Bumbershoot 2016's middle day was an interesting one. With a line management fiasco at the Key Arena the day before, police ran the line down the main drag, roping off necessary crosswalks and rerouting people trying to get their chicken burrito on at Chipotle into tree beds and bushes. And while strobe after strobe at the Key Arena stage led up to the climactic EDM top tier of Gallant fan ZHU and Odesza favorites Pretty Lights, most of the masses were packed in today for one unruly purpose: Macklemore. This left the rest of the crowds to meander freely between the remaining pool of talent permeating the Bumbershoot air on the KEXP stage, the Starbucks stage, and the Fisher Green. And of course, this left plenty of action to be had, with a lot more opportunity to see the stage well and to pee at regular intervals. Playing the KEXP set in the mid-afternoon were two great local acts, both rocking their very different wheelhouses in tip-top shape: Manatee Commune and Dude York, with the latter's Andrew Hall wearing his trusty Carly Rae Jepsen shirt once again. Speaking of pop stars, JoJo absolutely rocked the Fisher Green stage later in the evening, but not before crowds saw some excellent action from sonic pioneer and overall Renaissance man Reggie Watts. And finally, after opening the day's KEXP in-studio action, Black Joe Lewis closed out the mural stage with a reckoning of blues rock revival. Day 2 of Bumbershoot 2016 showed off the eclecticism we've always come to know and love about the festival with something for everybody.No, your schedule isn't wrong - Manatee Commune is the only act of the weekend playing two sets, one here today at the KEXP stage, and another tomorrow in freaking Key Arena. Man alive, has Grant Eadie had a rocket of a year or what? It's really not too hard to imagine why Eadie got asked to double up this year, either. In each venue, he'll play for almost an entirely different crowd, perhaps one more familiar than the other. But Grant's work as Manatee Commune exudes that same approachability of early Odesza material and similar electronic acts, where you just flock to the sound, regardless of your taste in the genre otherwise. Tomorrow, with the more DJ-oriented setup in the Arena, who knows how much of this stuff Eadie will do live, but here at the KEXP stage, festival-goers really got to see him put the magic together in front of our eyes. Alternating between guitar, violin, and an array of electronics on the table in front of him, Manatee Commune showed off his usual mixture of visual and audio exploration. Much of the material he brought today was pulled from the upcoming self-titled album dropping September 16, including the fantastic "No Reason". It's the kind of vibe you want to kick the day off with, which is why there's no surprise or disappointment to see him early in the afternoon both today and tomorrow. Grant Eadie is on a one-way trip to greatness, and if you missed him today, don't miss him tomorrow. The stuff he's doing with Manatee Commune is really something, and as he matures in his sound and dials in on his vision, it's only getting better.
Overheard in the crowd lining the Fisher Green stage for Reggie Watts: "Dude, I'm so excited - I've seen this guy like eight times and he's never played remotely the same yet. It's so confusing, it's awesome". Honestly, not really sure if there's a better blurb for Watts than that. The man's CV reads like a full season of MTV Made. He's been on albums with Regina Spektor, Cibo Matto, Flight Facilities, and Shit Robot. He guested at LCD Soundsystem's pretend "last" gig at Madison Square Garden on "45:33". He's done TV, albums, voice-acting, podcasts, stand-up, and so much more, and yet, his preferred mode of live festival action is experimental funk and soul as we have it here today on the Fisher Green. Watts and his band brought the weird in as much fashion as every fan would prefer. Looping his voice to infinity and laying it over creamy bass lines and supple drums, it's not hard to fall for the psychedelic trip through good vibes, regardless of how much or little you can really enunciate the feeling. For a breezy forty minutes, Watts kept the energy moving in increasingly nonlinear directions, letting the crowd follow him down the rabbit hole as much as the bustling mid-afternoon would allow. Who knows when he'll be back, but one thing's for sure: it won't be the same set as this one.
Giant brands, promoters, and corporations take note: Capitol Hill rock trio Dude York are literally the most fun band you can invite to play a small stage at your massive, highly sponsored music festival. At this year's Capitol Hill Block Party, the band took a great mental note of the festival's approach and Peter Richards ended the band's set at Cha Cha by ditching his guitar and taking incredibly invasive selfies with the crowd. Now as a response to this year's Bumbershoot action (however thought out - I could totally be overthinking this here, but who cares), Dude York take the KEXP stage and are brought to you by... Cheez-Its? The stage is covered in them and boxes line the speakers while Dude York pummel through track after track of rock goodness. Blasting through their stellar 2014 album Dehumanize as well as salty new tracks like "Lose Control" and "Love Is", Dude York showed off the usual tenacious energy and whimsical sense of humor. Walking around the Bumbershoot grounds outside of the KEXP area, you can barely take a step without tripping over a branded selfie-op. But with Dude York's small tongue-in-cheek commentary here today, it's a good reminder not to take any of this stuff too seriously. Without a doubt, Dude York's set at the KEXP stage was made with the most real cheese of any performance today.
They'd never admit to it, but one thing Millennials love doing (clarification: this statement is coming from one) is appropriating the crap out of other people's nostalgia. In today's day and age of comeback tours and reunions, it's hard to tell whose more excited: the day one diehards or the throng of more recent fans who have pulled their tracks from the ageless void of their favorite streaming service. But one artist twenty-somethings might have actual fond memories of from their junior high or high school days is JoJo, the pop star who gave us chart topping hits like "Leave (Get Out)", "Baby It's You", and "Too Little Too Late" in the mid-2000s. Label and management issues gave JoJo some trouble through the end of the decade and into the first half of the 2010s for releasing her third studio album, but not all was really bad there. In the downtime, she was able to release two mixtapes, of which showcase an artist much more well-rounded and adventurous than the manicured radio pop of her past. JoJo signed with Atlantic in 2014, and her long-gestating third album, now called Mad Love is finally out this October. Thankfully for Bumbershoot, this puts her back on the touring circuit, and plenty of fans showed up to witness it. Along with her classics here today, JoJo showed off several strong new singles, including last year's "When Love Hurts" and this year's Wiz Khalifa collaboration "Fuck Apologies". The new singles sound great, and there's nothing lacking in JoJo's performance skills, both vocally, and with her ability to rock a sizable crowd. Sure, if you wanted to, you could pass JoJo off as run-of-the-mill radio pop from two very different times, but where's the fun in that? She's just another twenty-something Millennial working through the weird, wonderful world of an industry run by older dudes with a very different agenda. And with a crowd that can remember "Too Little Too Late" and see what JoJo's done with the time between then and now, she's inspiration to make the most of every situation. Truly, you can't fault her for that.
Today in the KEXP studio, Black Joe Lewis kicked off his set with new song "PTP" and ended with Electric Slave thrasher "Young Girls", playing some older Scandalous material in the middle. Tonight, he reversed that order, putting the blistering Electric Slave number right at the beginning to show the sizable crowd at the mural stage that he does not mess around. Stone cold fact: Black Joe Lewis and his band the Honeybears mix blues rock, funk, and soul to make an eclectic jam session you can't help but move your whole body to. But when you have hundreds of people packed tight against the barrier to avoid the cold and Black Joe Lewis lays into that guitar line, there is an unshakable motor reaction that results in a dance pit of fans spanning thirty years in age, all getting down to blues rock mayhem. Lewis strategy worked perfectly. By the time "Young Girls" is over, the crowd is at attention and ready for anything, and thus, it's time for new jam "PTP". After this, they can return to the Scandalous days of funk rock riffing and dance tunes the pass the night away in blissful majesty. The night turned cold, but the dancing kept the crowd warm and happy, and Black Joe Lewis kept the magic coming for ages. It might seem like a long wait until the band release their new album Backlash in February, but judging by the performance here tonight, it will be well worth it. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears ended the evening for those at the Starbucks stage with nothing but positive vibes, and I'm sure those horns will stay with listeners for weeks.
Black Joe Lewis:
Check back to the KEXP blog for more Bumbershoot action all weekend long.
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