review by Chris Estey
photos by Rustee Pace
I am getting ready to head back to the Block Party for the second day of the inner-city festival. I have no idea why anyone would miss the Stranger’s Capital Hill Block Party. I have friends who are going about business as usual this weekend and that is insane (except maybe to see the Saturday Knights at Top Pot donuts at 2 PM today). Friday, July 25 is going down as one of my favorite live music experiences ever. After conversing with DJ El Toro (please, please write another book!) about publishing, I saw most of Common Market’s set and it was the best from an already truly excellent live band. The rage from rhymer RA Scion’s rural upbringing and religious repression found on their massive, intense eighteen-song full-length “Tobacco Road” was in full glory as the Party commenced, and crowds clotted around the center Main Stage. Though Sabzi was not DJing, the sound was still powerful, and Scion was on fire. They are truly playing to the material they have, and apparently they have declared war on classist America. Next up for me was the donation of sandwiches from Salumi on 3rd downtown given by my new best friend Josh who works at ASCAP (he helps the bands get paid, so his gig is pretty cool at that frightening organization), and man they’re as great as I’ve heard. Those were helpful as my belly was full of whiskey by the time I saw Head Like A Kite, and this was my first time, so I had no idea if their combination of chilly trip-hop and gripping rock would work live. Love them recorded, but was blown away by how a two piece could slam as hard as the Stones in their prime with only a guitar, a drum-set, and some gadgetry. Occasionally instrumental and ambient, or gritty and snarled and bashed out rock songs, this band was fabulous at both. Then I caught Thee Emergency blowing minds at Neumo’s stage, and that was one long serious freak out. The kids upstairs were going nuts over the band, as if it was some stadium show in the mid-70s. Lead singer D. Vox was melodic and strong throughout, scrapping with Sonic Smith for barnstorming on-stage. I caught quite a bit of Girl Talk in there and everyone who was there will confirm that was a phenomenon in and of itself, with radio legend Marco Collins one of many people on stage dancing. My final shows of the night were Pleasureboaters, whose also-rural working class anger came out as joyful rock noise, tweaked and torqued and a whole new vocabulary for a small planet of sound. Some younger fans for them and Champagne Champagne left before The Heavy Hearts, which was sad, because that band obliterated the King Cobra stage (oh yeah, that’s where I ended up for the final shows). Denise banged her head whilst the rest of the band approached post-punk not like dainty petulant protest tunes, but like a monster truck rally, in the grand tradition of garage gods in the early Seattle grunge days of U-Men, Tad, and Skin Yard. They don’t sound anything like those bands, but the energy was just as whomping.