Unlike Bumbershoot 2008, which was a gorgeous 70-degrees-and-sparsely-cloudy weekend, Bumbershoot 2009 was a much more Seattlesque weekend. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs kicked off our Sunday afternoon, but between the ugly weather and a lackluster crowd, the show never really took off. I have to admit that I’m only a fan of four or five of the band’s “bigger” songs, but even so, the only section of the crowd that was really amped up for the set were the die-hard fans front and center.
We made a stop at Extra Golden and later the band U.S.E. (United States of Electronica). Extra Golden was enjoyable, but we were excited to see U.S.E. and left early to do so, but it turned out to be a disappointing set. It did, however, make for an opportune time to visit the beer garden.
We tried to sit through Seattle’s hometown heroes Common Market, but a few songs into the set we just weren’t feeling the music and left, wondering what else we should try and see. As luck would have it, we wandered by a comedy show titled Laff Hole just as people were entering, and managed to snag two (warm and dry) seats for an hour long stand up show by 5-6 comedians. Overall some O.K. and some hilarious jokes were thrown out, but either way it was well worth our time.
The highlight of the day was definitely Michael Franti & Spearhead. Franti has always put on a great show, but after seeing him 3-4 times in the summer of 2005, I haven’t been inclined to see him again. The shows were fun, but the set lists were too similar for my taste and I decided to give it a couple years before I caught another set. My timing to catch another show was perfect, however, because he’s added enough new material to spice things up a bit, and his act has translated well to a main stage performance like the one at Bumbershoot. The band ripped through a medley of songs, rarely taking a full break between songs and making a number of smooth transitions from full band to Franti solo and acoustic. A few person highlights include “Everybody Deserves Music,” “Sound of Sunshine,” and “Never Too Late.” Naturally the crowd, most of whom I’m guessing are new to Franti’s music, were fired up for “Say Hey (I Love You),” the band’s recent Top 40 hit. Of course inviting Jason Mraz on stage to sing along in front of a crowd of Jason Mraz fans doesn’t hurt your cause…
A quick stop at MSTRKRFT reminded me that I wasn’t on ecstasy like everyone else in the room, so we got out of there pretty quickly and caught an impressive set by The Helio Sequence. The duo gives off simultaneous vibes of art-school indie/prog rock in the best way possible, and watching them play you can tell band members Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel have very precise control over the sounds escaping through the speakers. Overall the band played a great set, one of the few on Sunday that left me wanting to know more about the artist.