On Labor Day weekend, thousands of people gathered at the Seattle Center for the Bumbershoot Music and Arts festival. Yours truly was there for both music and arts, and saw unspeakable cool things/horrors. This is the absolutely true story of that experience, as well as I remember it.
Note: Times are estimates because I don’t have a watch and my phone was close to being dead. I guessed, and pretty well, if I may say so.
9 am - Woke up to check the artists of the day. Saw that Janeane Garofalo had cancelled. It looks like it was going to be a wonderful day.
On the list of things to see: Helio Sequence, King Khan and the Shrines, Doug Benson’s “Doug Loves Movies”.
11 am - Going into work to do some. Why? Because I'm a goddamn great guy.
2 pm - Meet up with my friend Travis, who also wanted to go. Start walking down to Bumbershoot.
2:14 pm - Walk by the Seattle Convention Center where PAX Prime is happening. See people ‘dressed up’ as their favorite sci-fi/game/literary characters.
As an aside: I’m totally cool with people dressing up in costume to go to a convention. That’s your thing and I appreciate that you love something so much that you’ll dress up for it. The thing I don’t particularly care for is the type of person who wears just a stormtrooper helmet and wears a t-shirt and jeans. It isn’t casual Friday on the Death Star, dick.
Also, saw a guy wearing a blue shirt and a red towel as a cape. That is only excusable for children and the mentally debilitated. And even then, just barely. And whatever that guy’s problem was, it was neither of them.
2:45 pm - Walked by this place: Because nothing says jazz like the space between buildings that smells of pee and garbage:
3:15 pm - Got to Bumbershoot with minutes to spare before the King Khan show. There were no tickets for us.
3:17 pm - 3:19 pm - Curse word explosion.
3:20 - 10:20 pm - Drugs and Netflix (specifically, 30 for 30 and Parks and Recreation).
Saturday music and arts recap: None.
9 am - Wake up. I am doing a stand up show at Laff Hole, a showcase for local comedians, at 6:30 pm. It is at the same time as the Paul F. Tompkins show, which means that the people who will be attending are going be people we know/people who couldn’t get in to PFT/people who don’t know what this is and think it is appropriate for them or their children (Spoiler: It is not). I put together my least offensive material, though it is the most abstract.
To see today: Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, The Dirtbombs, Blitzen Trapper, The Young Evils, and KnowMads (maybe). For those of you who don’t know KnowMads, they’re mediocre white rappers who rap about Seattle. Great stuff, though.
9:45 am - Psyching up for comedy/great day ahead.
12:30 pm - Get to Bumbershoot. There isn’t a pass for me. Goddamn it.
12:45 pm - 3:45 pm - Try to get in unsuccessfully. Sized up the guard letting people in. Maybe could have taken him. His name was Ramon. Yeah, I couldn’t have taken him.
3:45 pm - Get let in by some of the other comedians, using a trick known as ‘the pass pass-back’ (the oldest trick in the book). The probability of that working out was only slightly better than getting a really long trenchcoat and going as the world’s tallest man. Regardless, after 26 hours, 4 of which were actually trying to get in, I have gotten in.
3:46 pm - Elation. Followed by anger that I missed Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and The Dirtbombs, and Fruitbats. Damn it all to a fiery hell!
3:55 pm - Hit up Flatstock, a showcase for local artists, including my good friend Barry (www.barrytheartguy.com), and new friend Trevor (www.trevorbasset.com). These dudes are really cool and sympathize with my situation.
4:20 pm - [Data Missing]
4:21 pm - Food truck to grab meat on a stick. Realized later that the meat on a stick was Chicken Satay. Hoorah!
4:22 pm - What are all these old people doing here? Ah, yes. Tony Bennett just finished his performance at the Key Arena (that’s right, the same place as where this happened):
To be fair, both of them are responsible for a lot of children, so I can see the parallels.
Aside: Tony Bennett?? What the fuck? I mean, I understand that you want to attract a diverse set of people to your festival, but Tony Bennett shouldn’t be there. He’s better than that. I will start a Kickstarter to make him not perform in places like this. (Update: I don’t care about this issue anymore).
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm - Ooh, the Young Evils are performing. Go to the worst stage set up in the history of the world. Not sure what the name of this stage is, but it might as well be Jazz Alley. The Young Evils are killing it, though. I...feel...nice. By the time they get to ‘Dead Animals’,
I’m having an incredible time. Is this the end of all bad vibes this weekend?
5:31 pm - No. I need to head over to the Laff Hole area to check in and hang out. On the way over, I count at least 5 dudes who would pass for a white Lenny Kravitz.
5:45 pm - Get to the Vera Project, which is a nice building. People are hanging out outside and there’s a fountain. Someone tells me it’s sold out, which sounds like great news at the time.
5:47 pm - Try to get in, but am rebuffed by the guy working the door. Apparently, I don’t have an artist pass. I try to explain that it’s a mixup, but the guy’s not having any of it.
5:48 pm - Sneak into the green room with the help of my friend Annie. She’s the photographer for the event, so of course she got in, and I, AS A PERFORMER, couldn’t.
5:49 pm - Ooh, there are Diet Cokes in here! Things are going...
5:50 pm - ...not great. Guy from the front door comes in and tells me that ‘it’s totally not cool’ and in any other situation, I would have been kicked out. Which means he submits that this is not any other situation.
6:30 pm - The show should start. Technically.
6:48 pm - Show starts. The crowd is mostly people who are too old or too young.
And all the comics in the green room are worried they won’t be able to do their normal ‘dick-and-pussy’ material.
6:55 pm - I go up to do my 5 minute bit. It starts off in the worst possible way. My joke about how TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ is a pile of garbage ACTUALLY GETS BOOED. By the time I get to my last joke, I realize I’m 3-4 minutes over. Everyone laughs politely at all my jokes, but the level of offense is high.
8 pm - The place is swarming with people in line to see Mac Miller. It is lousy with douchebaggery. You know what, Blitzen Trapper? Not today.
Sunday music and arts recap: Art - Great. Young Evils - Fantastic. Laff Hole - Feh!
12 pm - Oh, shit. Today is Gotham’s Reckoning. The final day of the festival. It will be capped off by Skrillex, which means only one thing: Roofies everywhere! But, I’m doing my own thing. On the list for today: M83 and Fujiya & Miyagi.
2 pm - Get there. I know I don’t have tickets or a pass. Use inside connections to get in in the side door. Go over to Flatstock again and grab some art I had my eye on yesterday. My crown jewels: http://trevorbasset.com/Kokiri-Forest and an absolutely sick Breaking Bad poster from the dudes from Nakatomi Inc.
3:30 pm - Get in line for M83. The line is full of underage girls wearing bare midriff T-shirts. I am jostled by a group of high teenage girls. I also see a 14 year old absolutely jacked kid chain smoking.
3:31 pm - Make sure I’m not in some David Lynch - Roman Polanski production.
4:15 pm - Get into Key Arena. It’s almost at capacity so we end up in the highest, furthest section possible. I can tell that there are a bunch of French dudes playing music on stage, but that’s it. The light show is compelling, but the arena has all the lights on, which gives the distinct vibe of a strip club during its off-hours.
4:17 pm - Oh shit. One of the performers is a lady. Thanks, Jumbotron!
4:18 pm - Realize that the area surrounding the stage is only ¼ full. Why aren’t they letting people in? It is a mystery that remains unsolved. However, there is an army of volunteers making sure nothing happens. They are armed with nothing more than white T-shirts and, presumably, moxie.
4:20 pm - Puffs of smoke erupt everywhere. All right, then.
4:24 pm - Restless teenagers want to get onto the floor. One half of it empty, except for two old people DOING THE WALTZ.
4:30 pm - M83 is rocking, but these 22 year olds are getting restless about this not being able to go on the main floor thing. It’s like Occupy Wall Street, except instead of income disparity, they're protesting the ability to listen to a concert from the back of a crowd.
4:41 pm - During ‘Kim & Jessie’, the floodgates open. Dozens of drunken idiots are unleashed onto the main floor. Some make it, others also make it.
Aside: These people guarding the stage aren’t ‘the Man’. They’re just volunteers. They don’t give a shit about this. They just want to make sure everyone doesn’t die or something.
Double aside: Am I defending the volunteers? I guess this is when I go from being a cool rebel who graffitis things to a functioning member of civil society.
4:42 pm - Drunk girl tries to run through a female volunteer, is destroyed. Loses her shirt. Volunteer feels bad, lets up. Drunk girl runs zig-zaggedly to the floor, with her arms up victoriously. Good luck with that sociology degree, sweetheart.
4:46 pm - SIX cops come in to assist the volunteer security people. One fat guy tries to beat the police. Gets wrecked, maybe tased, definitely handcuffed. All to a music and light show that’s second to none.
4:58 pm - They play ‘Reunion’. The whole stadium is rocking. Everyone’s singing along and jumping up and down. It’s like the Sonics are back in Seattle.
5:00 pm - The lead singer, Anthony Gonzalez, is super polite and tells us all we should have a good time and how he’s humbled by us.
5:04pm - Last song ends. Everyone leaves. Clearly, nobody’s ever heard of an encore.
5:06 pm - ‘Midnight City’, accompanied by dummies trying to get back in.
5:25 pm - Outside KeyArena, I get Doner (which is a german falafel, apparently) and Strawberry Shortcake.
5:32 pm - 6 pm - Operation: Go-to-7/11-and-sneak-in-beer.
6:01 pm - Operation successful, inasmuch as Tecate counts as beer. But it is a tallboy, so all is good.
6:04 pm - 6:07 pm - Tecate chugged before Laff Hole begins. All my buddies are performing, so it’s worth a shot to go check it out.
7:30 pm - Realization that Laff Hole, though good, was mostly a bunch of jokes I’d heard before. The best part was the hosts of the show, a sketch comedy duo called Charles:
Aside: One of my buddies who performed that day, Travis Watt, has a video up on YouTube which has the greatest set of comments I’ve ever read. My favorite of those:
11825code6: FUCK HIM AND HIS LESS THAN NINETEEN SECOND JOKE, ASSHOLE!
Which he performed And much like my own set of jokes, that didn’t really go over well with the too-old-or-too-young group that he also faced.
8:15 - Getting the fuck out before Skrillex. I see this in the parking lot. It's a pretty good symbol for my Bumbershoot 2012: