In Attendance at the Capitol Hill Block Party: Saturday

Beat Connection on outward (all photos by Dave Lichterman)

Some prior obligations cut my Friday at the Block Party short (Kurt Vile was great, but I was dreadfully disappointed I had to leave before I could see Woods), so I was rested and ready for the long haul on Saturday. My afternoon started at the Vera Stage, where Yuni in Taxco played at 3:00 pm. I don’t know if I’m just a sucker for their laid-back, indie tropicalia, but I continue to think they are one of the more under-appreciated bands in Seattle. Great stuff, as predicted, and the sun certainly helped. I feel like the Block Party did a pretty good job this year of keeping the bands whose music compliments the sun on outdoor stages. One of my favorite bands from last year’s Block Party was Beach Fossils, but it was a travesty that their washed-out, stoner-in-the-sun beach-iness had to be enjoyed in the darkened confines of Neumos.

Like Yuni in Taxco, the next few bands I saw (Telekinesis, Seapony, and Best Coast) all went well with the sunny weather. The last time I had seen Telekinesis was at Sasquatch! 2010, and at the time they were a pleasant surprise. On the Main Stage at Block Party, I was looking to be just as impressed, and Michael Benjamin Lerner and company didn’t disappoint. They played just the kind of carefree indie rock needed to get the day going, and I’ll never tire of watching Lerner go at it on drums while singing.

Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis

After meeting up with a few friends followed by a bit of wandering that took us in and out of a bar or two, a bathroom, and Neumos, where we saw The Lumineers, a solid band of local country-folk-ists who make good use of a violin, we found ourselves watching Seapony at the Vera Stage. Seapony’s Jenny + Johnny/She + Him-style music is alright enough, but Jennifer Weidl’s monotone voice and bangs weren’t doing it for us at that particular point in the day.

The Lumineers

A little later, we got a few beers and moved up to see Best Coast. Say what you will about the set up of the Main Stage (as I will later), but having the beer garden extend as close to the stage as it does is a nice touch, especially earlier in the day when you don’t have to bite or shank anyone to get within a reasonable distance of the action. Best Coast typifies the band that is dependent on nice weather, and throughout their set I couldn’t help but imagine how horrendous it would have been if it had been cloudy and raining. Though they are best seen in the sun, I felt like their music almost blended in with the weather a little too much, to the point that it was hard to even tell what was going on because everything sounded and looked the same – they doesn’t really have any edges on which your attention can snag, especially in a festival setting…Can’t complain about Best Coast though, as we had beers in hand and it sounded nice enough.

Best Coast

The sun had gone down just in time for Beat Connection, who started at 9:30 on the Vera Stage. You’d think their music would have been better suited for a daytime set, but this ended up being one of the highlights of the festival. The Vera Stage was about as crowded as it can get, and they played their single “In The Water” followed by a cover of The Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies)” to end the set. Everyone seemed satisfied.

Beat Connection

I was expecting to have a hard time getting into Neumos to see The Young Evils, but with a good portion of attendees either watching Baths or getting in position for TV on the Radio, Neumos couldn’t have even been called crowded. I hadn’t seen The Young Evils live yet, and therefore they blew me away more than anyone else at Block Party. There were absolutely amazing, seamless vocal harmonies between front-people Troy Nelson and Mackenzie Mercer, as well as an overpowering chemistry not just between Nelson and Mercer, but the entire band, almost giving off a family band vibe. Top-notch, incredibly affecting songwriting, great vibes, and just a delight to see.

And then, as always happens, we experienced the shit-end of why the Main Stage setup can suck. We certainly weren’t expecting to get close for TV on the Radio, but it seemed to be harder to take it in from afar than it should be. Though we were right in front of a tier of speakers close to Neumos, it barely even sounded like they were on, and trying to make out what was happening on stage was a lost cause without a video screen. After a few songs, we realized we weren’t even enjoying it and left. …Oh well, it was a good day.

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