While Mastodon may get all the grandiose hype for their concept albums about a plot that makes David Lynch’s films look like a childrens’ films, the real American metal torch is being silently carried by Baroness… or… less silently and more in a mind-blowing, aggressively gorgeous style. Blue Record received a ton of acclaim, which all justified. And Baroness, like all good metal bands, are able to take the intensity of the studio and ratchet it up on the live stage to absurd proportions. In a festival that tends to lack the noise, Baroness brought it — and then some — in a masterful, technical fury that is currently unmatched on the national stage.
The best part about Bumbershoot isn’t the bands you’ve heard about, but the surprises you find along the way. The Portland folk quartet Horse Feathers was one of those bands. Vocalist Justin Ringle has a voice that can sooth the angriest of spirits, and the rest of the band members are no slouches either. Horse Feathers is an odd combination, mostly folk and bluegrass in its song, but the instrumentation is played with a more classically-trained touch, which makes for the most serene of set lists.
Colin Meloy, frontman for The Decemberists, is officially the most surefooted nerd on the planet. The band battled through various sound issues (and an opening slot for Bob Dylan) with a smile on their faces — entertaining the crowd and getting them involved with the large mainstage crowd in a way most bands do not. The Decemberists shattered that barrier, physically and metaphorically.
Trampled By Turtles
Holy crap. This Minnesota-based bluegrass outfit has been garnering a lot of word of mouth praise for their live show, and it is well deserved. The term “bluegrass” is used loosely there, as the quintet owes less to the roots laid by Bill Monroe and more to the speed-influenced thrash styles of Slayer — but with a fiddle, banjo, and mandolin. See these guys live.
There is a new craze in Seattle for the indie folk-pop variety combined with big, orchestral bands. Hey Marseilles fit into this loveable brotherhood, and their debut album, To Travels And Trunks is one of the best local albums to come out in a long time. Their Irish-laden, good folk jams single-handedly brought the sun out — or so it seemed. The Broad Street Stage was packed to the brim, and it was excellent to see the Seattle crowd show their love for one of the largest crowds the band has played in front of.