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Weekend Getaway: Bumbershoot Festival 2008 Part 2

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Matt Craig/MJR

More contemporary acts, like Tel Aviv’s shock-rock troupe Monotonix and Baltimore’s experimental electronic whiz Dan Deacon, clearly flourish on Bumbershoot’s bleeding edge. They do cater to the youthful and rather brazen demographic. But the irrepressible synergy between fringe artist and audience truly befit the moment—as if they had somehow hand-sewn the festival’s very seams.

The scantily clad Israeli rockers of Monotonix, who performed off the stage for less than a quarter of an hour, could only be deterred by forcible appeals. That is to say, their set was cut short by security for safety reasons. A literal pancake of people folding like pleats is, by definition, a rock concert. But the notion of playing an entire set virtually mid-air, atop a sea of open palms, certainly drives the point home. The rollicking foundation of rock and roll is very much alive and kicking—just on the opposite side of the world.

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And for however short their set may have been, it seemed like an eternity. Every second stretches out and slows down in a euphoric free-for-all. In the maelstrom of activity, a leg, a guitar, or even a human being in a trash can whip past you. The whole experience—a relatively woozy entanglement—is comparable to a swift yet perpetual rush of blood to the head.

Like most performers that weekend, Dan Deacon fed off of the crowd's energy; unlike the almost riotous ones though, as he demonstrated in Seattle, he cannot fully supply that energy himself. The Baltimore-bred behemoth of a man relies heavily upon the responsiveness of a crowd. And, much like Monotonix, Deacon shuns the stage, performing literally within the audience. He pounces around like a predator, pummeling toy-like gadgets and singing with one claw-shaped fist in the air.

But no less than measured conduct and orderliness are physical necessities; to perform amidst a brimming crowd, face-to-face and arm-in-arm with fresh-faced fans, utterly drives him. Deacon successfully employs wild games en masse during his zany dance-infused songs. His playful disposition galvanizes the crowd into action.

Furthermore, it is this sort of unedited, unbearably close interaction that distinguishes the Bumbershoot Festival from the rest in the Northwest and beyond. Surely, it is an annual congregation of the arts that draws summer to an idyllic and salubrious close. But it expresses movingly the profound nature of music. No other festival properly conveys the interconnective concepts on which the edifice of music was built.

Like figurative loose stitching, music not only bands people together, but also provides a structural sense of closure. It is an exoskeleton of humanity, so to speak.