Craig Young:  Late in the morning I find myself standing on a corner across the street from the Seattle Center grounds when I hear what seems to be the sound of Morse code bleeping out from somewhere nearby. The beep-beep-beeps are interspersed by the sounds of static and radio garble, as if someone's trying to tune in a radio station. I shake my head in an attempt to clear the clutter, thinking that I was having flashbacks to The Gone Orchestra from the previous night, but the sound persists, growing louder even. Turning around I see a very old and quite small lady walking up the wet sidewalk. The beeping grows louder as she approaches, and as she passes I hear more radio static and garbled voices coming from somewhere under her raincoat. What is she trying to do, pick up transmissions from the mothership? All I can say is, "You missed your gig, ma'am. It was last night." She keeps on walking, oblivious to anything but the sounds of whatever she is carrying under her raincoat. Weird.

Up to the press room for some much needed go-go juice and to figure out the day's agenda. Rumor has it that there is an endless bowl of M&M's inside. I look and look but can't locate the chocolate treats. Of course, this rumor was courtesy of The Rocket's Johnny Renton who, according to him, also spent most of Sunday slumming in the press room jawing on the above mentioned M&M's. Over the course of the day I drop in several times in an attempt to find Mr. Renton and the elusive M&M's, but alas, I have to report neither could be found. I looked under the tables, and even under the cushions in the couch, thinking maybe Mr. Renton had hidden himself away so as not to share the candy, but even the One Reel staff couldn't recall seeing Johnny Renton hanging around and professed that they had no M&M's on hand that day. Hrmm... They did, however, quite like the homemade brownies we brought along to share. Very tasty! Funny Mr. Renton doesn't recall those.

Anyhow, first stop on this overcast day was the Mainstage and the Master Musicians of Jajouka. This was probably the Bumbershoot performance I anticipated the most. It is not often that you get to experience music that has 4,000 years of history behind it. Jajouka is a small village located in the Rif mountains of Morocco. In the 1960s, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones traveled to Jajouka to find its legendary musicians whose music was so honored that they used to entertain Moroccan royalty. Jones' time with the musicians resulted in the release Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, but we have Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth to thank for their appearance today. The Master Musicians numbered nine, beginning their performance with two members playing fiddles upright on their laps, four playing a variety of handheld percussion, and two each playing the guimbri (a three-stringed mandolin-like instrument), one of whom was the group's leader, Bachir Attar. It was Bachir's father who led the group back in the '60s when Brian Jones came, and he was also there in the '40s when the likes of Paul Bowles, William Burroughs and Brion Gysin visited. Bachir would introduce the songs and each would take its time building in volume and pitch; the guimbri and fiddles rising with the sound of the vocals. And much like Qawwali singers, the Musicians of Jajouka were channeling the spirit through the music, striving to reach a higher enlightenment, feeding off the reaction of the audience. When a song had reached a certain crescendo, one of the older drummers would stand up and begin to dance joyously. Dancing first for his band members, he'd then walk over and celebrate for the people watching sidestage, and finally he walked out onto the lip of the stage and danced for the audience, both of whom fed off of the energy and smiles of the other.

[ dancing for the camera ]
photo by craig young

After several numbers, Bachir and the other three stringed players set aside their instruments and picked up the oboe-like rhaitas, whose horn-like sounds "can get loud as fuck" as Lee Ranaldo once put it. He was right. With little amplification the rhaitas sounded like a score of trumpet players heralding the arrival of a king. On this Sunday their music was communion, lifting our spirits high enough to part the gray skies and bring some much welcomed sunshine back onto the festival grounds.

Next up on the Mainstage was Sonic Youth, whose foray into experimental noise over recent years could also be termed as "loud as fuck" for the uninitiated. Last time they played Seattle was for Bumbershoot '97, and it was at that time that they'd started releasing several noise improvisation singles on their own imprint. More interesting than the cacophony of dissonance they filled their set with were the dumbfounded expressions of the crowd, who didn't quite know how to ingest what they were hearing, and who undoubtedly wanted more ear-friendly and recognizable tunes. I loved every minute of it! And I tip my hat to Sonic Youth for having the cajones to use their indie status and respect to do those kinds of thing to an unsuspecting audience. Their performance today was little different, with the exception that the initiated knew what they were in for. Several people shouted inquiries, asking if the band had found their stolen gear. [read eP volume 1, issue 8 for the details. --ed.] Lee Ranaldo shrugged and replied that they hadn't found any leads as of yet. After treating the audience to their sonarchy, the band dipped back to their first release, sans vocals, to play a number that sounded very much like Pink Floyd's "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," and even went so far as to dedicate a number to Roy Harper, English folk legend who was appearing later in the day.

[eP correction department to Seattle Times writer Patrick McDonald: Lee Ranaldo did not sit in with the Master Musicians of Jajouka during their Sunday set. He sat in with them on the Rhythm Stage Saturday evening when the Master Musicians filled in for Baaba Maal, who had cancelled his performance as he was suffering from an incurable case of egoitis. It helps if you actually attend the performances you write about. Just a suggestion from our Ed. Dept.]

[ kim gordon and thurston moore ]
photo by craig young

3:30 already! I wandered over to the Rhythm Stage for Marc Olsen's set. The former Sage guitarist has been spending the past few years honing his skills as a solo artist and showing those paying attention just how gifted of a musician he is. With a tight backing band, he used his forlorn voice and guitar to craft heartbreaking melodies. People relaxed and stretched out on the grass, and Olsen's music was perfect accompaniment to the Sunday-in-the-park-picnic feel at the Rhythm Stage. He played equal numbers from both his solo releases (Tunnel Songs and Didn't Ever Hasn't Since), dedicating "Your Day" to his grandmother. With harmonica hanging from his neck, jeans and a jacket, and hair hanging in front of his eyes, he came across as a youthful Neil Young in both look and spirit, each song a delicate dedication to his art.

From a young balladeer to an old folk hero, next stop was the PCC NW Court Stage and music icon Roy Harper. Roy Harper has been called the European Bob Dylan...yadda yadda yadda...but his can be most notably felt by those his music has influenced over the years. Led Zeppelin ("Hats Off to Roy Harper"), Pink Floyd (who had Harper sing the vocals for "Welcome to the Machine") to name some oldies. And from those who attended this performance, it was obvious the number of contemporary artists he's influenced. Standing on my left were Kim Gordon and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus (Thurston Moore had stepped to the back briefly to grab some cheesy bread sticks), and across the audience was Screaming Trees vocalist (and amazing solo artist as well), Mark Lanegan. Waving to passing planes, pulling faces for photographers, Harper was like your much loved if a little crazy favorite uncle (who also happened to look like a Civil War colonel). His moved between quiet, introspective numbers (one which was dedicated to his deceased mother) to the highly political "20th Century Man." It was a treat to be able to see someone so influential in such an intimate setting, and that pleasure was reflected on the faces of both audience and performer.

[ marc olsen on a sunny sunday afternoon ]
photo by craig young

After Roy Harper it was off to the Bumbrella Stage to catch a bit of Maktub's set. Reggie and company were in fine form this evening, giving Seattle a healthy dose of their Soul/R&B good vibrations. The crowd was getting down to the music to the last person, and it shows how powerful their music is to see them start to consistently pull a large turnout to their shows, esp. considering that all their promotion is pretty much word of mouth. [ check out hope lopez's exclusive interview with maktub in july's cool by proxy. --ed.]

Soaking up Maktub I slipped next door to the Bumberclub and some of the electronica. DJ Eva and MC MIA were working the floor, and once again I've got to pull out my Kathleen Hanna quote. "Yawn...Super Yawn!" MC MIA came across like the garbled teacher in Charles Schultz' Peanuts. "Wah wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah wah wah." What? Whatever. And DJ Eva's sounds were nothing but dumbed-down jungle, or house music with the skips in the vinyl. Funny thing was, the place was packed with kids gettin' down to that four on the floor boom boom boom boom beat. Crazy. Guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Rescuing Mark from the potentially harmful side effects of this lackluster electronica, we headed out, stopping briefly in the press room to once again look for the elusive Johnny Renton and his deep bowl of M&M's. No Johnny, no candy, no luck. I force Mark to stop and check The Damnations, TX with me. Any band who name checks The Minutemen in their bio deserves my critical ear to approve or disprove said mention. "This is fucking country music," Mark says halfway through the first song. I ignore him and pretend to take pictures. "Umm...did I mention that this is fucking country music," he says again during the next song. "'s really more like Texas rock 'n' roll," I reply. "Rrright." "Weren't you the one gettin' down to The Jude Bowerman Band on Friday?" So after three songs we leave. The Damnations were both earnest and honest in their musical stylings, which was really raucous punkified country, but I had to give them a thumbs down on The Minutemen reference. Couldn't hear nary a hint of Boon, Watt or Hurley in any of their stuff.

So it was again off to la-la land for a few short hours of troubled dreams before tackling the final day of Bumbershoot. Sunday was good to me, Monday looks to be better.

[ roy harper ]
photo by craig young

Mark Teppo:  There are two types of crowds at Bumbershoot: those who traffic the larger stages--the Main Stage and the Rock Arena--and those who don't. Friday and Saturday I had stayed away from the larger houses, intent on catching some of the not-so-mainstream acts. But on Sunday, I had to come out of the smaller side channels and dive into the plunging course of the main river. I hadn't gone for a wristband yet--and I wouldn't for the entire duration of the weekend--because my interest didn't lie in capturing the big name acts. I mean, you aren't reading Earpollution to find out about Steve Winwood or the Indigo Girls. You're here for the little surprises, those smaller bands which will make you a hit at parties when you pop the disc in. You're here for me to make you look good later.

At least that is the notion I keep deluding myself with.

Today's Main Stage attractions: Master Musicians of Jajouka, Sonic Youth, Cibo Matto, IQU, Queens of the Stone Age, Rocket from the Crypt. Will you, faithful reader, settle for 50%? You're going to have to.

The Master Musicians have been favorites of the beat icons, filling the hills and streets of Morocco with their skillful combination of violin, drum, flute, and ululating voice. Building their songs over periods longer than it takes for the Seattle Mariners to rid themselves of Woody Woodard, they fold and interweave their music in such a way as to create harmonic overtones in the minds of the listeners, creating environments of blissful, transcendental experiences. Unfortunately, I think it is more effective when the instrumentation isn't blasted out of a sound system that is larger than the state of denial which the University of Washington's Huskies are in after losing their first two football games of the season. There is a shrillness coming out of those monster speakers that keeps you slightly unbalanced with the sonic force of that sound and, as they launched into an epic tale fronted by four pipes, I had to back all the way down the length of Memorial Stadium.

[ the master musicians of jajouka ]
photo by craig young

Where I found the strawberry shortcake booth.

And, as I gulped and slurped my way through a half pound of strawberries and shortbread and whipped cream, I watched as one of the Master Musicians put down his drum and began to dance about the stage. It was a spontaneous expression of his involvement in the music and it spoke of the universality of sound--that music doesn't require language to be transmitted. You don't need to speak their language to understand the songs of loss, the songs of love, the songs of pain, and the songs of pleasure. You simply had to be receptive to the touch of the music. And, as I watched the man dance about the stage and examined the audience members who had simply let themselves be freed by the music--undulating and gyrating about the fake grass of the Stadium floor--I had a quiet epiphany.

I'm not going to tell you. It'll only distract from the fact there is much, much more to see. Onward, the day has hardly begun!

PCC Stage: Carrie Akre. Having fronted Hammerbox and Goodness over the last few years, Carrie has elected to start a solo career. Her last day before entering the studio to record her debut album (watch for it, kids!), she stopped off at Bumbershoot to regale us with her charismatic voice and stage presence. I have to say that fronting alt-rocker bands (and just where have all the good ones gone?) isn't necessarily a credential which one should feel compelled to slap on their résumé. Carrie's first number--a clap-along a cappella song--was incredible. The burning disappointment which settled in my stomach next was that she turned on the band and descended into a stack of songs that were indistinguishable from anything heard from either stage at Lilith Fair. Which is too bad because she has a strong voice and an engaging presence on stage. Mike her and Reggie Watts for an hour and let them go at it sans instrumentation. That would be a show. She's good and her album will be worth checking out, but oh, I wanted a little more of that power and rage released from the yoke of traditional instrumentation.

Speaking of release, while those poor bastards who didn't have a clue as to what Sonic Youth was about to pull on them were clustering around the Main Stage in an anticipatory frenzy, I was tucked away in the Rock Arena having my head scrambled by IQU. A little trio out of Olympia, IQU mix turntable artistry with an upright bass, strangled banshee guitar histrionics, and pop-lined keyboards. It was totally wonderful and went a long way to restoring my faith in the next few years of music. It's fun to watch the flow of the press as they jockey for the shows. Most of them are following the staid, the trends which have been laid down for them by their editors and their editors' perceptions of what the musical climate is. Most of them were out getting battered by Sonic Youth's rendition of "Merzbow's Greatest Hits" and totally missed hearing the next revolution. IQU. Pick it up. It'll make you look good. And you might even have a chance to like it before it hits such high rotation that you'll be picking it up on your fillings as you pass the transmitter stations.

[ iqu inside the rock arena ]
photo by mark teppo

Caught a bit of Dodi after that. I had some time to kill before seeing Hana and I stopped off at the Bumberclub (where bribing a door guard is never required) to see how "funky power pop with a techno twist" plays out on stage. Two things: (1) the lead singer isn't as sexy as he thinks he is; and (2), once you realize he isn't going to strangle himself with the microphone cord, a lot of the appeal wears off.

Hana was showing at the Music Box theater--an intimate little gathering for another Jeff Greinke project. Though this time, his companion was nearly as famous around Seattle as he. Anisa Romero--vocalist for Sky Cries Mary--played counterpoint to his atmospheres and they layered out a deep dreamscape. So deep in fact that I went into fugue state. I wasn't sleeping. That wasn't me. I was alert enough to clap after every song. I just had no idea where I was during each song. And I went catatonic out of appreciation. Not from exhaustion. That would be horribly gauche of me.

However, afterward, I needed an infusion. I needed the organic equivalent of licking the end of a nine volt battery. I needed a recharge. I stumbled over to the Rhythm Stage and caught Bloque. Revolutionaries intent on rescuing the native music of Colombia from beneath the sweaty corpse of imported bad American rock 'n' roll, Bloque describe themselves as "psychotropical funk," which simply means they make you sweat and dance and sweat some more. Building upon a rock base with layers of salsa and Latin grooves, they provided a needed unguent to the wounds inflicted over the years by tepid rock music, a salve which turned the Rhythm Stage lawn into a wriggling, bouncing mass. Traffic slowed on the street and work paused on the KOMO Channel 4 headquarters across the street as those unfortunate enough to not be at Bumbershoot this Sunday afternoon were suffused with jealousy at our obvious joy. Better than nine volts run through your tongue. Any day.

[ bloque ]
photo by mark teppo

Next up: Editorial Edict. We picked out what we wanted to see by the time honored tradition of self-centeredness. We saw what we wanted to see and tried not to overlap too much. We are, after all, in the business of providing you with as much diversity as possible. This came to a head on Sunday evening with the Maktub show. We all wanted to go. But someone had to shoot Queens of the Stone Age, someone had to check out the rock crowd gathering. I, having been heard earlier that weekend expressing some interest in seeing Queens of the Stone Age, was elected. I trundled off to the Rock Arena while the other eP lads went for front row at Maktub. I'll say this about Queens of the Stone Age: they were tight, they jammed, and, since there is still an audience that appreciates stoner guitar rock, they were well received. I was missing Maktub. I stayed my requisite three, bobbed my head up and down a few times, and shot for the exit.

Have I extolled the virtues of Maktub enough? Are you out at the show right now? (More importantly, are my editor and the agent of Satan that coerced him out of his house there?) The genre "swamp funk" is tossed around them, as if that somehow categorizes the band enough for the rest of the world to know immediately what a treat they are. The low end funks with your spine, the keyboards moan and caress your cheeks, the drums snap and snarl at your heels, and Reggie Watts' voice chatters and "ko-ko-kajoos" at you like the birds high in the swampy trees. It's a disc you put on at a party and everyone immediately hits their mellow stride and becomes hip.

It's the perfect way to end a day filled with noise and rhythm and passionate expression through the medium of music. Maktub was the sum of everything I saw that day.

[ queens of the stone age ]
photo by mark teppo

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