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Where’s the blues?

My take on Bumbershoot

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After last year’s dismal Labor Day festival, I didn’t have high expectations about Bumbershoot 2008, but entered the gates armed with a press pass determined to take in all I could with a positive attitude. While I wasn’t disappointed, I sure the heck was glad I didn’t have to plop down $40 a day to walk around the Seattle Center.

For alt-country fans, day one couldn’t have kicked off any better. With back to back performances by Neko Case and Lucinda Williams, people left the main stage with the sound of twangy guitars ringing in their ears. What was once a staple at Bumbershoot; blues acts were once again sparse. But hometown slide player Nick Vigarino and national act Joe Bonamassa were on hand to satisfy blues addicts. Seattle-based Loveless Records were well represented this year. Their newest act, New Faces, rocked the EMP Sky Church on Saturday while the Shackletons tore it up at the Rockstar stage Sunday. The main stage had Band of Horses who found it easy to adjust from their regular small venue-styled show to an arena band. Beck took the stage at 9:15 — I’ve never been a huge fan, but must admit he puts on a helluva show.  I had no complaints about the first day.

I must be getting old because I hadn’t heard of the opening main stage acts on Sunday and am not a Black Eyed Peas fans at all. Most of the day was spent chasing down performances by bands I’d heard on KEXP: The Blakes, Sons and Daughters, and the Whigs. One-time Wallflower front man, Jakob Dylan performed tunes off his newest disc and nothing from the overplayed Bringing Down the Horse, thank God!

The headliner for the evening was Spinal Tap, er, no, wait. It was Stone Temple Pilots, but it might as well been Spinal Tap as the burnt-out band tried to resurrect their 1990’s youth; one complaint for day two, not too bad.

My stepdaughter dragged my wife and me to Paramore at the main stage and once again I felt old. So we made her stay for the Offspring who put on an incredible show. She in turn dragged us to Minus the Bear, Flobots and Scary Kids Scaring Kids. The night ended with something we could all agree on. Death Cab for Cutie followed their heroes Superchunk at 9:20 and played an amazing 75-minute set. With their latest album cover behind them, they dug deep into their vaults rather than saturating the show with all new songs. It was good to see yet another Northwest band rise from out the club scene to practically pack an arena — I was a little verklempted I must admit as the crowd sang along to “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” It was the perfect way to end Bumbershoot.

LINK: Other Volcano scribes review Bumbershoot 2008

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