Marika Malaea

faithful marauder + fake royal

Bumbershoot Me In the Face

with 7 comments

I hope that after going to Bumbershoot this year — after staying away for many, many years — we will start a new chapter titled ‘We’re Never Going to Bumbershoot Again.’ Seattle’s largest, whitest cattle drive proved to be as disappointing as ever this year. Seeing Neko Case in concert, meeting Joshy’s girlfriend, and hanging with Colleen and Randy was fun — but for 160 bones we could have seen Neko Case in a good venue, had dinner with Josh and his girlfriend at a restaurant, and bought a couple rounds for Colleen and Randy at a moderately-priced bar; that really puts it into perspective. Forty dollars, per person, per day? IS RIDICULOUS.

If I somehow get dragged there next year, I’m wearing a giant muumuu that says DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME on one side and DON’T FUCKING SOLICIT ME on the other. I felt like I was pushing my way through huge crowds of idiots, tourists, drug-addled pre-teens, and desperate salesmen. We stood in line forever to buy tickets, and people ambushed us from all sides. ‘Would you like to listen to a great CD?’ one girl asked, shoving a CD in my face. ‘Don’t you just LOVE lipgloss!’ cried another, handing out Burt’s Bees lip balm freebies.

‘Are you registered to vote in our county?’
‘Does anyone need Sunday tickets at a discount?’
‘Would you like to play to win?’
‘Have you heard about the initiative that the city council…?’
‘What cell phone service provider are you currently using?’
‘Do you believe in free speech?’

I laughed at that one. I should have gone over to her and said NO. No, I don’t believe in free speech, especially when I’m trying to enjoy myself at an overpriced concert venue with nine billion other people who are in my way. What I’d like right now is freedom from your free speech, whatever the cost, money is no object.

As we walked past the Burt’s Bee’s product tent, I said, “Only in Seattle would Burt’s Bees organic lip balm have such a prominent booth, center stage to the action.” To which the Esq replied, “Try this all-new organic snake oil!” I laughed, because it was true:  none of the solicitors were selling us anything new, they were just selling the promise of something new in the future. Better music, glossier lips, a cheaper phone plan, a stuffed animal prize, and free speech, although I hear that’s been around for quite some time. I kept waiting for the snake oil equivalent, though:  some shyster with a Snidely Whiplash mustache and a wide, pinstriped suit, selling me ‘commitment creme’ to make my skin more radiant and marriage-worthy, or ‘hair tonic’ for glistening, lustrous curls – but the 15-year old Burt’s Bees balm pusher was the closest we were going to get. I was actually hoping for someone to ask, ‘Can you spare some change?,’ because that would have felt more honest.

My last Neko Case review looked like this (highlights ganked from my 2006 blog):

…. With balls the size of Canada, she sang the shit out of each melancholy song, each a mix of Americana, rockabilly, gospel, bluegrass, folk, Delta blues, country, with a twinge of lazy indie rock. Flawless, simple vocals: check. Haunting, crazy harmonies: check. Religious fucking experience: CHECK. Blah blah blah, “it was worth every penny,” blah blah blah, “I would go see her again.” The next time she’s in town, sell your dog, your house, your children, and GO.  You won’t regret it.

Well, you won’t regret it unless you’re in Memorial Stadium at the Seattle Science Center. You will not only regret it, you will also resent having paid the $80 entrance fee so that you could sit high in the bleachers and hear a shoddy acoustic show. Neko was amazing, because that’s what she does: she stuns you into amazement and leaves you literally breathless. But it’s easier to be stunned when there aren’t thousands of people talking around you, creating a constant buzzing noise over the din of thousands of others talking, which makes the music harder to hear. Why are you at a concert if you aren’t there to listen? Unfortunately, the last concert I saw of hers in 2006 had more energy; they weren’t phoning it in this time, but it didn’t compare, either.

She covered one of my favorite Harry Nilsson songs, Don’t Forget Me, and introduced it like so: “Harry Nilsson is the greatest writer of sad songs ever.” That’s 100% true, and it’s one of my favorite sad songs, so I was happy they chose that cover. I also appreciated the shout-out for Harry Nilsson, since he couldn’t be there to appreciate it for himself, being deceased and all. John the Baptist, by far my favorite revival sing-along, was done as well, but the wonky acoustics made it sound almost thin when it should have sounded positively obese with holy righteousness.

The most annoying part of the day was my pea-sized bladder, which I consider the most traitorous body part of all, even more seditious than my uncooperative uterus. I really hate using public restrooms, like hatehatehate; my standards are extremely high, so I end up holding it half the time. But when you’re at Bumbershoot, drinking this and eating that, the need for a bathroom increases exponentially, especially when you’re there for more than a few hours. After the concert, I made a dash for the restroom, a restroom at the stadium. That was my first mistake.

Upon entering the bathroom, my second mistake was not leaving immediately. It was like walking through a minefield, plus one or two of the toilets had violently exploded (LIKE A MINEFIELD), leaving toilet water and the urine of total strangers all over the cement floor. I gingerly made my way to an open stall, closed the door, and turned around to a nightmare of epic proportions: POOP, EVERYWHERE. I made a hasty exit and tried for another one, while the line of people behind me piled up. I could feel their restlessness, which made me hate them. ‘YOU go clean up that colonic murder scene,’ I thought. I’ll just be over here, in a clean bathroom stall, peeing like a goddamn champion.

Every stall I saw had pee on the seats, a used tampon on the floor, no toilet paper, or was knee-deep in water; it was DISGUSTING. People who claim that women are precious, delicate flowers can kiss my delicate, flowery ass. There was nothing dainty about this bathroom; hardened longshoremen and sumo wrestlers would run, squealing, far away from this place.

After finding the stall with the least amount of problems — which isn’t saying much — I spent five minutes cleaning the toilet seat with toilet paper that felt like flattened gravel. ‘Who wouldn’t want to wipe their ass with this?’ I grimly thought. ‘Finally I can rip myself a new asshole, without anyone having to do it for me.’

After meeting up with Josh, Naomi, Colleen and Randy, we left. I mean, we hung around each other for a while, hit the beer garden, and then went our separate ways. All of us wanted to ‘wander around’ with our significant others, so the Esq and I wandered far away from Bumbershoot and towards sweet freedom. First we stopped at the Fun Forest, which is like a tiny fair for barely-interested adults; we had sno-cones, and the Esq won three stuffed animals for me with his balloon-darting prowess. I was very proud.

After leaving, we ended up at the 5 Point Cafe, where they serve big pitchers of whatever you want and equally enormous slabs of chicken fried steak. On the way home, we stopped at Whole Foods for bread and a real bathroom. After the bathrooms at Memorial Stadium (POOP!), the Center House (no toilet paper?!), and the 5 Point (smelled like urine circa 1962), I was ready for an old-school bathroom in an upscale retail market filled with overpriced cheeses and rich urban white folks. Whole Foods met that challenge and won. Peeing at Whole Foods was like winning the Lottery on the same day your dog dies, or vomiting $20 bills during a 48-hour flu: shocking, but totally worth it.

Anyways, besides seeing Neko and having a whole day with my sweetie, the only thing I learned about myself at Bumbershoot was this: I’m whiny, and have always wanted to play the banjo.

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Written by sn0tteh

September 1, 2008 at 1:43 AM

7 Responses

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  1. I can report that the Seattle Men’s Chorus always has an ASL interpreter at their shows. I’ve always found it rather odd.

    Manthony

    September 2, 2008 at 1:26 AM

  2. As if their facial expressions and charming over-singing didn’t convey a strong message.

    Snotty McSnotterson

    September 2, 2008 at 4:11 AM

  3. I think I’ve broken a 15 year string of B-shoots by not going. Nothing popped for me this year.

    It’s fun when I’m discovering new music there. I’ve been turned by a lot of new bands, or bands I’ve failed to pay attention to.

    But if one of my must-see’s were playing at B-Shoot, I’d be bummed too.

    FreNeTic

    September 2, 2008 at 5:49 AM

  4. I’ve been boycotting Bumbershoot since 1999. The real question is, who pays 80 bucks to smear shit all over the toilet stall? I worked in Pike Place market for five years and believe I have seen the dreggiest of the dregs of Seattle society, and even they don’t smear shit on the walls. Piss on the stairs, yes. Shit on the walls must kill their buzz or something.

    konichiwa, bitches.

    September 2, 2008 at 6:16 AM

  5. back when I used to bumbershoot I always brought my own pack of kleenex and a travel tube of antibacterial solution. Those stalls are about 80% why I don’t go any longer. After the last time I swore if I went again I’d add some rubber gloves to that list. YUCK!

    Michelle Auer

    September 2, 2008 at 6:42 AM

  6. Never again! I vaguely remember the last time I went… and only really remember the disappointment. Every time I see someone there, I’m like–I could have paid 50 bucks to see this person in the flesh at a real concert venue…so why am I here?

    Much like 9/11, my new motto for Bumbershoot will be: “Never forget.”

    Snotty McSnotterson

    September 2, 2008 at 1:19 PM

  7. bummershoot- great if you are in eighth grade- looking for the weird little man that sells prescription pills belonging to his granny- pulverize and snort, it’s legal, wholesome good clean amerkan fun- like ” still a virgin.. only do bj’s and anal for a lot of money”- bummershoot is that.

    Linda Sue

    September 3, 2008 at 6:31 PM


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