10 Musical Artists You Should See at Bumbershoot 2015

Bumbershoot 2014 Day 2
Photo by Dave O’Leary

I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t really feeling the 2015 Bumbershoot lineup at first. I didn’t think it was bad, per se, but something about its choice in main attractions just seemed a lot trendier and commercialised than last year’s, almost as if it was directly trying to compete with this year’s Sasquatch! lineup in terms of modernity and universal pull. And, after letting the lineup sink in, well, I still feel this way about a bulk of its headliners, but upon closer inspection, I do think the lineup has a lot to offer.

As much respect and love I have for some of the Main Stage acts like Chance the Rapper, Ellie Goulding, Lindsey Stirling and Flying Lotus, in my opinion, the side stage support is where this lineup truly shines. And since most of the immense negative backlash I’ve seen towards this year’s Bumbershoot lineup has been pretty much entirely directed at its headliners, I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you ten side stage supporting artists that I think make this lineup one to watch out for. Let’s get started.


K.Flay
Saturday, September 5th

I was a bit reluctant about going to the Warped Tour in 2014, because of my indifference in re a great deal of the lineup, but seeing Bay Area rapper and producer K.Flay that day turned my disinterested low into a shrill high. With a lot of technical proficiency, very personal, telling and sometimes abstract lyrics, greatly varied instrumentals she rides on, and an instantly recognisable voice, it’s borderline criminal that K.Flay is as low on the bill as she is. If you’re going, make sure you don’t miss her set on Friday.


Tchami
Sunday, September 6th

I think it’s fair to say that there is an astronomically larger electronic music presence at this year’s Bumbershoot than last year. Sure, its presence was felt slightly last year, but when you cast major festival-level producers like Hook N Sling and Myon & Shane 54 off into scenic nowhere to play an indoor stage that could fit about as many people as a fucking rowboat, it’s fair to say you’re shafting a pretty major festival-hungry demographic. But with names like Zedd, Bassnectar and Flosstradamus as Main Stage headliners this time around, it seems like they’re a little more in touch with this crazy-massive market.

Among the more notable producers from a little lower down the bill is French musician Tchami, a justly rising star off of Fool’s Gold Records, whom has captured the hearts of the underground electronic music scene with his alternative and unique approach to producing deep house music, which at times can be surprisingly dark and murky. He’s seen as the progenitor of “future house” music, and listening to his work, it’s pretty clear what he’s doing is on another level all his own. Check out his set.


The Floozies
Monday, September 7th

This band is really creative and awesome. I’m not even sure what I’d call them – maybe IDM-influenced experimental electro-funk-industrial-step-phonics, but even that isn’t doing what they do justice. They’re a lot easier to listen to than they are to try and describe, and even if their genre-bending may come off as a gimmick to a lot of people, their material is still a hell of a lot of fun to listen to, and they’re definitely worth checking out when it comes time for the festival.


Emancipator
Monday, September 7th

File this one under “MUST. SEE.” Emancipator is a pretty fantastic and innovative Portland electronic music producer that’s been at it for quite a while now. His debut 2006 album Soon It Will Be Cold Enough remains, in my opinion, one of the best and most notable electronic music albums of the 2000s, a beautiful and immaculately arranged mix of downtempo, trip-hop and snappy instrumental hip-hop, a stylistic breed that would explode in the underground in a few years’ time. On top of being an innovator, he’s also just a damn good musician, and his appearance at Bumbershoot is most definitely worth going to.


The Melvins
Sunday, September 6th

Duh.


Atmosphere
Saturday, September 5th

Although their latest full-length LP Southsiders doesn’t really sit that high for me in their discography, Atmosphere is a fantastic and crafty hip-hop duo. While Ant’s production is consistently varied, detailed and all around great, rapper Slug not only knows his way around a mic, but is great at telling very vivid stories through his rhymes. They’re definitely one to check out.


Big Data
Monday, September 7th

The presence of alternative radio one-hitter Big Data as high as third row of day three recalls to mind the festival’s genius* decision to place fellow radio one-hitter Capital Cities on the Main Stage last year, even above the far more popular and deserving Neon Trees. Unlike Capital Cities, however, Big Data has way more than just one song you should know.

Sure, “Dangerous” is pretty much a stone perfect indie pop song – colourful, instantly catchy, fantastic chorus, sticky melodies – but so are deeper cuts like “The Glow”, “Get Some Freedom” and “Automatic”. While I’m sure there are a lot of people that will only be at his set during “Dangerous”, it’s worth sticking through from beginning to end, in my opinion.


Babes in Toyland
Saturday, September 5th

It seems like nowadays there really is no shortage of comebacks from bands that were active in the 1980s and 1990s. Even still, it was kind of surprising to see Babes in Toyland, one of the more overlooked bands under the “riot grrrl” umbrella of the 1990s, on the Bumbershoot bill. Though Babes in Toyland has never had the most distinct sound on the block when compared to their peers, the amount of fire on their records is consummate, and in my opinion, Kat Bjelland is one of the most underrated punk vocalists of the ‘90s.Their set is sure to be some 40 minutes of pure chaos.


Raz Simone
Saturday, September 5th

This guy’s live setting is a treat. Raz Simone is a Seattle rapper with great flow, a great voice, commanding lyricism, and fantastic live instrumentation backing him amid these grooving Golden Age-esque beats. His live shows are really heavy on audience participation, perhaps a bit too heavy for me, but those of you who like a good and distinct live show will likely be very impressed by what Simone has to offer.


Salva
Sunday, September 6th

Electro-trap is a fairly trendy and homogenised style of music in today’s popular music landscape, it now sharing a seat alongside big room house as the go-to get-rich-quick musical subgenre for every 16-year-old with a cracked version of FL Studio 11 to try and capitalise on. Despite that, there are still creative minds in this massively popular style of electronic music, and to my ears, Friends of Friends signee Salva takes the cake as the best on this year’s Bumbershoot bill.

Utilising lots of weird samples and synth presets to make up these groovy, heavy and bass-intensive bangers, Salva’s approach to producing trap music is kind of nutty and haphazard, but it gives his productions a unique edge. Hopefully this isn’t a set they’ll be cramping into a small club-sized stage, because this guy’s music demands a big crowd of sweaty people all getting their shit rocked by massive speakers with subs powerful enough to subdue a rhino.


That just about does it for the artists I think make this Bumbershoot once worth attending. Honourable mentions go out to Chimurenga Renaissance, a pretty decent side project of one half of Shabazz Palaces with a great message behind their work, The Fame Riot, a Tacoma-based dance-rock band exploding with homoerotic charm and great stage charisma, Nacho Picasso, who’s sure to put on a nicely chill and blunted live performance (and hopefully with a member of frequent collaborator Blue Sky Black Death DJing), and Paper Diamond, whose set is sure to be a firecracker of a high-fructose dance party.

Hopefully we’ll be seeing some of your beautiful faces at this year’s Bumbershoot.

Your friend,
Jess Casebeer

(Read my event coverage of Bumbershoot 2014 days one and two here and here, respectively.)


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