When I wandered into Cascadia ‘10’s opening set at Bumbershoot this morning, a man in the crowd was already waving a giant Doug Fir Cascadian flag in a blissed out haze. He fist bumped me as I approached him. “Cascadia life, my man,” he said, before handing the flag off to the woman to his right. She valiantly carried it to the front of the crowd and began waving it above the group of elder gypsys who had formed a small but formidable dance circle.
Despite the sparse morning crowd, everyone who was present for Cascadia ‘10’s Northwest Afrobeat was having more fun than most of the packed crowds the night before. Pretty much every human being in attendance was dancing, even the little toddlers were whirling around in circles smiling.
This is the magic of a tight-ass rhythm section, something Cascadia ’10 can proudly claim. Unlike many contemporary Afrobeat groups who descend into corniness quicker than you can say “Fela,” Cascadia ’10 keep it very classy. The drummer and African percussionist lock in tight with the incredible horn section to create Beta Band level grooves. The result sounds fit to soundtrack a stylish 70’s spy movie full of international intrigue. Appropriately enough, halfway through the set a gang of Bumbershoot undead wandered into the crowd, channeling the spirit of Fela Kuti’s “Zombie” as they lumbered around the crowd with blood dripping down their face.
Cascadia ’10 are playing October 8 at the Tractor Tavern with Tal National, a Nigerian desert rock band. For any rhythm junkies who may have missed out on the lovely early morning Bumbershoot set, the Tractor show will more than make up for it—Tal National are huge stars in their homeland for a reason. They slay.