by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
I don't know what the official attendance count was for last weekend's Bumbershoot, but what I do know is that several of the performances I saw or passed by - Zedd, Hozier, Ellie Goulding, Peaches, Flosstradamus, Bassnectar, Ben Harper - attracted healthy crowds, despite the patchy weather and bloated ticket prices. An improvement from previous years was the organization and flow of the festival, which allowed audiences to enter and exit the main stages efficiently with little confusion. The irritation, however, was the lack of communication in notifying fans inside Key Arena when the main floor was at capacity. That said, Bumbershoot 2015 featured a wide range of great talent, from musicians to comedians to filmmakers and used nearly all of the outdoor and indoor venues at Seattle Center over Labor Day weekend.
If you missed the festival, here are three performances that were truly golden.
Zedd killed it at Key Arena
I've been going to Bumbershoot, as a spectator or journalist, since college (a very, very long time) and I've never seen Key Arena packed to the brim for any single festival performance. Except for Zedd. The DJ/producer drew more people to his 9:45 p.m. show on Sunday night than either Heart or Death Cab for Cutie did (both major local acts) a few years ago. He opened an energetic, flashy set with 'Beautiful Now' as concertgoers on the main floor bounced in delight to the song's chanting chorus, with colorful fireworks going off at the foot of the stage. The featured vocalist on the hit single, John Bellion, was nowhere in sight - typical for an electronic performance in which the artist, in this case a top international DJ, stands on a podium alone and pumps music out through a digital device. Sharp graphics, strobe lights, and smoke bombs were all part of Zedd's show that included 'Spectrum,' 'Rude,' 'Pompeii,' and a mashup of 'Break Free' and 'Da Funk.'
'Hey Seattle, how the fuck you guys doing!' yelled Zedd to the audience. The response was exuberantly loud.
The crowd, donning a variety of accessories and outfits - LED slotted sunglasses, spirit animal hats, rainbow-colored tutus, neon headbands, furry boots - were especially pleased to hear a dazzling version of 'Clarity,' which earned Zedd a Grammy Award in 2014 with English singer Foxes. With the main floor at capacity an hour and a half before showtime, fans scrambled to find seats on either level of the bowl; even up in the nosebleed sections people were standing, dancing in a frenzy, and waving their hands in the air. Confetti, streamers, more fireworks and more smoke bombs turned the performance into a spectacle that felt like one giant rave.
Amen to that Hozier performance
As a beautiful evening descended upon Seattle Center on Bumbershoot's final day, a crowd of thousands gathered at Memorial Stadium to see and hear Hozier. The Irish musician has not only emerged as a talented singer-songwriter, but has also captured the attention and hearts of many Gay fans around the world with his bold, outspoken support of LGBT rights. His set, beginning with 'Like Real People Do,' included nearly all 13 tracks from his self-titled debut album, such as 'Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene,' 'To Be Alone,' 'Someone New,' 'Arsonists Lullaby,' and an acoustic rendition of 'Cherry Wine.'
'It's very good to see you, Seattle,' said the tall, lanky artist who paired a dark pair of denims with a charcoal jacket and light blue shirt with his hair pulled back into a man bun.
Since covering Ariana Grande's 'Problem' for BBC Radio One earlier this year, Hozier has added it to several of his live shows, including Bumbershoot; his version features a kick-ass guitar riff at the end. I expected him to engage more with the audience, which filled the stadium field and lower levels of the surrounding bleachers, but the 25 year-old did more smiling than speaking during his concert; in his defense, festival performers are under strict time limits for their sets. At one point, Hozier did request that everyone join him on a song, asking 'You guys think you can sing a few notes?' 'Of course you can!' he responded quickly when everybody screamed back. He concluded his show with 'Working Song' and the big favorite 'Take Me to Church' that got fans singing along while pointing their fingers and fists toward the stage.
The lights shine for Ellie Goulding
Talk about prompt, this girl went on stage not a second passed 8:45 p.m. on Monday night. Starting the concert with 'Outside,' the blonde Brit sported a white Moschino oversized jersey with a bling'd out Daffy Duck on the front, from the designer's Looney Tunes collection; she completed the ensemble with black shorts and matching boots. Goulding incorporated all of her hits into the performance that gave the audience many moments to jump up and down, like a cool delivery of 'Powerful,' a newer entry in her catalog that enlists the help of Major Lazer and Tarrus Riley.
'I'm usually a bloody, mouthy bitch,' said Goulding with a devilish grin. She admitted a few times during the show that she felt abnormally shy. That didn't appear to be the case with me; she seemed perky, charming, and full of energy, moving around the stage wildly, pounding on a snare drum kit, rocking her head back and forth, and even strapping on an electric guitar towards the finale of her concert.
Expectedly, the Gay boys showed up in full force to see Goulding perform. They comprised a strong percentage of the crowd, at least those on the field level, as did many young girls ranging in age from about 8 to collegiate. A surprise cover of Elton John's 'Your Song' was beautiful and highlighted the singer's worthy vocal chops, often buried underneath the sounds of electro-pop; a live band and two backup singers supported Goulding for her set. She saved 'Anything Can Happen' and 'Lights' for the end, as well as the ballad 'You My Everything.' In departing, she promised to return next year with new music, and we'll hold her to that.
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