Bumbershoot: A Photographer’s Review, Part 1

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all photos & text by Chona Kasinger

At last, the epicenter of Seattle’s cultural scene, One Reel’s annual Bumbershoot Music Festival has come to a draw. 13,375 calories, ten bruises, and two blown out eardrums later, I sit here cross legged and marvelously afflicted by sunburn, camera strap burn, and a hefty kick to the rib cage during the Gogol Bordello show at the Esurance Stage Saturday night in front of my laptop without the vaguest idea of where to start.

Regrettably, I spent the majority of my time running from set to set and keeping heat stroke at bay with Mango Lemonade and free Starbucks. However, as a result, I was able to catch virtually every band I wanted to see, though in most cases not as long as I would have liked to.

Australian band Crowded House was the first act to grace the Main Stage on Saturday. I’m sure the shrieking fans the behind the photo pit would have told you different, but I left the set unimpressed and uninspired. I opted for the Cops set over at the Sound Transit Stage ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE SEATTLE CENTER after the universal “three songs- no flash” rule. The three piece local group definitely did justice to the stage as the kickoff band of the Bumbershoot three day fiesta.

The Shins came on an hour later, making up for the relative mediocrity of its predecessor. The Shins, as usual, kicked off their hour set with “Sleeping Lessons” off their latest album and much to the elation of the audience kicked off into old favorites. I was surprised by the immense devotion (or full on obsession?) of fans, as one girl behind me in the audience behind me exclaimed “OH MY GOD MY THROAT IS CLOSING!”. Right.

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No band is complete without a choir, right? Later in the afternoon as the sun was reaching its peak, Sub pop band, Menomena and a mahogany robe clad choir with vocals to rival that of the Polyphonic Spree marched and chanted on stage as a super group and let off into their bouncy and never boring sixty minute set.

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Later in the day, the newly united Lashes (guitarist Eric Howk was recently paralyzed in an unfortunate accident, thus putting the band on indefinite hiatus) were warmly greeted at the Sound Transit Stage by throngs of eager fans. With more energy that can logically be explained by biological chemical imbalances, these superhuman local all-stars definitely busted out the biscuits.

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David Terry, mastermind of Seattle’s Aqueduct fielded blown up beach balls from the enthused audience and blasted into his set, meriting joyous grins and occasional hip shaking from his many fans at the Sound Transit stage.

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Gogol Bordello was a most interesting act for me to catch. His performance earlier in the day at the secret KEXP Lounge was in no way comparable to that of his performance at the Esurance stage. Never in my life would I have thought that an old man wielding an accordion could have so much energy. Almost in competition for aesthetics of epilepsy was the crowds energy, as the bouncers fought tooth and nail to keep the overenthusiastic swarms of people out of the photo pit.

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A friendly, though clearly apprehensive bouncer warned a friend and I shortly before the first song, “I hope you guys have life insurance”. Of course, those are never good words to hear; especially as you’re about to place a large contraption in front of your face in hopes of catching a photo people might later want to look at, and instantly disabling any ability to see where you, or other people for that matter, are in relation to where you are moving. As afore mentioned, I have a prominent battle scar to prove I survived a Gogol Bordello show. Hell yeah.

A general sense of exhaustion hung in the air by the end of the day, though that sense was not quite enough to overpower the solid fact that the end of Bumbershoot was not quite near.

Check back for Chona’s review of Days 2 & 3. You can see more of her photos here.

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