Built to Spill
Block Party Schedule 2009

AKIMBO

(Sat, 5:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Seattle's Akimbo have been a band—a noisy, messy, sweaty, big-haired hardcore band—for over 10 fucking years. They've had at least seven different guitarists (bassist Jon Weisnewski and drummer Nat Damm have been the band's mainstays), they've released over half-a-dozen full-lengths on respectable labels like Alternative Tentacles (owned by Jello Biafra) and Neurot (owned by Neurosis's Steve Von Till), and even after a decade, they're still fucking stellar. Example: Their most recent effort, Jersey Shores, is a deafening concept record based on a series of shark attacks that happened in 1916. An amazing show—nay, a mind-blowing show—is guaranteed. MEGAN SELING

AUDACITY

(Fri, 4 pm, Vera Stage) Audacity come to Capitol Hill Block Party from Fullerton, California, by way of a West Coast tour opening for L.A. rioters Mika Miko. The band's roots go back to the sixth grade, although they've had some lineup changes since then due to "religious and relationship issues" (they're "anti-god," btw). The foursome traffic in wreckage-prone rhythms, hyperbright overdriven guitars, and sharply distorted vocals. Like many of their peers in the current wav(v)e of lo-fi punk, there are simply catchy hooks, choruses, and chord progressions buried under all the skronk and static—something like retro '50s teen pop, only played through a stereo being beaten with aluminum baseball bats and lit on fire. Sounds like good, stupid fun, huh? ERIC GRANDY

AWESOME COLOR

(Sat, 2 pm, Neumos Stage) Like many rockers with a surplus of energy and radioactive libidos, Awesome Color channel the Stooges. Unlike many rockers, though, Awesome Color hail from the Stooges' original stomping grounds, Ann Arbor, Michigan, which if nothing else gives them territorial rights to that band's turbulent, steel-phallused steez. Of course, emulating the Stooges' id-centric, relentlessly thrusting hard rock isn't rocket science, but it is hard to execute without coming off as merely worthy copyists. Awesome Color inject enough of their own personality into the maelstrom to keep thoughts of This Is Iggy Pop at bay. Watch for Awesome Color's Ecstatic Peace label boss Thurston Moore pumping his fist down in front. DAVE SEGAL

BAND OF SKULLS

(Fri, 5 pm, Neumos Stage) It's hard to believe that Band of Skulls have only been together for a year: Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson swap vocals with the easy calm of a pair who have been sharing duets for decades. Sometimes they sound like they're about to fight and sometimes they sound like they're about to hump each other to pieces, but it's when they harmonize—when his yowl gets all metal-manly and brings out the woman in Richardson's voice—that the rock gets all sticky and fuck-happy and fine. Their instrumentation, too—a bluesy riff, a cymbal flourish—sounds like the work of musicians who have been playing together for years. By next year they will have evolved into something that has never before been heard by human ears. I can't wait. PAUL CONSTANT

BLACK LIPS

(Fri, 6:30 pm, Main Stage) You know how the Jews slogged through the desert for years and years? They were raggedy, weird looking, thirsty, and probably had forgotten all their table manners—but they were the Chosen People, lugging around the Ark of the Covenant, which was full of God's Most Important Stuff. Black Lips, from Atlanta, are the ancient Hebrews of rock 'n' roll. They're not dressed so nice, but they're hoarding all the good stuff: punk rock, obscure psychedelia, street-corner hiphop, garage scuzz, Buddy Holly's toe jam, Bo Diddley's psoriasis, a few of Brian Wilson's wild hairs, a little of the Byrds' guano. And they like drama queenery—a little pee, a little barf, a little onstage making out. (They had to flee a tour in India, afraid they'd be arrested for homosexual acts.) Black Lips are where American rock 'n' roll lives right now. It's their house—see them before they accidentally burn it down. BRENDAN KILEY

THE BLAKES

(Fri, 6:15 pm, Neumos Stage) In the movie True Adolescents (which screened at SIFF this year), the Blakes play a shitty, annoying band that you hate. But in real life, they're actually a raspy, swaggering, no-nonsense little outfit that you can't help but kind of like. Although they do that thing that American bands do sometimes (and British bands vice versa, you guys!) where they sing in vaguely British accents for no reason. Some of the Blakes' vocals sound like a screamy, garagey Paul McCartney—and I mean that in an entirely neutral way. Unless they actually are British? They just all packed up and moved to Seattle because they're sick and tired of blood pudding and hedgehogs with pocket watches and shit? Too bad we'll never know. Siiigh. LINDY WEST

BOW + ARROW

(Fri, 6 pm, Vera Stage) Some bands aren't built to last, and so it is with Bow + Arrow. Last year, the local outfit released their debut, Mathematics Is the Study of History, a perfectly timed and reverently faithful reboot of Rites of Spring–era emocore. At the end of this year, singer/guitarist Lucas Thilman will depart Seattle for the wilds of Brooklyn, thus ending Bow + Arrow's brief but elevated arc. Plus, Bow + Arrow are going out with a bang. For this, what might be their final proper show, the band have taken on a second drummer (Brain Fruit's Garrett Moore), and the foursome have written a half-dozen new songs, which they intend to record for a farewell EP and which Thilman describes, promisingly, as more percussion-heavy and psychedelic than their previous work. Beyond these six songs, Thilman says the rest of the band's Block Party set will be improvisational, with lots of swapping of instruments and guitars used for percussion rather than riffs. Sounds fun. The band will be survived in Seattle by drummer Benji Rouse's new group My Parade and bassist Jon Carr's mind-melting new experimental project Brain Fruit. EG

BUILT TO SPILL

(Fri, 9:15 pm, Main Stage) Built to Spill are such a perfect, obvious outdoor-summer-festival band that they deserve to be as standard at these events as beer gardens and hot-dog vendors (they very nearly are). But which Built to Spill do you prefer? The classic rocking, stoner jamming, unshowy guitar wizards Built to Spill? Or the wide-eyed, short-and-sweet pop joyriding Built to Spill? This time you actually get to choose, thanks to the band putting their set list up to fan vote via thestranger.com/lineout and www.kexp .org. As of this writing, the top 10 vote-getters are "Car," "Cortez the Killer," "Carry the Zero," "Randy Described Eternity," "I Would Hurt a Fly," "Goin' Against Your Mind," "Kicked It in the Sun," "Big Dipper," "Twin Falls," and "You Were Right." It's not exactly what I would've picked (seriously, "Cortez"? Ugh), but that's democracy, and really it's a hell of a set (and a fair split between the band's pop and rock aspects). These winners could easily change by the time of the show, and it's been pointed out that we forgot to include "Free Bird" in the options—maybe the band will accept a last-minute write-in request from the crowd. EG

DEERHUNTER

(Fri, 7:45 pm, Main Stage) On record, Deerhunter live to exasperate: For every lovable full-fledged song, there's some wispy sound experiment you hardly notice and some pretension-soaked art punishment you'll die before playing again. Live, Deerhunter is a different beast, putting aside the diffuseness of the records for a tough, intense, sometimes fake-blood-soaked theatricality. The musical output remains hit-or-miss, but Deerhunter live are undisputedly something to experience. DAVID SCHMADER

THE DUTCHESS AND THE DUKE

(Fri, 4:00 pm, Main Stage) Their MySpace page claims that the Dutchess and the Duke are "Campfire Punk," and unlike most MySpace genre classifications, that actually is pretty right-on. Listening to their sweeping, arcing lyrics, it's hard not to imagine a ring of dirty, oddly clothed punks sitting in a circle around a campfire, singing and swaying in unison, their piercings glinting in the firelight. The Dutchess and the Duke are the kind of local act you really want to become ridiculously famous, just because the only way their songs could sound any better would be if a giant stadium full of drunken people sang along. These harmonies beg to be heard, and sung, and savored. It's a completely satisfying sound that most listeners haven't heard since... well, since they last went to camp. PC

EARTH

(Fri, 9 pm, Neumos Stage) From their early, groundbreaking ambient-metal phase to their current mode as Americana-noir minimalists, Earth have painstakingly carved a unique niche in rock. Leader Dylan Carlson exerts an iron-fisted control over his group's compositions, a discipline that results in severe sounds that seem immune to time's corrosive and kitschifying effects. Their 1993 album Earth 2's doom dirges spawned an entire somber wing of metal, Phase 3: Thrones and Dominions imbued rock with a uniquely oppressive and lethargic beauty, the Cormac McCarthy–inspired comeback releases Hex: or Printing in the Infernal Method and The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull added vast swaths of dusty space and solemn twang to Earth's monomaniacal, stoic tone sculptures. Get ready to have your pulse rate lowered and your consciousness raised. DS

EDWARD SHARPE AND THE MAGNETIC ZEROS

(Sat, 8:45 pm, Vera Stage) Wait, what? Is that guy actually... crooning? He's singing! I mean, actually singing, the way Neil Diamond and Tom Jones do. Don't people laugh at bands like this nowadays? With a chorus! There's a chorus singing behind him, with a tambourine! Wait a minute, is this one of those retro things, like that fucking jokey hack Richard Cheese? I don't think so—they don't sound like they're joking. And they're fucking catchy! Maybe they're some sort of hippie musical cult that hid away in the mountains and sold their souls to the devil to become a really awesome band, because Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros totally fucking rock, case closed, end stop. PC

FAUX PUNK

(Sat, 11:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Remember a couple years ago when Daft Punk had just started playing live shows again and that rumor went around that the Daft Punk that performed live at Coachella weren't really Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter but just two hired goons dressed up in the act's signature robot suits and playing their songs? Well, Faux Punk are basically like that, only without the rumor—they're just two guys who really aren't Daft Punk dressing up like very low-budget Daft Punk (complete with a janky facade of a pyramid) and DJing the duo's songs. A Daft Punk tribute act, in other words. I love me some Daft Punk and I'm not terribly hung up on "authenticity" or whatever, but this just seems incredibly lame and like an insult to our intelligence—not only a poor substitute for the real thing, but probably not even as good as dozens of electronic acts or DJs who could've been booked to play instead. EG

FENCES

(Sat, 4:30 pm, Vera Stage) If you're looking for folkish male vocals, Fences are the perfectly drawn line between the too-sensitive Bonnie Prince Billy and the too-creepy Bill Callahan. A four-man outfit from Seattle, Fences play guitar-driven music that isn't too loud but isn't lacking in edge, either. This isn't some Sheryl Crow faux-folk; it's closer to Townes Van Zandt. Several little tricks tossed into the mix—especially a snippet of Otis Redding singing "Dreams to Remember" at the beginning of "Boys Around Here"—suggest that this isn't some shoegazing sensitive-boy band that only listens to sensitive-boy music. Fences are musicians who interact with the world around them in their music, and they are comfortable with their sound and aren't fenced in by it. PC

FLEXIONS

(Fri, 5 pm, Vera Stage) Seattle duo Robin Stein and Devin Welch specialize in a tense, angular brand of post-punk that's informed by psychedelia and dub, with occasional forays into exotica. Their debut mini-LP, Leisure Time, displays Flexions' intelligent, concise songwriting capabilities, in which alternately scathing and soothing guitar textures, imaginative drum programming, and tight arrangements coalesce into a fresh take on multihyphenated rock. However, Flexions' most anomalous song, "Over Tanned," could end up being the highlight of their Block Party set: It's a gorgeously swaying tropical delight that brings a refreshing Hawaiian flavor to the Northwest music scene. Recent shows have found Flexions going for a more pleasure-principled, less angst-informed sound, without sacrificing their edge. DS

FUTURE OF THE LEFT

(Sat, 9 pm, Neumos Stage) There isn't a band I'm more excited to see this weekend than Future of the Left. The ex-Mclusky act, who come to Capitol Hill Block Party all the way from Wales, recently released their second full-length, Travels with Myself and Another. It's a mindfuck of a record—full of seething guitars, threatening vocals, and reckless rhythms that'll give you whiplash. "The Hope That House Built" is a hearty battle cry ("Come join our hopeless cause!"), while "Arming Eritrea" is the ass-kicking soundtrack to the war itself. Future of the Left are clearly coming equipped for a merciless fight. The only hope for survival will be joining their army before they destroy you. Earplugs might help as well. MS

GIRLS

(Sat, 4 pm, Neumos Stage) San Francisco's Girls (who are actually guys and who are a bitch to Google) dwell in the increasingly crowded margins of the indie-music stratum where low-fidelity popcraft reigns. Like a cross between Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti's netherworld production haze and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart's peppy tunesmithery, Girls smoothly conflate the main stylistic elements of lo-fi's current burgeoning evolutionary stage. Their songs exude a fragile beauty that some will find endearing and others may feel could use a bit more static and aggression. From the limited amount of tunes we've heard by Girls, we fall decidedly into the former camp. Roll over, Wavves, and tell Kurt Vile the news. DS

GOSSIP

(Sat, 8:45 pm, Main Stage) Everything you know about Gossip—the international hit that haunts them, their high-profile "discovery" by Rick Rubin, what Beth Ditto looks like naked—is the result of one thing: the band's undeniably ass-kicking live show. After a year spent moonlighting as a British tabloid queen, Ditto joins bandmates Brace Paine and Hannah Blilie to bring Gossip back to little ol' Capitol Hill. Sure to be well-represented: Music for Men, the Gossip's recently released, Rubin-produced, major-label debut, which too often retreads sonic and rhythmic territory covered on previous Gossip outings, but such familiar-seeming songs are sure to sound spectacular on live first listen. Also, Ditto will eat out Ann Coulter while getting liposuction before she gives anything less than a riveting performance. D. SCHMADER

HEY MARSEILLES

(Sat, 2 pm, Main Stage) On their debut full-length, To Travels & Trunks, Seattle's Hey Marseilles take you on a journey of young love and life lessons through their appreciation for finely tuned layers of strings, piano, and percussion. In "From a Terrace," over a swaying accordion, singer Matt Bishop sings, "Leave forsaken towns to see the world go 'round." In "Rio," after a round of snappy hand claps, he promises, "I will go where the days left to breathe are not gone/Are still long/I am traveling on." Musically, it's all very pretty and romantic—like what might play in your heart when you finally get to break free of whatever doldrums are swallowing your days. MS

HOTELS

(Sat, 3 pm, Neumos Stage) Hey there, traveler, do you want to book a night in this hotel? Eh? Get it? Yes, all of our finest hotel rooms are available for you. This hotel's amenities include glittery synths, dark vocals, occasional beach-party surf guitar (?), and a misty, sinister aftertaste. There's a pool filled with busy, bubbling beats; a weird alien at the front desk; and a restaurant that only serves some sort of futuristic sonic pudding. So what do you say? Do you want room service? We also have bathrobes. And, um, HBO? Man, this joke is really going nowhere. Kind of like you when you stay at our hotel, because you will never want to leave, and, and... ahh, fuck it. LW

JAPANDROIDS

(Sat, 11 pm, Vera Stage) Vancouver, B.C., duo Japandroids' debut full-length, Post-Nothing, begins with an inexplicable inversion of Thin Lizzy ("The Boys Are Leaving Town") that somehow manages to sound utterly heartfelt and homesick. It helps that the lyrics are delivered, strained and screamed and soaring, over hyperactive drum fills and perpetually cresting guitars that all sound like too much to have possibly come from just two dudes (guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse share vocal duties). There's a touch of emo here—but emo like the mid-'90s Midwest, Braid and that whole bunch, back when the now-tragic tag was close enough a reaction to hardcore to still come with the "-core" frequently appended to it. The whole album is one big blast—fuzzy guitars spinning off their tracks, drums racing like a heart about to explode, vocals alternately anxious and anthemic. These boys are back in town in a couple weeks, but wouldn't you rather see them right fucking now? EG

THE JESUS LIZARD

(Fri, 10:45 pm, Main Stage) The Jesus Lizard were a historical phenomenon—or "band"—invented by Steve Albini, the musician, producer, and rock 'n' roll prime mover. They weren't Albini's finest work: They lacked the bottomless fear of Big Black, the lightning-storm magic of Nirvana, the playful raunchiness of PJ Harvey, and the wit of the Pixies. Being more famous for your antics than your sound isn't a crime—but when you reunite after a decade and people are having trouble remembering why they liked you in the first place, one can be forgiven for being skeptical. But still. You never know. Maybe frontman David Yow will show us how it was done back in the Middle Ages, take Black Lips hostage, and behead them onstage. The old man might have it in him. BK

THE LONELY FOREST

(Sat, 7:30 pm, Vera Stage) I happened into a Lonely Forest show last summer during an impromptu visit to the Vera Project, where the Anacortes four-piece were making an impressive racket: musically dense, with organic instrumentation (drums, piano, and guitars galore), and an odd and obstinate mathiness to the songs' structures. This year brought the release of We Sing the Body Electric!, an excellent summation and progression of the band's songs and sounds that's threatening to become the Lonely Forest's breakthrough. Paying close attention to John Van Deusen's free-form song structures wasn't particularly rewarding: Some structural oddities feel arbitrary, and lyrics range from brave-and-smart to meh. But the music's dramatic swells and crashes provide a perfect diversion to any lyrical or conceptual gassiness. D. SCHMADER

THE MALDIVES

(Sat, 6:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Twaaaaaaaang! Twang-a-twang-twaaaaaaaang. Twang-twiddly- twang and a twaaaang-a-twooooooooo-oo-oooo- ooooo-weeeeeee!! Whooooa-whoa-hooooooooo-ooohhhh with-a-yoooooooou! Strum. Strum-de-dum. Country-time bluuuuuuuuuuuues!!! And-a-one-and-a-two-and-a-barn-and-a-boot-and-an-old-dog-with-no-booooooones! And there are like 12 of uuuuuuuus, and we've got 16 beeeeeeards, and a twang-a-lang-a-strum-dum all the way home to my little lady, ooo-weeeeeee. And chewin' on a hick'ry stick and catchin' a mud toad and where's my boot? And it's ramble, ramble, suuuuuumertime twaaaaang. LW

MICACHU & THE SHAPES

(Fri, 7 pm, Vera Stage) Micachu & the Shapes—led by 21-year-old Brit Mica Levi—will be the weirdest group you will (let's hope) witness at the Block Party. Blessed with anxiety-inducing energy, strangely tart melodies, oodles of homemade instruments and their attendant novel textures, and surprising song structures rooted in the Raincoats and Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, Micachu & the Shapes twist indie-rock orthodoxy so hard it becomes virtually unrecognizable—a development we wholeheartedly advocate. Fans of the Man Man school of demented circus punk could fall in love with Micachu's phenomenal Jewellery, but there's little of that outfit's preening wackiness here. Instead, it's a seemingly pure distillation of genuine eccentrics' creativity. (Björk is a fan, if that matters to you.) Doubters: Go to YouTube and view the 80 mad seconds of "Lips." Now try to contain your excitement. DS

MIKA MIKO

(Fri, 10:45 pm, Vera Stage) Mika Miko are a five-piece, all-grrrl riot squad from Smell-y L.A. that combine sunny punk-pop racket with sharp- cornered, neon-colored new wave. There is sometimes a saxophone, like Liliput, and mics made from telephone receivers, like Japanther—and dual vocalists weaving all over each other, like, oh, I don't know, reckless skaters. Their wantonly lo-fi recorded material has yet to do justice to their ripping live show, but if you caught their set at Block Party last year, then you already know all this. Suffice it to say, they should be the most ebullient punk-rock dance party of the whole weekend. (Hope that aggro, testosterone-addled slam-dancer dick doesn't show up again this year—what a dumb bummer that dude was.) EG

THE MOONDOGGIES

(Sat, 3:15 pm, Main Stage) My favorite Moondoggies song is "Nine Minute Song" from their limited-edition Record Store Day EP. It's one part "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay" and one part long, slow, old-country break-up tune—and it's fantastic. But it is, as the title suggests, nine minutes long. So maybe it's not the best track to play when you've only got a short set to play at a summer music festival. Or maybe it is! Built to Spill are coheadlining, after all, and I saw them play a 20-minute song once. Either way, the Hardly Art artists still have plenty of other crowd-pleasing jams in their repertoire that won't take up a third of their allotted time. On my wish list: "Black Shoe," which is heavy with organ, tambourine, and toe-tapping harmonies, and "Changing," which has more of a psyched-out '70s vibe. MS

NEW FACES

(Sat, 5:30 pm, Vera Stage) One year ago, Port Townsend's New Faces were still just new kids on the scene (figuratively and literally—two of the guys were still in high school). After winning Sound Off!, EMP's annual battle of the underage bands, New Faces' Interpol-inspired new-wave rock impressed the folks at Loveless and the young trio were added to the label's roster. They released their debut full-length, Two Years, they played last year's Block Party, they played Bumbershoot, they toured a bit, and more recently they played SXSW 2009. So if you thought their live set was impressive last year, back when they were "just high-school kids," wait until you see them now, all grown up, with a whole year of experience behind 'em—and high-school diplomas! MS

NOISETTES

(Sat, 9:45 pm, Vera Stage) Noisettes are a late addition to the Block Party lineup. A rock 'n' roll trio from London, they are fronted by lead singer Shingai Shoniwa, who is supposed to be very charismatic in a Karen O sort of way. EG

THE PAINS OF BEING

PURE AT HEART

(Sat, 4:30 pm, Main Stage) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's self-titled debut is one of those records that functions in my life like one long song—Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is another; what is it with self-titled debuts by New York bands?—and it's a song I'm happy to hear a half-dozen times a day. Both bands invoke the Feelies in their trebley grooves, but TPOBPAH sidetrack decisively into grittier territory, roping in the melodic majesty of the best jangle-pop with a noisy, fuzzy lasso. The result is pure lo-fi pop heaven—early My Bloody Valentine meets Luna meets a fuzzy four-track. Once you do the work of getting past the name, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart offer nothing but pleasure. D. SCHMADER

PAST LIVES

(Fri, 8:15 pm, Vera Stage) Amid all the weeping and gnashing of teeth in the aftermath of the Blood Brothers' split, there was cause for rejoicing, because the really good members of that post-hardcore group broke off and formed Past Lives. Morgan Henderson, Mark Gajadhar, and Jordan Blilie reconnected with Flexions guitarist Devin Welch (who left the Blood Brothers very early on) and then cut a caustic EP titled Strange Symmetry, harnessing that irrepressible Blood Bros energy into more refined jabs of post-punk fury. The whirlwind dynamics and vein-busting vocal bleats may be toned down a notch, but that only benefits Past Lives' precisely rendered sonic chaos, which Welch accentuates with an arsenal of striking guitar tones. They haven't totally eradicated their Bloody Brethren DNA, but they have bolstered it through a grown-folks savviness. DS

PELA

(Sat, 5:45 pm, Main Stage) Pela are a Brooklyn band that describe themselves as "pastoral punk." Here's what it feels like: It's like the lead singer is a balloon—stick with me here—only he's filled not with helium or pee but with serious emotions. And the emotions need to come out; they're too big for the inside of the balloon. But instead of popping (RIP), they squeeze, squeeze, squeeeeeeeeeze out of the narrow mouth of the balloon in long, yearning, earnest new-wave wails. That's what Pela are like. I like balloons. LW

THE PICA BEATS

(Sat, 3:30 pm, Vera Stage) Just because they sing about jam jars, calico, and summers cutting kale doesn't mean you have to give this band the old Hatfield and McCoy treatment and beat the living tent-pole-twee out of them once they walk offstage. Because the Pica Beats are really just a delicate pop-rock band—they only happen to like to sing about the weeds in West Virginia and occasionally give the glockenspiel a crank or two. Comparisons are odious, but everyone keeps making it, so I can't very well ignore it: To their credit, the Pica Beats are not heirs to the Decemberists. The Pica Beats are approximately a galaxy less precious than the Decemberists. Don't let the comparison confuse you. BK

SING SING REUNION

(Fri, 11:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Now-defunct dance night Sing Sing tore it up in various Seattle discos every other Friday or so for three years and change before founder and resident DJ Pretty Titty (aka Clayton Vomero) decided to pack it in and haul his digital record crates to NYC. Since then, he's kept busy curating the quality DJ-mix series "We Make It Good," which has featured entries from such names as Blaqstarr, Gaslamp Killer, Crookers, Free Blood, and others. Meanwhile, his old partner in crime Fourcolorzack has stayed plenty booked and busy here in Seattle—swing a cat, and he's probably DJing somewhere right now. This weekend, the boys are back together to blow out the first night of the Block Party, and they're sure to do so in high style. EG

SLEEPY EYES OF DEATH

(Fri, 7:45 pm, Neumos Stage) The latest release from Seattle synth rockers Sleepy Eyes of Death is a collection of remixed tracks from this year's excellent sleeper, Dark Signals (both available via local label Mass.Mvmnt). The compilation—whose tracks range from dubstep to tech-house to ambient to eight-bit reversion—largely succeeds, and for two reasons: one, because Seattle has a wealth of talented electronic producers (represented here: Pezzner and Hansen of Jacob London, Truckasauras, Scientific American, Jerry Abstract, and many others) and two, because Sleepy Eyes of Death's alternately shoegazing and skyscraping anthems provide such consistently excellent raw source material for those remixers to work with. But don't let the laptop-jock talk fool you; live, the quartet—on acoustic drums, electric guitar, and racks of synthesizers—rock harder than most metal bands. Expect their set to be foggy, monochromatically silhouetted, and chest-compressingly loud. EG

SOL

(Sat, 6:30 pm, Vera Stage) There's enough classic rap swagger involved in SOL's sound to make it familiar to fans of hiphop. "Fuck the police," he says in "Spliff." But the 20-year-old SOL is so far removed from Public Enemy to make the phrase something different—if it's not ironic, it at least feels more like a battle cry than a threat. He's a man who loves his weed—he mentions marijuana in almost every song, with the passion that most recording artists reserve for the subjects of ballads—and he doesn't present the kind of frantic, rat-a-tat delivery that other rappers spit with. Instead, he usually takes his time, putting down a pleasant, silky background and laying his lyrics out with the confidence of a much older man. SOL blends between the new and the classic in a way that hiphop rarely hears. PC

SONIC YOUTH

(Sat, 10:30 pm, Main Stage) A multiday festival could be thrown consisting of nothing but bands influenced by Sonic Youth—and you'd be stoked to see it. That's how seminal these now-misnamed veterans of rock have been over the past nearly three decades. While recent releases have found the foursome rarely leaving their comfort zone, SY in the live arena are still capable of shocking and awing audiences. With dozens of electrifying songs a mere weird tuning or a drumstick inserted under a guitar's strings away, Thurston, Kim, Lee, and Steve should be able to cobble together an all-killer/no-filler set list that'll leave an indelible mark on Seattle music fans. Either that, or they'll bust out a tribute to the Carpenters—or perhaps John Cage. You just never know... DS

SPINNERETTE

(Fri, 5:15 pm, Main Stage) It's been a while since an out-and-out rock group has managed to capture my imagination, but Spinnerette own my frontal lobe right now: There's the relentless duh-duh-DUH-duh guitar riffs and the catchiest drumming I've heard in forever, plus former Distillers frontwoman Brody Dalle's ballsy, tough-lady vocals. Some of their songs, especially "Valium Love," remind me of the Sweet's nutso forward-tilting rock, the kind that propels forward at party-miles-an-hour without a hand brake. But Dalle can also pull off a shimmery '80s ballad—synth and all—with the kind of yearning that only lovesick kids at the mall can really understand. It's like a bottled essence of the best parts of adolescence, without the pimples or school. PC

SPORTN' LIFE SHOWCASE: d.black, fatal lucciauno, spaceman

(Sat, 10:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Sportn' Life Records, which is owned by DeVon Manier and Damian Black, started in 2002 and has had a considerable impact on the local hiphop scene. But out of the label's many achievements, this one needs more recognition and consideration: Sportn' Life is essentially a black label that has managed to develop and promote black hiphop artists in a city that is losing (if not already lost) its traditional black neighborhoods and establishments to the suburbs and in-between cities. Indeed, it can be argued that without Sportn' Life, such popular black acts as Dyme Def and J.Pinder would not have emerged so quickly and powerfully. Nothing but sheer dedication is behind the fact that the label has survived this long and still houses some of the best talent in this city. Charles Mudede

STARFUCKER

(Fri, 9:30 pm, Vera Stage) I love Starfucker's playfully profane name more and more every time I type it, which has been a lot in the past year or so, as the Portland band (formerly a trio, now a four-piece) just keep killing shit with their stoned grooving, sinisterly sunny robot rock. Think basement-level MGMT with the doofy Day-Glo makeup and headdresses replaced by sweatbands and sometimes a plush unicorn head disemboweled and worn as a hat—or Passion Pit with better hooks and mellower, less histrionic vocals. The band's new release, Jupiter, is just 26 minutes long and includes one remix (fellow PDXer Strategy's relatively straightforward electro take on "Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second") and one cover (a perfectly weightless, weekend-ready "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"), so I'm calling it an EP. For that almost half hour, though, the band are in fine fucking form—all soft synth stabs, warped arpeggios, rubber bass lines, big backbeats, swooshing disco hi-hats, and falling-apart percussion against terminally chill vocals (and the requisite spoken-word science dropped by the band's old homie, Alan Watts). The vinyl comes with bonus remixes from Copy and Fake Drugs; I highly recommend that you cop it. Oh, and the band totally slay live. EG

THEE SGT. MAJOR III

(Fri, 4 pm, Neumos Stage)

Thee Sgt. Major III are a Seattle supergroup of sorts, with Kurt Bloch of the Fastbacks, Jim Sangster of Young Fresh Fellows, Mike Musburger of the Posies, Bill Coury of Visqueen, and the adorable Leslie Beattie of Cantona. They're armed with decades of power-pop experience, and they put it to good use in bright, poppy tunes that recall the mid-'90s peaks of Goodness, Green Apple Quickstep, and, yes, the Fastbacks. While most of their songs are bouncy and playful ("Battery Operated," "New Painter Man"), others come with a little punk-rock bite ("I've Made Peace with Hippies"). Thee Sgt. Major III show the kids how pop is supposed to be done. MS

THE THERMALS

(Sat, 7:15 pm, Main Stage) This Portland pop-punk trio have been making music since 2002, but they earned a new level of acclaim and fame with 2006's

The Body, the Blood, the Machine, a brave, eloquent, politically trenchant pop-punk song cycle about Life as We Know It that may prove to be a classic of the era. As of now, the triumphant The Body served primarily to amp up expectations for the Thermals' 2009 follow-up, Now We Can See, another ferociously well- executed batch of fast melodic punk that channels but a fraction of its predecessor's power. Ironically, what gives The Body its life is what threatens to doom Now We Can See: Hutch Harris's lyrics, devoted almost entirely on the new record to past-tense fantasias of the recently deceased (sample titles: "When I Died," "We Were Sick," "When We Were Alive"). These morbid flights of fancy aren't without interest, but after the bracing The Body, they feel like the conceptual equivalent of Harris taking his bat and going home. If the best scenario one of our most engaged young artists can envision is a march into the sea, we're doomed. (And if you're a twentysomething trying to sell the public your death fantasies, you'd better be as funny as Morrissey or as dead as Jim Morrison.) D. SCHMADER

THEY LIVE!

(Fri, 10:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Gatsby (of Cancer Rising and the man behind the My Philosophy column in this paper) and Bruce Illest (aka djblesOne) make up They Live!, one of the most fascinating hiphop inventions of this decade. Their raps and music mark the return of hiphop's long-lost sense of humor. Junk TV shows and movies from the '80s are reprocessed, live beats and samples are synthesized (indeed rarefied) to a comic lightness, and the lowest cultural materials are melted into the thin air of the highest art. With They Live!, nothing is heavy, nothing is hard, nothing is sacred. CM

TRUCKASAURAS

(Sat, 7:45 pm, Neumos Stage) Local boys Truckasauras are the ideal ambassadors of electronic music for a (mostly) rock festival like Capitol Hill Block Party. For one thing, the band play "real" physical instruments for their live set—keyboards, drum machines, samplers, occasionally even an acoustic drum kit—thereby somewhat avoiding the shroud of mystery that can surround laptop jocks and that seems to threaten all the rockists out there. (Truckasauras are in fact accomplished musicians, as evidenced by their more "serious," but not at all staid, instrumental, outré-jazz combo Foscil.) For another thing, the guys could probably drink most of this weekend's ax-men right under their (gear-heavy) table; every Truckasauras show is a booze (etc.)-fueled party, more head-nodding than body-jacking, but with moments of sure dance-floor fire. It's techno, but it's techno like their monster-truck rally namesake is a car, and it most definitely rocks. EG

WILD ORCHID CHILDREN

(Sat, 2 pm, Vera Stage) Beastie Boys unison shouts merged with whirling dervish, Deeply Purple–ish rock that's way too big and blustery for the garage in which most bands of this ilk rock? Okay, why not? If it's going to be executed with as much feral adrenaline as Wild Orchid Children do it, then bring it on. Their four-song EP The Elephants on WOC singer Kirk Huffman's Bombs Over Bellevue label is a helluva calling card for these Seattle dynamos. Each tune is an indomitable force of nature, even the slow finale, "Tree of Knowledge," a gorgeous, slide-guitar-flecked blues that deserves a seat at the Stones' Beggars Banquet. The pit for this one's probably going to be as rabid as it is rapturous. DS recommended