Bumbershoot Guide

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bumbershoot 2010

Monsters of Alt

TV Pilots vs. Baboon Attacks

Previews of Every Single Thing Happening at the Festival

People's Republic of Komedy vs. People's Republic of China

The Stranger's 2012 Bumbershoot Guide!

The Stranger's 2011 Bumbershoot Guide!

Our Massive 2013 Bumbershoot Guide

Bumbershoot 2009

Gogol Bordello vs. DeVotchka

The Stranger's Bumbershoot Guide

How Does It Feel to Be Back?

Mad Ruins

The Bob Dylan Torture Test

Still a Gigolo!

Touch Me, I'm Sub Pop's Warehouse Manager

The Shins vs. Their Future

Here's What We Think of Every Damn Thing Happening at This Year's Festival

Give It to Me Easy

Rock, Chunk, or Rule

Fergie vs. Jackson Pollock

Bumbershoot 2009

Emerald Shitty

De La Soul for Life

Hari's Big Break

Friday, August 31

I'm More Than Hair

Yes, Aloha!

Let Them Bring You Brown

Countdown to Courtney

The thing about writing about theater for Bumbershoot is that it's not fun. There's promising stuff and discouraging stuff, but that's why God invented blurbs—stars for recommendations, descriptions for your perusal, et cetera. No need for superfluous exposition.

More fun to write: Why Bumbershoot should tear down its goddamned perimeter fence. Ahem:

It must feel pretty good behind that chain-link curtain, Mr. Bumbershoot. After all, that's how everybody else—Sasquatch!, Coachella, Bonnaroo—shut themselves off from the world. That, and a few dozen miles between each event and the nearest city. But that dozen miles makes all the difference. See, you're not like all the other festivals, and you shouldn't try to be. You're a music festival in the middle of a city—why not take advantage of it?

It's time to think beyond the galvanized steel wire. It's time to crawl out of your overcrowded playpen.

Mr. Bumbershoot, tear down this wall!

You're already stumbling toward a midlife crisis, pushing more cash and attention toward the blander side of the dial—Fergie, Panic! at the Disco—while your art, theater, and smaller-band programming seems more and more like a series of afterthoughts. If you really just want to be a big-shot, big-name festival, haul your ass out to Marymoor and be done with it. The college kids and alterna-dads and the sunscreen-and-bottled-water crowd will follow.

But if you're serious about taking over a big chunk of the big city to put on a surprising, great, omni-arts event, why not, you know, take over?

Bumbershoot can remain Bumbershoot—bands, crappy craft fair, adolescents looking for places to get stoned—and retain Seattle Center, but its untapped potential could spill out into the rest of the city. Imagine a big carnival running like a current through Seattle. Maybe On the Boards could be persuaded to move its Northwest New Works festival to coincide with Bumbershoot. Our art impresarios can organize an art fair in Florida every goddamned December (Aqua Art for the Art Basel Miami Beach festival). You think we could do the same thing a few thousand miles closer? And, while we're at it, let's use the infrastructure set up for Hempfest to host satellite political rallies down in Myrtle Edwards Park.

Maybe small theaters on Capitol Hill could start sowing the seeds for that fringe festival they've been meaning to resurrect. The schedule fits the fringe circuit—when theater groups from around the world travel from east to west across Canada, hopping from fringe festival to fringe festival—which now terminates in Vancouver in September. Let's put Seattle on that itinerary. (Visas can be a problem and the Vancouver Fringe actually starts after Bumbershoot, but if we build an excellent festival on Labor Day weekend that you can't bear not attending, the world will work it out.)

Here's what people at Bumbershoot—from producer Heather Smith to PR agent Kate Jackson—say, in essence, when I ask about tearing down the chain-link fence: But the perimeter fence is our model. The people who pay get inside the fence; the people who don't, don't. It's what we do.

But isn't that walking into the problem backward? Shouldn't we try to figure out how to make the good idea work instead of dismissing the good idea because we can't think of a way to make it work right away?

We'd have to think of a way to pay for it—maybe a mishmash of free and pay events? Maybe some variations on Bumbershoot's already-established wristband theme, with certain colors getting you into certain venues? The city's offices of film, music, arts, and tourism should throw in some cash to help. Let's exploit that "world-class city" gong they keep banging and turn Seattle into a weekend-long, world-class carnival.

But for now, this year's theater:

For comedy, check out Blood Squad and Eugene Mirman and the People's Republic of Komedy.

For dance, the On the Boards spectacular will probably be weird and good, with everything from austere Japanese epics (Maika Misumi, premiered at Northwest New Works) to "boyslesque" with Waxie Moon (Marc Kennison of Washington Ensemble Theatre who used to dance for Jose Limón's company in New York and knows his way around a stage).

For theater, Get Your War On, by Rude Mechanicals from Austin, looks vicious and lefty, if slightly smug. And the Cody Rivers Show, from around here, is a smart, weird comedy duo with ridiculous dance numbers. There's You're on the List, a new live game show with superstar and Stranger Genius Sarah Rudinoff, cello wunderkind Joshua Roman, The Stranger's own Christopher Frizzelle, and other people of quality.

Which is pretty much what it says in the blurbs. recommended