In less than two months, the 43rd annual Bumbershoot will be taking over the Seattle Center for three days of pure, unadulterated entertainment. With live music, visual arts, theatre, and various other means of spending three days, there’s something there for everybody.
For you music lovers out there in the Pacific Northwest, we’re sure you’re as hyped as we are to experience what this year’s lineup has to offer. While we’re sure that those of you that are attending this year’s festival will be seeing the biggest names on the bill – Wu-Tang Clan, Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Foster the People, etc. – with 115 announced musical acts performing (at the time of writing), it may be hard to discover quite every single band you may want to see at this year’s Bumbershoot. So, today we’re going to give you a head-start by throwing out our suggestions for 20 bands we recommend you see at this year’s Bumbershoot, in no order.
Saturday, 4:30pm, Fisher Green Stage
Ever since first hitting the scene in 2010, Detroit rapper Danny Brown has proven himself to be one of the most interesting and eccentric artists in today’s rap game. With a unique voice, killer flow and seemingly split personality disorder, Danny Brown is a very dependable rapper when you’re looking to be drinking along with him one minute and hating yourself for turning to the bottle along with him the next. We have no doubt his set will be highly entertaining, so you owe it to yourself to give it the light of day.
Saturday, 7:00pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
Minneapolis-born Poliça is the indie pop band to be watching right now. With an original, catchy and identifiable sound that fuses synthpop, trip-hop and a bit of alternative rock, this group is one that we could see having a breakthrough into mainstream radio, should just the right hit single arise. In the meantime, we strongly recommend you catch their set, as we find that their musical dynamic would translate very interestingly into a live performance.
Sunday, 3:00pm, Fisher Green Stage
Solo artist Kishi Bashi is one of the most interesting singer-songwriters working today. His musical style is comparable to that of a cross between composer and singer Owen Pallett and psych-folk groups like Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective, and listening to his music, it’s very impressive that such layered and complex songs were written and performed by just one person. We reckon Kishi Bashi would be one of the most fascinating artists to see this year, if for no other reason than to see how he does it live.
Saturday, 5:15pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
Pacific Northwest-born slacker rocker Mac DeMarco is one worth catching at Bumbershoot based on live performance alone. DeMarco’s live shows are known for being eclectic, high-energy and ultimately unpredictable. With live shows often including nudity, bizarre NSFW jokes and even more bizarre antics, such as one performance wherein Mac had beer poured on him from an audience member before he shoved a pair of drumsticks up his own ass. So yeah, be there.
Monday, 5:15pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
In a world where we have more indie pop acts than we have trees, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish one downtrodden, psychedelic-inspired pop group played on alternative radio stations from any other ones out there. But George Lewis Jr., also known as Twin Shadow, has carved out an identity for himself that’s unlike any others out there. Best characterised by his time-bending musical dynamic, Top 40-friendly vocals and biting lyrics, Twin Shadow is not one to be missed.
Mission of Burma
Sunday, 7:15pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
First incepted in 1979, Mission of Burma is a post-punk group that many music critics see as legendary pioneers of independent music. While the group only put out one studio album in their original 4-year run, that album has garnered a massive amount of praise, and subsequent releases in the early 2000s to the present day have further cemented Mission of Burma’s status as one of the best independent musical acts to exist. We recommend seeing their live show, to see just how well a band first enacted in the early 1980s holds up in 2014.
We Are Scientists
Sunday, 1:15pm, Fisher Green Stage
We Are Scientists aren’t reinventing the wheel. Their songs are very inoffencive, radio-friendly and generic to a certain extent, and songs like “The Great Escape” sound like they could soundtrack a My Scene movie. Despite this, We Are Scientists are a very fun and entertaining group to listen to, and their bouncy, larger-than-life alternative rock is the kind of thing that’s perfect for a live performance.
Sunday, 5:30pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
Schoolyard Heroes – The Emerald City’s finest shock rock foursome Schoolyard Heroes are gearing up for their first (and possible only) reunion concert since their dissolution in 2009. They were a monstrously kick-ass shock rock band without the usual problem that world-famous shock rock bands like Kiss and Rob Zombie do of having an awesome style without even a single spec of substance in their music. Albums like Funeral Sciences still hold up today, and the group has a tight amount of controlled chaos to their music that sets it apart. Seeing as this could very well be the last time the group is performing live in concert, it’d be a shame to miss Schoolyard Heroes on day 2.
Saturday, 3:00pm, Pavilion Stage
It’s really sad to me that Cumulus is as low on the bill as they are. This three-piece is a lovely dreamy indie rock outfit, aided by a fantastic vocalist, sticky guitar melodies, and a great air of simplicity to their songwriting. It’s the kind of music to put on when you just want to have a good time. Cumulus is a band any fan of indie pop needs to listen to.
Monday, 3:30pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
Seattle natives Rose Windows are one of the finest psych rock bands working nowadays. Great vocals, tight musicianship and nice variety to their dynamic are their biggest selling points. While it isn’t the kind of thing that would elicit a loud, fiery and acerbic live performance, it isn’t the kind of thing that would benefit from one. They’re one to check out.
Sunday, 8:30pm, End Zone Stage
Ostentatious baroque pop group San Fermin is one of the most promising upcoming acts of their kind. After a solid self-titled debut effort, complete with solid musicianship, vocal harmonies, and great single power from tracks like “Sonsick”, this Brooklyn band have proven that they have chops, and we anticipate a second album from them, and anticipate their Bumbershoot performance even more.
Saturday, 5:15pm, End Zone Stage (On at the same time as Mac DeMarco.)
Seattle musician Shelby Earl has justly earned her place as one of the defining singer-songwriters of the 2010s. With two fantastic albums under her belt, as well as performances at SXSW and the Sasquatch! Festival, endorsement from the likes of NPR and KEXP, and her cover of Michael Jackson being featured in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Earl is the defining Seattle singer-songwriter of our time. Do yourself a favour and show up for her performance on the first day.
Sunday, 10:30pm, Pavilion Stage
In the world of contemporary EDM, there are few as versatile as Aleksander Vinter, most commonly known as Savant. With songs taking cues from electro house, complextro, drum and bass, glitch and trap, Vinter has adopted a style that sounds distinctly Savant and like no one else. With insane amounts of energy, excitement and, of course, bass, Savant is definitely one to see.
Myon & Shane 54
Monday, 9:30pm, Pavilion Stage
You can never go wrong with a little progressive house. Myon & Shane 54 is, as you may be able to extrapolate, the musical project of electronic music producers Myon and Shane 54. Together, the two have a very lush, postmodern and long-form approach to progressive house music. It isn’t for everybody, surely, but their set is worth showing up to all the same.
Monday, 5:30pm, Pavilion Stage
Nobody creates ambient music quite the same as Julianna Barwick. Listening to any one of Barwick’s tracks is like going into a trance. Her songs are rich with vocal layering, light, airy and minimal instrumentation and a uniquely gorgeous mood and tone. With layering and the binaural plane utilised so liberally, we’re beyond excited to see how it’ll translate into a live show, so, when the time comes, join us in our endeavour.
Hook n Sling
Saturday, 10:30pm, Pavilion Stage
A bit more electro house for you. Anthony Maniscalco (aka Hook n Sling) is an Australian electronic dance music producer that often works on the poppier, more club-friendly side of electro house, which has seen a huge surge of popularity in the mainstream since 2013. It’s the kind of music that’s perfect to experience while in a crowd of other people dancing and taking in the moment.
Saturday, 7:45pm, End Zone Stage
Seattle indie hip-hop trio Grayskul is a force to be reckoned with. With a style that hearkens back to what many consider to be the “Golden Age” of hip-hop, along with minimal, but effective beats and production and great flows and dynamics from JFK and Onry Ozzborn, Grayskul is one of the most worthwhile groups in the ever-popular Northwest hip-hop scene.
Monday, 7:15pm, End Zone Stage
Tangerine are masters at jangly guitar-driven indie pop. Usually songs in this style can be painfully similar-sounding, but Tangerine do a lot to vary the various songs in the catalogue through means of distortion effects, song breakdowns and a heavy presence of bass guitar. Despite this, their songs also manage to be infectiously catchy and joyous to listen to. Check them out.
Monday, 4:15pm, Pavilion Stage
San Francisco’s Jessica Pratt is a singer-songwriter that should be on everyone’s radar. With a wholly individual singing voice and captivating 60’s folk revivalist outfit, Pratt’s musical fashion is one that’s wholly different from any of the indie folk you’ll hear on contemporary alternative radio. If what you’ve read has interested you, click the YouTube link above and enjoy.
And there you have it. Hopefully this list will help you to discover some new artists to see when the festival arrives at the end of August. If you too have any suggestions for musicians that attendees need to check out, leave their names in the comments section.
Tickets are going off sale soon, so if you’re wanting to go, buy your tickets posthaste! Click here to get your tickets.