Bumbershoot Feb 21, 2023 at 7:00 am

Will Lower Ticket Prices and a Stronger Focus on Local Arts Revive the Struggling Festival?

Coming (back) soon. Christopher Nelson/Bumbershoot



Will there be ins-and-outs?


I wish the best for Bumbershoot. I really do. But heresy! I think it got to be to big and crowded for Seattle Center. Maybe another venue is in order. Also, the Seattle music scene isn't what it once was. I don't know how the festival can be successful without national acts. I'm sure there will be some fine music without them, but I'm sensing there's going to be a lot of garage bands, too.

About ticket prices, yeah, concert prices are prohibitive since live concerts are the only way big acts can have payday. No one buys records or .mp3's anymore. I mean Coldplay tickets can be $400-800 (including a lot of overhead) for a mediocre seat. So a Bumbershoot with big acts can't be cheap anymore. Them days is gone.

We'll see and hope for the best. BTW, was that banner photo taken on Planet Vageena?


This is wonderful.

And not affordable to many.

Good luck.


Still too much $$$ for the average person making $20 or so an hour. I would hope that the events would require a wristband while the Center grounds themselves remained open to all along with the street performers & buskers. I do have faith in the new producers that they are trying to give us a great time while not losing money; I'm sure they'll have it dialed in in a few years.


I'd pay $50 for one day, if I were healthy and able-bodied and working like I was when I lived in Seattle. I hope it it's a success. I look at festival prices these days (most starting at $250 with no option for single day tickets) and wonder whatever happened to rock and roll being for the young?!

I spent almost all of my discretionary money on seeing shows between the ages of 22 and 32. I worked in NYC, saw about 4 or 5 shows a week, and made between $18,000 and $22,000 a year, except for the last two years when I was living and working there, making about $32K. I worked in the music industry and was obscenely underpaid (especially given every job I held required I have a 4 year college degree).

I remember being upset at $25/day for the tickets for The Tibetan Freedom Concert Festival (with the Beastie Boys headlining the shows I went to in NYC). Of course I was working at a Borders in the World Trade Center and making $6.50 an hour.

People over the age of 26 with full-time jobs who live at home with their parents because they claim they can't afford life because they took out $100K in student loans, are they going to these festivals?


@1: Replaying one of your greatest hits:

“The 1997 Bumbershoot lineup included:
Foo Fighters
David Byrne
Sheryl Crow
Blind Boys of Alabama
The Neville Brothers
Sonic Youth
Built to Spill
Tenacious D
Soul Coughing
Blues Traveler
Sugar Ray
Joan Osborne
Margaret Cho
Los Lobos
Smash Mouth
David Cross
Patton Oswalt
Robyn Hitchcock
Kristin Hersh
Ben Lee
Michael Penn
Mary Lou Lord
Sky Cries Mary
Dick Dale
Pacific Northwest Ballet
$10 per day.
(And ins-and-outs.)”


($10 in 1997 dollars would be worth about $18.61 today.)


Please please give us some heavy guitar bands, and some rap music and not just a lot of safe eastside family friendly indie pop schlock.


The lineup in 97 tho. Woof. Haha. I do wonder the cost of use of Seattle center nowadays. I also wonder how sponsorship was back then vs nowadays. I heard thru the grapevine that to throw a larger 3 day festival at Seattle center in (I think) 2017, an organization would need to have a budget of at least 2million. I wonder the cost difference of the venue use between then and now, given cost of the real-estate. I'm sure there are many other factors involved. I'm not sure if Seattle center was full union back then either. But that does add to the cost of labor. The flyer in this article does not have any huge sponsors on it either, which is sort of surprising as well. I'm okay with that if Amazon and bank of America don't have any say in the matter. I'll pay the bill. I guess that's my threshold of pain nowadays.


Damn that lineup in 1997!!! And for $10!!! I wouldn't arrive in Seattle until 5 years later, but I would have loved to have been there. I was at Lollapalooza in 1995 (headlined by Sonic Youth, with Hole, Beck, Elastica, Cypress Hill, Hole, Pavement, Jesus Lizard, and more), with too many awesome bands on the side stage to list in full here, including Built to Spill, the Geraldine Fibbers, Yo La Tengo, the Roots, Blonde Redhead, Helium, Patti Smith, Superchunk and more and that cost 3X of the Bumbershoot show in 1997. Damn I miss the '90s. I'd go back and live there forever if I could.


@6: Rad! Thanks for remembering. Peak Seattle.


@9: That type of lineup was normal for Bumbershoot, all through the ‘90s and into the mid-teens. Labor Day 1991 had a local jazz combo opening for Branford Marsalis, Duane Eddy opening for Chris Isaak, and The Posies opening for Crowded House. That was just on Labor Day itself, not the entire four-day Bumbershoot weekend, and my advance ticket for that day cost $6 (about $13.25 today). Day-of-show ticket price was $7.


I was at the big Beck mainstage show in 1997. Never seen Memorial Stadium so jam-packed. I also remember that as the day Princess Diana passed. I legit forgot how incredible that lineup was.


What an inauspicious beginning to the newly reimagined Bumbershoot. It seems they pulled a bit of a bait-and-switch regarding "early bird" passes. They really never existed. I logged on 20 minutes after tickets went on sale and they were already gone, due to "limited supply." This is not how early bird ticketing works, which usually has a set time span. I wonder how many passes were ever actually available?

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