Too much awesome to keep track of on Sunday at Bumbershoot 2014. Saturday may have gotten the party started, but Sunday is where jaws started dropping left and right. Chris Stamey made the Big Star’s Third performance one of the most beautiful and captivating things that has ever happened on the mural stage at Seattle Center. Earlier in the day, we saw the freaking Replacements! Then the night ended with modern funk godfather Bootsy Collins tearing a hole in the Fisher Green stage. Top that with cooperative weather and a cool breeze, nothing but pure Bumbershoot magic here.
Rising Seattle producer Manatee Commune got Sunday started at the Pavilion stage with a great set of his eclectic, danceable material. Grant Eedie is a blur on stage between all his different instruments. With the mixture of programmed sounds and live instrumentation, Eedie is impossibly fun to watch and to listen to. All together, a great start to the electronic fireworks on the Pavilion stage for today.
“They said we were Paisley”, Steve Wynn yelled from the Starbucks stage after blasting into another scorching track halfway through the Dream Syndicate’s set, “but nah man, we were getting down to Black Flag. Here’s a punk rock song”. After seeing the Dream Syndicate in the music lounge and now seeing them here testing the volume capacity of the Starbucks stage, I don’t think that anyone could call Wynn and his band anything but punk rock. The group returns to Bumbershoot after a very long break – somewhere upwards of 25 years. But the Dream Syndicate sure made their comeback count. Their Velvet Underground via west coast punk sound had a sizable crowd head-banging along with every track and screaming bloody murder for every one of Jason Victor’s blistering guitar solos. Wynn got the crowd singing along for “Medicine Show” and had them off their feet for the Days of Wine and Roses title track. Altogether, an excellent return to form and to the stage for this seminal act.
The Dream Syndicate:
Seattle’s horror-pop favorites Schoolyard Heroes played a special reunion performance mid-afternoon on the Fountain Lawn stage for a great crowd. This was the band’s first major show since disbanding in 2009, but judging by the energy in the crowd, it’s as if the band never really left. The band’s over-the-top lyrical content and ridiculous levels of high energy make for a great time any time. Lead singer Ryann Donnelly threw down with as much dark fury as ever, and the crowd loved every minute. These guys are welcome back any time.
Rising Bay area rapper IAMSU! brought a high energy set to the Fisher Green stage later in the afternoon. Su’s HBK Gang clique has been bringing new life to the bouncy, party-ready hip-hop of San Francisco over the last couple years, and while their influence outside the city is still growing, it’s evident with a set like today’s that it’s only a matter of time before they explode. Su entered the stage in head-turning fashion carrying a tiny dog while doing his initial hype up. After passing the dog off somebody else on stage, IAMSU! jumped into a fiery, non-stop medley of all his best verses from both his own and tracks (singles like “100 Grand” and “Only That Real”) and popular features (E-40’s instant classic “Function” and Sage the Gemini’s platinum hit “Gas Pedal”). The crowd was one massive dance pit throughout the explosive 30 minute set. If anyone was losing steam before IAMSU!, they left back at 100%.
No one paragraph description on the planet could do justice to Sunday night’s performance of Big Star’s Third. Jody Stevens, Chris Stamey, and the rest of this incredible group of people has done a great service to an incredible piece of work that only seems to grow more beautiful with time. Here tonight, we got to see the album in its entirety performed with as much love and respect as could truly be given. To start, the instrumental arrangements could not have been more perfect. A string quartet, bassoon, and small wind section backed a full band, featuring Mitch Easter on lead guitars – that alone should have jaws dropping. But the evening’s rotating palette of guest vocalists made the night not only a great performance, but a mutual celebration of love and respect for Big Star’s work. Returning from a great set earlier on the Starbucks stage, the Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn returned to lend guitars and vocals on a handful of tracks. Later, Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws helped out on two tracks before Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready showed up further on down the road. Each time Jody Stevens returned to the stage, it was clear that looking around, he felt the mutual love for Big Star and the band’s lasting impact on the world. For both the musicians on stage and the audience, this night was as special as can be.
Big Star’s Third:
Seattle’s soul rockers Pickwick have been rising over the past couple years and the sizable crowd at their late night Sunday set was no surprise to anyone. At this point, the band’s live show is famous for its energy and interactivity. Nothing changed here tonight as the band put on a show for its hometown like none other.
Is there really any better closer option at a festival than Bootsy Collins? The guy wrote the textbook on funk along with James Brown, George Clinton, and the other founders of Parliament Funkadelic. Even now at 62, nothing’s stopping Bootsy from dressing up to the 9’s and putting on a show not to be outdone by anyone. Here at Bumbershoot, Bootsy went all out – costumes, dancers, and guest appearances abounded throughout. This was the best possible way to end Sunday.