Bumbershoot 2016, Day 3: Sub Pop, Shaprece, Tame Impala, Death Cab for Cutie

Bumbershoot, Local Music, Live Reviews
Katy McCourt-Basham
photo by Sarah O'Connor

With a rare chunk of time to spare between great acts at Bumbershoot, a stop at the Sub Pop installation was in order. A short walk down the hill from KEXP to the International Fountain Pavillion to check out the installation and pop-up shop from the legendary Seattle label. Only up for the weekend, the Sub Pop Bumberstore had plenty of records and merch to add to your collection, as well as art and artifacts from the Sub Pop's storied history—everything from posters and records from the early days to Sub Pop gumballs and political posters imploring fans to vote this November. Here's hoping for more in Sub Pop-ups in the future!

photos by Brittany Feenstra

At the Fisher Green stage, Seattle's own Shaprece gave an exquisite performance. She has been playing locally for years to critical acclaim, but her music has not caught on in her hometown to the degree one would expect for an artist of her caliber. Her songs are textural masterpieces, her gorgeous voice shining over swirling electric cello and a complex digital mosaic. Her sound is simultaneously new and and familiar, but it's hard to put your finger on what is so familiar about it. If you could imagine a combination of Björk and FKA Twigs with a hint of Beyoncé, you'd land somewhere in her proximity, but that's an oversimplification of the unique voice she brings to Seattle music.

photos by Alex Crick

Shaprece's powerful velveteen voice was enhanced by vocal backing from the Foster High School Choir and local virtuoso Kimo Muraki (of Tiny Messengers, Fences, and Aqueduct, to name a few). Opening song "Falling Feathers" was short and sweet, but packed a poignant punch, a hint at the emotional rollercoaster that was to come.  The set swung gently up and down between somber and upbeat, with songs like "Remember" juxtaposing bright, uptempo beats with crushing heartbreak. The choir suited her music perfectly, adding a drama and cinematic flavor that took already-ethereal songs like "Coldest Winter" to the next level. Though the crowd was sparse near the beginning, many were lured in by her siren song, forming a sizable group by the end of the performance. She finished with the joyful "There is a Way." a bit of a departure from the rest of her performance, the song has live horns and a hint of hip hop, with one young woman from the choir even showing off a bit of her dancing prowess.

Fans poured into Memorial Stadium for Australian psych-rockers Tame Impala. The band has come a long way from its origins as Kevin Parker's home recording project in Perth, now putting on a kaleidoscopic dance party for thousands of avid fans on the other side of the world. They opened with "Nangs," from their 2015 release Currents, and the stadium vibrated with anticipation of the prodigious performance to come. This was of Bumbershoot's more brilliant booking choices for this weekend, and not just because they're a great band. Tame Impala appeals to both groups of Bumbershoot attendees: the young EDM enthusiasts toward which AEG has directed the majority of the festival lineup, and...well, everyone else. Their performance included a solid representation of their discography, including fan-favorite song"Elephant," "Mind Mischief" and even "Daffodils," the song Parker made with Mark Ronson. All accompanied by a swirling array of psychedelic projections. They wound us down from blistering guitar licks to a more mellow close with "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" and "New Person, Same Old Mistakes," making for a blissed-out end to an otherwise high-energy performance.

photos by Melissa Wax

Seattle indie-rock mainstays Death Cab for Cutie closed out Bumbershoot 2016 with a delightfully nostalgic performance. Greeted with a roar of applause, fans were still filtering in as they played Plans and Transatlanticism anchors "Marching Bands of Manhattan," "Crooked Teeth," and "The New Year." While their performance was great, Death Cab's music is rather subdued, and the crowd's festival fatigue was growing more apparent every minute. Sentimental favorites like "Title and Registration" and "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" elicited the strongest audience response, where reception of most post-Plans songs like "The Ghosts of Beverly Drive" and "You Are a Tourist" was rather lukewarm. While Death Cab for Cutie has been consistently productive through the last decade, it's possible that as the band approaches the 20-year mark, enough time has passed that fans are looking for the warm, fuzzy feeling of nostalgia, and not much interested in new material, regardless of its quality. They gave a welcome nod to their longtime fans with a few early songs "Company Calls" and "President of What?" from We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes and Something About Airplanes, respectively. Their two closing songs, the 2005 single "Soul Meets Body"and encore-closer "Transatlantacism" were both crowd favorites, with somber tones bringing Bumbershoot 2016 to a beautiful close.

photos by Sarah O'Connor

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