This year’s iteration of Bumbershoot, Seattle’s long-running Labor Day weekend entertainment festival, looks to be a doozy.
Organizers have pulled together a three-day lineup that is so stacked with solid offerings, it will keep festivalgoers running back and forth across Seattle Center trying to catch it all.
The headliners are as eye-popping as they are diverse: the Staten Island rap icons Wu-Tang Clan; Minnesota alt-rock legends The Replacements; one of the fathers of new wave, Elvis Costello; and one of the biggest up-and-coming hip hop artists, J. Cole. Expect it to be difficult to step out of Memorial Stadium through the latter portions of the day.
Wu-Tang, in particular, is an exciting proposition. It’s difficult enough to get two, three or even four members of a music outfit to come back together, but after 21 years, that all nine of them continue to ring the festival circuit each year is exceptional. Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Raekwon, GZA, Cappadonna, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and their fearless leader, RZA, have never been in finer form, and are a must-see on Saturday night.
But while headliners are a huge draw, what makes a proper music festival an affair worth sticking around for 12-13 hours a day are a good offering of mid-tier acts slotted throughout the lineup. It was a lesson Bumbershoot had to learn after 2010’s financial letdown, and four years later, it looks like they’ve become masters of the craft.
Among the standouts are post-punk rockers Mission of Burma, power-duo The Both, Sub-Pop’s Afghan Whigs, funk legend Bootsy Collins, solo singer Jonathan Richman, and R&B icon Mavis Staples. On the local side of things, Fly Moon Royalty, RA Scion, Hobosexual, Cumulus and on the main stage the Head and the Heart are highlights among a bevy of regional acts.
Music festivals serve a variety of purposes. For some, they’re an excuse to get out into the sun and take part in the party. For others, they’re a chance to check out their favorite artists and expose themselves to new ones. The weather might let you down this weekend – be sure to bring a bumbershoot – but the festival definitely has the makings to fulfill the desire to see excellent bands both new and familiar.