Bumberwhat? Bumberwho? Bumbershoot. Duh.

Now that we're more than a week into the wake of Bumbershoot 2003, there are any number of approaches I could take in reminiscing upon four days of pottery, patchouli, glow sticks, Hacky Sack, and, sporadically, rock:

1. Detail methods of sneaking into the festival.

2. Detail methods of abusing press pass to sneak friends into the festival.

3. Detail methods of sneaking into VIP areas to obtain free fruit, bagels, bottled water, etc.

4. Detail methods of screwing the bottled fucking water and sneaking booze onto the premises.

5. When none of this works, detail derogatory nicknames that friends have coined for the festival (kindest: Bummershoot; less kind: Bumbershit).

Of course, expounding on most of these would get me embroiled in major job/PR jeopardy that my increasingly self-abusive weeknights out facilitate just fine on their own, thanks. And anyway, we all know the things above just happen, kind of the way that the country we live in occasionally invades and occupies assorted Middle Eastern countries. It just . . . happens. No explanation required or requested.

Yeah, Bumbershoot is still all about unnecessarily shirtless fortysomething COOs forcing their wives and infants to endure 85-degree heat to watch stinky dudes in tie-dye pound the rims off of $100 drum kits. Only this year did it occur to me that the festival can not only be survived, but kinda sorta (gulp . . . ) enjoyedin the right company. I don't exaggerate when I suggest that attending Bumbershoot alone is at best nightmarish, at worst a recipe for suicide. Only spending New Year's Eve or Thanksgiving alone is more damaging.

But even if you had to fly solo this year, it's not as if the tunes blew. The promoters managed to snag R.E.M., Wilco, Modest Mouse, Quasi, the New Pornographers, Bonnie Raitt, De La Soul, Macy Gray, and even America's hottest alt-rock Icarus, Evanescence. Unfortunately, as you may recall from last week's Nickelback-inundated Mixtapeas well as earlier questionable passages of this columnI'm crazy and don't particularly enjoy good music.

So when I tell you that my first proper Bumbershoot show was Friday's Shins/Mouse extravaganza at Memorial Stadium, and that I watched the former's Beach-Boys-wearing-cement-shoes thing and the latter's Popeye-fronts-Sunny-Day thing with pervasive, drooling indifference, you'll understand. I did so, that is, until I literally stumbled over my new acquaintance Travis, who was lying flat on his back on the tarp. Travis had not only hopped the fence, bolted past security into hippie heaven, and pounded an entire concealed bottle of J䧥r with a lady friend inside, but proceeded to obliterate the ennui by stumbling toward the stage and roaring, "Play the Nissan song! PLAY THE NISSAN SONG!" at the Mouse's Isaac Brock.

Saturday was even more of an event thanks to the presence of my +1, Franklin, who assaulted Bumbershoot the way Kobe Bryant assaults . . . the opposition's pesky zone defense. We saw Minus the Bear introduce frat goons to finger-tapping and the Blind Boys of Alabama introduce white people to incompetently clapping along to remedial gospel tempos (purty fucked up that you can spend six hours at Bumbershoot and see two bands, even with all-access passes; another "it just happens" phenomenon). Franklin introduced me to far more interesting concepts: fastest way to get through a crowd (grab face, scream "Bloody nose, bloody nose!!!" and bowl everyone over), how to order steakheads with acoustic guitars to "play some Dashboard" and not incur a beating, and how to use VIP passes to access venues you have no right, as a lowly music writer, to access. Later, I figured out on my own how to wear said sainted VIP pass to a bar and lose it within a half-hour.

Late Monday night, my friend Justin rang to inform me of something I should've already anticipated: R.E.M. was gonna rock a secret set at the Crocodile, an almost customary bonus after their Seattle appearances. Regrettably, the closest anyone came to losing their religion was watching Michael Stipe chill in street apparel, not Bumber-apparel, which earlier in the evening evidently compelled him to inform the masses that "We are R.E.M., and this is what we do," an invaluable nugget of information that he also passed on, verbatim, the last time R.E.M. was in town. Hey, JFK had that whole "Ask not . . . " thing; let's give Mike his space.

Worst-case scenario, when Bumber goes Bummer, just do something beautiful with your +1: Get turned away from the Spits at the press-unfriendly Sky Church, resolve to eviscerate EMP in print the next week, forget about it, ride the cheap-ass water coaster, play air hockey, throw away singles at the carny booths, electrocute yourself in the arcade, buy a Slushie, wish you had some vodka to spike it with, then just down the bastard straight. Somewhere out there, a banjo and didgeridoo are making unholy music together. Make yours as tuneful as possible.

Send news, rumors, and unsubstantiated, feckless dirt to abonazelli@seattleweekly.com.

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