Bumbershoot: Strengths & Struggles of 2016

We know, internet. We’ve listened to your pleas, and we know that Bumbershoot 2016 wasn’t a perfect event. But for these Seattle adventurers, there were few sacrifices that had to be made, and plenty of good to balance out the bad.

When we needed good food, we had our choice. When we needed a place to sit, it was just a matter of what stage you wanted to do that at. Water stations were easy to find, ID check lines were fast, and getting a beer never made you miss a set. As you walked from stage to stage, sometimes you’d get lucky and catch a street performer like the statue lady, or the flow artists.

The Bumbershoot App made it easy for us to pick our favorites and not miss a set. It also let us share our favorites with friends so the whole rave family could be on the same page. The common consensus seems to be that the situation at Key Arena needs some fixing next year, and we definitely agree. But that’s an issue we feel best tackled in an article all its own. We thought ticket prices were reasonable for 3-day passes, starting at $180. But if you showed up for a single-day pass from the actual box office, it cost you just $30 short of that. Single-day pass prices definitely deserve a second look before next year’s festival.

The lineup at this year’s Bumbershoot was truly a double-edged sword. As with all festivals there were schedule conflicts, but this time it was often your childhood dreams battling against your adult taste. It wasn’t without its ups and downs, but all around we managed to have a stellar time. We always love that Bumbershoot hosts more than just EDM, and this year there seemed to be an emphasis on throwbacks. We didn’t expect to ever see JoJo, Billy Idol, Third Eye Blind, or Death Cab for Cutie at the same festival as Porter Robinson or Pretty Lights, but there we were, walking the line of past and present.

The pros included the awesome food, the street artists, the poster extravaganza that is Flatstock, and the art museum at Sub Pop Records. We had an easy time getting around from stage to stage, and meeting up with friends. The hard part was knowing what set to be at. We danced to all kinds of genres all weekend long.

One of the front-runners for us was Halsey, who completely one-upped her album with her live performance. A surprise set that we just so happened to see was Grave and the Pink Slips, which reminded us of our love of punk and the majesty of a talented artist covering herself in fake blood at the set’s end. St. Lucia, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Zella Day, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Anderson .PAAK & the Free Nationals, and G-Eazy all offered up memorable sets, each with something different and special about them.

Pretty Lights Bumbershoot 2016

Pretty Lights having as much fun as we were

Despite all the logistics of lines and different stages, we still managed to catch ZHU, Marshmello, Tame Impala, TOKiMONSTA, TroyBoi, Liquid Stranger, Zeds Dead, and Gryffin. The only real disappointing part about the EDM side of things was YG, who replaced DJ Snake on the lineup, but not in caliber of performance. We get it, “bitches and hoes” is your thing, but don’t be straight up disrespectful to the crowd, that’s unacceptable. On a more positive note, Kygo brought out a vocalist for a live rendition of Firestone, sexy sax guy showed up just for kicks, and the internet rejoiced.

Pretty Lights surprised us with way more than just a laptop on stage. Seeing an unadvertised mostly-live set was a crazy surprise. As always, the lights were pretty and the set left us wanting more, and ready for the night to follow. When we walked into the Key after a not-too-bad 20-minute wait, Porter Robinson was already playing Divinity and our level of excitement didn’t waiver from that point until we left. No matter how many times we see him perform a Worlds set, it never gets less touching or less intense. Language never gets any less explosive, either. Major props to the man who never ceases to amaze, we can’t wait to see him go b2b with Madeon later this year.

We had the chance to swing by USC Events’ Silent Disco a few times throughout the weekend, and were thoroughly impressed by the vibes and enthusiasm from the crowd. Switching between our killer local DJs was cool because if you looked around the room, everyone was vibing, but who knew to which set. Everyone’s just dancing and smiling and switching from DJ to DJ. The best part is definitely that you get to control your own volume so you can rage as hard as you want to. Next year our dream is for the headliners to do b2b sets so we’re still seeing big names, and still seeing two on stage at once, but no switching required. Consider this our early request for Excision b2b Datsik. Think the headphones could handle that?

All in all, if you were willing to trade a set at the Key for another, or just plain willing to gamble that getting in line 10 minutes after your favorite artist started would end in your favor, Key Arena’s lame line situation didn’t ruin the whole weekend. Some sacrifices were made, but in the end we saw more new artists that we otherwise may have missed if we’d decided that waiting for one was worth missing four others.

The ID check, beer, and food lines never kept us from missing something awesome, and was typically within clear earshot of a stage. People were generally nice, and we only saw a few people going too hard. Once again, Bumbershoot reminded us that live music is the best music, especially when you blend it with electronic. Key lines aside, it was another great round at one of our favorite local festivals, and we’re excited to see what kind of lineup they could bring that could possibly top this one.

What was your favorite moment of Bumbershoot this year?

X