Bumbershoot, the granddaddy of Northwest music festivals, will invade Seattle Center this Labor Day weekend with its usual army of chart-topping rockers, hipster-approved comedians and, hopefully, that lady who wears a fairy costume and breakdances near the International Fountain ever year.
By now, just about anyone who plans on going already knows about Death Cab for Cutie, Kendrick Lamar, Heart and all the other big shots playing the main stage at Memorial Stadium. But a big part of the fun at Bumbershoot is digging a little deeper, discovering awesome, new bands and cult acts you might not have thought about seeing otherwise.
Along those lines, here are seven buzz-worthy acts worth adding to your festival plans this weekend.
1. Vicci Martinez (10 p.m. Sunday, Starbucks Stage): Okay, this one is a no-brainer if you've watched this Tacoma-girl-done-good blossom into a budding rock star over the last decade. Already a veteran of several Bumbershoots, Martinez is sure to draw a more frenzied crowd than usual as she rides high on her major label debut, “Vicci,” and her CeeLo duet, “Come Along.”
2. Gary Numan (8 p.m. Saturday, TuneIn Stage): If you grew up in the Reagan era you should be well acquainted with this Brit pop star's hooky ode to alienation, “Cars.” What gets less mention – in the States, at least – is the imprint he left on a generation of synth-rockers and electronic musicians that followed, the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson and Basement Jaxx. Newbies, do yourselves a favor and start with his psychotropic 1979 masterpiece, “The Pleasure Principle.” Then work backward to his punkier material with Tubeway Army. You're welcome.
3. Reggie Watts (2:45 p.m. Monday, Seattle Center Playhouse): Watts was the charismatic frontman of Seattle rock n' soul outfit Maktub a decade ago. These days, he's known for his epic afro, his absurd take on talk show music directors, on IFC's “Comedy Bang Bang,” and for having one of the most original, witty musical comedy acts in America. Armed with a sampler, effects box and mind-blowing beat-boxing skills, Watts creates hilarious post-modern jams right on the spot. He'll be joined by “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” writer Mike Drucker and Joe Mande (“Parks and Recreation,” “Kroll Show.”)
4. Deerhunter (9 p.m. Monday, Fountain Lawn Stage): Some describe this Georgia indie band's music as “ambient punk,” a sound that's often skewed toward the hazy, pastoral end of the spectrum. But their live shows can get pretty bonkers, a la their opening slot for Spoon at the Paramount Theatre in 2010, which featured all sorts of weird shenanigans before peaking with an awesomely unhinged cover of the Stooge's “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”
5. Kinky (4:30 p.m. Monday, TuneIn stage): This funky dance-rock outfit hails from Monterrey, Mexico; and while it's no household name north of the border, you may have heard “Mas,” “Presidente” and other cult hits that have shown up in a variety of U.S. TV shows, car ads and video games. But Sounders fans, try not to hold it against them that they wrote “We Are the Galaxy,” the L.A. Galaxy's theme song.
6. Maceo Parker (9:45 p.m. Saturday, Starbucks Stage): Nobody at Bumbershoot will have better funk credentials than this sax man, who's played with the likes of James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic and Prince. Expect him to put his spin on the hits of Brown, Stevie Wonder and more, as captured in last year's “Soul Classics” album.
7. Zombies: Yeah, yeah, we know. The Zombie Apocalypse is coming, as foretold by “28 Days Later,” “World War Z” and a gang of other horror flicks. But leave your nail-studded bat and blunderbuss at home, as these will get you quickly arrested. The zombies in question are actually living, breathing performers who were considerate enough to schedule their attacks so you can see them coming. The undead masses will swarm at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily. Their 4:30 p.m. “Thriller” flash mobs are sure to be a hoot. Plus, we're guessing they'll do something kooky around the time '60s pop act the Zombies takes the Starbucks Stage, at 8:15 p.m. on Sunday.