This year's Bumbershoot did not feel like it was made for me or my kind, and that's a hard thing to take, because we have gotten used to...

Share story

This year’s Bumbershoot did not feel like it was made for me or my kind, and that’s a hard thing to take, because we have gotten used to everything being about us.

It’s hard for boomers to let go of youth and of center stage. Bumbershoot this year was a field of young wheat with a few old weeds holding their ground here and there. That’s not necessarily bad, but even though the mix of entertainment has been changing for a few years, the generational switch felt more definite this year.

My wife and I have been attending the festival since the early 1980s. It and Folklife form the bookends of our summers. We see a lot of familiar faces every year; people who’ve been coming as long as we have. They’ve gotten grayer and some of them rounder, but they still rock, or at least roll.

This Bumbershoot was a new world, populated by teenagers and ringing with young rock and rap, save for a few oases. This was our son’s Bumbershoot. He’s 14, and this time he drove our schedule.

Sunday, we had to be there before the gates opened so he could get in line for a ticket to the Kanye West concert, which was the last thing on the schedule. It was going to be a long day.

He and a friend went off to find members of their pack while we searched the schedule for things to explore.

Finding new stuff is part of the fun of Bumbershoot, so it didn’t matter that we didn’t recognize most of the performers. We wandered around, following our ears. “That’s too loud,” my wife kept saying. That comment is not generally a sign of youth.

It’s also not a good sign when you stroll past food booths thinking: indigestion; calories; um, no, that one is a heart attack on a bun. We mostly stuck with the healthier options, like chocolate-covered strawberries. Fruit is good for you.

I saw some young thing carrying a dish, and I was filled with lust … for her fries. Lots of people were eating them, the curly kind in a huge grease-saturated mound. I knew from past experience that they wouldn’t taste nearly as good as they looked, and that they weren’t worth the physical price, but I kept ogling them all day. I ate some salmon.

I’ve been trying to eat like my age lately, but sometimes I forget. My wife is good at reminding me, though.

We sat for a while near the Northwest Court stage, in that area where the rooms all have Northwest names. There was a demographic shift. Where are these people coming from? Boomers, not hordes, but a steady trickle, were walking past us and milling around. Had some generational homing beacon drawn us and them to this spot?

Nah. We were next to the jazz stage, a bunch of art exhibits and relatively uncrowded bathrooms, not that that necessarily meant anything.

We saw an exciting dance performance by Rubberbandance Group. They were young and fresh and had us clapping, smiling and feeling young, too. We caught some good jazz right after that, but there was a lot of waiting and wandering before the Kanye West concert.

We found a spot in the stands. At one point the couple seated in front of us asked if we were there to pick up our child. Hey, don’t we look like hip-hop fans? I like some of West’s stuff. Unh, Unh. See, I know his most common lyrics.

My son said he walked into the center next to a family with young kids, and the first thing he heard from a nearby stage was, bleep this or that, and he thought, well, I guess they are going to be leaving real soon.

Maybe I could take off on one of Kanye West’s top lines: I ain’t saying it’s a young people’s festival, but they ain’t messing with no gray people. Unh.

Jerry Large: 206-464-3346 or jlarge@seattletimes.com.

His column runs Thursdays and Sundays and is found at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.