By Mathieu Pierre Youdan
August 30, 2014
Hip hop heroes and teenage enthralment
SEATTLE, WASH. — Getting in to the Bumbershoot Festival is like solving a cereal box maze: there’s a couple ways to solve it, and you feel dumb getting lost. Once the right gate is found, prepare for an onslaught of stages and teenagers, but the festival’s performers and vendors make it entirely worthwhile.
Starting too early to get turnt, but after Panic At the Disco, Danny Brown shows up on the Fisher Green Stage in a Frank Zappa “Hot Rats” T-shirt and weird ‘90s pants. Rapping his way through the nuances of molly and drinking to people that are too young to do either, the crowd got in to a frenzied mosh that spread to the edges of the stage floor. Tracks off his newest album, 2013’s Old, such as “Drinkin’ and Smokin’” had everyone yelling along with the identically worded chorus, while “Dip”’s ode to the effects of MDMA had everyone wishing, or pretending, they were on drugs. The performance of Side B (Dope Song) was perhaps the pinnacle of the crowd’s energy as hundreds of teens screamed to that chorus.
Before Brown could close his set, Canadian indie rocker Mac DeMarco took up the Fountain Lawn Stage across the festival. DeMarco played through a selection of feel-good psychedelic jams and espoused the joys of legal weed in Washington State. Near the end of his set he took unwitting teenager Jackson on stage to repeat some rastah phrases. “Is this piss?” Jackson asked, being handed a beer by DeMarco and commanded to chug. After the boy had taken his medicine, he was sent off to crowd surf through Freaking Out the Neighbourhood, and DeMarco promised that they’d be around the festival all weekend, despite playing a show at a local house later that night.
While G-Eazy kept the teens content at Fisher Green, Elvis Costello was taking the fans en masse at the main stage. Appearing in a thrift store picker’s dream outfit, Costello played through both old and new material. A notably diverse crowd managed to start a sizeable mosh pit. Costello created a lot of noise for a four-piece band, and antagonized the crowd with distortion and feedback experiments with his megaphone.
To close the festival Wu-Tang Clan showed up in two blacked out Escalades, bringing everyone together under the fuzzy umbrella of analog hip hop. Despite early sound problems driving half the audience out, they kept their closest fans energized performing most of 36 Chambers and a great selection of solo releases. With RZA spraying champagne across the audience and chorus raps of legendary Old Dirty Bastard, the tight mosh pit never lost its unity. DJ Mathematic and RZA traded decks and tricks in an impressive display of classic hip hop scratching, while GZA talked about how proud he was to bring New York hip hop across the country. Fans shouted, “Hip hop forever!” “Wu-Tang forever!” and clamoured for an encore that was not to come.
Looking ahead to day two, notable acts including Hobosexual and Red Fang are performing, along with main stage appearance by punk legends the Replacements and funk legends Bootsy Collins. Bill Nye will be performing a comedy set, and Schoolboy Q is rumoured to be joined by Macklemore on the main stage. With an additional performance by Mission of Burma and members of REM presenting the entirety of Big Star’s Third, this is not a festival worth missing!BC, British Columbia, Bumbershoot, Bumbershoot Festival, Elvis Costello, festival season, G-Eazy, Mac DeMarco, Macklemore, Panic At the Disco, Seattle, Wu-Tang Clan