As Labor Day approaches and people across the country begin pulling out their warmer clothes, Seattle is gearing up for one last bash in the form of Bumbershoot. Spanning three days in the heart of Seattle Center, this will be the 43rd year for the music and arts festival that never fails to provide a sense of comfort as the summer comes to a close.
While Bumbershoot doesn’t come with the hype provided by some of the bigger festivals, you wouldn’t necessarily know it just by looking at their lineup. This year’s music schedule boasts sets by Wu-Tang Clan, Elvis Costello, Mavis Staples, Bootsy Collins, Nada Surf, and the Dismemberment Plan. A number of today’s buzziest bands fill out the list, but you won’t find the typical festival acts like Arctic Monkeys and Outkast. Instead, you’ll be able to say goodbye to summer under the shadow of the Space Needle to the tunes of Real Estate, We Are Scientists, Charlie Musselwhite, PoliCa, the Both, and G-Eazy (along with many, many more. Check out the full lineup here).
Other than the lineup and that stellar Seattle summer weather, there are a few more reasons to look forward to Bumbershoot this year.
1. They moved the main stage. For the past three years, Bumbershoot’s headliners performed at Key Arena, a limited-seating venue that created snarling lines and often as much as an hour’s wait to get inside (as long as they hadn’t hit capacity yet). Nothing dampens a music festival’s spirit quite like the suffocation of an enclosed arena with a tinny sound. This year Bumbershoot announced that they will be moving their main stage back to the original location of Memorial Stadium. Although space is still an issue (albeit a smaller one), the atmosphere will surely be an upgrade from the stuffy confines of Key Arena.
2. One of the best things about Bumbershoot is that it puts as much spotlight on the local bands as it does the bigger names (even if some bands straddle both categories, like the Head and the Heart). For those looking to hear strictly Seattle sounds, be sure to check out Kishi Bashi, Pickwick, Shelby Earl, Rose Windows, Fly Moon Royalty, Campfire OK, and La Luz.
3. The loss of Alex Chilton created a void we’ll surely never be able to fill, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try. Big Star’s 1974 album Third (also known as Sister Lovers) will be performed in full at Bumbershoot. Original band member Jody Stephens will be joined by members of The Posies and R.E.M., among others.
4. As we say goodbye to summer, we’ll sadly have to say goodbye to the Lonely Forest. These Seattle rockers were Chris Walla’s first signing through Trans, and after nine years together they’ve announced an indefinite hiatus. This year’s show at Bumbershoot (their fourth) will be their last.
5. Since Seattle’s music scene is best known for the grunge rock era, people rarely talk about what came before. Bumbershoot plans to show its attendees this year with “Before Seattle Music Retrospective 1976-1990,” a collection of local photographer Lance Mercer’s work. The exhibit will run through the duration of the festival.
Improvements and excitement aside, Bumbershoot is still one of the most affordable events out there. If you snag them early enough, you can get tickets for as low as $99. We’re only a week away, so three-day passes are currently priced at $175—which is still a hefty hundred below most festival prices. Between the music, the comedy, and the art spread across sprawling Seattle Center over Labor Day weekend, you’d be a fool to skip out.