Crosscut Tout: Bumbershoot's local standouts

National acts may have become the sizzle that sells Bumbershoot, but don't forget the festival's local roots. Need a reminder? Catch some Wheedle at the Needle.
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The Thermals performing at The Gorge.

National acts may have become the sizzle that sells Bumbershoot, but don't forget the festival's local roots. Need a reminder? Catch some Wheedle at the Needle.

From a rising star (J. Cole) to a living legend (Bob Dylan) to a potential train wreck (Hole), the list of acts playing Bumbershoot'ꀙs Main Stage this year is filled with great national talent. But don'ꀙt forget that there'ꀙs a lot of local talent to be discovered on the 74-acre grounds of Seattle Center'ꀙs campus during Seattle'ꀙs music and arts festival.

This year'ꀙs lineup of locals showcases the Emerald City'ꀙs embarrassment of riches when it comes to quality musicians. There is so much homegrown talent that it is possible to spend each day watching only local artists. If that's what you choose to do, here are three must-see acts for each day of the festival:

Saturday (Sept. 4)

Grynch (12:15, Fisher Green stage): He'ꀙs opened for hip-hop icons Warren G, Snoop Dogg and Coolio, and Saturday the rapper known as the King of Ballard will be making his second appearance at Bumbershoot. He may be small in stature (he'ꀙs no taller than 5'ꀙ5'ꀝ) but his raps are big and his talent immeasurable, which is why he'ꀙs one of the brightest and most entertaining stars in local hip hop.

Wheedle'ꀙs Groove (3:45, Fisher Green stage): Mayor Mike McGinn declared Sept. 4 Wheedle'ꀙs Groove Day in honor of the contributions this collective of soul and funk musicians from the 1960s and '70s have made to the local arts community. What better way to celebrate than by getting your groove on to the Wheedle by the Needle?

Visqueen (9:45, Sky Church): Not many bands can hold their own when playing opposite Bob Dylan, but if any local act is suited for the job it'ꀙs Visqueen. The band'ꀙs "Message to Garcia" was a critical favorite, and singer Rachel Flotard has the best stage banter in the business, so you'ꀙll get to laugh while rocking out.

Sunday (Sept. 5)

Unnatural Helpers (12:30, Broad Street stage): This band'ꀙs newest album, "Cracked Love and Other Drugs," which was released on Sub Pop imprint Hardly Art, is my favorite local rock record of the year so far. Fronted by a singing drummer, Unnatural Helpers deliver pure, sweaty punk rock energy. And the band is the closest thing Seattle has to a modern day Mudhoney aside from, well, Mudhoney, of course.

The Redwood Plan (3:30, Sky Church): This dance-rock band made a big splash with a pair of EPs last year, and it's followed those up with a first full-length album, "Racing Towards the Heartbreak." Each song on the album is as fiery as the trademark red streaks in singer Lesli Wood'ꀙs hair.

Fences (6:45, Sky Church): Singer-songwriter Chris Mansfield is Fences. Mansfield is a Berklee College of Music student who gives life to beautifully touching and emotionally haunting music. Fences'ꀙ songs are best experienced live, when Mansfield plays with a full band that fully fleshes out the music. His self-titled debut, which was produced by Sara Quinn of Tegan and Sara fame, is set for release Sept. 28.

Monday (Sept. 6)

Brent Amaker & the Rodeo (11:45, Starbucks stage): BAR plays a brand of outlaw country that mirrors the likes of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and Waylon Jennings. But that isn't the unique aspect of their music. The uniqueness comes in the delivery. The group dresses in black from head to toe, complete with black cowboy hats making them look as tough as their songs about whisky, women, and everyday life as a cowboy. These cowboys hit the stage early, and I can't think of a better way to start Bumbershoot'ꀙs final day than by getting serenaded by a bunch of men in black before noon.

Lisa Dank (6:15, Sky Church): Lisa Dank is the closest thing Seattle has to a bona fide pop star, and she'ꀙs quickly making her mark locally with catchy pop tunes (give 'ꀜGirl Scout Cookies'ꀝ a listen) and unforgettable performances featuring costume changes, backup dancers, and at times giant fake penises. She'ꀙs a performer who likes to do things in a big fashion so you can expect an over-the-top show on par with some of her more raunchy and explicit numbers.

The Thermals (9:15, Broad Street stage): Okay, so The Thermals aren'ꀙt actually from Seattle, but this Portland band rocks so hard it'ꀙs tough to not claim them. The group put out three terrific records on Sub Pop, and now they'ꀙve found a new home with another local label, Olympia'ꀙs Kill Rock Stars. The band will be releasing its first KRS release, "Personal Life," the day after the Bumbershoot set, so expect plenty of new material.


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