capitol hill block party : firing up the recommend-o-tron

“Block Party” is more than a slight misnomer for the thing that’s starting on Capitol Hill in just about four hours. Don’t expect to find your neighbors grilling hot dogs in the street. Instead, inside the walled-off two block section of Pike Street between 12th and Broadway you’ll find a rare commodity in this era of overwhelming summer music events: a relatively inexpensive small scale music festival with outstanding talent on multiple stages. From mainstage headliners to opening acts in satellite venues to afterparties, there’s far too much to keep you occupied during the one and a half days. It’s more like a month of shows you’d like to see crammed into a single weekend.

Honestly, even if you used a random number table to plot your course it would be hard to go wrong. As far as I’m concerned, the only critical mistakes would be (1) not going and (2) not seeing Girl Talk while you’re there. In a infinitesimal section of Feed the Animals running from Cheap Trick into Jimi Hendrix over Yael Naim and through Eminem, Gillis has given us one of the best and most entertaining minutes of knowing cultural commentary we’re likely to hear all year. And that is just one among dozens and dozens. Set loose among and outdoor crowd, it has the potential to be the smartest sweating you’ll experience all summer.

Here’s the whole schedule [stranger]. But because we can’t resist telling you how to spend your time, a few recommendations from your pals at Metblogs. Start ginning up excuses to get out of the office early because there are highlights from start-to-finish. See you there!


Black Eyes and Neckties – 4:00 PM – Neumo’s Stage
The Murder City Devils aren’t playing this year, but these guys might be the next best thing. There’s nothing like an early evening mosh party to set the stage for the rest of the night. [samantha]

Common Market – 4:30 PM – Main Stage
Although less heralded than Blue Scholars we all owe Common Market a huge debt of thanks for helping to create the thriving hip hop scene we’ve enjoyed for the past several years in Seattle. If you miss their set on Friday you can catch them at the Paramount on Monday night. It’s best just to leave work early on Friday, though. [ryan]

Abe Vigoda – 5:15 PM – Vera Stage
The main thing to know here is that “Abe Vigoda” is the name of a band, not a person. Well, I guess Abe Vigoda is a person, but now there’s a pop-punk trio from LA who are re-using his name. [josh]

The Airborne Toxic Event – 7:15 PM – King Cobra Stage
Their name was lifted from Don DeLillo’s novel *White Noise* yet they strangely don’t credit him for it (I’ve asked about it and was given the equivalent of a nod and a smile). Regardless, I’m a sucker for bands who incorporate a cello or violin. You should be, too. [ryan]

Girl Talk– 7:45 PM – Main Stage
I’m really interested to see how Greg Gillis adapts to an outdoor stage. Will not being in the cocoon of a club diminish the extreme manic energy he usually creates? Will fans be allowed to jump on the main stage with him (like all fans do at his shows)? Also, the sun will be out during most of his set. That’s just weird. When I think of Girl Talk I think of late nights and sweaty clubs. On the other hand, after last year’s debacle outside of Neumo’s this may turn out to be the best lineup decision of the weekend. (After Girl Talk, drink a gallon of water, towel off, and go right back to the Main Stage for Les Savy Fav.)

Thee Emergency7:45 PM – Neumo’s Stage
If you’re a garage rock fan and you live in Seattle, you know and have heard Thee Emergency. It’s practically a requirement. If somehow you’ve never seen this high energy rock out loud band, you’re failing. Go to Neumo’s stage at 7:45 tonight. Do not pass Go. If you have already seen the band live, this is your reminder of how incredibly fun they are. Go to Neumo’s stage at 7:45 tonight. Do not pass Go. []

the Dodos – 9:00 PM – Neumo’s Stage
If, however, you’re ready for a hydration break after Girl Talk, duck into Neumo’s for a cool beverage and settle down with some ragged folk-inspired indie rock from this San Francisco duo. [josh]

Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head – 10:15 pm – Vera Stage
They’ve been learning how to be a band as they’ve gone along, and become better musicians with more enthusiasm ever since. Sometimes they even bring along their own go-go dancers. [samantha]

Vampire Weekend – 10:45 pm – Main Stage
By now, I hope that we’ve all gotten past the fact that this justifiably-hyped band is made up of Ivy Leaguers who reference all sorts of Afropop and have just accepted that they are actually a great indie pop band who write smart, fun, listenable, literate songs. They will sound even better outside, after sunset, as a cool-down from the preceding acts. That is, if the stage is still standing. [josh]

(Oh, and btw, there’s a little block party happening inside the Block Party. For instance, you can see TacocaT (best palindromic bandname ever?) at 6:45 pm and the last Das Llamas show of all time at 9:45pm at the Cha Cha; afterparties at the Comet, too.)


General advice …
The Main Stage is your friend on Saturday. There are only a few compelling reasons to wander off —- Akimbo (7:45, Vera) and Feral Children (9:45, King Cobra), for instance. Just remember that when DeVotchKa is finished you should head straight into Neumo’s for the SING SING Afterparty featuring Chromeo (DJ set), DJ Fourcolorzack and Pretty Titty. [ryan]

Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground – 2:00 PM, Main Stage
There are so many people in this band that everyone is bound to know someone from somewhere. Part circus and part sideshow beauty pageant, the real draw is the fact that live the sound blooms from the studio three-piece into mayhem. [samantha]

Fleet Foxes – 6:00 pm – Main Stage
What can we say except “we told you so” (or rather, Samantha told you so). These guys have made good with their soaring chorale nature hymnals. They’ve made the crossover to the NPR devotee crowd. Heck, even Australian mothers are raving about them from afar. See the international superstars while you still can. They’re heading for Scandinavia soon and I’m not sure they euros will let us have them back as our own special secret treasure. [josh]

The Hold Steady – 9:00 PM – Main Stage
You’re kidding me, right? The Hold Steady. Playing a few blocks away from my house? Finally. From rooftop birthday parties to an aversion to seeing shows in university ballrooms, I’ve been missing them over and over for years. Now I have no excuse. [josh]

Voyager One – 7:15 PM – King Cobra Stage
Local kids Voyager One are all about the tripped-out shoegazing sound. The My Bloody Valentine comparisons run deep — their record company (Loveless) even takes their name from MBV’s landmark album. Big, dreamy, druggy, fuzzy music: Perfect to kick off Saturday night, even if you haven’t ingested mass quantities of illicit chemicals (yet). [dylan]

Super Secret Neumos guests10:30 pm – Neumo’s Stage
The rumors are wild—is No Age going to bail on being in Oregon for one last triumph?—but do you really want to be the one to miss the secret show? Plus, it’s totally going to be the Saturday Knights, fresh from their morning donut eating competition [sots], who always put on a stupidly fun show and have just released one of the best dance party albums of the year. [samantha]

1 Comment so far

  1. Chaya (chaya) on July 27th, 2008 @ 1:59 am

    Oh hell yeah, love the shout out to random number tables.

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