Phew! It sure was hot enough! Today's high was 84, right between the two extremes I heard predicted this morning. Tomorrow should be even cooler still, at least by a few degrees. I'll tell you, I almost smacked myself in the head for leaving my poncho at home when the clouds started to accumulate at about 4pm. But no fears! Those clouds only meant a little more humidity. And no sunburn possibilities, since I managed to find shade at every outdoor venue. When I left you I was speeding off to the Mural Amphitheatre, which is shaded by cherry trees. Not only is there the whiff of slightly rotten fruit under the arbor, but the cherries are dry, hard, and hurt like a son of a bitch when they fall. Here's a hint for tomorrow's More Music stage shows: try to position yourself under a sturdy branch so the fruit'll bounce and hit someone else in the head; if you're subtle you can pelt obnoxious neighbors (who, moi?) with them. A hat is also a good idea, as the crows and starlings are eating the cherries, and what goes in.... ahem.
West Valley Highway drew a comparatively small early-morning (for Bumbershoot) crowd; presumably those not interested in lining up for a Kanye West pass. I'll admit: they were a little too honky in the honky tonk for me. The Amphitheatre was considerably more crowded for the next act, Electric Shades of Blue. Lead singer/guitarist Kurtis Dengler, who like most of the band's members is only 16, said he had bad news for the crowd: "We changed to death metal. We're now 'Electric Death.'" He then played a riff, gave a loud scream... and cut it short before anyone could run away, saying, "Just kidding!" They proceeded to rock the More Music Stage for an hour with their classic R&B set.
I had to leave a little early, though, to catch The Like at the Backyard Stage. The trio had literally just flown in from England and appeared a little jet-lagged despite their girly frocks. They arrived with mascara-rimmed eyes and flowing hair and played an ultra-short set of only 40 minutes. My favorites were "Z" Berg's vocals on their originals "What I Say and What I Mean" and "(So I'll Sit Here) Waiting," from the Thirteen soundtrack, and their cover of the Sex Pistol's "Submission." Maybe it's the limitations of a guitar-bass-drum combo, but their songs, although pop-py (in a good way), seemed to blend together. Hopefully next time they're in town they can come well-rested and give us a real show.
Then it was back to the Mural Amphitheatre. At 2:45 -- fifteen minutes before the show -- the lawn was so packed with bodies I seriously questioned my sanity for ever having left my cozy shaded spot for the likes of The Like. Lucky for me, my neighbors from the hour before were contemplating a brief venue change themselves. We negotiated a space-sharing treaty -- see? I can play nice -- and I was ready for more music. Sonya Kitchell's voice is like butter: rich and creamy, with just the right amount of seasoning ... okay, I've officially run that metaphor into the ground. Seriously, she reminds me of Sarah McLachlan and kd lang. And this little whippersnapper has the gall to be only 17 years old. Boy, the musicians on this stage are making me feel old! Or maybe the ache in my back is doing that. Here's wishing Sonya good luck on her tour of Japan, which starts tomorrow.
And if I thought the crowd was crazy for Sonya Kitchell, Matt Costa really turned them out. Over 2/3 of the crowd was on their feet for Matt, who came on in a safety orange touk. His 13-song set was fresh and fabulous. Most of the tunes came off of his latest CD, Songs We Sing, including the title track -- I love the song's reference to the Beatles' "Bungalow Bill" -- and one of my favorites, "Sweet Thursday." The Watson Twins, who are currently on Costa's tour, joined in the last two songs. Lucky me!! I got to hang out with Matt at the Tower Records booth after the show. He was super nice, staying for over an hour to sign cds, posters, t-shirts, arms and one guitar case. He took time to take photos with practically everyone. When I asked him what the weirdest thing he'd signed that afternoon was, he replied, "A cigarette." Well, that's one that won't be smoked next to the food court! I also asked him if he thought his knitted cap would start a safety orange trend. He chuckled, "I hope so. I want to protect people from dangers... like getting shot in the head." He seemed genuinely surprised by the massive turnout.
Folks were already on the prowl for extra Kanye West tickets -- I told you to get here early! -- offering $10 apiece. Allegedly. But, having secured another comfy spot on the Amphitheatre's slope, I decided to stay put for Newfies Great Big Sea. These Canucks had the entire crowd on their feet, playing practically everything in their repertoire. "Captain Kid" and "Concerning Charlie Horse," from their latest album The Hard and the Easy, were well-received, but the old favorites went over best. I was particularly fond of "The Night Pat Murphy Died," "General Taylor" and "I'm A Rover."
My final admission for the night: although I love Celtic music (I really, really heart Great Big Sea, guys, really!) I snuck out a little early to beat the crowds. Metro buses were free to downtown, and the one I caught in front of the EMP took me straight down 2nd Ave to Pike.
Electric Shades of Blue photo courtesy artist's website; Sonya Kitchell photo courtesy Velour Records; Matt Costa photo by Quang Le, courtesy Universal Music; Great Big Sea photo by Andrew MacNaughtan, courtesy Rounder Records.