“I feel in general my solo work feels more true to who I am as an individual.” 7 Questions with Claire George

When I go to a music festival I always do my best to discover new music.  It’s one thing to go and hear your favorite bands but, unless you knew every act on a lineup, more than likely you’ll have gaps in your schedule.  What I’ll do is chat up some of the crowd or some of the local photographers and ask who’s a performer I should check out today?  It was Capitol Hill Block Party (CHBP) 2018.  Of the people I spoke to, many suggested I check out Claire George.  Prior to that CHBP performance, I had not heard of Claire, but after seeing her set I was mesmerized.  Her set was a mixture of great vocals interplayed with synths, fascinating lyrics, and danceable beats.  I was instantly a fan.  Recently, I reached out to Claire and had an opportunity to do a short interview.  Here’s my short interview with Claire George:

1.) The first time I saw you perform was at Capitol Hill Block Party 2018 as a solo artist, but through research it looks like you were the lead singer of an indie rock band called HEARTWATCH. Hearing your work as a solo artist and the music presented by HEARTWATCH, I’d say the two present very different music styles. Was it a challenge to transition to a solo artist, or was your solo work always something you had in mind and were hoping to get out?

It was definitely a challenge to create my solo work as I had never made music on my own, but I definitely feel it better represents my musical tastes and my life more. Learning how to produce electronic music on my own presented a lot of challenges for me but also felt the most rewarding because I put so much more of myself into making it. I felt pretty worried about the reception of the solo work after the band’s material, and there were definitely some fans who want me to make something less dark, but I feel in general my solo work feels more true to who I am as an individual.

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Capitol Hill Block Party 2018

2.) Your latest release, “Alone, Together” and it’s quasi remix “Alone, Together (Forever)” are fabulous both in composition and message. “Alone, Together” was described on your site as the different seasons in the lifecycle of a failed relationship. I personally love how the song ends with a sense of hopefulness. On the flipside, “Alone, Together (Forever)” carries some of those same feelings, but is more reminiscent of Robyn’s “Dancing on my Own” in that it’s very danceable but with a very relatable message. Would you mind speaking to the creation of both songs?

I wrote the first version as a piano ballad by myself, but when my friend Josh from Yumi Zouma saw me perform it live he asked if he could help me produce it out. When we got into the session the song took on a whole new light and I loved it so much that I wanted to share both versions with the world. I like that the version that I wrote solo feels pretty isolated and intimate and the version with Josh feels much more collaborative and dancey, something you want to listen to with another person.

3.) Regarding your 2018 EP, Bodies of Water, one song in particular that pulled my attention was Orbits where you have these poetic lyrics of what sounds like recognizing potential but you also mixed in references to the Voyager space program (which launched a literal Gold Record into space). When it comes to song writing do you approach each song with intention in that “with this song I hope to convey (blank)” or do you let each song flow into what they eventually become in that there’s no real plan, it comes together on the page? How would you describe your approach?

I create both ways, sometimes with a general intention, sometimes with a phrase or idea in mind, and sometimes with a whole concept in place. Orbits came out with an intention for sure, and I knew I wanted to connect the romantic idea of the Golden Record into the song. A lot of my music comes from just sitting down and letting things spill out of me though. Sometimes when I try too hard to have a plan or intention behind it, it can feel forced, so I try to let things flow however they want once I sit down to write.

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Barboza, October 2019

Something I like to do to create a through-line for all the folks I interview is I ask the prior interview subject to provide 3 blind questions for the next interviewee with no knowledge as to who I would interview next. These next 3 questions were provided by my last interview subject Icelandic Singer Songwriter Asgeir. Asgeir asks: (Claire: Love this!)
4.) When you were young – What did you want to become when you grew up?
Mariah Carey, but my own version haha! I was obsessed with her. I wanted to be a pop star when I was little, but that got buried for a long time and the desire to be an artist only came bubbling back up for me after college.

5.) What was the best advice someone gave you?
Start now, you will never again be younger than you are today.

6.) How do you think popular music will sound in 50 years?
I think we will be even more integrated with technology and perhaps there will be machines assisting in creation of music but I don’t like to think that they will take over the process completely. Perhaps we will have machines that can tune into our emotions and feelings and adjust/create music that suits us. I think there will be even further development in electronic music but will get the hang of making things sound more natural. We will probably have even busier more distracting lives so the songs may be even shorter and to the point than they are today!

7.) As my final question, I follow you on Instagram, and earlier this year you shared your first “Clairetoon”. Were these “Clairetoons” something you’ve always done, or something new you wanted try and share? Can we expect more “Clairetoons” throughout the year?

This is something new I’ve wanted to try out and share, and yes! I will definitely be sharing more throughout the year 🙂

(I want to thank Claire George for taking the time to answer my questions.  Check out Claire’s latest single, Alone Together, and the song’s remix, Alone Together (Forever), on all streaming platforms.  Also check out Claire’s debut EP, Bodies of Water, also on all streaming platforms.)

“Lose sight of the shore, it’s never too late to go after what you want no matter the circumstance…” 7 Questions with Hip Hop Group, New Track City

In 2017, when I started going to live shows on a weekly basis, one of the first things I decided to do was post a picture or video on my Instagram from every set I attended.  After a month or two of doing this, a handful of bands started to reach out and ask if I had any interest in checking out their music.  New Track City was one of the first bands I remember reaching out.  Not only was I impressed by the work that brothers Bem and Chi Stone had already released, but I was impressed by how authentic they were.  Interacting with them on social media, listening to their music, and seeing them perform live, you get a sense that they’re being themselves and are willing to put in the work to be successful.  With producer Dru rounding out the trio and news of an upcoming album, I’m excited to see where this evolving hip hop group will go in 2020.  I had the opportunity to interview New Track City recently.  Here’s my short interview with New Track City:

1.) Each of your albums have a fairly distinct feel from one another. My introduction to New Track City was the “The Damn Gina Tape”, but the album I find myself listening to randomly on the regular at my day job is “Lose Sight of the Shore”. The album has the great flow from Bem and Chi Stone, but Dru’s production really makes that project shine. How did you approach the creation of “Lose Sight of the Shore” different from your other work? Was it business as usual or did you have a concept for what you wanted the album to be when it was completed?

Man, “Lose Sight of the Shore” came out in August, 2017 and we remember being like yo… This is our first album with all original production, everything from the ground up is gonna be all us. We wanted the sounds to be colorful with live instrumentation showing everyone who our influences are, a throwback album with new school inflections with the overall message of motivation. Lose sight of the shore, it’s never too late to go after what you want no matter the circumstance and we feel like we accomplished that.

2.) I’ve always enjoyed the group’s Instagram page. It’s a mixture of cultural pride, and a celebration of modern hip hop. Every now and again you’ll say “this artist is one of your favorites”, but I always wanted to know, who do you feel are the top three best hip-hop artists of all time and why?

Wow, well it would be different for all of us and it changes but we all agree on Jay Z, Kanye West, Outkast or A Tribe Called Quest depending on the day. Reason being, Jay Z is every rappers blueprint to greatness musically and in life. He says bars that make sense years after you first heard them. Kanye West because he shaped the sound of music time and time again and opened the door for folks like us to even pursue music plus, he’s witty as hell! Outkast because they may be the most unique Hip Hop Act of all time from style, to how they rap, to their overall sound. Tribe’s PRODUCTION IS EVERYTHING, so we had to throw them in there.

3.) Kind of going off the last question, I heard in past interviews you mentioned what music styles inspired your style. There are styles that definitely permeate in your work, definitely jazz (Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, etc.), but what kind of blew my mind was that you gave shout outs to ABBA, and also mentioned trying to rap over Butterfly by Crazy Town. Do you feel that it’s important that emerging hip hop artists today should explore styles outside of hip hop, and who are your favorite go-to non-hip-hop artists?

It’s definitely important for Hip Hop acts to explore outside of the genre because although Hip Hop is running things, it incorporates everything! To us, it only makes sense to reach outside the genre because that’s how you develop your own sound and keep the culture fresh. We have a huge list of artists we listen to outside of Hip Hop. Amy Winehouse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joss Stone, James Brown, Davido just to name a few.

Something I like to do to create a through-line for all the folks I interview is I ask the prior interview subject to provide 3 blind questions for the next interviewee with no knowledge as to who I would interview next. These next 3 questions were provided by my last interview subject, Whitney Petty and Molly Sides from Thunderpussy. Molly and Whitney ask:
4.) If you had to choose one thing to go away forever, would you choose vegetables or the wind?
Well, since we need wind to create renewable energy, we’d have to say get rid of Vegetables because fruits would still exist so that would take their place.

5.) Would you rather be in the air or in water?
Flying in the Air!!!! On some Superman / Thor stuff, that would be INCREDIBLE!

6.) If you knew the world was ending in 48 hours what would you try to accomplish?
This question is insane! Where do we even start!?!?! We’d tell our family and friends we love them. Leave all our valuables to them. Take a final drive listening to our catalog, take in one last view of nature catching a beautiful sunset reflecting on the life we lived and then yeah. Go meet Nipsey and Kobe in the sky.

7.) For my last question, I heard in a past interview you mentioned movies and television were art forms that inspired some of your work. What are three must see films or television programs each of you recommend checking out?

Not a fair question, too many to name but if we had to. “Kill Bill”, “The Matrix”, ” Bad Boys 2” and “Rush Hour 2” and “Supernatural.” ‘Dragon Ball Z” dang this question! (lol)

I have to thank New Track City (Bem, Chi Stone, and Dru) for taking the time to answer my questions.  Check out their website for news and events, follow them on Instagram, Youtube, and other social media, and keep an eye out for their next album some time in 2020.

A Night with the Howard Jones Acoustic Trio and Rachael Sage at Benaroya Hall (1/28/2020)

Before the Howard Jones Acoustic Trio took the stage, the theater manager got on the mic and said, “Welcome to Benaroya Hall. We would like to remind everyone, please no flash photography during this live performance.  If you need help turning the flash off of your device, please ask the closest Millenial.”  The crowd laughed.  The Howard Jones Trio entered.  Howard gets on the mic and the first thing he says, “Before we begin, serious question, are there really any millennials in the audience tonight?”  Myself and five other people raised our hands.  The crowd laughed, while the band smiled.

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Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to see Rachael Sage and an acoustic performance from the Howard Jones Trio.  Howard Jones is an artist I would hear occasionally when riding in the car with my parents.  I don’t think people realize how many of his songs are still in circulation on radio stations that play 80’s hits, or are used random in television shows (pretty sure I heard a song or two of his in Family Guy).  I was pretty excited to see him perform live, and the prospect of seeing him play a full acoustic set had me intrigued.  I mean c’mon.  The guy performed at Live Aid (in 1985).  Who wouldn’t be at least a little excited?

Rachael Sage
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The night opened with Rachael Sage.  Her music style I would describe as a mix of pop, folk, and a little bit of country.  Rachael’s piano playing and her collaborator’s skillful violin playing blended well with her snaps and smooth vibrant voice.  The whole set was mesmerizing.  Her “stage patter” was fun and really made the show more personal.  Seeing how willing she was to let the audience know about her past relationship proclivities, or how she was a cancer survivor, really added another layer of expressiveness to her performance.  The lyrics of the songs already had feelings and themes of hope and perseverance, but hearing the perspective she was coming from, it was very reflective and if anything more captivating.  You could really feel the emotion in her performance.

The Howard Jones Trio
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Howard Jones is a seasoned performer.  You can tell he and his bandmates have been performing for years.  What I love about these acoustic sets, it allows for the performers to be more casual with the audience.  Hearing his admiration for Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson, his opinions about Ed Sheeran’s performance at Glastonbury, or how it feels to still make new music today, were just fun.  Regarding the music, he performed a handful of songs form his new album, two or three covers, and as a seasoned performer would, he played the hits.  Most of Howard’s hits were originally performed on synthesizers or contained some sort of electronic aspect to them, so seeing the creative interpretations of the songs by his acoustic trio really made the songs feel almost new and fresh.  I’m sure the audience loved the takes as many took the opportunity to sing along with Howard, which at times even took him by surprise.  The other members of the trio, Nick Beggs and Robin Boult, really stood out in their musicianship.  Beggs especially continually drew attention with how rapid he would play his instrument.  I was sure to pick up Howard’s latest album after the show wrapped.

Overall it was a very enjoyable evening.  Speaking from the perspective of one of the six millennials in the audience that night, I recommend checking out The Howard Jones Trio with Rachael Sage.  Millenial or not, I feel like there was something for everyone to enjoy at this show.

Bringing in the New Year with Thunderpussy, BEAR AXE, Constant Lovers, and Trash Fire!

For the fourth year in a row, I attended the Thunderpussy New Year’s Eve Party at the Showbox.  The theme of the night was “The Glow of Neon Sax” and attendees were encouraged to wear their neon best for what was sure to be a memorable night.  The lineup was stacked with some of Seattle’s most entertaining performers headlined by the night’s hosts, Thunderpussy.  I’ve always loved these Thunderpussy New Year’s Eve shows.  They’re always high energy and a great way to welcome the New Year.  This year’s show was no exception.

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When I heard Trash Fire was going to open for Thunderpussy, I was excited.  This was my fifth time seeing them perform live.  Normally their sets are punctuated by some fun onstage antics like grabbing drinks and splashing the crowd with alcohol, using props like inflatable cats or a cash shooter, or the lead singer jumping into the audience to bring the show directly to crowd members.  This set had the feel of a classic Trash Fire performance, but a little more toned back.  There wasn’t much drink throwing, but there was still the audience engagement.  Highlights of the set saw the lead singer give the light up LED shoes directly off his feet to someone in the audience, the lead singer run to the bar during a song, order three shots and proceed to drink shots with the bass player and the lead guitarist, and in a particularly unique moment the lead singer laid down on stage his head going into the hands of nearby audience members, stand up quickly only to get some bracelets stuck in his hair, and rather than pull the bracelets out, he continued the performance with these elastic bracelets hanging from his hair.  As always they were fun and spontaneous.  If you get the opportunity, I recommend checking out Trash Fire.

Constant Lovers
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This was my first time seeing Constant Lovers perform and I was pleasantly surprised.  I would describe their set as a dynamic mix of rock and hard rock featuring a lead singer switching between vocals, percussion, and saxophone.  The lead singer’s ability to switch between instruments while also providing vocals was impressive.  If I didn’t see it live, it’s almost hard to believe how well he was able to pull this off.  Constant Lovers more than provided the necessary “Glow of Neon Sax” the night was themed after.

BEAR AXE
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If there was any Seattle band I would put money on breaking out of the Seattle music scene within the next year or two, it would be BEAR AXE.  I’ve seen BEAR AXE perform four times and all four times, I was left in awe of the performance led primarily by lead vocalist Shaina Shepherd.  Her ability to command the stage is one thing, but the power of her vocals will make anyone a fan.  The rest of the band are nothing to sleep on as well.  The lead guitarist’s ability to play off the driving beat of the bass player and drummer really add a very jazz inspired quality to what I would otherwise describe as a soul/ funk/ hard rock amalgamation.  Throughout their set BEAR AXE welcomed several local standouts including Terry Monstrosity and Kathy Moore To join their performance.  If you haven’t already, check out BEAR AXE.

Thunderpussy
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Personally I’ve seen Thunderpussy perform over twenty plus times.  This past New Year’s Eve show the band accomplished to create something that felt new and fresh.  When you go to a Thunderpussy show, there’s no question that you’re seeing a Thunderpussy show.  There’s going to be hard rock with an emphasis on great musicianship, strong vocals, innate sexiness, and of course high energy.  What made this performance stand out was what felt like a real emphasis on staging.  The use of lighting, and how their wardrobe can play off that lighting, really added another layer to their performance.  It’s because of this lighting and focus on staging, the audience was treated to a performance different from most other Thunderpussy shows.  In terms of the set list, I like that they incorporated a lot of new songs into the mix.  Hearing songs debut for the first time is one thing, but hearing some of their standards played in a sort of montage mid set as well as hearing the songs featured on their latest EP “Milk It” shows a band that’s willing to let their sound evolve.  The set closed with members of the opening bands and several special guests (including Eva Walker from the Black Tones) taking the stage to perform in one massive jam session beginning with a cover of “We Belong” and closing out with a cover of “Jump Into the Fire”.

Overall, I felt very happy bringing in the new year with Thunderpussy.  You would think seeing a band perform on New Year’s Eve four years in a row would get kind of stale, but really it’s become a pretty awesome tradition.  I always try to bring a friend who’s never been to a Thunderpussy show along with, and every time the freind is blown away looking to snag merch and trying to find out when the next show is.  I think that’s why I’ve been a Thunderpussy fan for so long.  They have a captivating quality that leaves the audience wanting to see them perform again.

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Thanks for the great time, Trash Fire, Constant Lovers, BEAR AXE, and of course, Thunderpussy!

 

CakeInTheRain206’s 15 Best Photos of 2019

This blog is an offshoot of my Instagram: Cakeintherain206.  I wanted to practice my writing skills alongside my photography skills.  Instagram is a great platform to practice both writing and photography skills, but long form writing should be done on a blog.  All the photos on my posts, except for some of the promo images provided by the artists were taken by me with my cell phone.  To check out more of my photos and videos, check out my Instagram: Cakeintherain206.  Here are 15 of my favorite shots from the year:

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Greta Van Fleet – 1/10/19 – The Paramount

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Amyl and The Sniffers – 3/18/19 – Barboza

20190608_233255Tacocat – 6/8/19 – The Showbox

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The Comet is Coming – 6/20/19 – Barboza

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Mitski – 7/20/19 – Capitol Hill Block Party 2019

20190719_215419Bear Axe – 7/20/19 – Capitol Hill Block Party 2019

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Fucked and Bound – 8/24/19 – Linda’s Fest 2019

20190830_190825Sol – 8/31/19 – Bumbershoot 2019

20190901_150628Kolars – 8/31/19 – Bumbershoot 2019

20191009_230043Starcrawler – 10/9/19 – The Crocodile

20191013_220945Banners – 10/13/19 – Chop Suey

20191017_223606Grizz – 10/17/19 – The Paramount

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Maiah Manser – 10/30/19 – Barboza

20191106_212544The Paranoyds – 11/6/19 – Barboza

IMG_20191122_200703_288Crushed PBR – 11/22/19 – Lost Lake Cafe

CakeInTheRain206: 10 Favorite Albums of 2019

10 – [USA] by Anamanaguchi
I heard about this album from an Instagram post by one of my favorite artists, Porter Robinson.  I gave it a listen and fell in love.  It’s dance music.  It’s chiptune.  It’s music in the same vein as Kero Kero Bonito, Porter Robinison and Madeon.  I’m excited to see them when they come to the Crocodile in March.

9 – WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO by Billie Eilish
It’s hard to describe what makes this album so interesting.  It’s like a combination of the best versions of the music tropes of 2019.  At times it’s like listening to ASMR, while other times it feels like mumble rap, and then out of no where she’s sampling “The Scarn”.  The quality I enjoy most about Billie Eilish is that she credits her brother, Finneas, for co -writing the bulk of her songs.  It’s admirable that she lets people know about his contribution.

8 – Four of Arrows by Great Grandpa
When my brother told me that Great Grandpa put out one of the best albums of the year, I was pretty skeptical.  I like Great Grandpa (pictured above), I’ve seen them perform at least 4 separate times, but a contender for album of the year?  I sat down, listened to the album and was pleasantly surprised.  Four of Arrows comes out of no where and can easily contend with the best albums of 2019.  It’s a little cliché, but this album sounds like a band coming into their own, and finding their own sound.

7 – Bandana by Freddie Gibbs & Madlib
When it comes to hip hop, I’m not a fan of mumble rap or a lot of modern non lyric/flow driven artists.  I like artists that can spit, have a somewhat cohesive message, and have a back beat that folks can get down to.  This album is smooth.  The beats, samples, and production of Madlib back the great lyrical style of Freddie Gibbs.  Bandana stands as one of the best rap albums in recent memory.  I highly suggest checking out their NPR Tiny Desk Concert.

6 – On the Line by Jenny Lewis
This album feels personal.  It’s as if Jenny Lewis wanted to indirectly send messages to loved ones in relatable songs that feel like a friend reminiscing.  The song structures, although fairly simplistic, are generally sweet.  The album is really just easy going music that doesn’t feel overwhelmed by production.  The lyrics and Lewis’ voice are the showcase here.

5 – Titanic Rising by Weyes Blood
I’ve always been a fan singer songwriters. This album sounds like a 70’s singer songwriter reminiscent of Karen Carpenter or Janis Ian decided to write an album describing being a young adult today and also the direness some of the “crisis” our generation has seemingly grown up with. There are so many songs folks from my generation can relate to while listening to this album. As time goes by, this will be an album folks will point to as a snapshot of what life was like for young adults right now, a mix of burnout and hopefulness.

4 – Champion by Bishop Briggs
I don’t think there is any other way to describe this album than a quote from National Public Radio’s (NPR) All Songs Considered podcast.  In a review of the album, the host said “This is a breakup record and there’s kind of two directions you can go with a breakup record – you can go very, very inward or you can go very, very outward.  I think she finds a way to do both.  She’s able to tap into feelings of hurt and loss and pain, but channel them into these big, very empowerment-focused anthems that just shout from the rafters.  She manages to make a very rousing statement out of personal pain.”

3 – Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend
This album feels like a Vampire Weekend reboot 6 years in the making.  The album has a lot of nature references, which I don’t recall being as prevalent in their previous albums.  The album also feels very future centric, and looking towards what’s next.  It serves as an aspirational and a hopeful vision of tomorrow. 

2 – Lux Prima by Karen O & Danger Mouse
This album sounds as if Danger Mouse heard there was a new James Bond film coming down the pike, and decided I would love to score that new movie, Karen O can provide vocals, here’s a demo of what we can offer. The production on this album is astounding. It really does sound like high budget film score. This is an album you put on when you want to relax with a cocktail.

1 – Cuz I Love You by Lizzo
You can’t deny how big of a star Lizzo has become in 2019 and this album proves it.  The one word I would use to describe this album, positivity.  This album is empowering and just brimming with feminist laced positive energy.  Lizzo took her life experiences and laid out for listeners how she uses those to drive her forward.  It’s a feel good album that has so many danceable hits that I wouldn’t be surprised if we heard songs from this album used commercially in ads and in regular rotation in nightclub mixes for years to come.

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Honorable Mentions:
Devour You by Starcrawler – This album feels like a sample of what it’s like seeing Starcrawler perform live, just youthful controlled sexy rock chaos.
This Mess is a Place by TacocaT – Only TacocaT can make pointed criticisms seem so danceable and fun.  This album feels like a hopeful yet fully aware snapshot of the time we currently live in.
There Existed an Addiction to Blood by clipping. – You have to show love to clipping. and this audio vampire story released around the Halloween season.
Dedicated by Carly Rae Jepsen – If you would have told me in 2012 that in 2019, Carly Rae Jepsen would release a better pop album than Taylor Swift, I would have thought you were crazy, but between the two releases, Jepsen’s Dedicated is a better album than Swift’s Lover.
Of the Deep Mystery by The Comet is Coming – You have to see these guys live.  It’s Jazz.  It’s Dance Music.  It’s rhythm that just doesn’t stop.  My favorite track Summon the Fire sounds like if Jazz and Techno had a child in an afro futuristic space station.

 

(Spotify Playlist with 10 songs from my 10 favorite albums)

 

 

My Experience at Bumbershoot 49: The Bear Essential Bumbershoot

My favorite set at this year’s Bumbershoot was The Lumineers (above)

One week ago was Bumbershoot 49. The reviews are in.  For every even handed review, you have a review where the reviewer wants you to know Bumbershoot was expensive, different from their favorite Bumbershoot a decade or two ago, and they felt old in the young crowd. I always love reading those reviews. They read like a high school student who was required to go to a play for his art class. The person writes as if they were forced to go, coupled with a lot of padded paragraphs concerning the periphery of the event like history and critiques of transplants, and then like 2 or 3 paragraphs of their experience. They’re pretty funny.

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Jai Wolf at the main stage, Day 3

I attended Bumbershoot 49. I grew up in Seattle and this was my 8th consecutive Bumbershoot. I did what I try to do every year at Bumbershoot. I tried to have a great time. I went out and met people. If I ran into artists, I complimented them on their sets. I danced. I drank. I tried to hear new music objectively. I tried to put out a positive vibe and hoped I would get that energy back.

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ReignWolf, Day 3

Speaking from experience this year’s Bumbershoot felt “less”. There were at least 3 less stages. With less stages, there were less slots for performers, so there was less performances to check out. There was no “Flatstock”. There was no dance arts stage. There was no KEXP presence. There was no Sub Pop or other branded pop up shop. The ticket price remained as high as ever. The film selection at SIFF cinema was lacking. The SIFF programming was 2 documentaries about the space needle that took up a one hour block, followed by a 4 hour block of music videos. The whole festival on paper felt like a group got together, decided to throw a “Bumbershoot”, and the first thought at the pitch meeting was, “We don’t want to spend too much money but we also want to give people the “Bumbershoot experience”, what’re the bear essentials of Bumbershoot?”.

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Posters for Bumbershoot 2019 (left) and Bumbershoot 2012 (right). The reductions are pretty obvious.

As harsh as that critique may seem, that was all information that could have been gleaned from one review of the schedule, map, or lineup prior to the event. I usually purchase my tickets before they announce the lineup because I expect Bumbershoot to be Bumbershoot. It’s a local tradition. If you still bought tickets even after researching that information, then it’s on you for purchasing tickets for an obviously reduced event.  Despite all of this, the actual mood of the event was positive. It felt like more people had attended this year’s Bumbershoot, than last year’s Bumbershoot. Maybe the reduced experiences, caused more people to congregate at stages in heavier volumes, but it definitely felt like the crowds were heavier than they were in 2018. Folks were lined up for laser light shows at Pacific Science Center, half an hour before the show, only to fill the room to capacity. Every stage had pretty sizeable audience turnouts. I hate to bring this up, but the Jai Wolf crowd, broke the barrier on Saturday night and other than being emblematic of an enthusiastic crowd it’s also emblematic of a well attended set.

20190901_153945Longtime Bumbershoot fans getting things started on Day 1

Chatting with folks around the festival, everyone seemed to be excited. One of the first bands I saw on Day 1 were the School of Rock kids. Prior to their set, a group of long time Bumbershoot fans had congregated at the Fischer Green stage (where they would be most of the weekend), and had already begun dancing even before the band took the stage. One of the couples told me about how they were in their 70’s and had been to every Bumbershoot except for one. When asked who they were looking forward to seeing that weekend, the gentleman in the couple said, “The Dip and Rezz.” I went to see The Dip later that night. I stacked up as close as I could to the barricade. A younger fan and her dad stood next to me. I asked the younger fan if she was enjoying her day? She told me about how she was 12, this was her first Bumbershoot, and she was having a great time. I told her about how I was impressed that she would get this close to the stage to see The Dip. It’s stuff like that that makes me happy. It’s reminiscent of the family heavy crowd that attended Reignwolf on Day 2 (the following day). I didn’t think it would be appropriate to mosh at Reignwolf seeing how many children were with their parents in the audience. Those kids are going to go to their first days of school and be able to brag to the other kids how they went to a music festival and were front row for The Dip, or were on their dad’s shoulders for Reignwolf. It’s just so cool.

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Sol, Day 1

As great as it was to meet an experienced Bumbershoot couple and a first time fest fan, I think getting to interact with artists is one of the bigger appeals of Bumbershoot. Other than nodding up to Sol when I would run into him at random stages, or standing next to Nestra for a song or two as he yelled at Pink Sweat$ (who was wearing literal pink sweats in direct sunlight), “Isn’t it hot?!”, my favorite Bumbershoot 49 artist run in was during the Kolars set on Day 3. I had stacked up at the front of the stage. Yogashoot hadn’t wrapped yet, but Kolars had already took the stage and were ready to begin their set. A dad and his kids had posted up right next to me. I chatted with this couple on my other side, but I glanced over at this dad every now and again and mentioned how great this next band was and how we were all looking forward to this set. As Kolars began to perform, two songs in, the lead singer dedicated a song to that dad next to us, “This next song is for Mike.” It didn’t take me too long to realize, Oh wow, that’s Mike McCready from Pearl Jam. The dead giveaway was when he took out his Polaroid camera and began taking shots of the band. All I could think was I have his book “Of Potato Heads and Polaroids” at home, how cool is it that he still takes Polaroids at shows? haha. Realizing he was on family time, I didn’t ask him for a photo, I just thought it was a cool Bumbershoot moment. I got to watch Kolars next to Mike McCready.

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Kolars, Day 3

The performances I saw were fabulous. After seeing their sets at Bumbershoot, I immediately went out and downloaded albums from both Donna Missal and Bryce Vine. Their sets had me chanting as if I were at a pro wrestling show, “Please come back!”. Carly Rae Jepsen proved why her latest album “Dedicated” should be up their as one of the top releases of 2019. LP delivered a memorable set. The Lumineers’ performance on Day 2 made me put away my camera and just be there in the moment. Something about hearing the song “Cleopatra” and dancing and singing with the strangers around me, made me realize I want to just be “here” now.  Taking Back Sunday on Day 3 brought me back to high school. It was a special performance for a number of reasons, but the lead singer being unable to climb back on stage mid set and making the executive decision to just wander the crowd while singing, hugging and dancing with everyone was something myself and fans who were there won’t forget.

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Taking Back Sunday, Day 3

Finally, Rezz closing out the festival was just fun. I normally go to festivals alone and just meet up with freinds at sets we all mutually want to see. Rezz was a performer all my friends who attended Bumbershoot wanted to see. Being able to spend time dancing with them in that crowd felt special. At one point I disappeared for a bit, in order to eat a lobster sushi burrito.  I got closer to one side of the stage so I could dance and chow down.  Randomly a member of one of the bands (no joke, I think it was one of the DJs from Louis the Child) tried chatting with me about how he had eaten a lot of food at catering and how I, dancing while eating during Rezz, was “Living the best life”. All I could think of while dancing, eating, and chatting to this musician was, no one else is probably having a Bumbershoot experience like mine.

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Rezz, Day 3

On paper, this will probably go down as one of the most lackluster Bumbershoots, but for me and a lot of those who attended I can’t say it was a negative experience. I felt like I had a great time, met some awesome people, danced, heard some great artists, and made some great memories. Where it stacks against my prior Bumbershoot experiences, I can’t say it was one of the best, but no where near my worst. I feel like everyone I spoke to after the event have had similar opinions as well. It wasn’t a terrible Bumbershoot, but also was no where near noteworthy. If I were to give a straight no non sense opinion about Bumbershoot 49, it made me excited for next year.  =)

20190903_223727Carly Rae Jepsen, Day 2

See ya next year, Bumbershoot!  I hope Bumbershoot 50 is something special.

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(All photos were taken by me.  Check out my Instagram at: Cakeintherain206)