Bumbershoot 2011: Bumbershoot After Dark

Bumbershoot After Dark (DJ Z-Trip)

Bumbershoot After Dark (DJ Z-Trip)—photo by Dave Lichterman

This year marked the debut of Bumbershoot After Dark, an after hours event held from 10 pm to 4 am on Saturday and Sunday nights in the Exhibition Hall at Seattle Center. Curated and co-produced by Decibel (the organizers of Decibel Festival), it featured sets from seven different DJ acts (one being a duo) across the two nights. Saturday night was anchored by DJ Craze, with The Dowlz and Jokers on the Scene opening and Claude VonStroke closing; Sunday night, DJ Z-Trip was the anchor, Dam-Funk opened, and Four Tet closed. I attended both nights, but unfortunately the logistics of getting home and being up for the next day at Bumbershoot meant that I couldn’t stay late into the night. I only stayed through the beginning of each night’s headlining set, and missed out entirely on the closing acts, Claude VonStroke and Four Tet.

Dam-Funk

Dam-Funk—photo by Philip LaRose

Out of the five acts that I did see, hands down I most enjoyed Dam-Funk, spinning a set of electro-funk, soul, and disco. He was the most engaging, as he actually talked to the audience like a regular radio DJ, announcing the tracks (including the year they were released) as he started them. Not only that, but he would also groove along with them, at times air-drumming or otherwise miming playing one of the instrument parts. And then he took things two steps beyond: first he sang along with some of the tunes, and then he broke out a keytar and played a couple of his own original compositions. That for me was an unexpected delight. Dam-Funk did pull off one feat I found odd: he both filled and killed the dance floor simultaneously, by slowing things way down to a  soul beat and then finishing his set by playing an even slower original on his keytar.

Jokers of the Scene

Jokers of the Scene—photo by Philip LaRose

Out of the other four acts I saw, I most liked the heavy drum ‘n bass and dubstep The Dowlz spun. For what little I heard of Z-Trip, I didn’t care so much for the heavier hip-hop beats he used, but he was definitely mixing in a variety of other cool song samples, and he won me over when he dropped the Godzilla theme into the mix. I liked Jokers of the Scene but found it a little harder to get into dancing to their mix, and didn’t care as much for what I heard of DJ Craze, though again I only heard just a bit before I had to leave to catch the bus. In any case, all of these acts were certainly working well for most of the audience, as plenty of people were dancing.

DJ Craze

DJ Craze—photo by Philip LaRose

I do want to mention the really impressive visual display, though pictures here speak louder than words. The DJs were ensconced in a square cut-out in the midst of a huge wall of videoscreens, with laser arrays on either side of the screen wall and in the middle of the cut-out above the DJs. Videos were projected from the soundbooth in the middle of the floor, which also had a separate laser projecting the DJs names and other visual art onto a side wall of the hall. It was a very cool setup, and enhanced the thrill of the event quite well.

Z-Trip

Z-Trip—photo by Dave Lichterman

I believe Bumbershoot After Dark is an excellent idea, and Decibel (with One Reel, Seattle Center, and Kaos Theory) did a great job for the inaugural event. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops.

Bumbershoot After Dark

photo by Philip LaRose

Four Tet

Four Tet—photo by Dave Lichterman

Bumbershoot After Dark (The Dowlz)

photo by Philip LaRose

audience for Four Tet

audience for Four Tet—photo by Dave Lichterman

Bumbershoot After Dark

photo by Philip LaRose

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