Afterthoughts on the Bumbershoot 2012 lineup

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The initial music lineup for Bumbershoot was announced this morning and as usual the annual, three-day Labor Day weekend festival will feature a delightful mixed bag of musical treats that comes close to providing something for everyone. The full lineup as announced so far is broken down by date below.

But Bumbershoot’s variety really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the 42-year-old festival. Variety is pretty much Bumbershoot’s game considering One Reel books music and arts (comedy, film, visual art, etc) with a very broad audience in mind. What is surprising is the quality of that variety and that One Reel, a non-profit company that seemed to be in financial dire straits a few years ago, managed to put together a lineup that rivals Seattle’s other summer festivals.

This year One Reel brought in classic 90s alt-rockers Jane’s Addiction, the iconic Tony Bennett and dubstep king Skrillex to serve as headliners. As if that isn’t diverse enough there are acts like modern R&B blues band The Heavy, rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson, funky jazzmasters The Rebirth Brass Band, alt-country road warriors Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, up-and-coming rapper Mac Miller, reunited emo punks The Promise Ring, hometown grunge heroes Mudhoney, a rare stateside set by The Vaseslines and dozens of other stellar acts that make up the undercard (M83, King Khan and the Shrines, Yelawolf, Keane, Passion Pit …). Plus, more main stage acts will be announced at a later date. The lineup for Bumbershoot 2012 is easily the best the festival has offered since at least 2008 and it’s refreshing to see Seattle’s Music and Arts Festival back to in fine form.

Aside from the music lineup, which was only partially announced so more acts will be revealed as the festival dates gets closer, there were a few other things that were learned about Bumbershoot which should make this year’s festival stand out compared to past Bumbershoots.

Sub Pop is co-curating the Fountain Lawn stage. The stage will host Sub Pop acts so expect to see the likes of Blitzen Trapper, The Vaselines, The Helio Sequence and other Sub Pop artists there. It’s a safe bet to say Hardly Art artists such as Tacocat, Gold Leaves and others will also play that stage. Having Sub Pop directly involved with Bumbershoot is a great look for both the festival (it helps reinforce the Bumbershoot’s support of the local arts community) and the label (lots of exposure for its artists at one of Bumbershoot’s largest outdoor stages). Hopefully this marks the beginning of a lengthy relationship.

There will also be a stage called The Promenade, which will be located outside of McCaw Hall. The stage will feature a combination of up-and-coming rock bands and singer/songwriters. It will also host several Canadian bands on the first day of the festival with the help fo the M for Montreal music festival which is curating the stage that day. This looks to be another winning partnership. By teaming up with smaller, less established festivals Bumbershoot is able to expand its offerings while also opening its doors to artists its patrons might not otherwise discover. And anyone who has spent time at any music festival will tell you that discovery is half the fun of spending summer days swimming in live music.

Also on the partnership tip (see a theme here?) Bumbershoot is offering programming by day for some genres. So if you want some Americana you’ll want to come around Saturday because the Americana Music Association helped curate a stage that will feature Heartless Bastards, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, and The Jayhawks . Sunday includes a blues lineup curated in partnership with the Highway 99 Blues Club and Monday will host a global music lineup.

Decibel Fest is also playing a role in Bumbershoot’s programming this year. The Bumbershoot After Dark offerings of electronic dance music will return and unlike last year admission to the Bumbershoot After Dark sets (which happen after 10 p.m. in the Exhibition Hall) is included in the price of your ticket. This is a great move that’s already getting the thumbs up from some of my peers because from all reports last year’s After Dark offerings were poorly attended and having them included in the price of admission should make them a lot more popular.

Lastly, the metal lineup for this year’s festival will be co-curated by the folks over at El Corazon. The hard and heavy aspect of Bumbershoot’s bill has yet to be announced.

Tickets for the festival are available for purchase for $110 for three-day pass or $40 for a single-day. A ticket good for any day of the festival will cost $45. Prices will increase throughout the summer with a final day-of-show price of $135 for three-day pass or $55 for a single day.

Saturday, 9/1
Jane’s Addiction
M. Ward
The Jayhawks
The Helio Sequence
City and Colour
The Heavy
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
King Khan & The Shrines
Heartless Bastards
Thee Satisfaction
Damien Jurado
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound
Sera Cahoone
The Soul Rebels
Don’t Talk to the Cops!
Skerik’s Bandalabra
Alela Diane
The Barr Brothers
Unnatural Helpers
Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra

Sunday, 9/2
Tony Bennett
Mac Miller
Big Sean
Blitzen Trapper
The Promise Ring
Wanda Jackson & The Dusty 45’s
The Greenhornes with Very Special Guest Eric Burdon
Ian Hunter and the Rant Band
Civil Twilight
Fruit Bats
The Jezabels
Lee Fields & The Expressions
Harmonica House Party with Lee Oskar & Magic Dick
Katie Herzig
Niki and the Dove
AM & Shawn Lee
Gold Leaves
Karen Lovely
Deep Sea Diver
Eldridge Gravy & The Court Supreme
Ty Curtis Band
The Young Evils
Katie Kate
Eighteen Individual Eyes

Monday, 9/3
Passion Pit
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Vaselines
Fujiya & Miyagi
Rebirth Brass Band
Ty Segall
Hey Marseilles
The Wombats
Ana Tijoux
Foxy Shazam
Omar Souleyman
Tyrone Wells
El Vez
Debo Band
Star Anna
Bryan John Appleby
Noah Gundersen
Super Geek League
The Pharmacy
Ghosts I’ve Met
Cascadia ’10

Travis Hay

About Travis Hay

Travis Hay is a professional music journalist who has spent the past 14 years documenting and enjoying Seattle's diverse music scene. In 2009 he established Guerrilla Candy and is currently the site's editor and publisher. He has written for various media outlets including MSN Music, the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, Seattle Weekly, and others and was the founder and editor of defunct music site Ear Candy.