Lil Wayne: way cooler than me.
Lil Wayne: way cooler than me. Travis Trautt

Guys. I’ve been to a lot of festivals. I’ve been for work, and for play. But before Bumbershoot on Friday, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a fest completely solo. Truly alone. Like, didn’t go with anyone, didn’t run into anyone I knew there, didn’t actually really know anyone to run into. It was both convenient—wasn’t on anyone else’s schedule, went where ever I wanted whenever I wanted, ate and drank when I felt like it, didn’t ever have to stop and talk to anyone, left when I felt like leaving—and kind of lonely. I'm not complaining or looking for sympathy, because I never felt particularly unhappy about my situation. More, detached from the feels. Disengaged. Bored, even.

This is not to say I didn't enjoy myself. The Seattle Center grounds are an ideal setting for a festival. There are numerous real bathroom options (you can avoid using Porto-Johns for your entire Bumbershoot if you aren't utterly devoted to the main stadium stage, where Honey Buckets are the only option), the spreads of grass are lush and ideal for lounging, there’s a cornucopia of food options scattered all over (it’s not just B-EATS as I came to discover later), and the stages are well-oriented. Everything at Bumbershoot is in place for a perfect day.

Poolside was the best way to usher in my festival.

Their breezy post-disco, down-tempo house beats, and coo-sighing vocals washed over the scattering of bodies on the sun-dappled lawn in front of the Fisher Green Stage, gliding gently through the sprays of water jetting up from the park’s big fountain heart. The easy-going grooves were ideal for an afternoon stretching into the evening, and a wonderful way to welcome me to the place, as was the dude in a full-body yeti costume and striped headband, his dreaded brown fur flopping around as he walked and bopped along.

I found my peers at KEXP.

I didn’t exactly feel old at Bumbershoot, but I was definitely in the minority as far as the 35-plus sect goes. Many of us seemed inclined to congregate at KEXP, where high-quality, on-the-rise and well-established Seattleite performers were featured, and more mature audiences (some with their kids in tow) enjoyed it all in various states of sitting or crowding loosely around the stage. I arrived too late to check out DoNormaal, but caught some songs by Sloucher (they sound-checked Tom Petty, though their set was grunge-saturated Nirvana-dead-ringer stuff, a discordant mix of fuzz and reverb—and I mean that in the best way possible; it was good!), and Wimps (jangly drone-y punk mostly female-led, although the drummer had his turn at the mic when I stopped through). Also, it always smelled like coffee there because of La Marzocco, and the bathrooms were spotless.

The Return of Like a Virgin/Underwear-as-Outerwear style.

Sure, there were your run-of-the-mill scantily clad girls, tube tops, halter tops, bikini tops, crop tops, so many Daisy Duke cut-offs with ass cheeks hanging out the back, spaghetti straps. But, what I saw more of than anything else, was lingerie. Bras as tops, full-on red lace, black lace, bodysuits minus pants, sometimes with fishnets, flesh all over the place. I had a hard time looking and couldn’t look away at the same time. It was a fashion car accident and I was helpless to keep from staring, feeling both uncomfortable, but more than that, envious of these teens and very young women with such obvious self-confidence, or at least ability to feign it. I certainly didn’t have it at their age. It took me a good three decades before I was comfortable with my being.

Moses Sumney is my new favorite.

His set was a pleasant clash of loud, pulsing, sternum-rattling beats and haunting atmospherics, his creamy elegant falsetto curling into the evening air, clear and dreamy. This guy. I couldn’t wrap my head around his outfit—it was like, 21st-century groove pirate, all baggy black too-short pants, billowing button-down shirt, oversize ankle boots. His band (a drummer, violinist, and player on guitar and either clarinet or soprano sax) was either creating a mood or issuing low, pounding waves of sound while Sumney added to it with synths and loops, though at the end, they filtered off the stage and he busted out a fine looking hollow-body ax he admitted to buying the day before in Seattle, singing all on his own in a fine thread of stars-reaching melody that sent chills up my spine, gave me happy goosebumps, and made my entire Bumbershoot feel better.

I am 38 years old and I still like unicorns.

Evidence? One of the few pictures I actually got at Bumbershoot.

I am so lame but this is so cool.
I am so lame but this is so cool.

Here’s another.

I mean, it has the Space Needle too.
I mean, it has the Space Needle too.

Pork and beans from Radiator Whiskey
Pork and beans from Radiator Whiskey

B-EATS is good in theory, expensive in practice.
I was pretty interested in checking out the offerings from the restaurants participating in B-EATS, a specially curated food court showcasing local restaurants. I dig the idea. But the prices averaged about $12-$15, with a few exceptions (the single-size $5 and $6 tacos from Gracia, and a $6 ‘plain chicken thigh’ from Bok a Bok; the $20 Maine lobster plate at Bar Harbor). Little Uncle was selling a plate of Pad Thai, with tofu, for $14, while the cheaper Thai vendor (of which there were a few of the same chain located in different spots around the park), were $7. The plates at both were the same size.

But, I ended up going for the B-EATS fare, because I was desperately curious about the fancy ass pork and beans (smoked pork belly, barbecue baked beans, cornbread croutons, a scattering of bright crunchy chives). And they were good. Those slabs of pork belly were generous. But, still, $15 was pretty high for a meal served in a paper food tray, and I was wondering if beans at a festival were really such a good idea. (In case you're wondering, I did not shit my brains out.)

Lil Wayne.
I want his hoodie Travis Trautt

Lil Wayne is fucking great, but I’m too old.

You can’t be mad at Lil Wayne. The dude just seems cool, he’s got a good attitude, he’s always praising his fans and pointing to them for all his success (“Make some noise for yourselves, first”; “I ain’t shit without you”; “I appreciate you and your spiritual being”; etc.), he likes weed, and he was punctual, coming out only a few minutes after his scheduled set-time, almost directly after his DJ and hypemen, no fucking around, puffing and chewing on a blunt, and kicked right into “I’m Goin In,” his ’09 joint with Drake, getting the crowd all riled up in a furry leopard-print hoodie, gold teeth glowing in the flash of stage lights. I can see why his fans stay on board.

There was a “Good Kush and Alcohol” (not even close to a favorite but the full-crowd sing-along was cute), and a “Believe Me” (“His and hers Ferraris / One for me, one for my daughter”). He asked if there were any ‘old school Lil Wayne fans’ out there. “Because y’all know I’ve been doing this for 20 years.” Most of the people in that stadium were about that same age or barely older, as I'm sure he noticed. It didn’t stop all those teens from screaming enthusiastically in response, before he launched into his first solo hit, 2004’s “Go DJ.” Asses were shaken, arms were raised and waved, and verses were robustly shouted along to. I nodded along and felt incredibly old.

Lil Wayne is still cool as fuck, though.

Rhye is a great act to usher you to bed.

The project of Canadian singer Mike Milosh was the last act performing at the Mural Amphitheatre, set time 8:50 to 9:50, and after a sound check that lasted about 16 minutes, Milosh and his collective of instrumentalists (pianist, an electric cello and trombone player, guitarist, bassist, drummer, violinist) eased into their set, the music so very lovely and so very, very slow. Mellow. Languid and easy.

Now, at that point, I was definitely tired, even after two lattes in two hours, and it was where I'd already decided I be ending my night (I just couldn’t drag my sorry ass to Ludacris, sorry), and then everything ascended into a churning climax of dramatic lush instrumentals, in a rather unexpected, yet subtle way that was gorgeous but couldn’t keep me from throwing in the hat. I decided it couldn’t get much better than that. I let his high-toned serenades carry me right out the Bumbershoot gates.