Monday, July 27, 2009

I heard great music at the Capitol Hill Block Party...

From N.

I spent my weekend navigating Capitol Hill Block Party, when the intersection of 11th and Pike gets shut down, stages put up and thousands of people show up. Many are tattooed. It's a thrill to wander familiar streets without worrying about taxicab drivers mowing you down in the crosswalk, to check out new bands, get crushed by Sonic Youth fans and be sad that you didn't snag kimchi fried rice at Marination Mobile when it was there on Friday night.

There were a lot of people there.

Friday was about new music and the small Vera stage, where I saw two of my favorite performances of the weekend: Starfucker and Micachu and the Shapes. Starfucker, a group of guys from Portland, showed up in dresses and had the entire audience pulsating along with its danceable music and cool hooks. Their energy was contagious and their music knocked me out. Micachu is a UK band with a sweet singing voice and a banjo that allows for cuteness yet quashes any categories by mixing in intensely raw, edgy sounds. It was creative and awesome.

I think I would have really loved Deerhunter if I could have seen them. Friends L., M. and I didn't venture to the front of the pack at the main stage on Friday night and so couldn't see a thing. Deerhunter sounded great, but I realized it really is about actually seeing the band. My mind was already overstimulated and it wandered when I couldn't focus on the stage. (Although I don't think seeing Black Lips would have convinced me to get into their music.) They Live! also killed Friday at Neumos. They've really brought their stage performance to a new level since I first saw them not that many months ago, this time performing with two Massive Monkees (who are such a fun part of the show), lights and a thundering stage presence.

Saturday was about determination. I wanted to see Gossip up close and personal on the main stage. We pushed our way into The Thermals crowd, then surged forward when they finished so we could get thisclose to Beth Ditto. I thought we did pretty well.

Beth Ditto is a force on so many levels. She was adorable in her black and white striped dress and is so fun, sassy and charming, I could see how the fashion world has gone gaga. And then there's her voice - thrilling and huge. We had to cope with a few surges of frantic, dancing fans pushing past us, but mostly just loved hearing Beth Ditto's outrageous voice, be wooed by her ("Cheers, bitches!") and get swept up in her music and aura.

We decided not to wait the next hour for Sonic Youth so attempted to leave the front of the main stage. Attempted. We nearly got trampled as Sonic Youth fans swarmed the front and Gossip fans tried to get out. Some order or organized way of getting people in and out of the claustrophobic narrow chute that opened to a large space in front of the stage (a fence divided the street for 21+ and all ages) would have been nice. It was enough crowds to last us quite a while.

It was too hard to focus during Sonic Youth since we couldn't see, so we ended the night at at the Sport'nLife showcase in Neumos, which felt like a real show. Got to see D. Black, Spaceman, Fatal Lucciauno and even Grynch do their thing. It was a familiar and soothing end to a great festival.

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