Friday, August 29, 2008

Bumbershoot 2008: Festival ready to roll with Beck, BOH, Case

Hey, it's Albert. I'm at home watching US Open tennis and resting up for three days of great music and swell times at the 2008 Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival.

I was at Seattle Center earlier today to grab my press credentials and saw trucks unloading food supplies, banners getting hung, and last-minute details being taken care of in preparation for the big Labor Day weekend festival.

Today is a travel day for several artists performing at Bumbershoot, so flights are being caught and tour vans are being driven as you read this message.

Gates open tomorrow at 11am, and access to Memorial Stadium for Neko Case/Lucinda Williams begins at 11:30am. Case is scheduled to start playing at 1pm, followed by Williams at 2:45pm. This is a dynamite way to kick things off tomorrow, two female mavericks giving back to back performances on a deserving large stage. Case is from the Northwest area, so a big local audience will be on hand to support her.

Local artists Ian Moore and Vicki Martinez will perform separately tomorrow on the Starbucks Stage. Martinez begins at 1:15pm, immediately proceeded by Moore at 3pm.

On the Fisher Green Stage, Saul Williams and !!! will jam at 7:30pm and 9:15pm. A pair of hard rocking bands, Unearth and Anti-Flag, are set to grind at the Exhibition Hall Stage at 6:30pm and 8:15pm. The line to get into the Exhibition Hall Stage, near Mercer Street, is usually long and winding, so arrive early if you want in - unlike other venues at Seattle Center, this space has limited room. In previous years, everyone is asked to be seated inside this venue until just before the band goes onstage to maintain some order because things can get wild.

The Walkmen is one of those bands a lot of folks wanna see tomorrow, and they are slated to go on the Rockstar Stage at 5:45pm. The alt rock quartet debuted on Billboard's album chart this week at #71 with their newest album You and Me, their highest debut in history. And they've just released a music video for the first single, "In the New Year". Nada Surf, another closely followed live act, is also playing on the Rockstar Stage at 8:45pm.

If you're a Crowded House fan, run don't walk to the Wells Fargo Stage for Tim Finn. He's a founding member of 70s-80s pop-wave group Split Enz and later joined his brother Neil in the band Crowded House. Finn, traveling from New Zealand, included Seattle on a short string of West Coast dates. He's scheduled to start at 8:30pm.

Finally, a huge crowd is expected at Memorial Stadium for Beck. Opening for him is Band of Horses, a once Seattle-based trio now relocated to the Carolinas. Ben Bridwell, who interviewed with me in June 2007, has a terrific raw voice that is so effective on moody songs like "No One's Gonna Love You", "The Funeral", and "The Great Salt Lake". My favorite is a faster track called "Wicked Gil". Band of Horses go onstage at 7:30pm with house doors opening at 6pm. You definitely want to arrive early if you want a space on the main floor or a good bleacher spot.

Beck, one of my all-time favorites, returns to Seattle since his 2005 appearance at the Paramount Theatre - a night in which I went backstage right before he played. I'll never forget that evening. He's small, skinny, adorable, and really friendly. The SoCal artist recently put out a new CD, Modern Guilt, a collaboration with noted producer Danger Mouse. Expect to hear selections from it, like "Chemtrails" and "Gamma Ray", tomorrow night. Older stuff from the pop maestro should be on his set list too, such as "Loser", "Devil's Haircut", "Black Tambourine", and "Where It's At". I actually named our music preview column at Seattle Gay News after the song "Where It's At".

Just today, I received a press release directly from Beck's publicist announcing that his upcoming sold out show at the Hollywood Bowl on September 20 will be a collaboration with arranger-composer and his very own father David Campbell. This is the first time both dad and son will perform together on the same stage, and it should be a remarkable, unique night of music.

I've been privileged to see Beck four times in concert and I've never been disappointed. He's so creative, so cool, so incredibly talented, and he's simply a brilliant live performer. We're in for a treat, that's for sure.

If the weather is anything like tonight, unusually chilly for late August, take a sweater or a hoodie to keep warm. Starbucks routinely has a stand on the East side of Memorial Stadium, so grab a cup of coffee or some green tea and see world class acts like Beck and openers Band of Horses play under a Seattle moon.

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