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Bumbershoot gets its groove back

It’s been almost too easy to criticize the Bumbershoot lineup the past few years as the producers seemed to struggle to find an identity for Seattle’s signature music festival. But this year’s lineup shows they’ve gotten their groove back.

From headliners like Death Cab for Cutie, fun., Allen Stone and Heart to old favorites including the Breeders and Eric Burdon of the Animals to up and comers like Seattle’s St. Paul de Vence, it’s the first time in years I’ve been interested in actually showing up early, staying late and trying to figure out how to be in three places at once.

“You can’t please all the people all the time. For some people there’s going to be too much or not enough of something,” Chris Porter, the guy responsible for booking all the bands and coming up with the lineup, told me Friday. “We try to do the best we can with the space I’ve got, and hopefully the stars align where we can put something together where there’s something for everybody.”

While there are plenty of big, world renowned fish ranging from MGMT to former James Brown sax man Maceo Parker, Porter still pulled heavily from local waters (pardon the cheap and easy fishing analogy. The sunny weather is to blame). Ivan & Alyosha, The Maldives, David Bazan, Ayron Jones & The Way, The Physics, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside are just some of the many excellent Northwest bands included in the three-day run.

For music lovers like me who can’t stay up till midnight on a Tuesday night anymore, it’s the perfect way to catch so many of the best bands in one weekend orgy.

And unlike the Capitol Hill Block Party or Sasquatch, Porter has put together a really nice mix of new and old. What better time than now to finally land new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Heart for their first Bumbershoot appearance?

“We always like to have an old chestnut or a legacy act or classic on our Mainstage. Last year we had Tony Bennett and we’ve had other people like that in past years. So definitely like to have someone that can attract a range of ages because I think they’re going to surprise people. There are going to be a lot of younger people,” Porter says.

Porter has always had a strong nose for rising talent. A couple of years ago he was among the first to give a prominent spot to rapper Kendrick Lamar, who absolutely blew up right after his Bumbershoot appearance.

This year, Porter had an inkling the Swedish pop duo Icona Pop might be a nice complement to some of the other bands playing on the first day of the festival. Little did he know they’d become international sensations with their ubiquitous hit “I Love It” (the group just made their U.S. TV debut Thursday night on Jimmy Fallon.)

I’ve heard people bitch about the price as well. But just look at the cost of a concert these days and suddenly $120 for a three-day pass or $50 for a single day pass looks like a screaming deal.

Sure, there’ll be plenty of snobs who’ll find something to complain about. But if you ask me, Porter and company have put Bumbershoot back on the map as a musical must-see.

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