Bumbershoot Day 1: Recap by Collene McCarter
Seattle’s biggest music festival once again kicked off on a Friday this year, which meant that Day One of
Bumbershoot Music and Arts festival saw a pretty low turn-out of attendees – at least for the first few
acts. Security lines were short and walks between the stages were quick, which was great since Friday
was packed full of amazing local (and international) talent.
First up, Jason McCue, the self-proclaimed “alternative folk” musician, took charge of the Fisher Green
stage armed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and his own voice. The 20-year- old Sound Off!
winner surprised the crowd with his darker-than-expected lyrics, but the adolescent girls behind me seemed to
know exactly what was coming and continued swooning from the barrier. I ran over to the Mural stage
to catch another local act, J Grgry, the alt-pop singer clad only in black skinny jeans (missing one leg) and
pink and gold body paint. His soulful stories of alcoholism and depression somehow meshed perfectly
with his upbeat, danceable pop style.
Next I made my way over to Acapulco Lips at the KEXP stage. The KEXP staff will relentlessly remind you
that it’s the only stage at the festival with air conditioning, and it really did provide a necessary break
from the other three stages, given that temperatures were well into the 80s that day. The Seattle bands
Acapulco Lips and Dude York played back-to- back with enough energy to revive all of the dehydrated,
During a break between the local KEXP acts, I headed over to the main stage for Jorja Smith, a 20-year-
old British R&B singer whose soulful voice appeared on Drake’s 2017 album More Life. Smith sings about
serious issues including police brutality and woman’s role in society with a dazzling voice and a style
regularly compared to Amy Winehouse.
Between Jorja Smith and Foster the People, I left the main stage to catch some other acts during my 2-
hour break. I’m still thankful, on this day three weeks later, that I ventured out when I did, because I
found some of the coolest bands: Chicano Batman and BROODS. Chicano Batman’s energy level seemed
impossible considering the heat beating down on their tuxedo-clad 4-piece band during their entire 45-
minute long set, but they maintained it. BROODS is a New Zealand brother and sister duo with Georgia
Nott on lead vocals. Her stage presence alone is enough to entice a viewer (coupled with the fact that
she and her brother/instrumentalist, Caleb, make up the best-looking sibling pair of all time). Moments
after she came out on stage in her shiny gold wind breaker, she was leaping and dancing across the
stage while belting the duo’s electronica/pop-indie lyrics. They were now my #1 artist to check out once I returned
Meanwhile, back at the Main Stage, Foster the People and Big Sean were up next. Mark Foster, front
man of Foster the People, charmed all the ladies in the enormous Main Stage crowd while singing the
band’s funky electro-rock/pop lyrics. They truly did put on a great performance, but the primarily female
crowd was at their loudest as Foster confidently stripped off his leather jacket at the beginning of the
band’s set. The quartet played a mix of songs from their newest album, Sacred Hearts Club, as well as their older, 2012 Grammy-nominated album, Torches. Like many other artists that day, he used the
breaks between songs to address various issues including racial profiling and homophobia.
I really believed a good portion of the crowd huddled together for Foster the People were just there to
stake out a decent spot for Big Sean.
I was proven wrong when, at the conclusion of their set, over half the crowd left before the Detroit rapper could take the stage. Attendance had improved, though, by the time he came out, immediately praising Seattle for having the best weed and knowing how to party. This greeting was well-received by the proud Seattleites who energetically sang along to all of Big Sean’s hits, including songs from his newest album, Sacrifices, and several collaboration pieces like “Mercy” (Kanye West), “Clique” (Kanye West), “All Me” (Drake), and “Don’t Like” (Chief Keef). By the time he exited the
stage, I had rapped and bounced along to basically a quarter of my Hip Hop House Party play list.
My last acts of the night were Watsky, ZZ Ward, and Flo Rida. Watsky, a San Francisco hip-hop artist,
kept the crowd at Fisher Green stage on their toes with his quick lyrics and even quicker stage
maneuvers. This last show of their current tour had Watsky delivering a perfect blend of spoken word
poetry and catchy rap verses to an eager crowd.
Closing down the Mural Stage, ZZ Ward sang her unique take on blues music in a leopard print pantsuit
and black stilettos. She performed on this stage for the second time in her life and it truly was a grand
finale, with enough energy to keep fans clapping along for her entire set.
My twelfth and final set of the day was Flo Rida back at the Fisher Green Stage. Complete with enough
bling to cause serious vision problems, Flo Rida performed all of the 2008-2012 hits including, “Whistle,”
“Low,” and “Right Round,” while the crowd (whose mean age might have surpassed 16 years old)
squealed with excitement. After his second song of the night, Flo Rida paused long enough to shower
the crowd (including the photo pit) with champagne before launching into another hip-hop dance floor
So there you have it: Day one of Bumbershoot. 7 hours, 12 bands, and 3000 photos later, I was
exhausted. While each artist replenished my energy supply, the blazing sun sucked it out. Friday was
over and I was ready to go rest for 15 hours in preparation for Saturday.
Blogger Collene McCarter