Back for more visual loveliness from Day Two of Seattle's annual music and arts mega-fest, Bumbershoot! The drizzle and grey from Day One had hit the road and this was a perfect Sunday to enjoy being on the Seattle Center grounds, listening to and photographing some truly great bands. If you couldn't be there yourself, I hope this gives you a feeling of the vibrance, diversity, and fun to be had at Bumbershoot, and if you were there and you were walking next to me, I apologize for begging you to carry my horribly-overloaded camera bag for me for a few feet. Let's pop some Advil and go!

I think for the first time ever I made it to Bumbershoot as the gates opened for the day, because I had an excellent motivator in getting over to the Bumbershoot Music Lounge to see The Dream Syndicate perform a live set for KEXP! If there was a song that captures the feeling and sound of the time I spent in Los Angeles in the early '80s, it was "Tell Me When It's Over," with its disaffected vocals and sinewy guitar riff, chugging along in a Velvets-meets-California-underbelly haze. Thirty-plus years on, I was excited to be able to see them play again. I knew they would be good, but I wasn't prepared for the band being face-melting, heart-soaring AWESOME: power, passion, performance, everything. And it wasn't just me all blown away, either. Look at the face of my photographer friend Brittney Bush Bollay in front of the band in the first photo! She looked at me, I looked at her, our jaws dropped in stunned joy. That good. Be sure to catch the video of their set when it's up in KEXP!

(As always, click on the photos to enlarge and clink on the Flickr set links for more! Be patient -- they might take a bit to load but they are PRETTY!)

The mood in the studio was as hushed and reverent as a church as the Music Lounge stage was cleared for the broadcast set by Big Star's Third. Big Star, of course, is arguably the very first rock band with real and lasting cult status. Their legend has grown exponentially in the 40 years since music business frustrations, drugs, and tragedy made for the band's end after only three years in. Known as the progenitors of "power pop," to me that is a somewhat-inaccurate label for songs so rich in melody and lyrical depth -- the direct opposite of the disposal idea of "pop." Big Star brought together complex influences, talents, and themes into perfect form. (I strongly recommend viewing the Big Star documentary Nothing Can Hurt Me for an excellent look into the band's history.)

Big Star's Third is a group formed of original and later members of the band, including Jody Stephens and Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, along with other music luminaries like Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey of the dBs, and Mike Mills of R.E.M. to perform the band's third record, Sister Lovers, which was left unfinished and unreleased at the band's break-up in 1974, and never performed until now with its original string and wind orchestrations. Members of the Seattle Rock Orchestra looked thrilled and a little nervous sitting in, but as the music began and gem after gem floated out over a blissful audience, smiles were seen from all. Big Star's Third held the music as close as one would a newborn, with all the fierce love, protection, and wonder of a parent.

Big Star's Third, KEXP Bumbershoot Music Lounge, Bumbershoot Festival, Seattle 8/31/14 Flickr set

From the dark and quiet Music Lounge to the bright sunshine on the Fountain Lawn Stage, it didn't take me long to adjust to my music thermostat to HOT with Seattle's Sandrider! I've had the pleasure of seeing the band before and was mightily impressed with how hard this trio rocks, and how much FUN it is to headbang along with them! You can see for yourself in the crowd shots. Jon, Nat, and Jesse are the real deal -- no pretense, just fine, fine hard rock that is exciting to experience. FYI: Drummer Nat has got to be one of my all-time favorite musicians to photograph -- he is in constant motion, and has fabulous flying hair.

After the transcendent experience that was their earlier set, I made damn sure to catch The Dream Syndicate during their full show on the Starbucks Stage, and was equally enthralled. You should be damn sure to catch them if you can when they play The Earl in Atlanta September 26 & 27, at Rough Trade in Brooklyn November 15, and at the Echoplex in Los Angeles on November 22.

What fun to pop over to the big Fisher Green Stage to see Luscious Jackson! "Naked Eye" was one of my favorite hits of the '90s, with a seamless New York pop-hop groove that was instantly recognizable. After taking a long break to focus on family life, they are back and have lost none of their cool, according to me and the dancing crowd behind me as I shot in the photo pit.

Luscious Jackson, Fisher Green Stage, Bumbershoot Festival, Seattle 8/31/14 Flickr set

Ah, and then there was The Replacements. Like Big Star, The Replacements are one of those hugely-influential, desperately-loved bands that fans speak of in the most gushing of word tumbles, and it is no small sweet coincidence that one of their biggest hits is "Alex Chilton," who of course was the late lead cat of Big Star. If I were to construct a generational-span descriptor of the 'Mats, yes, it's fair to compare them to Big Star, especially as vocalist/guitarist/frontman Paul Westerberg turned out to be a crack songwriter (not crack the drug THAT I KNOW OF but crack like supermegasharp, eh). It's equally fair to say The Replacements were pretty much the '80s Black Lips, with crazy drunken performances that could be both stupid and incredibly fun, not taking themselves too seriously, but still able to write and record incredibly good songs. Like both Big Star and the Black Lips, The Replacements have seen their share of tragedy and frustrations, and the band called it quits in 1991, and did not play together for another 22 years. Since last year, they have played just a handful of festival gigs, and HOT DAMN, I know I am lucky to see one.  

Like the evening before with Elvis Costello, I could not shoot in the Mainstage pit for The Replacements and could not get down to the Memorial Stadium floor early enough to get a prime spot. But hey, I'm not gonna give up, not on your life, brothers and sisters! Here's the spot I got:

Dude in front of me was like 6-ft.-+, and the woman in front of him was a hand-waver, for chrissake, but no, Not. Giving. Up. Pro tip: put your longest lens on a crop-sensor camera to get as close as possible, hold rock steady, and just hang in there and keep trying to catch magic. Do not stop when your right thumb starts to blister. Do not stop when your feet turn numb. Do not stop when you arms ache and your eyes are turning into dust. Keep trying.

So, when you started out as this punk bar band from Minnesota called Dogbreath and then became the Replacements, and you now have such a tremendous back catalogue of songs that so many people love with all their hearts, when you are having so much fun playing you just have to keep looking over at your old friend and bandmate just to smile at him, when the audience is cheering and dancing and singing along, not to mention a pretty sweet check coming, too...well, all is right with the world, is it not? Even when you jump down into the pit, everyone will help you get back up, and the metaphor really is not lost to me.

"Alex Chilton" was the last song of the night.

The Replacements, Mainstage, Memorial Stadium, Bumbershoot Festival, Seattle 8/31/14 Flickr set

Day Three of Bumbershoot coming soon; check out Day One, too!