review by Chris Estey
My dear writer friend Mairead Case (BUST, etc.) was in from Chicago to see The Saturday Knights with me, and as we watched their wonderful whirlwind of a set she couldn’t help from exclaiming several times, “Good Lord! People at a Seattle show are actually dancing!” Including the most adorable little girl in rainbow dress and boots at the very front, attempting cartwheels in the grass of the park at South Lake Union, and eventually joined by TSK entertainer Tilson when he jumped off the stage to jitterbug with her loveliness.
The skies were threatening a misty grey at 3 PM when the band took the stage — the lovable, scruffy, might-be-feral-but-still-fun trinity of master showman Tilson; tough guy with a heart of gold Barfly; and microphone-mauler, tambourine-basher DJ Suspence — now joined by vivacious Holly from the Lillydales on bass and Trent from Head Like A Kite on drums and several other charming newcomers creating a joyful noise. Smiles were EVERYWHERE — on stage and crackling through the crowd. That joy had to be supernatural because the hard storm was held off until the final notes of TSK’s set was passionately played.
It all kicked off with a fiery “45” and then went everywhere great from the new album Mingle in a superbly sequenced performance of should-be-hits. As we were up near the front of the stage, I heard from Seattle Times writer Andrew Matson that The Saturday Knights killed it the week before at Neumo’s and kicked myself again for not being there to see the band give the Block Party its proper epiphany. But I was quivering with happiness now as Barfly busted out a mean “Ass Kickers Haircut” (living up to the new Evil Bunny Films video) and “Mutt”, while Tilson torqued and tickled the usually sullen indie rockers in the crowd into a trembling, laughing frenzy with his smooth soul charisma on of “Patches” and “Patches.” The band went nuts on “Count It Off” (“foaming at the mouth!” Foaming at the mouth! Running!”). Elegant surprises included a perfect pop “Dog Park” (MY SINGLE OF THE SUMMER, maybe year) and a wicked freestyle between slanky “Public School Girl” and a crowd-amping “Motorin’.”
Tilson and Barfly hilariously commented on the construction nearby, dedicated the set to Bernie Mac and of course all the lovely KEXP fan-ladies cheering for them, and teasingly sent out their best to John Richards for the event. As the clouds swelled into the danger zone, we laughed and cheered them off stage with a feeling that this was a perfect show, though the mangled pile of microphone stands Suspence was using probably felt a whole lot less ecstatic about it. But that’s what they’re for!