If Saturday was a day for female vocalists, Sunday seems like it’s a “Where are they now?” episode of bands we loved in the 90s or early 00s, but for whatever fell out of the forefront of our consciousnesses in recent years. Weezer, Hole, and The Dandy Warhols will all be occupying prime-time slots, and it’s not a stretch to say anything could happen.
UNNATURAL HELPERS (12:30-1:30 – Broad Street Stage)
If you’re tired or hungover after a long Saturday night, do yourself a favor and get out to the Seattle Center early on Sunday for the Unnatural Helpers. Led by drummer and vocalist Dean Whitmore, their furious, extremely high-energy, sweat-drenched rock comes with little time to stop and take a breath, as they power through two minute jam after two minute jam. I’ve included a link to their MySpace, but the Unnatural Helpers need to be experienced live. Anyone in Neumos when they played at the Capitol Hill Block Party this year knows what I’m talking about. Regardless, their music is sure to wrest you from your early morning daze and get you ready for the rest of the day.
FRESH ESPRESSO (2:15-3:15 – Fisher Green Stage)
Local hip hop duo Fresh Espresso, comprised of Rik Rude and Mad Rad’s P Smoov, rocked a live drummer at Sasquatch! and drew one of the biggest crowds the Yeti Stage saw all weekend. I’m usually weary of hip hop acts at festivals (meaning I don’t like them). Unless you’re going to have some grandiose Kanye West-style production, they’re usually just not bringing enough to make the intensity you’d see in a club to translate in front of thousands. Fresh Espresso were a rare exception at Sasquatch!, and I don’t see why it would be any different in front of the hometown faithful. I know I’ll be out and waiting to move to “Diamond Pistols”.
HEY MARSEILLES (2:15-3:15 – Broad Street Stage)
If for some reason you fear that the new Ra Ra Riot won’t be chamber-y enough for you, get to the Broad Street Stage a few hours earlier for local group Hey Marseilles. The local seven-piece orchestral pop band calls the UW and Gasworks Park home (see…”Gasworks”) and play indie pop that at times truly does sound orchestral, featuring a cello, violin, trumpet, and accordion…okay, maybe the accordion isn’t so orchestral, but after listening to their music it comes as no surprise that multiple members are classically trained. Despite the vaudevillian confluence of instrumentation, Matt Bishop’s pronounced, heartfelt vocals are the strongest aspect of Hey Marseilles songs and he’ll have the chance to project to the local fans on Sunday.
RA RA RIOT (5:45-6:45 – Broad Street Stage)
Indie chamber pop group Ra Ra Riot had already getting a good deal of buzz before they released their debut album The Rhumb Line in 2008. Since it’s release their fandom skyrocketed, as it was easy to take kindly to their bubbly, string-accentuated indie pop. Just over a week ago their follow-up album, The Orchard hit shelves, and it sounds like they’ve taken a step in the right direction. The single “Boy” (video below) was KEXP’s Song of the Day on Tuesday, and is as catchy as the band has ever sounded. Expect an energetic show in the wake of the album release.
FENCES (6:45-7:45 – EMP Sky Church)
Emotional Seattle pop band Fences take their cues from Elliott Smith, with downtrodden and melancholy lyrics (from “From Roses”: “Dreams falling slow / Like leaves fall from trees”) to go along with beautifully touching but simple melodies. Lead man Christopher Mansfield’s voice is appropriately delicate, bordering on quavering, and though reserved on stage, the tattooed 27-year-old is the perfect front man for Fences gentle music. They’re able to take it up a notch (relatively) too, as they did with the slow buildup of their song “Your Bones” during their amazing and affecting set at Neumos during the Capitol Hill Block Party. So if you’ve been taking comfort in being sad lately, Fences is right with you. They’ll be releasing their debut album on September 28th, which will is produced by Sara Quin of Teagan and Sara. They’ll also be playing live on KEXP from the Music Lounge at 12:00 PM.
ATERCIOPELADOS (7:30-8:30 – Fisher Green Stage)
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Aterciopelados is one of the greatest Columbian bands of all-time. Translating to “The Velvety Ones,” the upbeat South American pop duo is comprised of Andrea Echeverria and Hector Buitrago and have been playing music together since 1992. This will be a nice does of international flavor to get down to in the early evening. If you can’t make it, they’ll be playing live on KEXP from the Music Lounge at 2:30 PM.
BILLY BRAGG (8:30-9:45 – Starbucks Stage)
For young and naive indie rock fans such as myself, Billy Bragg is the guy who collaborated with Wilco on the fantastic Mermaid Avenue albums, which featured creative covers of unreleased Woody Guthrie songs. Bragg, however, was a major counter-culture figure in England during the 70s and 80s, his politically-charged punk and folk music providing the soundtrack for protests and rallies across the UK. He is distinctly and unmistakably British (his backing band is called The Blokes) and this perhaps contributed to why he was never close to as popular in the States as he was overseas. He is a legendary songwriter and performer nonetheless, and it’s a treat to have him at Bumbershoot this year.
HOLE (7:30-8:45 – Main Stage)
Maybe 1% of those in attendance at Hole’s Main Stage set on Sunday will be there to hear Courtney Love’s new material, the just-released album Nobody’s Daughter. Another small percentage of onlookers will be excited to hear 90s Hole favorites like “Miss World” and “Live Through This”. The vast majority will be there out of curiosity as to what kind of mess Love has made of herself. The last decade has been a tumultuous one to say the least, and it’s likely that the re-adoption of the “Hole” moniker was done for no other reason than that she wouldn’t have been able to put on a major tour without it. That said, it will be entertaining to witness what kind of between-song antics she’ll have for us, and if we can get some passionate renditions of the good and dare I say classic Hole, the set could be a positive experience.
WEEZER (9:15-10:30 – Main Stage)
I don’t know about you but I’d more or less forgotten about Weezer until I heard a bunch of people clamoring about an upcoming performance when I was in San Diego the other week. Not too long after that I realized they’d be playing Bumbershoot, and became mildly excited that I’d get to see them. I strongly urge you to beware, however, as recent evidence suggest that Rivers Cuomo and Co. have…well…let’s just say they’re not the Weezer we grew up loving. On September 14th, they’ll be releasing a full-length album called Hurley, after the Lost character. The cover of the album is nothing but an up-close photo of actor Jorge Garcia’s face, which was cropped from a photo of him and Cuomo. To justify the decision, Cuomo said to Spinner: “…ultimately we just went with some random word that doesn’t really have anything to do with anything. I just loved this photo of Jorge Garcia – it just had this amazing vibe.” Okay… “Memories”, which is the album’s first single, is a cheesy, painfully synth-laden, and frankly, sad longing for lost times, you know, like those “watching all the freaky Dutch kids vomit then have sex.” Nevertheless, for anyone who never was able to see Weezer play “Buddy Holly”, “Say It Ain’t So,” or any of their other material that we remember so fondly live, Sunday night will be a chance to belatedly add that missing piece to your concert-attending adolescence. Personally, I’m more frightened than anything.
THE DANDY WARHOLS (9:15-10:30 – Broad Street Stage)
Like Weezer, fans in attendance at The Dandy Warhols will be craving the old hits, and perhaps unlike Weezer, they seem like they might be content with playing them more than anything else. They’ve just released The Capitol Years 1995-2007, which consists of 14 tracks of their hits over the years including “Boys Better,” “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth,” “Bohemian Like You,” and other examples of their best radio-friendly, gently psychedelic pop. Though Courtney Taylor’s cousin Brent DeBoer will be on drums instead of original drummer Eric Hedford, he’s filled in before earlier in the band’s career, so it won’t be hard to imagine you’re back in 2002 if you opt for them over Weezer Sunday. This is a good thing.