Crosscut Tout: Bumbershoot beyond the music

Comedy, concert posters, and a cupcake-bacon conversation on stage. There's plenty to see besides music at Seattle Center this weekend.
Crosscut archive image.

The Flatstock art exhibit, Bumbershoot 2009

Comedy, concert posters, and a cupcake-bacon conversation on stage. There's plenty to see besides music at Seattle Center this weekend.

Nowadays it seems like destination music festivals are a dime a dozen. You can travel to a farm in Tennessee (Bonnaroo), a desert oasis outside of Palm Springs (Coachella), or a city park in Chicago (Lollapalooza) if you want to see some of pop music'ꀙs biggest acts in a festival setting. Although it'ꀙs attended primarily by locals, Bumbershoot is also a part of the conversation when it comes to destination festivals, now that major musicians grace its Main Stage annually.

However, there is one key thing that sets Seattle'ꀙs music and arts festival apart from its counterparts, which is the arts part of what Bumbershoot offers. Unlike those aforementioned music fests, Bumbershoot makes music its main attraction but offers so much more — in the form of healthy doses of film, dance, theater, visual art, comedy, and other artistic disciplines. That means there are plenty of options for those who want to spend Labor Day weekend at Seattle Center enjoying more than guitars, drums, and turntables. Here are four things not involving live music that are well worth checking out this weekend.

Ask 'ꀜWhy now?'ꀝ: Each day as part of the 'ꀜwords and ideas'ꀝ portion of Bumbershoot'ꀙs offerings, there will be a panel discussion probing some rather peculiar parts of popular culture. Panels include: 'ꀜWhy Failure? Why Cuteness? Why now?'ꀝ focusing on LOLcats and Fail Blog; 'ꀜWhy Vampires? Why Abraham Lincoln? Why Now?'ꀝ about teenage vampire sagas and the 16th president; and the deliciously tempting 'ꀜWhy Bacon? Why Cupcakes? Why now?'ꀝ including Bacon Salt inventor Dave Lefkow and Trophy Cupcakes proprietor Jennifer Shea.

Laugh out loud: Bumbershoot is known for its strong comedy lineups, and this year there will be plenty of laughs with the likes of Patton Oswalt, Donald Glover, Garfunkle and Oates, locals the People'ꀙs Republic of Komedy, and more. Oswalt is a Bumbershoot veteran, and last year at Bumbershoot his opener was Tommy Johnagin. Johnagin was a relative unknown at the time, but after his Bumbershoot set he went on to finish second on "Last Comic Standing," so this year you could find yourself laughing at another one of comedy'ꀙs rising stars.

Attend a podcast: Throughout the weekend various authors, comedians, and Internet personalities will be recording podcasts with live audiences. I recommend the music-nerd nirvana that will be Sound Opinions with Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis on Sunday and the geek heaven that will be Chris Hardwick'ꀙs Nerdist on Monday. From video games to Dungeons & Dragons, if it has anything to do with being a nerd, Hardwick has it covered. As for Kot and DeRogatis, the pair is music'ꀙs closet thing to Siskel & Ebert, which should make for an enlightening and entertaining talk.

Check out some art: The 27th Flatstock will feature work from dozens of artists across the country. The art is mostly in the form of screen-printed concert posters from shows at just about any venue imaginable. Walking through Flatstock and browsing the booths is a great way to get away from the crowds, take a break from music, and waste an hour or two soaking up the bright and vivid beauty of a show-poster collector'ꀙs paradise. Most artists travel with a limited number of prints so if you like it, buy it.


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