The summer may be winding down, but the days that remain will be the hottest of the season. Perfect timing to head to a coastal gem of a city that is somehow underserved on the travel circuit. Nestled in some of the most beautiful landscapes in existence, Seattle is home to Bumbershoot, a truly unique music and arts festival that manages to balance cutting-edge and throwback music programming as well as comedy, film and visual arts. Acting locally but thinking nationally, a weekend at Bumbershoot (August 31 to September 2) is like visiting a rural town that has all the amenities of a global city and none of the smog or bullshit. An apt description of Seattle, too. And presented in the context of its rich musical history, the nostalgic never-sleeper in us might be new in town but somehow feels like he’s been here before…
1:15 P.M. - Ace Hotel
Photo credit: Atelier Ace
Housed in a historic Belltown building—a former maritime workers’ hotel, natch—it’s almost as if Ace Hotel Seattle sprang from the earth some time after Mount Rainier did. The first in an expanding line of locally inspired hotels, the Ace takes Seattle’s utility-first ethic and makes a home of it, providing 28 rooms that are stylish without being posh and minimalist minus the coldness that often comes with that. And at a little over 100 bucks a night, they put it best in saying they give you everything you need and nothing you don’t. It’s one for the back pocket.
2:45 P.M. - The Saint Social Club
Photo credit: The Saint
Check in at the Ace and head over to Capitol Hill—el jefe of West Coast hipster hoods, Portland be damned—for a nosh at The Saint. The tiny but tough tequila bar and Mexican resto takes devil’s water seriously, offering up nearly 100 bottles of various vintages in its “library.” Whether you’re after something sweet (Fresas, a 21-day infusion of fresh strawberries in silver tequila) or spicy (Arquero, a mash of jalapeño, cucumber, tequila and ginger beer), The Saint will provide the guidance you seek. Don’t forget to grab a Tequila Passport to keep track of the various tequila flights you imbibe before taking off for another sleepless night.
Photo credit: Windish Agency, Danny Clinch and Jesse Jenkins.
4:30 P.M. - Charli XCX
It’s been a huge year for 21-year-old Tumblr deity and Femme on Fire Charli XCX, so no surprise seeing her go nuclear this festival season in support of her earworm of a debut, True Romance. It’s an epic goth-dance record that, given the live treatment, should blow the roof off any stage, if only for the larger-than-life Pop personality in charge.
8 P.M. - The Breeders play Last Splash
With a grunge/indie rock pedigree like Kim Deal’s, you’d be remiss to skip seeing the Breeders on tour in 2013, celebrating the 20th anniversary of their alt-rock modern classic Last Splash by playing the record in its entirety. Take it from us: Kim’s voice sounds even better now than it did in 1990, and Kurt Cobain counted their debut among his most significant personal influence. Gigantic.
9:45 P.M. - Death Cab For Cutie play Transatlanticism
Death Cab were already the fave of more than a few Seattle cuties when Transatlanticism launched them from hometown heroes to bonafide indie rock gods, and the band has kept a handle on its roots. Though no longer signed to Barsuk Records (the other megainfluential Seattle indie label), Ben Gibbard et al return to Bumbershoot to celebrate the label’s 15th, playing their breakthrough from beginning to melodic, heartbreaking end.
12:23 A.M. - The Crocodile
Photo credit: The Crocodile
Did we mention we’re suckers for nostalgia? No trip to Seattle would be complete without a stop by the former stomping grounds of the entire scene that changed American rock and pop music forever. The Croc Café has employed members of R.E.M., booked everyone in grunge from Pearl Jam to Nirvana and somehow still stands. Despite a brief closure in the early 2000s, the Seattle haunt has returned to prominence as a music venue in the touring circuit and as an institution of rock history akin maybe only to CBGB (RIP). Stop in, grab a pint of local microbrew and check out whichever future legend is onstage in the Back Bar tonight.