Beyond the headliners: Madeline Kenney, Jason McCue aim to make the most of their first Bumbershoot

Newer and lesser-known bands often perform some of the more interesting shows at music festivals. Two musicians with Seattle ties, Madeline Kenney and Jason McCue, will get their chance to impress at Bumbershoot.

There are big-font bands and there are little-font bands. For the headliners and mainstage performers whose names are emblazed in giant type atop festival posters, Bumbershoot is near the end of the summer circuit. But for little-font bands, tucked away on smaller stages, Bumbershoot might be the biggest festival they play and the best chance to leave an impression on an unsuspecting crowd.

This year’s installment of Bumbershoot once again mines the local music scene for known acts like Tacocat and less known like Jason McCue. Production company AEG took over the festival three years ago and was quickly able to bring in big-name electronic music and hip-hop acts that appeal to younger crowds, while keeping a robust cast of local talent.

Don’t let the small font fool you. The bands at the bottom of the festival poster, playing early in the day, often put on interesting and memorable shows. Many of these bands have local ties and in some cases went to Bumbershoot as teenagers.

“I’m mildly freaking out,” said Madeline Kenney, who grew up in Redmond but now lives in Oakland, California. “I’m on the same poster, a different font size, with Solange.”

Kenney, whose songs are a warm embrace of fuzzy guitar loops and smart lyrics, plays at 3:20 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, on the Monster Energy Stage at Fisher Green. She’s been playing music since kindergarten, and attended Bumbershoot as a teenager, but the route to making it her profession was circuitous, including four universities while studying neurosciences and a baking apprenticeship in Oakland. “The life of a musician doesn’t conform to a baker’s life,” she said.

Jason McCue wasn’t raised in the Seattle area like Kenney, but the Seattle University student did watch Bumbershoot performances on YouTube from his childhood home in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

McCue, a singer-songwriter with a hypnotic warbly voice, gained notoriety after this year’s Sound Off!, a battle of the bands at MoPOP for musicians 21 and younger. Past participants include Naked Giants, Fauna Shade, the Lonely Forest and Schoolyard Heroes. Unlike those bands that have had success since Sound Off!, McCue won the…

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