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Friday, 06 September 2013 19:36

Festival review: Bumbershoot 2013 closes out with FIDLAR, Ra Ra Riot, Alt-J, Matt & Kim, MGMT, Trampled by Turtles and more, September 1-2

Festival review: Bumbershoot 2013 closes out with FIDLAR, Ra Ra Riot, Alt-J, Matt & Kim, MGMT, Trampled by Turtles and more, September 1-2 Tyler Williamson
Written by Tyler Williamson
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Seattle, thank you. You were sunlight and summer for three straight days, saving your typically relentless rain for the personalized autograph of a goodbye drizzle -- a little reassurance found with just a closer look.

Midday Sunday, though? FIDLAR's the only priority. The effulgent sun only encouraged the delirium aimed for by my fellow brethren -- "Feel like I'm already 80 years old and my skin's so cold, need a new body and I need a new soul." Zac Carper admitted so much for the stage-bound bunch too: "This is the longest set we've ever played. This is brutal." The guys also gleefully deflected a request for an on-stage tattoo -- an unfortunately retired practice catalogued on @fidlarLA -- with the frustratingly free nugget of knowledge, "Shitty part of DIY is...you gotta do it, yourself."

Bumbershoot finally gave up its moshing cherry, an hour's worth of FIDLAR having its way with the TuneIn stage made for a legendary first. The already slow burn slithering intro of "Whore" made way for a double-time melee amongst the pit -- crowned champ moment of Bumbershoot. "Cocaine" then offered the final bump necessary to get through finisher "Wake, Bake, Skate" -- replete with an upside-down, crowd-surfing Zac Carper screeching the chorus directly above me and the dozen banshees I shared concussions with during the onslaught.

Much later in the night, Ra Ra Riot completely packed KeyArena. The night before I walked straight into Jason Bonham's pit with a minute to spare; today I'm pointed towards the upper deck three minutes into the set -- a feat only Alt-J rivaled the next day. Wes Miles rewarded the turnout with lush inescapable pop come-ons while Rebecca Zeller juggled desires with the same adept touch she shows her instruments. "Beta Love" enlisted the crowd's help for a swelling, chills-down-your-spine refrain that echoed throughout the phoenix of an arena. The middle-aged moms in attendance even got a strange ballerina-like wave going, an apparent attempt at making up for talking through the rest of the set. "Thank you Seattle, this has been the best" prefaced Wes' hopping down to receive the barrier-entrenched mob and doubling back over for everyone to get a little love in.

The best variety-show as concert act ended Sunday night after an introduction from Mayor Mike McGinn. "This is All Me" kicked off the ADHD-addled set of Matt & Kim, the Brooklyn duo who never forgets to smile and who saturated the hour with sex references -- "My partner in crime...and in sex," the light-up boom sticks retitled "flashing dildos" and, topping it off, my cringing at the sight of shoulder-seated kids excitedly reaching to hit the ribbed and reservoir-possessing…."floating balloon snakes." Steady vibration remained the motion of the pit, with "Yea Yeah" a promise to prolong summer as long as it kept singing along.

If Ra Ra Riot played the magnetizing butterfly beautifully beating its crystalline wings, Alt-J compounded an Aurora Borealis of lights and precision for fans to marvel at. Starting Monday perfectly, the all-around tight-knit set from the Leeds-based foursome wrapped up the afternoon set with the arrhythmic, seizure-inducing staccato finality of "Breezeblocks."

Inbetween Alt-J and MGMT at the Key, Senator Ed Murray's generalized call for the arts and culture of Seattle was underscored by his introducing his partner of 22 years and now legally married partner of a month, Michael Shiosaki. Combined with the rounds of applause, the scene provided an encouraging, heartfelt snapshot of the pursuit of social equality.

MGMT might not have had a chance following the moment, but the band seemed to do its best to turn away fans in droves. Admittedly, senior-citizen status washed over me relative to the swaying kids asking me to buy them beer -- like a karmic time-slip, the kids on the floor collectively approximated my age when I first heard "Time to Pretend." With backdrops that reassure your favorite Windows '98 screensavers found a home, the lackluster routine came across as aimless, repetitive and with enough tempo changes to induce motion sickness. My single beer proved hopeless in greasing the wheels of comprehension.

Temporarily stuffed on music, I stumbled across the other scenes at Bumbershoot. The kid's theatre offered an option for depleted parents, with "Owl and Pussycat" making sure that all those too young to know who Eric Burdon and the Animals are got a little payback and a gazillion giggles. Ensuring nostalgia would be recalled at a fever pitch, TheSIMM.org offered the rarest of treasure troves: a hands-on, video-game history museum. In one fell swoop, I finally checked playing an Intellivision and a Commodore 1541 off the bucket list, lost a half-hour holding court on Street Fighter II for the SNES, confirmed the instant headache a Virtual Boy can induce -- wait, monochromatic lines an inch from my eyes is bad? -- and left after saving the princess on an original, Atari 2600 Donkey Kong.

Yes, I am a regular Leon Phelps, thanks for asking. Real recognize real.

Comedian Mike Drucker lessened the blow of owning up to nerddom by putting it in perspective. Recalling his refusal to live-action role play with childhood friends, "I physically couldn't run around the park with them...which is definitely the saddest of all reasons not to LARP." Emily Hiller and Tony Camin also ran through a solid bit or two, but this was "Patton Oswalt and Friends." Despite the strangely conceived threat/lesson about artistic integrity that ended the set, his determining the stopping point of the evolution of man had already solidified his stature in 2013 Bumbershoot lore -- it involves yearning for a Lean Cuisine microwave dinner.

Trampled by Turtles, the neo-bluegrass group that would close a national festival, easily proved to be the most pleasant surprise of Bumbershoot. Even the smoke of the crowd smelled dispensary-grade, sparing the smell of sweat-stained recesses from which most concerts seem to be retrieved. The frantic kinetics of "Help Me" spilled into the anticipatory crowd like whiskey to cottonmouth, kicking off the haggard hippy hoedown. Start with Wilco's spotless banjo solo on "That's Not the Issue," never lose your hopeless romantic slant and, when in need, try to melt your instrument: Trampled by Turtles, simply and beautifully for the passionate ones.

The formula's effectiveness elicited every superlative and drip of sweat the festival-goers had left until Dave Simonett apologized he had to go -- "I'm sorry it's almost over, we're staying the night though. Maybe we'll see you." Rather perfectly, we drown out the sorry little snippet of house music that came on by pleading for the ridiculous -- a festival encore. Reality be damned.

In the shadow of the Space Needle, with heading home feeling like a death sentence, the guys strolled back out to linger just a little bit longer.

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