This is the EndFest

Out and in. In and out. Oh, baby, the Gnome ain't talkin' bout "love" but the status of this year's Bumbershoot mainstage. Seems that the move indoors to Key Arena isn't happening after all, and that R.E.M. and other stars will again be entertaining the Teva-wearing troops in the dilapidated but up-to-code Memorial Stadium.

If Bumbershoot promoters One Reel need some wiring done at the outdoor stage, I know who to call. Octant gave an electronic engineering seminar at the Crocodile Saturday night, with front-human Matt Steinke assembling and adjusting his homemade mechanical drum set and other gadgets for, oh, about a half-hour. Problem was, there was supposed to be a rock show goin' on. Octant sounded like a New Order cover band circa the year 2068 (after the world's supply of 10w40 has run out), causing a woozy Luddite in the near-sellout crowd to yell: "I need some work done on my alternator." You gotta love Seattle rock audiences.

Except if you're Quasi. The affable Portland duo maligned the same crowd when their performance failed to elicit more than perfunctory applause. Drummer Janet Weiss, who's accustomed to seeing pogoing teenage girls in her role as Sleater-Kinney anchorwoman, taunted the Croc-goers, saying Portland audiences were less jaded. Quasi sold out the 1,000-plus capacity Crystal Ballroom in their hometown the night before, but they had some help from Oregon's less draconian liquor laws. The Rose-colored City allows rock clubs to serve alcohol at all-ages shows, as long as the sections remain separated by thuggish security guards. This means that an indie band like Quasi—which records for Seattle's Up label—can pack a sizable venue.

Then again, Washington's conservativism may have kept EndFest from turning into Woodstock Part II. The testosterone-tilted lineup included rock's latest outlaws, Everclear. The alt-rock- by-numbers crew kicked up some dust during a visit to Austin just days before displaying their best behavior in Kitsap County. Frontman Art Alexakis, 37, left Texas with a class C misdemeanor charge, according to the Austin American-Statesman, after he and touring guitarist Brian Lehfeldt (ex-Sweaty Nipples) scuffled with a 17-year-old girl. The band thought that she was one of several "fat bitches," as Alexakis put it, who were launching debris at the stage. The girl was allegedly pulled to the stage, where contact was made; Lehfeldt faces charges of kicking her, and the unnamed girl's attorneys say a civil suit is in the works. More scuttlebutt on EndFest: Tasty, the promoters who helped launch the Electronic Pavilion, pulled out last minute when KNDD scaled back their budget. Reports from the fest say that sets by Moby and Freestylers featured a less-than-raveworthy light show and not much else. Better luck next year. You betcha!

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