For the first time visitor at Seattle Center, 2018 Bumbershoot music and arts festival offered a unique introduction to the city under the iconic Space Needle, complete with a giant unicorn, laser dome and fireworks.

Hobo Johnson turns red and his brow furls with emotion during his performance. Day one of 2018 Bumbershoot kicks off Labor Day weekend at Seattle Center on Aug. 31, 2018. (Dana Sparks/Emerald)

Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers took the Fisher Green stage early in the day. They played an incredibly energetic set featuring songs mainly from their 2017 album, “The Rise of Hobo Johnson.” Hobo Johnson ran around the stage barefoot with his pants rolled up throughout the performance, his face changing color as the emotion rose and fell in his eyes and forehead. He circled back to banter about not knowing how to banter, based on a seemingly imaginary conversation Hobo said he had with Mick Jagger. Notably, he yelled out, “Kelly Clarkson please don’t fucking sue us,” as he jumped into a cover of her popular hit “Since You’ve Been Gone.” They closed with their well known single “Peach Scone”. 

After a performance by Bhad Bhabie, the iconic “Cash me outside” girl from Doctor Phil, on the Memorial Stadium Main Stage, RL Grime brought the heat. Literally. Swarms of people trickled in the small entryways as the DJ’s set sent flames into the air. The vibrations of the bass from his set could be felt shaking the bleachers all throughout the stadium.

Just outside the stadium, the impressive bass faded and the rest of what Bumbershoot day one had to offer continued. A full, permanent food court roared with people rushing in and out of the Armory, the Laser Dome at the Pacific Science Center played music from artists like Daft Punk and Odesza and festival-goers played in the International Fountain waters.

Moses Sumney performed a stunning baroque pop set on the Fisher Green stage as RL Grime played faintly in the distance. The sky had become more overcast at this point, seemingly appropriate for Sumney’s ethereal wails and his comment, “I hope it rains.” At times, it was difficult to tell if Sumney was actually creating many of the sounds with his voice, only to be confirmed by a subtle movement of his lips or jaw and the prominence of his jugular vein. Sumney took a seat on the edge of the stage before slowly hopping down and coming to the barricade to sing closer to his fans before disappearing to the left side. Shortly after, he finished his set and said, “See you guys at Ludacris.”

Moses Sumney performs on the Fisher Green stage. Day one of 2018 Bumbershoot kicks off Labor Day weekend at Seattle Center on Aug. 31, 2018. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

Canadian rock band Arkells performed on the Mural Amphitheater Stage with an inviting and refreshingly energizing stage presence. Unlike many of the days acts of EDM artists who stayed mostly in one place, lead singer Max Kerman energetically moved about the stage, punching the air and engaging the crowd hands-on. After a technical difficulty causing Kerman’s microphone to cut out, the vocalist swiftly picked up another, continuing the set without missing a beat. Those too involved in dancing along to the band’s alt-rock tunes may not have even noticed. At one point, the band — which already consists of bass, drums, keyboard and three guitars — asked if anyone in the audience knew how to play guitar. A crowd member named Julian gave a cheer and was soon after invited on stage to play along to a song taught to him by Kerman and guitarist Mike DeAngelis on the spot.

Canadian rock band Arkells perform at the Mural Amphitheater. Day one of 2018 Bumbershoot kicks off Labor Day weekend at Seattle Center on Aug. 31, 2018. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

Lil Wayne took the Main Stage around sunset. As the sun dipped lower, more festival-goers poured through the small entryways into the stadium yet again. Lil Wayne appeared in a big, cheetah print coat with heavy chain necklaces layered over a plain white tee. The pinky fingers wrapped around his mic showed a massive, glimmering ring. Further into the show, he reminded the audience that he’s been doing this for 20 years and that he “isn’t shit without them.” He lit a blunt and dove into his popular hits, notably from his albums Tha Carter III and Tha Carter IV.

The Chainsmokers closed out the night at the Memorial Stadium Main Stage. The electronic music producer duo played live versions of many of their catchy hits like “Closer” and “Roses.” The nearly 90-minute set offered a seamless mix of The Chainsmokers’ electronic dance music, which felt much more intense in the festival setting, including bone-rattling bass and a gratuitous display of pyrotechnics with each drop.

The Chainsmokers’ set involves a vivid display of pyrotechnics. Day one of 2018 Bumbershoot kicks off Labor Day weekend at Seattle Center on Aug. 31, 2018. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

While the Chainsmokers played in the background, Ludacris commanded a large audience at the Fisher Green Stage despite being late to his own show. The set started with audio clips of newscasters talking about past Ludacris scandals before he began working the stage in a high energy performance with fan favorites like “What’s Your Fantasy”, “Move Bitch” and “My Chick Bad.” Throughout the night, he asked if anyone out there was an alcoholic like he is, though adding that he could get away with it since he’s a rapper. He also gave a shout out to “all the Asians repping in Seattle” before moving on to more general praises and interactions with the crowd.

Even though Ludacris and The Chainsmokers were brimming in attendance, there were festival-goers that wandered around the grounds of the Seattle Center in the colorful lights cast by the performances, artwork and the Space Needle. In between the shows, people curled up quietly in the grassy areas to watch as Bumbershoot day one came to a close.

MORE: View the full gallery from 2018 Bumbershoot day one

The fountain that hosted fun and games in the day serves a different purpose at night. Projections from different parts of the festival play on the water. Day one of 2018 Bumbershoot kicks off Labor Day weekend at Seattle Center on Aug. 31, 2018. (Dana Sparks/Emerald)


Follow Dana Sparks on Instagram: @danasparksphoto

Follow Sarah Northrop on Instagram: @sartakespics

Photojournalist and Sex and Relationships columnist

Dana is a photojournalist specializing in long-format storytelling — particularly regarding gender and social justice topics. She is the Daily Emerald Sex and Relationships columnist. This is her third year at the Emerald.

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