1. The Goldberg Variations, 1:30, Performing Arts Stage
Local choreographer Mark Haim’s created thirty crisp, quirky, often quite lovely dance pieces set to Bach. I saw them at On the Boards several years ago and found myself smiling at Haim’s choreographic imagination. He doesn’t overreach—the pieces favor simplicity: If a walk around the stage captures the feeling of the moment, that’s just what Haim will do. He performs at Bumbershoot with a group of terrific local dancers and a pianist.
2. Wise Fool New Mexico’s Flexicon, 4:15, Fountain Lawn (also 2 on Sun and 6:30 on Mon)
I saw a lot of great music acts last year at Bumbershoot, but what I remember most is Strange Fruit, an athletic clown (yes, I know, clown) troupe who climbed up onto high, bendable posts to rock back and forth like tall flowers in an afternoon breeze. I suspect Wise Fool’s piece, a similarly surreal and acrobatic extravaganza involving ornate stilt work, will be this year’s surprise treat.
3. Eugene Mirman, 5:30, Comedy Stage
You might know standup comedian Mirman from recurring appearances on HBO’s Flight of the Conchords. His frank wit has a playful, as opposed to pushy, subversiveness. Check out this commencement address to his old high school, where he tells the graduates they could move on "to build a schoolhouse for underprivileged children…while hooking up with each other":
4. Old 97’s, 7:45, Samsung Mobile Mainstage
Though they’re big names in the alt-country movement, front man Rhett Miller and the guys know that a pouty pop hook never hurts (something Miller explored even further on his solo records).
5. The Long Winters, 9:30, Broad Street Stage
Foot-tapping indie rock done right—not too sour, not too sweet, with a little kick in it—thanks mostly to Seattle’s John Roderick in the lead.