SEATTLE — Nestled in the shadow of the Space Needle, the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival boasted an eclectic lineup of headliners, with Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs, Wiz Khalifa, and Daryl Hall and John Oates topping each night of the three-day festival over Labor Day weekend. But it was Wiz who ran away with the biggest draw of the headliners, packing the Seattle Center’s Key Arena to capacity on night two.
The Pittsburgh MC took the stage Sunday night and announced, “My name is Wiz Khalifa. Y’all ready to party tonight?” If the haze of smoke wafting from the crowd was any indicator, then his Taylor Gang was definitely in the mood. And it was impossible for them to avoid a good time — Wiz commanded the stage with the swagger of a rock star and his entire set boomed with bone-rattling bass. The inclusion of “The Thrill,” off 2009′s Burn After Rolling mixtape and set to Empire of the Sun’s “Walking on a Dream,” was definitely a plus.
While Wiz held it down on the main stage inside the Key Arena, across the park the Kills unleashed their brand of electro-blues on the Fisher Green Stage. The duo’s latest album, Blood Pressures, dropped recently this spring, but the band shared with MTV News that the new material was already taking on a heavier, more aggressive sound.
As far as the stage show, singer Alison Mosshart said, “Well we’re playing kind of a typical Kills, you know, if we were playing in a club. We’re gonna do as much of a club show outside as we possibly can.”
Guitarist Jamie Hince added, “It’s gonna be nice actually, ’cause we’ll be able to see that — won’t we? — the Space Needle, from the stage. I’m gonna like that.”
The Seattle landmark wasn’t the only iconic presence at the festival. Washington natives the Lonely Forest were in awe of the Key Arena, the previous home of their beloved Seattle Supersonics (frontman John Van Deusen even wore a Sonics jersey onstage). Despite their early set on Sunday, the band pulled a considerably large crowd.
Lonely Forest guitarist Tony Ruland was thrilled with the turnout. “It was the first time that we played anything that ends in the word ‘arena,’ ” he said, adding that it was the same venue in which he saw one of his favorite acts, Built to Spill.
While Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar was tasked with the same set time the following day, his crowd began much smaller, but it grew as his show went on.
“Yeah, I was catching them while they were walking in,” Lamar told MTV News later. “They had a crazy response — had a lot of new Kendrick Lamar fans, as well as day-ones in there — so it was like half and half. But that’s when I like to catch ‘em, you know, when they’re early, so I can make them a believer as soon as they walk in. That’s my whole thing, catching them one at a time and building from that.”
OutKast’s Big Boi followed Lamar’s set and ripped into a medley of classic hits that included “ATLiens,” “Rosa Parks,” and “So Fresh, So Clean.” Daddy Fat Sax had the large crowd inside the Key Arena moving with him, as they sang along to the duo’s deep catalog. It was barely noticeable that his counterpart, Andre 3000, was absent from the stage. Sir Lucious Leftfoot even threw in Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” no doubt in honor of late frontman Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday on Monday.
Local acts Brite Futures and Macklemore proved to be the hometown heroes at Bumbershoot, each delivering impressive performances over the weekend.