Sunday Songs: Hey Marseilles – “Rio”


Bumbershoot, 2001.

We stood on the edge of the International Fountain’s bowl, staring. Curious. We were new to town, the three of us, and while we had native friends nearby, only we appreciated the novelty.

Seattle Center. The center of Seattle, in some unknown way. Debating as we watched the jets shoot out, wondering if any water was actually sliding down the dome’s side, or if it all flew outwards. No matter how long we stared, we couldn’t come to a consensus, which left only one solution.

We were going in.

By this point, we had figured out the pattern. We knew the sequence, and as soon as we saw our window, a chance to run in and touch the side without getting a jet shot straight at us, we went for it. But we had miscalculated, and as we started in, a jet shot out.

I turned, dashing the other way, screaming for Dorian and Dave to follow. Dave, the ROTC cadet, sprinted to safety, but Dorian, shorter and slower, didn’t react in time. As she turned and ran, the jet met her in the back, advancing outwards at exactly the same pace as her. She was soaked.

And the rest of us were in stitches.

That was the day I became a Seattleite.


Bumbershoot, 2010.

We stood just in front of the beer garden fence, holding hands. She was new to town, I was new to her, and, two weeks in, the touch of our entwined hands was electric.

I had raved to her about Hey Marseilles when we were deciding our plan for the day. A year earlier, I caught them at my neighborhood music festival, and was blown away. Somehow, the band managed to write songs that sounded like they belonged in a trailer for a movie about a yacht race1, but felt contemporary and catchy as well. Lines like “Love is a hazard in Lower Manhattan,” encapsulated some aspect of my life, it seemed, even if I’d only so much as kissed a single woman on that island in all my time there. In Midtown, no less.

As the band concluded another song, the crowd burst into applause, and we looked at each other, our hands still held tight, preventing us from joining in the ovation. But I had an idea, one I expressed aloud.

That was the day we found out we could.


Bumbershoot, 2015.

I stood on the rim of the International Fountain’s bowl, staring. Disbelieving. With the festival under new management, and the threat of rain looming, the area which had historically been packed full to the brim was instead nearly empty.

Two days later, the crowds had finally returned by the time Hey Marseilles played their set, and I stood in the back of the crowd, staring alternately at the band below and the Space Needle above. That first Bumbershoot, Dorian and I had gone to the top of the Needle, to take it all in. In 2010, my sixth Bumbershoot, I was still awestruck by the sight of my city’s icon. For years, I had sworn that, if the sight of it ever got old, it was time for me to leave this city, to move somewhere that made my heart flutter the way Seattle used to.

As Matt Bishop entreated the crowd to “Think of the shorelines you have yet to see,” I looked up at the Needle, and asked myself how I felt.

That was Monday.

  1. A comparison I made before the above video was released, for the record.

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