North by Northwest

Under the Umbrella

Bumbershoot, which is happening this weekend in Seattle, may be the most eclectic music and arts festival in America. Spread across downtown's Seattle Center - home of the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project - there are comedy stages, theater and film presentations, visual art shows, and no fewer than seven music stages, featuring everything from indie, to roots, to straight-up jazz. The organization is of a generally high quality, though I did get harassed and eventually booted trying to bring my camera into Memorial Stadium to see Cold War Kids. No matter: all the good stuff can be found out on the perimeter stages. Like Seattle's own Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band (pictured) who played a dark, apocalyptic set of off-kilter rhythms and quirky chords invested with extreme energy that made me sit up and listen. Other highlights so far have included Hey Marseilles (gypsy and swelled strings), The Duke and the Duchess (dark lyrics with a silver lining), and Extra Golden's sunny Afrobeat, led by a beaming Kenyan singer who was like the gentler version of Fela, magically making everyone dance in the sun and the rain, of which there are plenty of both. IMG00265.jpg