We saw so much stuff at Bumbershoot this weekend we had to break it into two posts. If you haven't yet checked out our Saturday recap, click here! There are cute cats, a crying clown, and a goth singer being distracted by the Seattle Center's ejaculatory fountain.
Sunday's weather was Very Seattle—drizzly, a little chilly—but that didn't stop Stranger reporters from seeing True Loves, Beverly Crusher, Shannon and the Clams, Spirit Award, THEM, Temples, Descendents, and Jawbreaker, and also taking some time to hear some secrets from a few friendly witches.
The clouds hung low at the start of Sunday, and easing into a starting slot at a festival is tricky enough without the weather being a cockblock. No one typically goes to festivals to stare out at a slate-gray sky and brood. But this is Seattle! And maybe we do! Seems like something we would do! Regardless, Seattle’s funk and soul gold-standard True Loves isn’t a band deterred by a chill in the air. Not when Jimmy James could freeze lava with his guitar tone.
They were big and brassy and breathless, the crowd was relatively sober and moving semi-rhythmically in a way that some could say was dancing-adjacent (registers as a Class 3 Miracle in the Pacific Northwest), and True Loves ripped through a set that, if God was real, should have split the sky wide open. It occurs to me that we as a city, and probably as individual people, do not appreciate what we have when we have it. It’s not a new concept, I know. We, as a city, have a world-class group of musicians capable of and actively lighting a dismal dark afternoon’s ass on fire, and I don’t know if we’ve stopped and appreciated that? Just something to think about as we open another juice store. (KATHLEEN TARRANT)
Beverly Crusher are fast nearing their 10th anniversary as a punk band. Punk is a genre infamous for its ephemerality, so give it up for Cozell Wilson and the Stiles brothers, Max and Sam, for sticking around this long. Tenacity tends to be rewarded in time, and judging from the crowd size, Seattle knows by now about their chaotic, venomous approach to rock. In a Fast and Furious T-shirt and Dragon Ball socks, frontman Wilson slayed the hits, from the call-and-response of “Gimme the Power” to the siren scream of “Scared.” Drummer Sam played hypeman, yelping along with the ecstatic grin of a golden retriever as he thundered down on the toms, while bassist Max formed the safety net for Wilson’s death-defying leaps over the octaves. It takes a lot to get a 1:45 pm crowd on a cloudy day feeling loose, but by the last squealing notes—as Sam lept off his kit like Rodney Dangerfield for one last crash—they’d pulled it off. (ROB MOURA)
Shannon and the Clams
My friend pointed out that Shannon and the Clams has been a band since 2009, which according to Google was 14 years ago and not, as I was convinced, like a week ago maybe?
They’re relentlessly charming, always. You don’t get their balance of lo-fi garage scuzz and girl-group disco-ball-shine without dialing it in, and Shannon and the Clams are speed dialed-in. For an afternoon set, there were lots of Outfits happening and the subsequent documentation of those Outfits, which I personally love to see as part of a festival. People snapping photos and tapping feet, affirming each other’s hat choices (a lot of bold hat choices at Bumbershoot this year, yet another new feature from prior iterations). The outfits on stage were similarly fun and for their set they rode the line of sounding like if the Shangri-La’s were a little bit haunted but in a fun-not-murder way. This band is just forever fun, really. Apparently for 14 years. Fun for 14 years. I need to lie down. (KATHLEEN TARRANT)
The thrum of distorted bass, the crack of 4/4 snare, and the smeared howl of Daniel Lyon's indecipherable vocals: on these elements, Spirit Award are recognizable from a mile away. Joined by Wild Powwers' Jordan Gomes on bass and Forest Ray's Nate Louis on drums, Lyon's long-running hypnotic rock project prepped for their upcoming European tour on Bumbershoot's Vera stage, and in top form. Louis's kit sounded massive from the pit, and it was kitted out with a few bells and whistles (like some sort of hanging electronic gong) that felt apropos to Lyon's battalion of guitar and vocal pedals. Effects-heavy krautrock is hard to mess up but equally difficult to get right, and Spirit Award have been in the game long enough to streamline the process. From a raucous cover of Suicide's "Ghost Rider" to a searing extended take on their new album's "Western Violence," the trio strummed and thrashed and undulated across the stage like they were performing a live reenactment of the sounds rippling off of their instruments. At its end, Lyon grabbed his microphone and swung it onto the crash cymbal, his guitar left screaming on its belly. (ROB MOURA)
The Witches Temple
Bumbershoot this year asked the question: What if a music festival could tell you your future, read your fortune, and provide spiritual guidance? The Witches Temple featured a rotating team of local trans and queer witches reading tarot cards, astrological charts, bones, and doing energy work throughout each festival day. They brought their queering of spirituality to a mainstream audience.
Over 1,300 visited the Witches Temple on the first day of Bumbershoot, according to artists and “community witches” behind the multimedia art project “The Living Altar,” Ylva Mara Radziszewski and Kiki Robinson. Radziszewski said she only peed once during the whole day because she was so busy.
I tried to get a reading at the Witches Temple on Saturday, but everything was full up. I arrived when the temple opened on Sunday, signing up for a tarot reading since the bone reader was running late.
“The Temple is ready for you,” the text on my phone read minutes later.
I walked into the temple, another one of those geodesic dome tents. It smelled of freshly burned sage and incense. Small candles flickered on cocktail tables dotting the space. Various linens and fabrics covered each table. Some had flowers in the middle. The tent buzzed with conversation and shuffling cards. Bones clattered across one table—I guess the bone reader had arrived.
Meagan Angus read my cards. I asked things about my job, about my love life. We only had 15 minutes. I left feeling calmer, clearer. Everything she told me is private so I will not be telling you. Don't be nosy. (NATHALIE GRAHAM)
“We played this at our high school graduation,” said Hudson (the second initial of THEM) before she and the rest of the band launched into a gorgeous cover of the Head and The Heart’s “Rivers and Roads” while a machine puffed a flurry of trichromatic, berry-colored bubbles over the heads of the crowd.
That high school graduation, of course, was three months ago. Not too long ago, the relative youth of the band would have implied novelty, but the fact that THEM started five years ago as a group of teenage girls is the interesting thing about them. On the Vera Stage, the West Seattle four-piece once again levied their power against a venue at capacity, a line of people out the door waiting to get in. Those who were lucky to be in the space were witness to simple, time-tested melodies graced with a dash of theatricality: perfectly executed three-part harmonies, constant instrument switching, intermittent slide guitar, and a heaping helping of confidence anchoring it all. (ROB MOURA)
The enduring joy of Descendents is that vocalist Milo Aukerman is a dork and therefore has never been cool, which keeps someone’s inherent draw timeless. This is a feat for anyone, but definitely for a band that released its first EP in 1981.
Descendents energy is the same—matter-of-fact, loud, joyous, and sincere. Their songs, surprisingly because they all spit bratty teen bon mots, feel just as relevant being played by a bunch of aging dudes. I think it’s because they can be and should be sung from the Beginner’s Mind—from not knowing anything and wanting to know everything. From unfettered expression. They sing the parts of being young that never go away—am I different, am I okay, you’re annoying, what am I doing, what are any of us doing, I’m confused. It’s not hormonal, it’s insatiable. They remind all of us to touch that insatiable core, to forget about being a cool guy anymore (as if I ever was before).
Cool comes and goes, trends fade, but smash-banging your way through 30 2-minute songs in an hour while the world’s tiniest, happiest circle pit swirls in the middle of a rain-peppered crowd ranging in age from 15 to 55—that’s forever. Or at least it’s right now. And all we have is that. All we have is that and never wanting to grow up. As a bunch of the coolest dorks with the best songs yell at you if you want them to. (KATHLEEN TARRANT)
Temples has been active since 2012, with Noel Gallagher once calling them “the best new band in Britain.” The last time they played Seattle was February 2020 at the old Crocodile, so they were due for a triumphant return.
At Bumbershoot, I overheard a man explaining to his friend, “They’re like neo-psychedelia-glam.” The crowd waiting for Temples includeed a silver-haired man in the front row getting high, and a young woman behind him in her 20s–if that’s not cross-generational appeal, I don’t know what is. Heck, I found Temples on their fourth album (Exotico, it came out this spring) and thought they sounded like a new band, which is impressive when they’ve been making music for over a decade. Their energy, their sound, is very now. When the band took the stage, they danced and sang and rocked out with an energy I wouldn’t expect from a group that’s been at it for so long. They’re excited: to play music, to be in this moment with us, to be alive.
At one point, frontman James Bagshaw remarked, “KEXP is like the best thing ever, even in England. Thanks for having us on this stage, and on your shows. We should do another live session.” (Their last was in 2017.) Between actually forgetting the names of their songs and jokes about doing so, the band reved up the crowd with the riffs of their 2020 single, “Paraphernalia,” which has actually never been on an album. They flow seamlessly into “Gamma Rays” off their most recent LP, and a mosh pit broke out near the front. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but the college kids rompped about as the older folks hold steady on the edges with bemused expressions. Even after two days of arts and music, this final set at the KEXP stage left the crowd feeling energized and wanting more. I'm looking forward to the return of both Temples and Bumbershoot for years to come. (SHANNON LUBETICH)
Jawbreaker took the stage on the second night of Bumbershoot and vocalist and guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach said, “Hey what’s up everybody. We’re Jawbreaker, friends of the Northwest." Then they launched into an hour-long set of all the songs us aging punks in the audience were dying to sing along to one more time. Jawbreaker's history with our city goes all the way back to 1990, as the now-highly-influential band was just getting their start on self-promoted tours along the West Coast. In 1994, the band played the historic Capitol Theater in Olympia. That night must have made an impact on the band, as they returned to that very venue 23 years later for one of their first shows back after breaking up in 1996. Though you could never tell by how tight the band sounded live, apparently, they hadn’t practiced much lately. Could have fooled me. “This is great. We haven’t played in like a year,” Schwarzenbach said. “Welcome to Jawbreaker practice.” The Fisher Pavilion crowd damn near gasped as Jawbreaker busted out crowd favorites like “Jet Black” and “Kiss the Bottle” and then yelled the "Boxcar" lyrics in unison—“One, two, three, four / Who’s punk, what’s the score?” At one point I looked around me and saw moms and dads with their kids on their shoulders alongside middle-aged baldies like me circle pitting with youngsters. To the unfamiliar, Jawbreaker may seem like a fairly standard melodic punk band. I mean, that’s not entirely wrong. But dig a little deeper and what you’ll find are raw, honest lyrics, heavy-ass guitars, and a hell of a great hook. Jawbreaker absolutely killed it on Saturday night and proved why their catchy pop-punk songs have stood the test of time. (KEVIN DIERS)