Click here to download The Stranger's Bumbershoot schedule and map.

Bumbershoot is a battle.

Not only do you have to fight your way into Seattle Center, maneuver through crowds of various speeds and girths, and jostle for a place in line for that piroshky, you have to choose repeatedly between hundreds of bands and performers.

Many of the best acts at Bumbershoot are pitted against each other, warring for your time and attention. This year the theme is Cranium vs. Crotchium, with musicians and artists divided between acts known for their intellect (Common, Little Brother, filmmaker David Russo, the makers of dhal) and those worshiped for their more, well, visceral appeal (the Stooges, Flogging Molly, a film about Selma Blair's vagina, the beer gardens). So don't be surprised when your cranium and your crotch slug it out when you skim through the schedule.

Who wins? You do, ultimately. Whether you go for craniums, crotches, or a mix of both, the guide you have in your hands will help you formulate a successful battle plan. As the only newspaper in Seattle, we take our responsibility to both the discerning culture-vulture and the indiscriminate fanny-packer seriously. That's why The Stranger vs. Bumbershoot is Seattle's most comprehensive guide to Seattle's most massive arts festival. Inside you'll find features on '70s punk sleaze, brainy hiphop, reality television shows populated by Bumbershoot artists, women who warp the human voice and one who scars skin, plus Dave Eggers discussing the stars, a comedy rundown (and an interview with a musician who broke from the comedy circuit), film shorts, sound installations, Mad Libs, and more.

The Stranger vs. Bumbershoot is the only weapon you need to triumph over—and at—Seattle's nationally recognized, insanely varied arts and music festival. Challenge your mind, your loins, and your gut with the richest arts, music, and concessions this world has to offer. Bumbershoot is a battle that we intend to help you win.

—Jennifer Maerz