After wading through the heat, smoke, and an insanely packed festival season in the Pacific Northwest, it’s time to go out with one last hurrah with the 2018 Bumbershoot Festival this weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 2). It’s a time honored tradition in Seattle to cap off the summer with Bumbershoot and this year’s lineup has plenty to celebrate. From emerging indie rock acts to hip-hop superstars, your biggest problem will be deciding where to go with so many great options.
Obviously, we recommend you swing by the KEXP Stage at our Gathering Space and catch out lineup stacked with artists like Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Yuno, Knife Knights, Kung Foo Grip, Sloucher, DoNormaal, and more. But what about the rest of the fest? We’ve got you covered with some of our top picks for this weekend.
Let’s Eat Grandma
2:00 pm // Fisher Green Stage
British art-pop duo Let’s Eat Grandma released on of this year’s most buzzed about LPs with I’m All Ears and it’s easy to see why. Their thrilling electronic production veers combines club bangers with avant garde prowess, surging with exciting rhythms and disorienting-yet-enthralling samples. It’s the perfect blend of “let’s get weird” and “let’s dance till we pass out.” Just maybe leave your grandma at home, for her own safety.
2:15 pm // Main Stage
JPEGMAFIA’s abrasive beats are only second to his fiery, unapologetic rhymes. His latest LP, Veteran, is an overwhelming and stimulating explosion of frustrated, magnetic energy. There are few artists across any genre making as bold and tenacious music as JPEGMAFIA, from the clipping bombast of “Baby I’m Bleeding” to the jazzy contemplations of “Macauly Culkin.” JPEGMAFIA will push your convictions while he’s pushing himself to the edge.
6:00 p.m. // Fisher Green Stage
The first time I saw Moses Sumney was in 2015 when he was opening for Hundred Waters. Hundred Waters played a great set that night, but it was hard not to have your thoughts drift back to Sumney’s elegant, artful opening set performed by himself with just a guitar and a looping pedal. Since then, he’s gone on to release the effervescent masterwork Aromanticism and earlier this summer he dropped the haunting and beautiful protest EP Black in Deep Red, 2014. Sumney’s dexterous voice and beautifully intricate musical arrangements at times veer somewhere between Radiohead and D’angelo. Trust me, I know how sacrilegious that sounds but he’s really that good. Check this one out now so you can tell your grandkids about it later.
7:35 p.m. // Main Stage
We don’t appreciate Lil Wayne enough. The New Orleans rapper quickly ascended to the pantheon of rap legends at a young age after a furious run of mixtapes, culminating in 2008’s now classic Tha Charter III. Your favorite modern rappers learned from watching him on a mic and listening to his records. And he’s still doing it too, continuing to challenge himself with new sonic territories and remaining a contender in a hip-hop landscape seemingly crowded with new rappers every day. This is a great opportunity to pay your respect to a living legend.
8:50 pm // Mural Amphitheater
By the time Rhye hits the Bumbershoot stage, the sun will be down and night fully emerging upon us. You couldn’t ask for better listening conditions for the Canadian songwriters music. His breathy falsetto was made for the dark of the evening and intimate moments. With all the bustle that’s sure to come from the first day of the festival, sitting back with Rhye’s lovely, spacious music might just be the best way to ease yourself in for the next two days of music.
1:15 p.m. // Fisher Green Stage
I’ve written about Parisalexa a few times this year beginning with her debut EP Bloom and recently with an interview on the heels of her second release Flexa. Each time I delve into Parisalexa’s work, I’m just awestruck by the magnitude and precision of her songwriting. At just 20-years-old, it’s painfully obvious that she’s going places. You can feel it in her voice when she croons soulful ballads like “Leaves and Seasons” and also on confidence anthems like “Ballin” where she voices her Grammy aspirations. Get on board now before she’s finally conquered the world.
4:55 p.m. // Fisher Green Stage
As Whitney Houston once said, “I believe the children are our future.” That phrase goes through my head anytime I encounter Superorganism, a band that very much feels to my like what music will continue to sound like and look like in the future. A collective of friends connected from across the world via the Internet (also known as the world wide web, Google it) making obtuse pop and donning vibrant colors. They look and sound like they’re straight out of Back To The Future II, perfect as we’re fully in the age of Biff Tannen.
5:20 p.m. // Mural Amphitheater Stage
Guitar rock isn’t dead. It’s happily thriving in the hands of Cherry Glazerr. The Los Angeles-based trio have been rattling audiences with their fuzzed-out, blown-out sound since 2014’s Haxel Princess and near-perfected their furious tones with last year’s Apocalipstick. Not just that, but the band is insanely fun. Of all the bands at this year’s fest, this is the one you’re mostly likely to get lost in the moment air guitaring to while the sweet smell of Shishkaberrys from o’er yonder consumes your impressionable brain.
5:45 p.m. // Main Stage
Atlanta rapper Young Thug moves at an unbelievable rate. It’s hard to keep track with his discography – anytime I look away for a moment he has a new mixtape or album that’s seemingly apparated from nowhere. It’s insane level of output, made even more insane by how vital each recording feels. Thug has carved out a space for himself in hip-hop where he plays by his own rules, spearheading what’s now annoyingly called “mumble rap” with his off kilter flow that feels like it could reach out and grab you through your headphones. He’s continuing to define himself as one of the most exciting artists of the decade, so seize this moment while you can.
9:30 p.m. // Fisher Green Stage
While we’re still grieving the loss of Prince two years later, watching his classic band The Revolution perform might offer a bit of healing – or at least a chance to belt out some of the Purple One’s timeless hits. We might not be able to have Prince with us again, but this is the closest we’ll probably get. Bring someone you care about, get a spot to yourselves on the lawn, and sing “Purple Rain” together at the top of your lungs during this set. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
6:00 p.m. // Fisher Green Stage
Kelela’s brooding electronic opus Take Me Apart was a standout in 2017 and continues to unveils parts of its mysterious and wondrous production to listeners in 2018. Her voice itself is positively engrossing, tumbling and twirling over bashing synthesizers and drum samples. She skirts between pop and experimental music with ease, finding a remarkable middle ground that will haunt listeners long after they’re done listening. She can brood, she can hype up a crowd, she can do it all. While we anticipate what she does next, take the chance to get lost in her wondrous sound.
Cold War Kids
7:05 p.m. // Fisher Green Stage
Frankly, it’s kinda messed up that Cold War Kids’ “Hang Me Up To Dry” is over 10 years old now. I refuse to recognize the passage of time in such a way. But what I will say is that it’s remarkable not just how well their early records have held up, but how the band has continued to push themselves to creating fresh and frightening rock and roll all the way through last year’s LA DIVINE. Cold War Kids have long been one of the most consistent bands in indie rock and their live show holds up that point. You can’t go wrong here.
7:55 p.m. // Main Stage
Seattle folk heroes Fleet Foxes have become something of folklore. After taking a six year hiatus following their astounding sophomore album Helplessness Blues, the band returned with the beautifully dense and complex Crack-Up last year. It was a homecoming of sorts for a band who helped revitalize an entire genre in the public conscious. Where they first got notice for their acoustic picking and gorgeous harmonies, they’ve only expanded their sound into a grander vision. They’ve attained a newfound maturity as a group, establishing themselves as a future legacy act. It’s good to have these guys back and the main stage only seems fitting for their return.
9:45 p.m. // Fisher Green Stage
French pop-rockers Phoenix continue to be one of the most easy-to-love acts in the business. No one writes a hook like this group, and yet they continue to challenge themselves to write earworms while expanding into broader musical territory. Following last year’s buoyant, electro-pop of Ti Amo, there’s reason to believe this could be the best dance party all weekend. Make sure you do some stretches before hand. It’d suck to pull a hamstring during “J-Boy.”
9:50 p.m. // Main Stage
SZA is on top of the world right now. After releasing last year’s truly fantastic, future-classic CTRL, she’s gone on to have one of the biggest hits of the year with “All The Stars” for the biggest movie of the year – Black Panther. That she closes out the summer season headlining the final night of Bumbershoot only feels right. Her set promises to be one of the most soulful and triumphant sets of the weekend. Bask in the moment as we watch SZA also rightfully bask in her own moment.