Block Party Day One
posted by July 28 at 14:33 PMon
(all photos courtesy of Kelly O)
The Saturday Knights kicked things off in style as usual. Jonathan’s got them pretty much covered here.
I think Ron Sims (was that Ron Sims?) just introduced these guys as “Natalie Portman’s Skinned Head.” I’ve been saying this for a minute now, but Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head are going to be great once they get another year of being a band under their collective white belt, and I still think that.
Matt & Kim were easily the highlight of my day (yeah, I didn’t get in to see Girl Talk either). I think I mentioned their incessant grinning in my preview of them, but it’s worth mentioning again. For at least one person I talked to after their set, it was Kim’s manic smile behind the drum kit that made the biggest impression. For me, it’s the moment in “Silver Tiles” where the drums drop out and Matt sings, “And all our hopes/and all our friends” over a couple sustained notes. It’s a climactic, finger-pointing, sing-along moment. Also, Matt & Kim superfan with the Team Gina hat, you are awesome.
For more Matt & Kim positivity, check out their review of the crowd.
A friend and I watched the Blood Brothers from a patch of shade back by the sound booth, marveling that we’d been watching this band for the last ten years. It’s pretty awesome that such an odd, chaotic band has lasted so long (even if there’s rumors that they won’t last much longer). It’s also pretty disorienting, because the Blood Brothers are basically a completely different band than the one I remember from my late teens and underage twenties. And while I’m familiar with their new material and even fond of some of it, it’s still weird. The band never play their older material—the pubescent ragers of This Adultery is Ripe and Rumours Laid Waste, the post punk psych operas of March on Electric Children—and for whatever reason, that stuff will always be what I think of first when I think of the Blood Brothers. But their crowd was nuts—kids thrashing and flailing around, crowd surfing (ugh)—and it’s great that the Blood Brothers continue to make music that resonates with literally a new generation of kids. They still play with roughly the same energy and fey/foxy charisma as always, even if they seem a little less prone to diving into audiences these days. And they sounded great yesterday—theirs was the first set to really impress me with the sound quality of the Block Party—the guitars pierced the open summer air rather than just floating away in it, the bass and drums were booming, the keyboards were clear, and the vocals were sharp and evenly mixed (minus one bad mic moment for Jordan Blillie).
I only caught a couple songs of Blue Scholars, because I had my own night to take care of, but I did catch their flip of Green Day’s “Brain Stew” for their first song. It was kind of an odd move—not because hip hop never samples a rock song, duh—but because Seattle hip hop (especially Blue Scholars) seems to have such momentum right now that it just seems unnecessary, even at what is in large part a rock festival, to do that kind of cross genre outreach. Regardless, Sabzi, played with the sample and brought in a thick beat underneath it, and Geologic launched into an authoritative performance. that kept a packed intersection hanging on his every syllable.
I slipped out of my other engagement around 11:30 to try to get into Girl Talk, only to find a mob of people lined—well, mobbed—up at the door to Neumo’s. After a couple minutes, it seemed clear that I was not getting in there, so I took off. I was a little bummed, because I’d been counting on Girl Talk to be the highlight of the whole Block Party, and I’m sure it was rad, but I’m not sure I could have possibly had any more fun than I did at Girl Talk’s last Seattle show. Maybe next time.