Last summer was all about the festival. I walked down the street to the Fremont Solstice Fair, traveled to a remote fjord in Iceland for Eistnaflug, to a remote island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca for Doe Bay Fest, and rode the bus to Bumbershoot, dragging my kids along to three out of four. When I left my day job, I knew that one of the sacrifices I would have to make, at least initially, was live music. There was no justifying the cost of tickets plus babysitter, especially when I am sometimes paid to cover shows. I would have to limit myself to work-related concerts.
As a result, I stopped following the concert calendars, which resulted in my missing many new releases as well. It’s just easier to miss shows you don’t know about. Then the kids were off for summer vacation, and it’s hard to seriously listen to new music with kids running around, so for the past couple months, I just let music go. During Solstice I hung out at the block party, but didn’t catch any shows; I followed Eistnaflug wistfully on Twitter, and plugged my ears at any mention of Doe Bay. Timber was supposed to be my Doe Bay consolation prize, but the dates conflicted with a family event.
At least I could count on Bumbershoot, I thought.
I’m always paid to cover that festival, and since kids ten and under get in free, it’s always been a solid three days of music with the whole family for the cost of Daddy’s ticket. Even with kids, I can see almost 20 bands at Bumbershoot – more than any mama can hope to see in individual nights out over the course of a year.
Then I started researching the festival. This is the first year AEG has managed it, and they’ve made a few changes, some subtle, and some not so much. Everyone has noticed that the prices have reached a new record high. What parents will notice is that kids six years old and over are no longer free. There is no child’s pricing, either. It would cost $150 for my six-year-old to attend the whole festival; $70 for one day.
Now, my kids are festival savvy. They’ve seen bands from Baroness to Terry Otieno at Bumbershoot and have opinions about music. My six-year-old says the best show she’s seen was Thao and the Get Down Stay Down on the Fountain Stage at Bumbershoot; she was less impressed with their set at Doe Bay, but that’s probably because she was distracted by a glowstick-lit game of tag with the other Doe Babies. My just-turned-eleven-year-old has danced on stage with Fly Moon Royalty. But parents remember iconic moments better than kids do. There is no child under 10 who will get $70 worth of value out of a music festival. In a quick poll of friends under 12 who have been to Bumbershoot, playing in the International Fountain is the high point for every single one of them. We can do that for free any day of summer vacation.
I have so many sad feelings about skipping Bumbershoot this year. But the day after deciding this will have to be a festival-free summer, I woke up to a Facebook tag from a friend who wanted me to see this concert calendar. Here are some highlights, just the ones that would make me break my vow not to spend money I don’t have:
AUG 5 at Neumos: High On Fire, Pallbearer, Lucifer, Venomous Maximus (just missed!)
AUG 7 at Showbox SoDo: Rise Against, Killswitch Engage, letlive
AUG 11 at Highline: The Atlas Moth, Vattnet Viskar, Atriarch, A God or an Other
AUG 15 at Linda’s Tavern: Black Breath, Helms Alee, Christian Mistress, Kinski
AUG 24 at El Corazon: Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum
SEP 27 at El Corazon: Godflesh, Prurient
OCT 3 at Highline: Negura Bunget (Romania), Pseudogod (Russia), Grimegod (Romania), Dynfari (Iceland), Crurifragium
OCT 3 at Studio Seven: Soulfly, Soilwork, Decapitated, Shattered Sun, Devilation, Sanction VIII
OCT 17 at Highline: Bölzer, Ritual Necromancy
OCT 21 at Neumos: deafheaven, Tribulation
JAN 30 at El Corazon: Nile
On the same day, Icelandic band Lockerbie announced a new single, Of Monsters and Men premiered a beautiful new music video for ‘Empire’, and Agent Fresco started streaming their new album Destrier.
Who needs Bumbershoot? The Summer of Silence is over.