The 40th annual Bumbershoot festival will bring the usual army of chart-topping performers, up-and-coming bands, comedians, street performers, writers, poster artists and more to Seattle Center from Saturday though Labor Day.
Bob Dylan, Drake, Hole, Neko Case and Mary J. Blige are among the big shots causing a stir on the main stage at Memorial Stadium this year, and you can find a full schedule at www.bumbershoot.org.
New this year is tiered ticket pricing. Festival promoter One Reel has given local music junkies the option of paying full price – $50 per day at the gate – for all of the sights and sounds they can cram into their festival-hopping intineraries. Or they can buy economy tickets, which grant access to everything but the main stage for $30.
Really, it’s a no-brainer. Save your ducats, people! Times are tough. The hippest bands and freshest discoveries always are on the smaller stages at Fisher Green, the Mural Amphitheater and Broad Street. Sure, that one guy is what you call “a living legend” and “one of the greatest songwriters of all time.” But you’ve heard “Blonde on Blonde,” like, a million times, right?
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OK, OK, so you still kind of want to check out the main stage, just in case Courtney Love flips out during Hole’s set and punches some guy in the front row. Understandable, but think of all the Top Ramen you can buy with the 60 bones you’ll save with the cheapo tix. It is a recession, after all.
And if that’s not enough motivation, here are 10 acts that’ll help you feel better about missing all of those millionaires on the main stage:
1. Georgia Anne Muldrow (4 p.m. Sunday, Fisher Green stage with Declaime): Muldrow – the daughter of jazz guitarist Ronald Muldrow – is a talented singer, songwriter and producer who makes off-kilter R&B and hip-hop in the vein of Erykah Badu, only her sound can be a little more challenging. The title track from Muldrow’s newest album, “King’s Ballad,” is a poignant tribute to the late Michael Jackson. She probably is better known for “Roses,” thanks to the remake rapper Mos Def recorded for his latest CD, “The Ecstatic.”
2. The English Beat (9:30 p.m. Monday, Fisher Green stage): This is another version of the band – led by singer, guitarist and primary songwriter Dave Wakeling – not the British-based version, which includes former band mates Everett Morton and Ranking Roger. Expect some of the most essential cuts from the U.K.’s ska revival, classic ’80s cuts such as “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Save it for Later” and “I Confess.”
3. Bomba Estereo (5:45 p.m. next Monday, also on Fisher Green): This band from Bogata, Columbia, offers a blend of loops, live instrumentation and Latin grooves that’s been dubbed “Electro Vaciln” or “Electro tropical.” And it’s been catching on among hipsters in the States thanks to exposure on stations such as Seattle’s KEXP-FM and KCRW-FM in Los Angeles.
4. The Meat Puppets (4 p.m. Monday, Broad Street Stage): Nirvana brought the Meat Puppets’ signature songs “Lake of Fire” and “Plateau” to the masses during the greatest session ever recorded for MTV’s Unplugged series. Hopefully, we’ll hear the real deal Labor Day, turned all the way up to 11.
5. Visqueen (9:45 p.m. Saturday, EMP/SFM’s Sky Church): “This is probably the last set in my life,” singer-guitarist Rachel Flotard joked at last year’s festival, eyeing all the wires around her as rain soaked the Broad Street stage (hence the indoor set this year.) No one got fried as her band played its new, self-produced “Message to Garcia” album in its entirety, a set so fun fans easily could tune out the blustery conditions. (Check out the video on Tacoma Rock City at blog.thenewstribune.com/tacomarockcity.) On a side note, if you splurge on the main stage tickets, keep your eyes peeled for Flotard during homie Neko Case’s set because she sang backup on Case’s “The Middle Cyclone” CD.
6. Patton Oswalt and friends (8 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Comedy South Stage): This rising star of comedy is back for another three-day weekend after delivering raunchy material from last year’s “My Weakness Is Strong” CD/DVD along with newer bits on magical comedy and bad post-grunge bands during Memorial Day weekend at the Gorge Amphitheatre’s Sasquatch Festival. This time around, he’ll have support from comedians Eddie Pepitone, Tig Notaro and Nick Kroll.
7. Ozomatli (9:30 p.m. Saturday, Fisher Green Stage): Los Angeles’ Ozomatli gets the party started with an infectious amalgamation of funk, salsa, jazz, reggae and hip-hop, as most recently captured on April’s “Fire Away” release. Moneymakers will be shaken.
8. The Dandy Warhols (9:15 p.m. Sunday, Broad Street Stage): Last year, Portland’s Dandy released alternate mixes of songs from its underrated, synth-pop masterpiece “Welcome to the Monkey House” as “The Dandy Warhols Are Sound.”
9. Garotas Sueces (2:15 p.m. Monday, Fisher Green Stage): Want a reminder of how influential and far-reaching the Original Northwest Sound is, even today? Just check out these guys, who on some tracks come across as a Brazilian version of our hometown heroes, the Sonics.
10. Flatstock (11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday through Monday, Fisher Pavilion): Tread carefully into Fisher Pavilion if your goal is to save money this weekend. With some of the best rock poster artists in the country selling their edgiest work, your money can quickly run out.