Live at the Capitol Hill Block Party, Day 2: Champagne Champagne

photos by Brittney Bush Bollay

With all their manic misadventures on the road (dogs pulled on ‘em by cops on the last tour! Talking their way out of tickets! Sliding around the ice in North Dakota!) with STRFKR, who they’ll be doing one in a series of seven inch records with, it’s nice to know they can stay home to play this weekend. Yes, MCs Pearl Dragon and Thomas Gray along with DJ Gajamatic (AKA Blood Brothers/Past Lives drummer Mark Gajadhar) will be able to bring their charmed dirt racer spunk and snake-like bass scramble to virtually their Cap Hill backyards; and we’ll get to hear the recent material they’ve been writing on tour and recently tracking in the studio. (The project is still marinating for use of more live drums and up the sonic ante the second time around.) “Starfuckers” is the name of the song they just did for their similarly tagged tour-mates, if that’s any idea how they’re following up “Molly Ringwald.” Champagne Champagne are superior showmen in that they make you feel like you’re tight pals with them, even when they’re back from rocking stages in Delaware with Ke$ha. For the big public Main Stage show at CHBP 2011, DJ G claims there’s going to be “a lot of crazy shit,” so expect special guests both this weekend and on the upcoming album.

Champagne Champagne followed their riotous midday main stage set with a smaller but no less energetic evening performance from the Caffe Vita Bean Room. Pearl Dragon was his usual unrestrained self, standing still for naught longer than a second before gallivanting about the stage. Thomas Gray and Gajamatic rocked guitars, tambourines, and in the former’s case, darkened specs that were wholly unnecessary in the dimming light of the Bean Room. The trio’s energy were matched and then some by an adoring crowd that lined up down the block for entry. Clap-alongs and chants of “Champagne Champagne” ricocheted off the walls. Dragon ripped of his cap for the second song, revealing a newly trimmed afro with a streak of dirty blonde along the side, a punkier look for the MC that has notoriously turned grooving crowds into stampeding mosh pits.

This soon proved true even for the limited space of Caffe Vita, as both Gray and Dragon yelled “Bounce!” and the crowd obliged, jumping up and down to make the ground shake harder than the floor at Neumo’s. Synth arpeggios washed over the hopping crowd, systematically fusing the group’s wild party mentality into the unsuspecting joints of everyone present. Beats hit hard and steady, with the near-flawless rhymes of Gray and Dragon providing lyrical and spiritual inspiration along with a desire to get supremely fucked up. If the Fire Marshal hadn’t set an audience limit the previous day, there’s no doubt a bout of friendly havoc would have whirled through the shack, already a steamy, barely-windowed coffin for a crowd of about fifty.

Thanking the crowd and KEXP for “messing with us,” a roar from outside the doors met the MC’s gratitude, content to observe and rock out from afar. As always, Dragon ended the set rolling into and over the crowd, all while spewing his filthy raps into the mic, surprising no one with his inability to stand up straight. A thrashing end to KEXP’s day 2 broadcast from Block Party, and one that reinforces the popular view that Champagne Champagne are destined for greatness; not only are they fantastic showmen, amping up otherwise head-nodding crowds, but they’re genuinely wonderful dudes who love what they do. Ke$ha’s got nothing on the Seattle hip-hop scene.

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