Posts Tagged ‘the thermals’

weekend agenda: block party until you melt

capitol hill block party; scene from last year, photo by me. [flickr].

Lucky us! This weekend is looking sunny, precipitation-free, and we have a big music festival called the Capitol Hill Block Party commandeering one of our city’s best few intersections. What better way to spend a weekend than melting on the surface of the pavement-covered sun while listening to a great mix of local and national bands? To cope with the climate, keep an eye out for free popsicles from the Washington Bus, dunk tanks featuring music personalities, creamsicles, mainstage water canons [wtf?], and innovative new ice cream flavors.


There are two ways to get into the block party. If you already have a ticket that you’re able to hold in your eager little paws, then you can can slide in on Pine & 10th Avenue by passing through the culinary temptations of Rancho Bravo and Molly Moon (their mojito sorbet, btw, just might save your life when the temperature spikes). The rest of you, ticket buyers, will callers, and guestlisted will go to the main entrance on 12th Avenue and Pike Street.

Tickets haven’t sold out yet, but buy in advance, arrive early, or face a sold-out event and fall upon the mercy of scalpers and spareholders. Daily tickets cost $23 and a two-day pass goes for $42. You can get them at the doors, online, or at Urban Outfitters (where you’ll only be charged a $1 service fee) If you’re under 21, be aware in advance that 1/3 of the acts will inaccessible to your underage ears because the Neumo’s stage is 21+. But, hey, two out of three isn’t half bad.

Once you’re inside, you can enter and exit as long as you keep your ticket stub and get your hand stamped on the way out. Good to know if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the teeming mess of humanity, need to lounge in the park, require a caffeinated pick-me-up, or feel the need to slip away for food and drinks not served on plastic.

The block party’s website has many other frequently answered questions about sunscreened dogs carrying weapons; so check it out for all the technicalities of attending. [chbp]

the Block Party itself:

Let’s be honest here and say that you’d be a fool not to consult the Stranger’s guide. They’re presenting the Block Party and have prepped a tabloid book to tell you all about all of the bands in generally glowing terms. [thestranger] Cross-reference that with the official lineup [chbp] and choose wisely or wander aimlessly. If you love spreadsheets, I put the whole thing into a Google Document [xls] for your organizational delight.

Instead, then, a brief overview of the three categories of bands I’m planning to see this weekend. First, are those that I’m spine-tinglingly thrilled to be seeing very soon even though the heat might kill me (it won’t, I made it through Coachella with nary a fainting spell, but you know how pre-complaining about beautifu weather is an essential talisman in these parts.). On Friday, the top of this list is Deerhunter , mainly because I can’t figure out exactly where Bradford Cox is taking the band but I can’t wait to find out and see how it all works live. On Saturday, I’m nearly sick with anticipation for the Pains of Being Pure at Heart , (whose Song of the Spring “Young Adult Friction” has bled over into a Son of the Summer and threatens to stick around well into Autumn) though I worry slightly that they’re so fuzzy and introverted that they’ll melt into puddles when faced with the late afternoon sun. I have no such concerns for Gossip and the Thermals , both of whom seem to exist for the sole purpose of causing you to overheat in different ways. If you’re not having a good time while they’re playing, you must be doing something wrong. In London this spring, it was difficult to find a time of day or magazine rack not celebrating either Kings of Leon or [the] Gossip, their appreciation for the southern-tinged rock scene somehow less unabashed than our own. I haven’t seen them for a few years, but their latest album leans a bit more into pop territory with an energy that never lets up. As for the Thermals, I have yet to leave one of their shows not feeling exhausted, elated, maybe slightly bruised, and carrying a bit of sweat from my neighbors. Both groups make political music where the politics never gets in the way. Seeing them back-to-back might kill you in the best way possible.

Next are the near mandatory mainstage closers. Here, I admit that I’m embarrassingly unexcited about the Jesus Lizard and Sonic Youth. Obviously, these are strong headliners and I take my own under-enthusiasm as personal musical failings and a source of dull nagging shame. During the howling scrotum-baring height of the Jesus Lizard’s reign, I was too young and/or too saturated by mass market commercial radio to even know of their existence, leaving me unable to even conjure an idea of one of their songs from memory. For Saturday’s stars, I’ve always wondered if Sonic Youth missed their chance to get fantastically wealthy by not breaking up briefly instead of working hard, building a career over thirty years, and putting out record after record instead of following the Pixies model of dramatically self-destructing until the clamor for a reunion was so great that they were able to spin a few one-offs into a seeming never-ending arena tour followed by a Doolittle revival. Anyway, I’m planning to take the closing hours of the Block Party’s mainstage as a way to polish some of the tarnish from my music landscape.

Finally, the best part of a festival setting are the vast possibilities for discovering your new favorite bands. On this note, I’m most looking forward to this weekend as a remedy to having missed too often so many of the bands that I’ve heard millions of glowing buzz. At the top of this category on the local side are Hey Marseilles , the Moondoggies , the Maldives , the Pica Beats, and New Faces (all Saturday). On the national side, my curiosity about Micachu & the Shapes is peaking thanks to their clangy and noisy and just so oddly compelling album; Starfucker have such a good band name that they require at least a few songs of attention (both Friday); as do apparently croony rockers Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and screamy emos Japandroids. That said, suggestions for other overlooked unmissables are gladly considered.

the Parties inside the Block Party:
As if the official lineup isn’t enough, the Comet and the Cha Cha are both hosting their own slates of live music, too. Both bars are inside the grounds; so your ticket gets you in to these for free where you can get drinks away from the gloating sun’s ruthless glare.

The Cha Cha has the Get Off (5:45); Toy Soldiers (6:45), Fun Fun Fun (7:45), Loving Thunder (8:45), & Born Anchors (9:45) on FRIDAY and the Absolute Monarchs (3:45), Spinning Wheels (4:45), Thorstone (5:45), Moonrats (6:45), Champagne Champagne (7:45), Constant Lovers (8:45), and Book of Black Earth (9:45) on SATURDAY.

The Comet has the Oswald Effect and the Girls starting at 11 on Friday. (NOTE that “Girls” play the mainstage on Saturday and are a different band from “The Girls” playing on Friday, neither of which have any female members. Both of these bands being in town nearly compels a Girl-Off of some sort). On Saturday at 11 you’ll find Hallways, The Curious Mystery.

the Parties after the Block Party:
If by some feat of superhuman strength you aren’t dead from exhaustion on Saturday night there are afterparties to attend. The biggest one being at Chop Suey, where Mad Rad, Macklemore, DJs Darwin & Recess, and Whiskey Whiskey start their quest to leave you a bubbling pile of happy goo at 9 pm. Advance tickets cost $5, and a block party bracelet at the door gets you in for $3. That is, if they aren’t already at spectacle-craving capacity by that point.

In closing:

With that, some parting advice: wear sunscreen, be nice to your neighbors, eat something fried or on a stick, see a bunch of music, and have fun! If you see something great, snap a picture and send it to our photopool [flickr]. Find your way to a rooftop or VIP party and send us the password! See you there.

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