They came, they raged, they ate lobster.
Once again, Bumbershoot stormed Seattle Center on Labor Day weekend, recruiting a battalion of hip-hop stars, heavyweight DJs and indie-whatevers (not to mention comics, podcasters and visual artists) for the annual three-day bash, which as a sign of our terrorism-alert times, nixed its come-and-go policy this year. It’s impossible to see/do/hear everything, especially since we skipped Saturday to catch Nirvana’s surviving members reunite during the Foo Fighters show at Safeco Field.
But here are a few of the highlights (and lowlights) from Friday and Sunday in the form of mock awards. Feel free to share your bests and worsts of the fest in the comment section.
Biggest reason to fear the future: Bhad Bhabie
Better known as the “cash me outside” girl from her virally memed appearance on “Dr. Phil,” the 15-year-old is parlaying goofy internet fame into a major-label-backed rap career. While her Friday main stage set would have wowed a high school talent show (and earned the real-life Danielle Bregoli a call to the principal’s office), it understandably fell short of main-stage expectations at a major festival, not that the young crowd seemed to mind.
Most under-appreciated set: Moses Sumney
Our pick for best set of the weekend, Sumney built whirling arrangements with loops and doubled-up vocal effects for a modest but enamored crowd while most festival-goers raged the day away with trap lord RL Grime on the main stage. Owner of an impeccable falsetto, the L.A.-based Sumney is an innovative artist coming into his own, though perhaps a more natural fit at heyday Sasquatch (RIP) than with the contemporary Bumbershoot crowd.
Most likely to land a dispensary endorsement deal: Lil Wayne
“If you’ve had more than one blunt tonight make some noooooooiiiiiise!” croaked NOLA’s froggy-voiced rap king, himself in the multi-blunt camp, as he delivered much of his rowdy set puffing on one. Based on the applause, he wasn’t alone, but the jacked crowd hardly needed a weed nap as a surprisingly punctual Weezy treated us to classics like “Go DJ” and greasy club-to-bedroom banger “Lollipop.”
Most clutch performance: B-Eats
In the new era of festivaling, choking down sloppy, overpriced chicken tenders from a county-fair-style stand is no longer necessary. Bumbershoot’s B-Eats area recruited top Seattle restaurants including Little Uncle, Manolin and Adana to sling finer grub (from pork belly bahn mi to lobster rolls) for a few bucks more than you might expect to pay for those sad tenders. Let us never eat anything we wouldn’t Instagram at a festival again.
Most likely to have made her parents proud: The Pink Slips’ Grace McKagan
McKagan, daughter of Guns N’ Roses star Duff McKagan, led her L.A. glam-punk band through an angsty lipstick-smearing set, oozing rock ‘n’ roll volatility as she writhed and shouted on the stage floor. Her old man, watching side stage, had to be proud.
Best park job: KEXP and Field Report
Throughout the hectic weekend, KEXP’s Gathering Space was a cozy retreat where mostly local talent gave intimate performances for laid-back latte sippers parked on leather couches. During his stripped-down solo set, Christopher Porterfield of Milwaukee’s Field Report shouted-out the station for the actual primo parking space they gave him and general welcoming arms they open to touring bands. “Not only do I have a lovely parking spot, but they fed me a lovely meal,” the singer-songwriter praised.
Worst missed connection: Jillian Jacqueline and a giraffe
“I think I see a dinosaur back there,” the country-pop singer called to a [ahem] giraffe-costumed party bro in the back of the Mural Amphitheatre lawn. “He should definitely come on stage at some point. Or maybe he’s a horse, I can’t tell.” Alas, Giraffe Man — who roamed Seattle Center all weekend with a healthy appetite for high fives and positive vibes — seemed oblivious to the invitation and presumably galloped off in search of other adventures, depriving the afternoon crowd of his enthusiasm and spotted majesty.
Best love song: Bishop Briggs
Any artist whose opening line to their only love song references zombies and the apocalypse has a special place in our heart. The U.K. singer commanded the main stage Sunday with her playful new love jam noir, “Baby,” and other rock- and EDM-informed electro-pop thumpers to an eager, shade-starved crowd.
Best hope for the future: Because in it, SZA is our new queen
The R&B phenom shall rule with benevolence, freely (for those with $130 single-day passes) dispensing her wisdom on life and love through hypnotic smooth jams as the relatable woman-of-the-people did closing out the main stage Sunday. Her disarmingly cool vibes and rump-shaking powers united teenage outsiders, olds in the bleachers and turnt-up twentysomethings alike, handling the big outdoor stage even better than she did at White River Amphitheatre this spring — despite hastily fleeing the stage before a fireworks show, only to awkwardly rush back for a snippet of her hit “All the Stars” as most of the crowd was heading for the exits. Nevertheless, all hail Queen SZA, the mighty.
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