Tucked inside the frequently asked questions part of the website, under the seventh drop-down menu, Bumbershoot states that it will not allow re-entry to this year’s festival.
Bumbershoot is happening over Labor Day Weekend from Friday, Aug. 31 to Sunday, Sept. 2, at Seattle Center. Those days are long and may seem even longer for concertgoers who won’t be able to come to the venue for an act, leave, and come back later to, I dunno, jerk off to The Chainsmokers or something.
Either way, the music festival—Seattle’s biggest—is just around the corner. There are big acts headlining (I mean, the aforementioned Chainsmokers, c’mon guys!) and thousands of people are expected to turn out. Many of them don’t know about this policy change.
I was surprised. I’m not a big concertgoer, by any means. But, since I’ve known about Bumbershoot, which is a paltry four years, there’s been re-entry. Last year, for instance, Chase Burns was horrified when he found out that re-entry ended at 8:30 p.m. I went to the festival once. My friends and I snuck in and out to drink beer and to buy Captain Morgan, which we smuggled inside in a Simply Apple Juice bottle. Those days are dead.
Bumbershoot responded to my email inquiry about the re-entry policy. It was cryptic. I simply asked if they had time to answer some questions about the policy; I didn't actually ask a question and this was the e-mail I got back:
“Bumbershoot is dedicated to providing a safe environment for all visitors to Seattle Center. We align with the overall City of Seattle incident response protocols and Homeland Security, Risk Management experts - incorporating security measures into all of our event planning, as well as coordinating closely with the Seattle Police and Fire Departments. We do not share these plans with the public.”
I wrote back a puzzled response, and then asked them to clarify why the re-entry policy had changed. I received a one-word response:
Rumor had it that maybe this was a Seattle Center policy that Bumbershoot was following. There was also word that Key Arena wouldn’t be used this year. Two birds, one stone.
“The way we work with Bumbershoot is as a client,” said Deborah Daoust, Director of Communications for Seattle Center. “I think they’re going by what national standards are for the type of event they’re producing as a safety precaution.”
Venues have put in place new, more restrictive policies, like that clear bag policy at CenturyLink that had everyone in a tizzy a couple years ago and put everyone in a tizzy again during the Pearl Jam Home Shows at SafeCo field. I hadn’t heard of any venues banning re-entry, that was the point of those fancy Radio Frequency Identification wristbands the festival has been using for awhile now, right? To make re-entry faster and easier?
According to an attendee on Reddit, Bumbershoot won’t be using those wristbands this year. They'll be using e-tickets.
“I think it’s just with all the mass killings in the United States around big events,” Daoust said. “It’s sort of a national response for taking additional measures and increased safety precautions.”
I looked up what the initial Bumbershoot email response had listed. I saw nothing about this type of crowd control approach in the City of Seattle's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. For an event in the heart of the city and after a shooter mowed down 58 people at a Las Vegas concert last October, I guess it makes sense.
Still, Bumbershoot has not communicated this well to its attendees. When asked what they thought about it, the staff at The Stranger balked. The majority hadn't heard about the policy.
As for whether this is a national response, other festivals, albeit camping festivals, like Coachella and Sasquatch, allowed re-entry this year in the wake of the Vegas shooting. Coachella is put on by Goldenvoice, whose parent company is AEG. Bumbershoot is put on by AEG. This policy appears to be unique to Bumbershoot.
Daoust told me to contact both AEG and Golden Reel, who are also putting on the event. They have not returned comment.
As for Key Arena not being used—The Seattle Storm has a playoff game scheduled that weekend.