Starting from upper left, clockwise: Superorganism, Wimps, Blondie, Cold War Kids
Seattle's biggest music, comedy, and arts festival, Bumbershoot, will return over Labor Day weekend for the 48th year, and its lineup of musical acts is stacked as can be. In case you're still frantically trying to map out which shows to see, our music critics have recommended the artists they think are worth checking out, from the enchantingly hypnotic Seattle rapper DoNormaal to sweet and sulfuric Sub Pop rockers Jo Passed to new wave punk legends Blondie. Follow the links below for all of their recommendations, and find the full schedule on our complete Bumbershoot calendar. Plus, check our arts critics' picks for the festival's top 28 comedy, conversation, film & arts events.


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FRIDAY

BLUES/COUNTRY/FOLK

Noah Gundersen
In the 10 years since his 2008 debut, Brand New World, Noah Gundersen has evolved from his Olympia beginnings in stripped-down indie folk to a fuller, more emotionally complicated sound that brings an unabashed sentimentality to each song—even the one about porn stars (check out the track “Bad Actors” on 2017’s WHITE NOISE). Gundersen’s committed, melancholy vocal power has a raw honesty that beckons comparisons to Thom Yorke, the Lonely Forest, and Johnny Cash. SOPHIA STEPHENS
Mural Amphitheater, 7:40 pm

ELECTRONIC

Poolside
The LA duo’s self-described “daytime disco” is much like the post-disco style that has become so pervasive in the past several years, but flawlessly executed and with their own distinctive stamp. Their ’70s vintage is given modern stylistic qualities in fatter, zippier bass lines and synth embellishments that feel like a shower of electro notes, tones, and unidentified noises; cooing high-toned vocals; and a style that varies between languid, rays-soaked odes made for enjoying by the pool while sipping an umbrella drink (see “Hot in the Shade” and “We Can Work It Out”) and thumping, beat-swinging numbers made for doing the hustle on a lights-saturated dance floor (“Which Way to Paradise”; “Feel Alright”). LEILANI POLK
Fisher Green Stage, 4:55 pm

HIPHOP/RAP

B.A.G. (Blimes x Gifted Gab)
Local rap queen Gifted Gab has joined forces with San Francisco MC Blimes to spit fire together as B.A.G., living out the intention of breathing life back into the hiphop scene with witty repartee and tireless energy.
KEXP, 3:05 pm

DoNormaal
God damn, I’m in awe of DoNormaal. Thoroughly established as one of the most sought-after rappers in the Pacific Northwest, DoNormaal is unstoppable. And her arrival to the Bumbershoot stage cannot be missed if you dare to call yourself a Seattleite. Her ease with rhyme surpasses flow with enchantingly hypnotic rapping that is an undeniable standout in the Seattle music scene. DoNormaal’s power is unmatched, and it only grows with each enigmatic, mind-blowing performance. SOPHIA STEPHENS
KEXP, 4:15 pm

JPEGMAFIA
JPEGMAFIA (aka Jamaican American MC Barrington Hendricks) has used his experiences of racism in Alabama and travels in the air force to shape his lyrical outlook and sonic approach—both of which are among the most exciting and adventurous in modern hiphop. His latest album, this year’s Veteran, is a wild ride through rhythmic and verbal extremism. As Pitchfork said of it in a review, “JPEG’s greatest trait is his ability to move from rap’s center toward its fringes by reimagining soul-sampling New York rap in a late-2010s internet wasteland.” DAVE SEGAL
Bumbershoot Main Stage, 2:15 pm

Kung Foo Grip
The MCs of Kirkland's Kung Foo Grip—the Afro'd Greg Cypher and the dread-shaking Eff Is H—are classic-minded, upper-range-voiced spitters in the vein of prime-time Hiero, but they're no real-rap revivalists. Since their quickly embraced appearance as teens upon the scene some years back, they've been as committed to progression as they have to their incendiary live presentation. Their production has morphed from jazzy loops and boom bap to cloudy trap, their couplets from merely impressive rhymes to naked emotion (particularly on 2013's Growing Up in the Future), they've never once sounded out of their lane, always honed their trajectory, always remained fans first of the area's illest shit—very based. LARRY MIZELL JR.
KEXP, 2 pm

Lil Wayne
It’s funny to think that Lil Wayne may now find himself at the most interesting point in his career. This is the post-Rikers Island stint, post-assassination attempt, post-rock-music foray, post-Cash Money lawsuit-pressing, continuously syrup-slugging Weezy, and, for better or worse, he’s probably more himself than ever. He still misses marks as much as he lands hits—the sheer volume of his work has always made it inevitable—but instead of simply testing his ability to mix metaphors and pop hashtag punch lines for the hell of it, Wayne now has the perspective to address incidents that’ve affected the trajectory of his storied career, and given the scope of his influence, the trajectory of Southern rap as a whole. The New Orleans legend hasn’t let his troubles get him down, though. TODD HAMM
Bumbershoot Main Stage, 7:35 pm

Ludacris
You’re probably familiar with venerable rap artist and actor Ludacris, if not a downright fan. He has a rather distinctive drawl, a leisurely and easygoing delivery style, and a gruff, lower-register vocal timbre. For those who need a reminder, he’s got a pretty stacked catalog of ’00s-era joints that will make you shake your ass… if you can put aside your feelings about his lyrical misogyny—“What’s Your Fantasy,” “Southern Hospitality,” “Move Bitch,” “Rollout (My Business),” “Area Codes,” “Stand Up,” “Money Maker,” and “My Chick Bad” among them. LEILANI POLK
Fisher Green Stag, 9:45 pm

ROCK/POP

Let's Eat Grandma
Two English women with two albums and tons of good media coverage to their names, Let’s Eat Grandma have risen quickly in their two-year existence. They began as pop weirdos à la Kate Bush, Cranes, and Björk on I, Gemini (imagine if CocoRosie were good). But on Let’s Eat Grandma’s second album, I’m All Ears, they’ve lost some of the stranger elements of their sound, glossed up the production, beefed up and standardized the beats, and now they’re ready to play the late-night TV shows and wow the kids. DAVE SEGAL
Fisher Green Stage, 2:10 pm

Mt. Joy
Having already toured with big names like the Shins, the Head and the Heart, the Lone Bellow, and Whitney, indie folk pop group Mt. Joy continue their ascent, all the while dropping feather-light tracks and booking festival performances including the likes of Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, Lollapalooza, and, of course, Bumbershoot.
KEXP, 7:45 pm

Rhye
Rhye is the project of Toronto-bred, LA-based musician and singer Michael Milosh, whose vocals are a delicate, honeyed, hushed caress, a kiss to the ears, so exquisite and captivating that the first time I heard him, on a Bonobo track (“Break Apart”), I literally wept. (I’ve described him as a melancholic Sade.) His music is soulful, down-tempo, alternative R&B that had its debut 2013, when he released the first Rhye album, Woman, as one-half of a duo. Now he fronts a collective whose subtly lovely instrumentals are a perfect complement to his gorgeous vocal stylings. He is touring behind his sophomore LP, 2018’s Blood. LEILANI POLK
Mural Amphitheater, 8:50 pm

Sloucher
Local quartet Sloucher’s moderately paced ascent from Capitol Hill Block Party in 2017 to Bumbershoot in 2018 proves that quality rock can still gain traction in a world ruled by hiphop, neo-R&B, and EDM. There’s nothing fancy or complex about Sloucher’s music: It’s effortlessly, unassumingly melodic, rhythmically punchy, and as comfortable as a broken-in pair of jeans. Some artists just have the knack, but Sloucher don’t sound like that Detroit new-wave band; they’re better than that. DAVE SEGAL
KEXP, 5:25 pm

Wimps
Seattle’s very own Wimps manage to simultaneously bring all the nonsense and none of the bullshit—whether it’s a song about being the old guy at the party, procrastinating on doing the laundry, or the gender pay gap, their signature brat-punk makes all the boring parts of being alive sound a little more fun. Face it… there’s a bit of garbage in all of us, so let’s fucking rock on while we still can with Wimps. SOPHIA STEPHENS
KEXP, 6:35 pm

SOUL/R&B

Moses Sumney
The indie folk-soul singer-songwriter has a silky falsetto that hits lower tenor registers with ease, gets sublime multitracked treatment, and climbs and falls against lushly orchestrated instrumentals marked by baroque pop flourishes (flutes and strings and such), the subtleties of ambient music (ethereal, down-tempo, serene), and an overarching sexiness—see “Make Out in the Car”—met with moments of deep blue moodiness. His debut full-length, 2017’s Aromanticism, is an absolute stunner. LEILANI POLK
Fisher Green Stage, 6 pm

SATURDAY

ELECTRONIC

Chromeo
The self-proclaimed “only successful Jewish-Arab partnership since the dawn of human history” is a neo-disco duo making slinky sounds for most of the new millennium. Chromeo’s newest, Head Over Heels, features a cast of all-stars like French Montana and Amber Mark, but some questionable lyrics about class and gender. They peaked with 2014's White Women, a capstone cultivation of synth-driven funk and boogie rescued from ’70s-era dustbins, but they can still worm their way into your hips. GREG SCRUGGS
Fisher Green Stage, 9:45 pm

Illenium
Whether filling an arena or the liminal space between euphoria and heartbreak, Illenium’s dizzying drops and soaring melodies bring an unprecedented level of genuine emotion and musical talent to the EDM soundscape. Last year’s Awake is filled with heartrending yet danceable tracks like “Where’d U Go” and “Sound of Walking Away,” which go harder than the cruelest of breakups. At Illenium’s Bumbershoot set, it is entirely possible (and okay) to dance and cry. SOPHIA STEPHENS
Bumbershoot Main Stage, 9:45 pm

HIPHOP/RAP

J. Cole
A top-notch hiphop talent deserving of all the hype and arena-size venues he plays, J. Cole maintains a clever, conscious, expressive lyrical style without losing his muscular, street-savvy swagger. He can also get tender and sweet, and he has been known to experiment with unexpected samples and sound qualities along with the expected beat-bumping and groove-hawking. His fifth LP, 2018’s KOD, culls sonic elements of jazz rap and trap, is mostly free of guests and mostly produced by Cole himself, and finds him delivering his own cautionary tales amid commenting on relevant related issues, from the proud addictions of today’s rising rap stars to his genre’s preoccupation with money. LEILANI POLK
Bumbershoot Main Stage, 9:45 pm

Knife Knights
If you dig Shabazz Palaces, you’ll likely flip for Knife Knights, the new project featuring that innovative hiphop ensemble’s rapper/producer Ishmael Butler and studio wizard Erik Blood (both are Stranger Geniuses, by the way). Knife Knights’ music has been percolating for about a decade, tracks cohering between the two artists’ many other endeavors. Their enigmatic songs sound like a blueprint for a brighter yet darker future, encompassing otherworldly atmospheres, eldritch melodies, and atypical rhythms. Trust me: It will be worth the effort it takes you to grasp them. DAVE SEGAL
KEXP, 5:35 pm

T-Pain
After dominating pop radio in the second half of the ’00s with a series of shiny Auto-Tune hits celebrating parties, partying, and falling in love with strippers, T-Pain achieved elder-statesman status with literally dozens of "featured performer" spots, where his digitally clipped croon is as distinctive as a Stevie Wonder harmonica solo. DAVID SCHMADER
Fisher Green Stage, 7:05 pm

Travis Thompson
That particular strain of fresh-faced everydude rap that is so beloved in Seattle has an unlikely new hero in young MC Travis Thompson, a stoner goofball who revels in cocky wordplay. He reps hard for the southwest side of town, even naming his 2016 debut tape Ambaum, for the street that runs between White Center, Burien, and West Seattle. He’s worked a bunch with Sol’s chief collaborators, Nima Skeemz and Elan Wright, so his sound tends toward the lean, live-band sound approach, though Thompson also fit in time to rock over a Jake One beat—all of which has helped dude’s SoundCloud hit more than a million plays. Good for him and great for White Center—too bad it wasn’t in time to save Muy Macho taqueria. LARRY MIZELL JR.
KEXP, 4:15 pm

Yuno
New Sub Pop artist Yuno—a 27-year-old Jacksonville, Florida, resident with English and Jamaican heritage—sounds like a swoony blend of Toro Y Moi and Tame Impala. In other words, Yuno should be tearing up the charts and burning up the streaming services soon. "No Going Back," from his debut EP Moodie, embodies a poised, dulcet hybridity, as his androgynous vocals glide over obliquely funky chillwave and restrained psych-rock. It's a youthful love song that doesn't sound tired, but rather bursts with cautious optimism. DAVE SEGAL
KEXP, 6:35 pm

ROCK/POP

Cherry Glazerr
It’s easy to regard Cherry Glazerr with skepticism. They’ve got a candy-sweet name, the frontwoman is an actress (Margaux on Transparent), and they achieved liftoff faster than most, but that’s what happens when a fashion designer (Yves Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane) digs a band and uses their music in a campaign. Fortunately, Clementine Creevy’s combo deserves the exposure. In the context of the Los Angeles music scene, they slot between Missing Persons and Dum Dum Girls by weaving garage pop and new wave with a touch of the darker stuff. On their third record, Apocalipstick, Creevy recalls Sinéad O’Connor as she wraps her swooping soprano around songs about gleeful slobs and social-media addicts. If Rookie magazine were a band, it would sound like this. KATHY FENNESSY
Mural Amphitheater, 5:20 pm

Jo Passed
In a world overrun with bands trying to be the next Breeders, Jo Passed stand as one of the most interesting (although there’s more to them than that). If you’re going this route, you need to be world-class in the dynamics department, and the youthful Jo Passed have mastered the soft/hard and quiet/loud dichotomies like seasoned pros. Jo Hirabayashi sings like a blessed androgyne, and the guitar tones are perfectly balanced between sweet and sulfuric. Sub Pop picked another winner. DAVE SEGAL
KEXP, 3:05 pm

The Revolution
More than two years after his too-early exit from this mortal coil, Prince continues to be mourned by millions of fans. Partially salving those wounds are the Revolution, the funk/rock/soul legend’s backing band during his peak era: the late 1970s to the mid ’80s. They helped to manifest the towers of song that constitute 1999, Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, and Parade. Now magnanimously reunited, the Revolution consist of Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Dr. Fink, Brown Mark, and Bobby Z. You can be sure they’ll proficiently run through an arsenal of deathless hits and deep cuts that will thrill grieving Prince loyalists, all of whom are bound to get delirious. DAVE SEGAL
Mural Amphitheater, 9:30 pm

Superorganism
On my year-end best-of short list for 2018 is Superorganism’s self-titled debut, one of those records that catches hold immediately and never lets up—the sort that’s so good, you just keep letting it replay, over and over, until you realize that many hours have passed and you’re now singing along with all the choruses. The self-styled “DIY pop production house” (their sound is catchy noise pop with big womping synth textures and natural bounciness) collaborated on the album remotely, its eight members are from Japan, South Korea, Australia, England, New Zealand, and the US, and their lead singer has that inexplicable youthful quality to her vocals—they just sound young. Which makes sense, since she was only 17 when Superorganism was recorded. I’m interested in seeing just how they mesh in a live setting. LEILANI POLK
Fisher Green Stage, 4:55 pm

SOUL/R&B

dvsn
You know something is good when it sounds completely effortless, which is the territory that R&B duo dvsn have conquered in their two albums since 2016. What sets dvsn apart from the R. Kelly–branded satin-sheet fire-sale set is that they treat sex seriously, emphasizing the divinity of diverse emotions that in turn commit themselves to the fog of lust. Their 2016 drop, Sept. 5th, boasts complex beats in part ripped from the early-’00s Mario catalog, but smartly tweaked for a modern audience, with vocal tracks layered like sexy church benedictions. Last year’s Morning After leads the holy boudoir vibes further, and with a sharper edge, veering past a Weeknd-esque solipsism and getting straight to the business of heartbreak and healing, when you know love is there but you still can’t find it in the haze. KIM SELLING
Fisher Green Stage, 8:15 pm

Grynch
If you pay attention—and you will never go wrong doing just that, trust me there—you know Grynch's trademark thoughtful everyman steez, and either you rock with it or you don't. If you do, you'll be glad to hear the 2018 edition. He's still taunting doubters and bragging on his young-vet status in the Six, keeping it West Coast, and being as disarmingly self-deprecating as ever. The smooth ’80s grooves and R&B assists that served him so well last time out are even slicker, and he sounds even more at home in the mix—if town-rap ever had an earthy Bobby Caldwell, it's him. And just like Mr. Do for Love, Grynch is just as fucking nostalgic as ever—he's virtually Seattle rap's Kevin Arnold. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Mural Amphitheatre, 6:10 pm

Parisalexa
At only 19, Parisalexa already has the sophisticated voice and performance chops of many musicians twice her age. Her setup is simple—keyboards, vocal loops, maybe a guitar—but the effect is striking. And it's worth listening to every spellbinding word (some of which she makes up on the spot). AMBER CORTES
Fisher Green Stage, 1:55 pm

SUNDAY

BLUES/COUNTRY/FOLK

Brent Amaker & the Rodeo
Even if Brent Amaker & the Rodeo couldn’t hit a note, their shows would be a hit on pageantry alone. The backlit stage, the fog, the men in all black, and Bunny the burlesque dancer are a recipe as rich as a meal made entirely of desserts. The fact is, though, that the sound is amazing; guitarist Tiny Dancer builds perfect melodies, with Jacque’s synth and vibes to complement the chugging rhythms built by bassist Cinderella, rhythm guitarist Ben Strehle, and drummer Bryan Crawford (who drums standing up, like Moe Tucker), and Brent's deep bass vocals ring out clear and strong. SEAN JEWELL
KEXP, 7:45 pm

Micaiah Sawyer
Olympia-based singer-songwriter Micaiah Sawyer was the winner of this year's Sound Off! competition. She blends gritty blues with folksy soul and homegrown pop for an organic Pacific Northwest sound.
Fisher Green Stage. 2:10 pm

ROCK/POP

Bahamas
There’s something soothing and enchanting about the music of Bahamas, the nom de plume of Canadian folk artist Afie Jurvanen. He’s got a fine vocal quality—strong, rich, sweet, and able to hit high notes. His music is great, too—alt folk that’s breezy and sublime. You might have heard “All the Time” in a Motorola commercial a few years back (I admit, that’s how I was first introduced—I actually Shazamed it because it reminded me of John Lennon). His latest record, Earthtones, has a decidedly grooving appeal. RIYL: José González, Bon Iver, Radical Face. LEILANI POLK
Mural Amphitheater, 7:40 pm

Blondie
Blondie could have retired after their first five outstanding albums and had a Hall of Fame–worthy career. But they’ve stuck it out for more than four decades, with the creative core of Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, and Clem Burke still cranking out the hits and deep cuts. The group’s songwriting smarts have transitioned smoothly from punk and new wave to disco, reggae, and rap, reaping both commercial success and critical respect. This sort of piquant nostalgia will put a huge spring in your step. DAVE SEGAL
Fisher Green Stage, 8:15 pm

Cold War Kids
One of those indie-rock bands turned big-time alternative players you probably always forget about until you’re reminded of them when one of their tracks pops up on the radio, like “First” (“First you get hurt, then you feel sorry”), or “Hang Me Up to Dry” (“You wrung me out / Too, too, too many times”), or “Love Is Mystical” (that newish jam off sixth and latest LP, 2017’s L.A. Divine). Frontman Nathan Willett has that sexy operatic urgency to his vocals, like he could just scream out at any moment, and with perfect pitch, and it would not only sound good, but you’d have to stop and pay attention. LEILANI POLK
Fisher Green Stage, 2:05 pm

Elohim
The narrative of hiding identity in plain sight enters into pop music fairly often, with major names like Sia and Lady Gaga obscuring their faces from their adoring hordes in a highly curated attempt at inviting mystery while securing (a false sense of) privacy. So when Elohim (Hebrew for “G-d”) hides their face in a dark crop of hair or with varied animal masks, but unfolds their work to display a narrowed range of electro-emo-pop rattled by adolescence and societal constraints, it’s nothing new. Yet they remain steady on a base level of intrigue simply because of their openness to pursue humor and growing-pains-honesty with regard to performance and personal anxiety in their work, especially with diamond-sharp tracks like “Hallucinating” and “She Talks Too Much,” bolstered by synth pulsations and dark-irony-handclap styles of the mid to late ’00s. KIM SELLING
Ex Hall Stage, 7:10 pm

Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes’ ornate charm has enchanted fans for years, and last year’s Crack-Up revealed a more sentimental, vulnerable side of their artistry. Alternating between the declarative and delicate, their third album is a complex, stunning work that lends new discoveries with each listen. Within an array of lush instrumentals and Robin Pecknold’s reflective lyrics, tracks like “Third of May / Ōdaigahara” and “Fool’s Errand” are sure to cast their indie-folk spell over the Bumbershoot crowds. SOPHIA STEPHENS
Bumbershoot Main Stage, 7:55 pm

Great Grandpa
Great Grandpa may be young, but their sound is mature enough to make Stereogum describe it as "knotty, twisted, and warm rock music that’s as melodically satisfying as it is, at times, confounding."
KEXP, 4:15 pm

Phoenix
Phoenix’s sound is a lush French dream-synth romance of complex proportions: equally decadent, mischievous, and absolutely euphoric. They’re all about bringing on the pleasure, and the retro charm of this multilingual band (2017’s Ti Amo features lyrics sung in French, Spanish, English, and Italian) has powered on since 2009’s breakout Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix with their signature eclectic charm. For a tantalizing taste of the party to come, check out “Tuttifrutti” and “Lovelife.” SOPHIA STEPHENS
Fisher Green Stage, 9:45 pm

Portugal. The Man
After more than a decade of making music, indie band Portugal. The Man exploded into the mainstream with last year’s Woodstock, which birthed the most overwhelmingly popular single of their career thus far—the peppy, retro-grooving “Feel It Still.” Their psych-pop origins are more subdued now, but festival-ready tracks like the rousing “Live in the Moment” (inspired by the experiences of frontman John Gourley’s dad at the Woodstock music festival) propel their sound to new heights. SOPHIA STEPHENS
Bumbershoot Main Stage, 6:10 pm

SOUL/R&B

Kelela
Last year, lost and marooned in a new state, I realized I needed to see some shows again. I thought of my favorite singer of recent years, and googled her for tour dates, not feeling terribly hopeful. Incredibly, she was soon playing an hour and a half from me, at FORM: Arcosanti 2017, a unique little festival in northern Arizona. Thank you, Kelela: That show revived me. As if to answer more prayers, she revealed that a new album was coming—and now it's here. Her Warp debut, Take Me Apart, is damn near perfect, blending her badass 1990s R&B voice with this decade’s sharpest club sounds, plus an arresting intimacy, a singular ache faultlining under islands of regret, culminating in album closer, “Altadena,” named for a town very near to my heart. My love for Ms. Mizanekristos. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Fisher Green Stage, 6 pm

SZA
On Ctrl, Solána Rowe, aka SZA, longs to be a “normal girl,” but there’s a reason why her Top Dawg debut has attracted nearly as much attention as labelmate Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. Between her records, EPs, and guest appearances, the St. Louis–born artist has also collaborated with Rihanna, Chance the Rapper, and Pharrell Williams. Spirited and seductive, Ctrl is the musical equivalent of HBO’s Insecure. Like Issa Rae, SZA cuts through the crap—“I’ve had enough of shitty dudes”—when it comes to modern love with a woozy vibrato that splits the difference between Amy Winehouse and P.M. Dawn’s Prince Be. KATHY FENNESSY
Bumbershoot Main Stage, 9:50 pm

Tinashe
Tinashe stepped into the mainstream in a big way with her sharp, futurist R&B debut album Aquarius, and continued that streak with follow-up drops Nightride and Joyride, both rife with that sleepy, mechanized alt-soul and meticulous bedroom pop with which her name is now synonymous.
Mural Amphitheatre, 8:50 pm