenger String Quartet leader/arranger extraordinaire Andrew Joslyn casts Orlowski’s songs in a more orchestral vein, but he’s equally at home bringing his sturdily beautiful voice and material to a more traditional rock/folk setting.
Kithkin (Sunday, 11:45am, Tunein Stage): So rhythmically propulsive you’ll swear a stadium-full of percussionists are at work, Kithkin’s surging songs sound like the product of an extra-hyper new wave band sprinting through an old-growth forest. They’ve more than proven their mettle at plenty of other local festivals in the past (Doe Bay Fest and the Capitol Hill Block Party in 2012, and more recently, Timber Fest in July of this year), so expect insane levels of energy--and more than a little audience interaction.
The Redwood Plan (Sunday, 12:15pm, Fountain Lawn Stage): One of the great things about Bumbershoot is wandering into a venue and getting blown away by a band you’d never heard of. Such was the case in 2010, when Ye Olde Concerts Examiner stumbled across this relentless quartet ripping up the EMP Sky Church stage. Compulsive dance beats, sleekly-cool synths, spiky guitars, and a lead singer (Lesli Wood) who can belt it while moving with the unrelieved vigor of a squadron of aerobics instructors? Count me in--again.
Midday Veil (Sunday, 3:30pm, Plaza Stage): Expansively cinematic, scary, and headily sensual all at once, this Seattle space-rock collective spearheaded by singer/songwriter Emily Pothast and synth wizard David Golightly knows how to create immersive atmospherics. Pothast’s throaty voice makes for a haunting sonic anchor, and she’s reportedly a magnetic presence onstage.
The Maldives (Monday, 1pm, Starbucks Stage): Godfathers of Seattle’s current roots/Americana scene, The Maldives’ songs combine rustic instruments like banjo and accordion with fire-and-brimstone country-rock songs awash in urgent harmonies and stormy guitars. Their ferocious live shows most definitely put the rock in roots-rock.
Red Jacket Mine (Monday, 1:30pm, Plaza Stage): Winning pure-pop ensembles used to run rampant through Seattle back in the Grunge Years, but there haven’t been a lot of bands wedding creamy-sweet melodies with kick-in-the-pants rock energy of late. Red Jacket Mine more than fills that void, with a style that rolls everything that was great about ‘70s pop (galloping glam rock, spot-perfect harmonies, loping piano melodies that won’t leave your head) into one irresistible bundle.
Mark Pickerel and his Praying Hands (Monday, 6pm, Plaza Stage): Between drumming for local power-pop vets The Tripwires and the recently-reformed Seattle psych-grunge trio Truly, it’s no wonder it’s taken this Seattle mainstay a couple of years to get back around to his solo career. Pickerel plays what’s best described as roots noir--dusky, country-tinged tunes that sound like Chris Isaak channeling Jim Morrison. He always surrounds himself with sterling musicians, writes songs that (on a good day) would make Johnny Cash proud, and he’s a charismatic figure onstage. Oh, and he possesses one of the best pompadours on the planet.
Allen Stone (Monday, 8pm, Tunein Stage): It’s practically a genetic impossibility for Seattle’s favorite blue-eyed soul boy to put on a show that’s anything less than superlative, and in the last two years of his rapid ascent, he’s evolved into a phenomenal showman who’s equally effective at getting a crowd moving in an intimate club, or a packed festival venue.