Craft Spells 4, Memorial Stadium End Zone Stage – If John Hughes was alive today and making classic high school comedies in the same vein as The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, there's a good chance Craft Spells would dominate the soundtracks. Led by Justin Paul Vallesteros the former Seattle band taps into the best of the '80s new wave rock sound and adds a layer of lushness that gives the songs a thoroughly modern feel.
Best of SIFF 3:30 & 4:30, SIFF Film Center – It may seem like heresy to suggest spending a chunk of Labor Day weekend inside SIFF Film Center's walls instead of out on the Seattle Center grass, but there's good reason. Each day of Bumbershoot, SIFF hosts screenings of the best short films from the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival in two separate chunks. The early session highlights the Jury Award winners, and an hour later the Audience Award winners screen. The topics explored range from child superhero dreams to April Fool's pranks gone awry to street life in Seattle.
Tom Robbins 5:15, Words and Ideas Stage (Charlotte Martin Theatre) – This year 82-year-old Washingtonian writer Tom Robbins took a break crafting his stylistically complex fictitious blend of uproarious humor and serious philosophical musings to take look at his own life with the memoir Tibetan Peach Pie. Regardless of the topic, his signature voice remains intact. At Bumbershoot he'll continue the exploration of his literary (and non-literary) life, and this time the words will come directly from his mouth.
The Replacements 6, Memorial Stadium Mainstage – Consider the Replacements' set at Bumbershoot as a class in alternative rock history. Without the Minnesota band's iconic '80s albums Let It Be and Tim, current music might sound drastically different. The group's ramshackle rock influenced artists across the spectrum: Nirvana, Green Day, the Goo Goo Dolls, the Hold Steady, etc. After 21 years apart, Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson reunited the Replacements in 2012. Bumbershoot is the group's first and only Northwest gig. Don't miss it.
Pete Holmes, Rory Scovel, & Carmen Lynch 6:15, Comedy at the Playhouse – As per usual, there is a myriad of great standup showcases at this year's Bumbershoot, but the 1-2 punch of Pete Holmes and Rory Scovel will be hard to top. Holmes has an instant likeability that few comedians possess and showcased it on his short-lived TBS talk show The Pete Holmes Show (R.I.P.). In a live setting, he's also got a sharp level of honesty that allows him to adapt to what's happening on stage; he'll gleefully call out an audience for not laughing at a joke he thinks he nailed or blush when he thinks he may have crossed the line. The lack of a barrier makes for a uniquely communal standup experience. Scovel is a complete wild card prone to subverting the traditional conventions of standup comedy. He could easily do the whole set as a random character or just do an extended prerehersed bit. Regardless of how he decides to attack an audience's funny bone, he almost always hits his target. The bill is rounded out by multiple time Late Show with David Letterman performer and Last Comic Standing semifinalist Carmen Lynch.
Bumbercade Fountain Pavilion – So you choose to attend Bumbershoot over PAX this year yet still crave a little gaming fix? The Bumbercade is here all weekend to help. See how small video developers are making an major impact on the medium by playing the haunting and emotionally-engrossing Gone Home (one of the best titles in years and a must-play for even non-gamers), the throwback graphics and authoritarian storytelling of the border patrol simulator Papers, Please, the colorful music creation puzzle game Sentris, and more.
Aug 30–Sept 1, Seattle Center, $62–$230; festival pass $175–$575