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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Day One

posted by on July 28 at 14:33 PM

(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.

RSS icon Comments


i bought my friday ticket exclusively to see girl talk, mostly because i had to work until late and couldn't see anyone else. i didn't get in. this is problematic: a. the stranger has been promoting girl talk relentlessly for almost 4 months. weren't you anticipating it would sell out? b. girl talk sold out chop suey, a much smaller venue than neumo's, in january. since then, girl talk has built much momentum, both in the general population and in seattle due to his blockbuster appearance in january. c. WHY THE FUCK was it in neumo's? the last show of the night, the headliner, for a festival that sells 2000+ (?) tickets per day, is scheduled for a venue that would, under normal circumstances, sell out. d. this was a festival. the reason festivals exist is because they can happen in the summer, OUTSIDE, in large open areas with loud speakers, so many people can see/hear the performers. why wasn't girl talk placed outside, or just, i dunno, in the fucking street? it's not like he even needs a stage; search youtube for a performance he did wirelessly.

regardless, if you schedule a performer for a festival, anyone who buys a ticket should be able to see that performer. i paid $15, and that money has been effectively stolen from me. i demand a refund. please put me in contact with someone who can give me one. and i'm not alone: many of my friends were in the same boat.

at the very least, plan ahead for next year. when the stranger's bonafide girl talk promoter can't even get in, you know the planning was sub-par.

Posted by blocked partier | July 28, 2007 3:26 PM

also, girl talk's place in a festival is bound to bring in more people than just a stand-alone appearance both because many people who are familiar with girl talk but wouldn't necessary come on down for a stand-alone appearance will be there, and because people who weren't familiar with girl talk will tag along with their friends, so scheduling girl talk for a festival appearance at neumo's was an abysmal idea.
key point: all of these people paid for tickets. the show should have been in a place that could be guaranteed to accommodate all of ticket holders, just at like, i dunno, a normal show. anyone feel me?
side point: why are capitol hill *block party* shows scheduled for indoor venues? doesn't that kinda make it not a block party?

Posted by blocker partier | July 28, 2007 3:31 PM

girl talk had to take place inside neumos bc the city doesnt allow loud music outdoors after a certain hour.

Posted by jz | July 28, 2007 4:34 PM

I think the bookers may have underestimated Girl Talk's appeal. I don't expect that to happen here again after lats night.

Posted by Eric Grandy | July 28, 2007 4:39 PM

re eg: true. seriously tho, could y'all put me in touch with someone who could refund $? i feel really burned.
i really hope he gets big enough to play key arena. that would be epic. i've never thought that way about any other band, but a party in key arena? ideal.

Posted by blocked partier | July 28, 2007 6:18 PM

does anyone have any pics from girl talk??? send me some please!

Posted by wade liostro | July 28, 2007 10:07 PM

I, too, was feeling peeved and sad about missing Girl Talk, but if you couldn't even get in it really must have been insanely packed inside.

Posted by josh | July 29, 2007 12:14 AM

I am definitely feeling you blocked partier. Maybe some sponsor pressure from Neumo's got them the headliners. People under 21 paid the full price and didn't even have the choice to try to get in to see GT. I lucked out, and it was awesome, but the heat was insane inside. It should have been outside and early enough to comply with noise ords. Its pretty unfair when a large percentage of the crowd pays full price but can't get to see all the performances because the promoters have given special treatment to a venue who will earn more money from alcohol sales and block the younger people from attending.

I don't think I've ever experienced worse sound than happened at the Vera stage for Natalie Portman's Shaved Head. It was a band's worst nightmare. Bizarre instrument sound eq, dead mics, dead monitors and feedback. The sound guys must have been first year engineering students from the local JCs. Another Very Bad Choice. The band even joked about "earthquakes" when the world started vibrating from the uncontrolled bass feedback the sound people couldn't handle. The band didn't even have a bass player, so it was definitely board error.

Posted by CHBP's New Clothes | July 29, 2007 12:51 PM

Girl Talk was the official 'Afterparty' - not even part of the main lineup. No pressure from a sponosor, that's just silly talk. Like most festivals, indoor venues do sell out. Bumbershoot, Coachella, Roskilde, sxsw, CMJ etc, all have venues that sell out. A few other shows in Neumos sold out too. However, we'll do a better job explaining this on the site next year so people know to arrive early to make sure they get in (thought it seems most people already know this - like a lot of the people who watched to Trucks and then stayed for Girl Talk).

Also, for the last 7 years, two of the stages at the Block Party were all ages and one is 21+. It was billed this way on the website.

The bummer is that because people tried to force their way into Neumo's, security stopped letting anyone else in, where if people would have waited and been patient, most if not everyone in line would have eventually made it in. Inside was pretty amazing though. Great, great show.

Posted by Meinert | July 29, 2007 2:54 PM

Meinert, these explanations are not helpful *now*.
People pushed, so people didn't get in because security didn't have the skills to handle letting people in. That's a reason for a refund- your security people prevented paying customers from entering.
You didn't provide a warning on the website to people who didn't "just happen to know" that Girl Talk would sell out, so many people were shut out- that is your mistake, not ours.
I had to work and couldn't come for an earlier set to get into one advertised for 12:00AM- that's because the set was advertised for midnight. You say that many shows sell out at normal venues, but I bought a ticket- I wasn't shut out of the show by it "selling out." You say that many festival venues "sell out," but it didn't- all the people who tried to get in bought a ticket, it just reached capacity due to your poor planning.
Your failure to prevent these problems has resulted in my money being stolen. Give me a refund or know that what you're doing is completely unethical.
I echo everything CHBP says about the 21-/21+ discrepancy. People under 21 should be charged $10 and given wristbands of a different color. Your failure to do this is plain laziness and grand larceny- you'll more than make up the $5 difference through alcohol sales. Be fair, not lame.

Posted by blocked partier | July 29, 2007 4:26 PM

Yes, the crowd didn't make the security very happy, but it was hard to cooperate when different guards each had different stories about what they wanted and where we should line up for a chance to get inside or if such a chance existed. Having the line to Moe muddled with the line to get into Neumo's made things even more confusing and made it seem like people were cutting to the front of the line of people patiently waiting outside the tent as requested. I don't envy their task and I think they tried to stay in good spirits, but it would have been great if they'd used those walkie talkies to communicate with each other and provide a more clear message to the crowd, many of whom had come to the Block Party only to see Girl Talk.

For what it's worth, on the official program the only timeslot explicitly labeled as an "afterparty" was Sunday's Spankrock DJs Devlin & Darko. And yes, sell-outs at indoor festival venues are not unexpected, but Coachella doesn't really "sell out" any venues since everything is outside.

Posted by josh | July 29, 2007 4:35 PM

You know, the quacking duck of lame excuses can easily be eliminated by owning up to a screw up. Whoever planned the whole event obviously didn't think it through. (1). Its unfair to charge everyone a single admission price that doesn't give everyone equal access. (2). Inadequate planning for attendance numbers is not the attendee's problem. (3). Rewriting history like: "Girl Talk was the official 'Afterparty' - not even part of the main lineup." is total unadulterated BS. Where was that stated ANYWHERE in the schedule?

If meinert had any official capacity in the fiasco, saying things like that not only makes her sound full of it, but implicates the entire promotional team. A far better response is: "Wow.. we didn't think of those things, or realize that it was pretty unfair to a large percentage of our audience. We apologize and will try to make it up to you next year." When something like that appears, and not just in a low readership blog, we'll know you deserve our respect.

Posted by CHBP's New Clothes | July 29, 2007 11:27 PM

maybe you guys shouldnt have been retarded and left early to get a good spot for girltalk!

Posted by LEON | July 30, 2007 1:15 AM

"Low readership?!" What'chu talking 'bout?

Posted by Eric Grandy | July 30, 2007 2:27 AM

I got in! Went early to see the Trucks. Anyone who's been to a festival knows how this works.

Neumo's needs fans or something. Damn hot up in there.

Posted by experienced | July 30, 2007 6:21 AM

experienced, you should change your name to conceited, because your post is completely useless. everyone has already stated that it was hot, the trucks are boring, your status as a past festival goer does not excuse the "block party"'s scheduling of girl talk for a tiny indoor venue that stole the money of countless people who paid for tickets to see girl talk. in other words, i'm glad for you, but you're completely dumb.

i guess i'll go harass the kids at urban outfitters for a refund since the stranger has completely failed to admit any responsibility for this debacle. what a lame bust :( y'all should be ashamed of yourselves, but i guess i shouldn't expect much more of the paper that posts police reports of racial profiling but then fails to engage in real politics for fear of making their yuppie base anything other than "democratically" complacent. wake up, dudes.

Posted by blocked partier | July 30, 2007 9:24 PM

Yo, BP, the Stranger was just one of several sponsors for the event, along with KEXP, KNDD, the ACLU, Guayaki Yerba Mate, and yes, our evil corporate overlords esurance. We had no control over the booking, the layout, the security, the scheduling, or anything else. And we don't make money from the tickets sold, so we wouldn't be the ones to give you a refund.

Posted by Eric Grandy | July 30, 2007 10:32 PM

You had no control over these things at the fore front, but you profited (and probably have some of your salary paid by) the ad revenues accrued in the Block Party edition of The Stranger. As a sponsor, you have the clout to put pressure on the organizers to provide refunds and then to either fully and warn next year's ticket holders that they may lose their money or to schedule shows in venues that can accommodate all paying ticket holders. Please don't be complacent. The question you should ask yourself is: Was this wrong? If you answer yes, you should do something about it. Please.
My ad hominem attack about what could be beefier coverage of social justice issues has nothing to do with esurance's sponsorship of the entire festival. However, if you have no control over the festival's proceedings, why would esurance be evil? It just pays the bills, right? [decode what I really mean here]

Posted by blocked partier | July 31, 2007 7:00 PM

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