(Sat, 7:30 pm, Main Stage) Brooklyn-based disco instigators !!! ("chk chk chk") have 14 years under their collective belt and 16 arms above it, and they use all those limbs and years of experience to make one mighty dance-punk rumpus. They recently replaced founding member and sometimes vocalist John Pugh with singer Shannon Funchess (formerly of Seattle band IMIJ), and the change seems only to have sharpened the band's focus on forthcoming album Strange Weather, Isn't It? No weird funk forays, no filler passages of instrumental doodling, just one solid groove after another, all boasting some of the deepest resounding production the band's ever enjoyed. The drums and bass roll low, the percussion rattles, the guitars and synths and horns hypnotically circle around your stereo field, and Nic Offer, always more gifted a lyricist than a singer, sounds downright tuneful. Songs like "The Most Certain Sure" even revive some of defunct side project Out Hud's sorely missed dubbier tendencies. No, there's no clear "Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story): Part Two" here, but it might be the most consistent album that the singles-friendly band has ever done. And, of course, they're always an Icelandic-sized eruption of fun live. ERIC GRANDY


(Fri, 7:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Louis XIV (the guy, not the shitty band) was an absolute monarch. He ruled France as a one-man total governing power from 1643 until his death in 1715—that's 72 solid years of ruling with a "fuck you, my way or the highway" philosophy. While Seattle's Absolute Monarchs haven't been around quite as long, they're starting to rule with a similarly no-bullshit, uncompromising power. There are no bells or whistles or trickery with them, just heavy, angular post punk. In our small and scrappy kingdom, long ruled by A Frames and the Intelligence, it won't be long until the Monarchs are officially coronated. Don't miss them ripping through their song "Killing the Old" (the recording was mastered by Stephen Egerton of the Descendents)—'tis a truly meritorious achievement. KELLY O


(Sat, 5:15 pm, Vera Stage) Air 2 A Bird is the latest brainchild of local MC/poet/activist/teacher Gabriel Teodros and his frequent collaborator, the very talented MC/singer/producer Amos Miller (whose own 2001 LP Amelation was a slept-on chunk of his conscious, home-baked cobbler). A2AB's sound is made of deep, emotive funk beats laced throughout with Miller's pulsing keyboard and prerecorded bird noises. If that sounds at all one-note to you, you'll be surprised by the immediate, soulful, and heartbreakingly sincere hiphop the two make (with the help of some gorgeous guest vocals) and the soaring perspective they bring to the scene. Flyer than most. LARRY MIZELL JR.


(Sun, 4:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) If you like real catchy sloppy-pop music, and you like to dance and jump around to real catchy sloppy-pop music, then this is the show for you. I know you're tired from Friday and Saturday, and you've been wandering around the Block Party for what seems like a million years, but this band really wants you to dance with them. I mean, it's ultimately up to you, but if they could have their way—you'd dance with them before you ran off. And since singer Dashel Schueler has released solo recordings on Don't Stop Believin' Records, expect the cute-faced fans of the local label's roster (think TacocaT, the Pharmacy, and the Terrordactyls) to be there dancing with you. KO


(Sat, 10:30 pm, Main Stage) Maturity isn't always the easiest thing to capture in song; there's something more urgent about growing pains. To his credit, Minneapolis rapper Slug of Atmosphere has made good music out of both—though for longtime fans, the earlier stuff still resonates more resoundingly. Nevertheless, Slug and producer Ant have crafted one of the sturdiest catalogs in DIY hiphop, and Atmosphere's alternately surly and beguiling stage presence pretty much always delivers live. MICHAELANGELO MATOS


(Sun, 7:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Aveo is like Seattle's own little version of the Smiths—they make gorgeous, memorable pop songs with sad-bastard lyrics that race along over galloping beats and the occasional fluttering guitar solo. Singer William Wilson even has a croon comparable to Morrissey's—pretty, feminine, and with the perfect balance of confidence and coyness. The Dead Weather are on at the exact same time, but you won't be able to get close enough to them to see anything anyway, unless you were camped out at the main stage all day, so go cool off at the Cha Cha instead and let Aveo sweep you off your feet. MEGAN SELING


(Sat, 4:45 pm, Main Stage) Recent Sub Pop signees Avi Buffalo have the double-edged distinction of being an exceptionally youthful band (their primary members are just out of high school and not yet old enough for the Block Party's vast beer gardens). On the one hand, their precocious ascent onto Sub Pop's roster certainly beats heading to community college; on the other, it invites a level of scrutiny that's almost unfair for a band in such a formative stage. At present, Avi Buffalo make twangy, breezy indie rock that has earned them comparisons to such acts as Built to Spill (the guitar tone) and the Shins (the lackadaisical charm). But while their best songs, such as "What's in It For?" and "Remember Last Time," are gently catchy, they still suggest more potential than achievement. All of which is to say that Avi Buffalo have their whole musical lives ahead of them, and even at their greenest, they're already pretty pleasant. EG


(Sat, 4 pm, Neumos Stage) Brooklyn quartet Beach Fossils are an aptly named band that trades in hazy, sun-bleached reverb jams. Vocals are sedated, single-note guitar melodies dance around in the heat, and the drummer pushes things along briskly but gently. Traditional song structures are largely absent here, but hooks pop up left and right, and in the end it all seems perfectly effortless. The vibe is common these days (I think it's what people are calling "chillwave"), but Beach Fossils make a better case for the sound than most. Their self-titled full-length debut is a solid, consistent thing, and it should sound quite pleasant in the lovely July heat. GRANT BRISSEY


(Fri, 5 pm, Main Stage) Bear in Heaven come off like Grizzly Bear's more prog-fixated cousin. Their members have pedigrees in serious avant-garde units like Presocratics, Savath & Savalas, Rhys Chatham's Essentialist, and Jonathan Kane's February, but they are at core songwriters—very adventurous songwriters—with a flair for gracefully launching angelic vocals into the stratosphere. Bear in Heaven's 2007 debut album, Red Bloom of the Boom (Hometapes), weaves gorgeous, intricate melodies within unpredictable structures and dynamics—like if Red-era King Crimson had stuck around long enough to make a shoegaze record. Bear in Heaven's 2009 follow-up, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, moves into more explicitly exuberant pop territory, lavishing cloud-busting tunes amid luxuriant production. Maximalist overachievers unite. DAVE SEGAL


(Sat, 6:30 pm, Vera Stage) If you have even the tiniest shred of appreciation for metal, then the opening tremolo-picked guitar and hellion roar on Black Breath's album Heavy Breathing will give you goose bumps. And don't even get me started on the chugging guitar breakdown on "I Am Beyond." The local quintet is Seattle's answer to Sweden's Entombed, borrowing from both the unrelenting fury of the Scandinavian legends' early Left Hand Path material and the more recent party-metal vibe of albums like To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth! You'd be wise to stretch your neck before their set or else risk a wicked bangover. BRIAN COOK


(Sat, 6 pm, Main Stage) You know Blitzen Trapper: They're what the Eagles would've been if the Eagles were cooler—country rock for people who liked Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. "I can live with God and with suicide," they sing to a driving beat and an Am-D-G-C chord pattern. "The same thing holds if I close my eyes/It's a truth so pure it could kill you dead/A taste of heaven mixed with hell inside of my head." They're lovely songwriters, and if you give a shit about Neil Young or Wilco, you should check what their baby cousins are up to. BRENDAN KILEY


(Sat, 9 pm, Main Stage) Scientific studies show that humans are attracted to symmetry—not only is a certain degree of facial symmetry aesthetically pleasing, but it apparently correlates to all kinds of desirable evolutionary traits, as well. Blonde Redhead, consisting of eerie and beautiful singer Kazu Makino and identical twin musicians Simone and Amedeo Pace, might be the most symmetrical band ever. Thankfully, their music, which ranges from discordant guitars to mannered electronics, throws things just askew enough to be interesting without ever getting ugly (that Amedeo but not Simone also sings adds further fluctuating asymmetry). In the years since 2000's revelatory Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, with its surprise synth-pop reverie "This Is Not," the trio's sound has grown more lush yet less ravishing, although new single "Here Sometimes" from forthcoming album Penny Sparkle hints at a possible return to form. In any case, Blonde Redhead remain a singularly seductive band, whether they're regendering Serge Gainsbourg's louche sexiness or spinning off their own hermetic marvels. EG


(Sat, 5:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Seattle band Blood Red Dancers combine the best qualities of drunk jazz and dark folk music to create coarse, bluesy tunes that cling to you like cigar smoke. The organ, drum, and bass trio take their lead from vocalist Aaron Poppick, who often sounds like he's chewing on gravel or extinguishing cigarettes on his soft palate (or both) as he belts out tunes like "Sweetie's Gettin' Mobbed" and "Feel Good Hate." This is rock reminiscent of early Tom Waits: deconstructed, melodic, and a bit creepy. Go to the show ready to embrace the moodiness and dance real slow. CIENNA MADRID


(Sun, 6:15 pm, Main Stage) Blue Scholars, Seattle's most popular and commercially successful hiphop group since Sir Mix-A-Lot, have not so much street cred as they do organic-intellectual cred. Geo is nothing but hiphop's fullest realization of Gramci's organic intellectual—someone who never breaks with their community but emerges from it and develops their thinking, poetry, and art through the course of that emergence. Organic intellectuals think about society not as a dead thing but as one that changes as they change. Geo is also a great film critic and has a deep knowledge of Filipino cinema. The line that best suits Geo, Seattle's most visible organic intellectual? "The way I give back is with the knowledge of my raps." CHARLES MUDEDE


(Sun, 5:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Remember that scene in Gummo, Harmony Korine's 1997 nihilistic mindfuck of a film, when those two boys are whipping a dead cat out in the woods while Brazilian black-metal band Mystifier growl menacingly on the soundtrack? The first time I saw that scene, the only word I could think of was "BRUTAL." This same word is tattooed on Book of Black Earth drummer Joe Grindo. Huge. Right over his guts. Brutal is also a pretty good word to describe BOBE's sound. It'd be best NOT to take your grandma to see this one; it's just not safe for the faint of heart. KO


(Sat, 6:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Now would be a fantastic time to give Born Anchors a first or second chance if the local trio has managed to fly off your radar (or failed to impress) thus far. Along with the release of their new album, Colorize the Grey, they have beefed up their live show by including a second guitarist as well as a female back-up vocalist to assist in filling out some harmonies. The new material is a bit more complex than their past work (though still guitar-driven and urgent), and the added layers make Born Anchors sound better than ever. MS


(Fri, 7:30 pm, Neumos Stage) "Magnetic blackness!... put me on the blacklist!/Flip Afro-punk, made it spastic!/Don't it sound fantastic?/Magnetic blackness!" Yes, it do sound fantastic. Champagne Champagne's Afro-futurist, Afro-punk, slightly gothic/stoner hiphop is irresistible. They spin relaxed rhymes backed with minor chords on the keyboards and steady rollin' beats. Their lyrics aren't the most virtuosic, but they've tapped a feeling that glows warmly and eerily beneath the overcast Seattle skies: "Purple haze all in my brain, purple rain and I hide your pain/Feeling like I prayed in vain and it's all the same/I feel clearly insane in my brain/But I cannot do anything at all to stay awake." Some champagne is good to pop when you're already feeling giddy and high, and some champagne (like this champagne) is an excellent accompaniment for relaxing into those moody blues. BK


(Fri, 7 pm, Vera Stage) Chris Pureka is a singer-songwriter out of Massachusetts blessed with an awesome voice and a striking persona. "Pureka identifies as genderqueer and cultivates an androgynous appearance," Wikipedia informs us, adding: "Pureka's music does not deal explicitly with LGBT issues, focusing instead on emotional interactions between individuals." Great, but what you'll care about is The Voice, a deep, rich wonder of a thing that's surrounded on record by a dramatic racket of borrowed Americana. Her latest record, How I Learned to See in the Dark, was coproduced with the reigning queen of high-drama lo-fi, Merrill "tUnE-yArDs" Garbus. Live, Pureka's alone with her guitar, and talented enough to make something momentous of it. DAVID SCHMADER


(Sat, 3 pm, Vera Stage) Do you like the Monorchid? How about Skull Kontrol or Circus Lupus? Cold Lake have described their sound as "the Monorchid jamming on Entombed's gear," elaborating, "Bellingham ex-pats start noisy punk band several years after moving south. Rainier 18-packs are on sale for 10.99 at the Shell station." Both are apt descriptions. Cold Lake's razor-sharp guitar lines slash your ears open and then frontman Cory Brewer (also of Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death) screams into them. It's hard to believe said screaming actually comes out of this slight, bespectacled, and otherwise rather reserved man's body; you really have to see it. GB


(Sun, 5:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Constant Lovers dispense discordant punk with sparse, caterwauling arrangements that often avoid melodic and harmonic concerns in favor of lumbering rhythms and terse, static guitar motifs. Frontman Joel Cuplin howls and shrieks like he's proselytizing some end-times religion—that is, when he and the rest of the band aren't all beating on various drums (not bongos) in a polyrhythmic fury. Shellac are a reference point here, if only due to Culpin's harrowing yelp and bass man Gavin Tull-Esterbrook's brassy rumble, but Constant Lovers teeter a whole lot closer to the brink of oblivion. GB


(Sun, 6:45 pm, Neumos Stage) Fighters, magi, and paladins have been rocking out to this shit since like 1993. Dreamy guitars and sleepy hippie synths (that's the part where you are lounging in a vernal glen getting fresh with your lady's vernal glen) transfigure without warning into hard-rocking death-metal zombie rattles (that's the part when you are fucking air-guitaring the SHIT out of the war hammer with which you just vanquished that hell-wyrm). Sample lyric: "I touch the string though the harp may not sing/Still I dare the sky for sun sparks to guide/Down below there's a land/With an ominous hole/Deep in the sand of belief." Watch out for that hole: It's where the hell-wyrms dwell. RUGGA DA DUGGA DA DUGGA DA DUGGA DA DUGGA DA. LINDY WEST


(Sun, 7:45 pm, Main Stage) Jack White's and Alison "VV" Mosshart's primary projects, the White Stripes and the Kills, have in common a stripped-down, blown-out, no-bullshit take on bluesy garage rock spiked with punk's attitude and aptitude for brevity. They also share a knack for delivering incredibly catchy songs, White winning you over with his insinuating whine and howl, Mosshart with a sultry purr powerful enough to belong to the class of cat that could tear your head off. Together as the Dead Weather, they revel in more pyrotechnic classic-rock chops than either of their individual acts (both duos as opposed to the Dead Weather's quartet) allow. Whether you prefer this combination to their more streamlined outfits will depend on your tolerance for swaggering rock 'n' roll bombast, which the Dead Weather positively sweat out of every pore. EG


(Sat, 5:15 pm, Neumos Stage) The Drowning Men will force you to make an important exception that could compromise everything you know about your musical tastes. You say you don't like theatrical music? Understandable, but listen to "Get a Heart" and you'll have to change your mind; it's an urgent, Arcade Fire–sounding track that practically commands you to pay attention. Even though they've got enough tinkly bell action in one of their songs to populate an entire Tim Burton soundtrack, and some tracks begin with what sounds like a music box, this isn't some precious goth act. The Drowning Men adopt these potentially poisonous, Hot Topic–ready trappings and integrate them into their sound like just more musical tools, rather than allowing them to dominate. It shouldn't be revolutionary, but it is. PAUL CONSTANT


(Sun, 7:30 pm, Vera Stage) Local duo the Dutchess and the Duke (no relation) have a sound coined as "campfire punk." Forget the punk; the campfire is where it's at. I gag a little at using the word "timeless" here, but it fits: "Reservoir Park" sounds like its been stolen from the 1970s—in a good way. Kimberly Morrison and Jesse Lortz belt out achy, sing-along tunes with the accompaniment of a few acoustic guitars, a tambourine, and the occasional tom-tom. It's timeless music that can—and should—be re-created in the middle of nowhere, just you and a few friends drinking cheap warm beer around a guitar. In lieu of that, why not enjoy them amid a crowd of sweaty strangers? C. MADRID


(Sat, 2 pm, Neumos Stage) Local garage band Eastern Grip like to rock. I know that sounds stupidly unhelpful, but it's true: Their sound is guitar-heavy—lots of solos—with hefty drums and vocals that seem to chime in almost as an afterthought. Their lyrics are unmemorable, but their beats are irresistible. The focus here is on creating the kind of indie rock that makes you want to join a crowd and jump up and down with a beer in one hand until your calves are screaming and your bottle froths over. If this sounds like a good time, you know where to be. C. MADRID


(Fri, 10 pm, Neumos Stage) Stay High Broth-az are a chill crew that includes Vitamin D, a prominent local producer. The Physics are a trio (two rappers and a producer) that has released one excellent album, Future Talk, and two fine EPs, High Society and Three Piece. This is the Physics' second visit to the Block Party. Candidt was until recently the man behind The Corner, a highly regarded hiphop series at Rendezvous' Jewel Box Theater. Candidt not only has skillz on the mic but is an excellent human being. And then there is J.Pinder, a young and gifted rapper who has a ton of promise. One of his peaks can be heard on Jake One's "Big Homie Style," which also includes verses by GMK (when will he come back to Seattle?) and Spaceman. As you can see, "Fantastic Four" is a solid set of local hiphop. C. MUDEDE


(Fri, 5 pm, Neumos Stage) Fucking FINALLY Fences' debut full-length gets a release date—I've been waiting for this thing for almost a year now. The record (which was produced by Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara) will at last see the light of day on September 28. Some songs are haunting and delicate ("My Girl the Horse"); others involve a full band and brighter arrangements ("Sadie"). They're all fantastic. See Fences now, tonight, at the Cha Cha, because then, when this dude gets famous (and he will), you can say, "Yeah, I saw that guy in the basement of a burrito joint one time," and that girl at the party will be totally impressed. MS


(Sat, 9:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Local band Feral Children have found their groove in indie rock, where their high soprano choruses, muted drums, and the subtle use of synthesizer help build the tension in otherwise lulling tunes like "Woodland Mutts" and "Jaundice Giraffe." But don't peg them as gentle; "Spy/Glass House" is spiked with angsty vocals and hard guitar riffs, and their songs hide the occasional well-placed shriek. This is a band with the same quiet, chilly intensity as Modest Mouse. It tugs at your ears. You can't ignore it. You can't always dance to it, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. C. MADRID


(Sun, 3:15 pm, Neumos Stage) If someone had told me that Flexions weren't a local experimental trio, but actually a vintage electronic obscurity, I might have been none the wiser. In their immaculately produced material, there are enough dexterous moves, well-plied sounds, and giallo-film-score grooves to send a tingle down the spine of any a YouTube browsing Library Music aesthete worth their weight in Franco Battiato first pressings. Flexions' songs are actively retro, but seem to grow hipper and hipper the longer they simmer in the back of one's mind. Who needs a ticket to Italy, a time machine, and a fistful of peyote buttons when you've got these dudes, pumping out jams like the house musicians at a mock virgin sacrifice? JASON BAXTER


(Fri, 6 pm, Vera Stage) I wonder if anyone's ever told Francis Farewell Starlite that his voice sounds just like Phil Collins circa "Sussudio" and/or "Against All Odds." At least the sharply dressed, raven pompadoured 27-year-old New Yorker doesn't LOOK anything like the former lead singer of Genesis. Even the most devout synth-pop throwback artist doesn't want to be THAT authentic. Francis and the Lights are postmodern pop-funk wrapped in a much prettier package—formed at Connecticut's Wesleyan University, they've already shared several stages with the also very pretty and also Wesleyan-bred electro rockers MGMT. I expect there will be a lot of girls swooning in the front row of this one. KO


(Sun, 11:45 pm, Neumos Stage) "Diamond Pistols" deserves to be an enormous summer anthem: Those chunky beats manage to be soulful and twinkling at the same time, and they perfectly back P Smoov's boasting ("I'm Spielberg with the words"). But is it really boasting if you're telling the truth? Despite their awful name—let's be honest, "Fresh Espresso" sounds like a hippie-tinged open-mic night at an organic coffee shop—this group has done everything the Seattle rap scene needs right now. They have an original sound, confidence to spare, and a laid-back vibe that gets the rhythm of Seattle better than just about any other local act you could think of. PC


(Fri, 10:45 pm, Vera Stage) Musically, Chicago's beloved Fruit Bats traffic in a sunny folk-rock tricked out with hooks and melodies as wittily derivative as, say, the Apples in Stereo or early Scissor Sisters. But everything's anchored to the earth by singer/songwriter/bandleader Eric D. Johnson, whose wily idiosyncrasies are all his own. Once in a while, the showy pop sonics are dropped in favor of a stripped-down straightforwardness that's as impressive as the shiny stuff. Every lover of Spoon and the Shins should investigate Fruit Bats' 2009 Sub Pop release, The Ruminant Band, and this show should be a weekend highlight. D. SCHMADER


(Sun, 6:15 pm, Vera Stage) Seattle's Grand Archives make some of the most lush and melodic rock in the world today, nearly all of it conjuring up images from a slow-motion Super 8 film of Neil Young and Brian Wilson driving off into the sunset. If this is an image you enjoy (and I do), Grand Archives are legitimate contenders for your love, and Sunday evening is a perfect time for their sweetly haunted magic. D. SCHMADER


(Sat, 9:30 pm, Vera Stage) Now, I'm not one of those smug-encrusted grannies who thinks that Britney Spears isn't "real" music just because she can't play "Toxic" on the electric violin (also, maybe she can—HOW DO YOU KNOW?). But it sure does smooth things out in the brainpan to listen to a virtuosic live pop orchestra like Grand Hallway—strings swelling and retreating, tenor vocals swooping, little bells all a-squeakin' like a baby-mouse convention. Plus, how cute are these motherfuckers? On the other hand, the unrelenting preciousness can make one a little sleepy (it is toxic, and I'm slipping under...). The doc says there is only one remedy: Grand Hallway–Britney Spears collabo! I will not stop punching this baby mouse until it happens. Seriously. Do it. Do it for this baby mouse. LW


(Fri, 8:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Hair Vest are a sweaty hairball of a band. Picture Damian, the bearish lead singer for Toronto hardcore band Fucked Up singing karaoke songs with a reincarnated Wendy O. Williams who suddenly likes to play with cheap synthesizers onstage instead of chainsawing guitars. A new band, Hair Vest have some originals, but my favorites are their covers, which range from Venom's "In League with Satan" to Kelis's "Milkshake." I asked Thanny, Hair Vest's lead singer, why they chose these particular standards. "These two songs work really well together in a set," he said. "Some music makes you tap your foot or hump the air a little, but these tracks really tell your body HOW to MOVE." KO


(Sat, 7:45 pm, Neumos Stage) Happy Birthday's first song on their self-titled debut album for Sub Pop, "Girls FM," is so righteously joyous and instantly catchy, it deserves to top charts in every country in the world. The swooping and swelling dynamics, Kyle Thomas's somehow not annoying snot-nosed vocals commingling with Ruth Garbus's creamy backing vox, the poignant descending chord progression of the "Gone now baby, gone now baby" refrain—this is how you lead off your full-lengths, people. While not as Himalayan as "Girls FM," the rest of Happy Birthday is great, too. This trio—led by King Tuff frontman Thomas—oozes sweet power-pop tartness, generating soaring, indelible hooks that are as easy to slip into as a kimono. Anyone skeptical of the idea of amazing trad power pop in 2010 could have his/her brain boggled by Happy Birthday. D. SEGAL


(Sun, 2 pm, Main Stage) Austin, Texas, trio Harlem have released two albums, Free Drugs ;) and Hippies, proving that they have a sure grip on internet-age irony—as well as sweetly chiming guitars and tight, memorable hooks. So it's no surprise that Matador Records' notorious wise guy co-owner Gerard Cosloy signed the band, for despite the nudge-nudge/wink-wink titles ("Psychedelic Tits," anybody?), Harlem essentially are reliable conveyors of classic pop-rock machinations. Their 2010 album Hippies could bear a 1966 release date and no one would be the wiser. Less raucous than peers like Black Lips and the King Khan & BBQ Show, Harlem come off as a quaint modern approximation of the Nuggets-approved, one-hit-wonder group. You could do worse, sure, but you could also do better. D. SEGAL


(Sat, 2 pm, Vera Stage) The Head and the Heart is a perfect name for this pretty, folksy Seattle six-piece. Their timeless-sounding melodies are crafted with the skill and brains of a crusty old folk singer, and the hope and passion that belongs only to the young. It'll be interesting to see if the complex and layered elements—violin, piano, and the delicate balance of harmonies and percussion—will soar properly on an outdoor stage under the summer afternoon sun. Hopefully it will. And you will dance, clap your hands, and become part of the show. KO


(Fri, 8:45 pm, Neumos Stage) Sure, electronically inclined experimental duo Head Like a Kite (which includes Stranger contributor Trent Moorman) have enough talent (and props and goofy outfits) to entertain the world as just a twosome, but that didn't keep them from enlisting a few of their friends to help out on latest album Dreams Suspend Night. The guest list includes Boom Bip of Neon Neon, Her Space Holiday, Graig Markel, Asy of Smoosh, and, my personal favorite, Tilson of the Saturday Knights, who will hopefully make an appearance to do his guest raps on the band's sexy song about making sexy mistakes, "We're Always on the Wrong Side of Sunrise." MS


(Fri, 9:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) No band in Seattle plays songs that are as brutal yet beautiful as Helms Alee's. To support their epic sound, the members rely on custom-built amps (singer Ben Verellen is the man behind Verellen Amplifiers, and his wares are also used by such noisemakers as Against Me!, Akimbo, and Trap Them). Helms Alee's music is as loud and laced with aggression as the hardest hardcore, but they differentiate themselves from the bulk of that genre by injecting their songs with moments of optimism and light instead of just destroying as many ears as possible. They can and will destroy you, though, via buzzing bass and several guitar pedals, and it'll be in the most glorious way possible. MS


(Sun, 8 pm, Neumos Stage) Chicago trio Hey Champ play well-scrubbed electro pop that's puffed up by velvety vocal harmonies. For various reasons, this sort of music inevitably brings to mind clothing establishments that advertise in The Fader, VICE, and other hipster-bait mags. Hey Champ's lightweight confections make Ghostland Observatory sound like Nine Inch Nails at their bleakest. But backpack-rapper supreme Lupe Fiasco is a Hey Champ fan, asking them to open for him on his last tour, and stellar old-school hiphop minimalists the Cool Kids collaborated with HC on "(We Are) Champions," so Hey Champ must be doing something right. We just can't hear it yet. D. SEGAL


(Sat, 7:45 pm, Vera Stage) You just can't go wrong with a show featuring these local acts. Grynch is a very productive rapper (two LPs, several EPs) who is deeply dedicated to his art. Spaceman is one of the most flamboyant brothers in the scene, and his raps range from the realities of street life to the galactic to Olympian hedonism. State of the Artist's debut album, SeattleCaliFragilisticExtraHellaDopeness, is one of the top three hiphop records of the year so far. SeattleCali deserves much more ink and noise. All the performers in this set are young and hungry. C. MUDEDE


(Fri, 9:15 pm, Main Stage) You can rag on Canada for a lot of things, but the Great White North has Holy Fuck—which renders your condescension moot. For Holy Fuck are one of the best bands currently operating on earth. They pwned Bumbershoot last year with the sort of hyperadrenalized, motorik jamming that makes you feel as if you're peaking on multiple drugs all at once. They are the rare kraut-rock fanboys who could, if necessary, electrify a rave, whirlwinding out analog-rich electronic music that rocks like a stadium full of Hawkwinds performing Neu!'s "Hallogallo" and Can's "Full Moon on the Highway" (no wind machine required). Holy Fuck's always-ascending, infinite 4/4s have been tapered into more nuanced and funky compositions on their new Latin album, but one reckons that this won't diminish the group's live intensity an iota. Pity MGMT. D. SEGAL


(Sun, 2:15 pm, Vera Stage) The first time I crossed paths with newish Seattle band the Horde and the Harem, an earnest-looking young man with a closely trimmed beard was stapling paper sleeves with CDs inside them to telephone polls. I asked if I could take one. He said yes—earnestly, sort of bashfully—and I took the CD home. It sounded like the beardo's demeanor: earnest, sensitive, pretty. Just lazy-Sunday-afternoon indie rock with nakedly emotional harmonies, pleasant but unsurprising sonic wallpaper you'd enjoy half-listening to while doing the dishes. BK


(Fri, 9:30 pm, Vera Stage) The Blood Brothers were always polarizing, so it figures that the band Johnny Whitney and Cody Votolato formed after the Bros' breakup would be even more so. Whitney's got the paint-peeling voice to end them all, and as the title of the March-issued Hologram Jams indicates, Jaguar Love's music is more synthed-up than ever. They do buzzy, new wavy sort-of-pop rather well, but they really should have left Erma Franklin/Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" the hell alone. MM


(Fri, 4 pm, Main Stage) Here's the thing that Macklemore does better than anyone else: He plays the sincerity card in a way that no other rapper can. (Okay, you might be able to make a case for Blue Scholars, but what they really excel at is calls to arms—sincerity is just another tool they use to inspire.) While every rapper tells their own story, Macklemore excels at memoir—"Otherside" is more than a self-portrait, it's an X-ray of the brain of an MC trying to overcome addiction and position himself in his city and his art form, and "Irish Celebration" is a genealogy and a cultural history. Ten years ago, hiphop wouldn't have been able to sustain this kind of brutal honesty; Macklemore would've been dismissed as sappy before he even got started. Thank God it's not 10 years ago. PC


(Sun, 3:45 pm, Main Stage) This is the year that Mad Rad have to show and prove. The trio has let two whole years pass without pumping something new into the system. Their first album, White Gold, established a new direction for the local underground, and so, in our hearts of hearts, we are expecting a sophomore album that will not so much break with that direction but reinforce it, revive the loud and debauched celebration of fine ladies, booze, drugs, and sexy, sexxy bicycles. We are also expecting some fresh P Smoov beats to go with all that glam glitter. Mad Rad, the people are waiting. What you going to do? You must show and prove. C. MUDEDE


(Fri, 8:15 pm, Vera Stage) Common vernacular has it that DJs go "digging" for material in record crates and record stores. Chicago ensemble Mahjongg sound more like they scavenge their dance grooves, warped and waterlogged, out of some secret array of magic Dumpsters. They don't dig, they dive—dig? Live and on releases for Cold Crush and K Records, they bang on junk percussion, tweak analog synths, play rubbery bass and scratchy guitar, and bark baffling but beguiling dance-floor commands barbed with blurry political implications. In a show of band/DJ solidarity, they recorded a track in support of British DJ Grooverider when he was jailed in Dubai for alleged possession of cannabis; since his release, the imperative "Free Grooverider" has transformed into the more celebratory "Grooverider Free" on their new album, The Long Shadow of the Paper Tiger. Get free, get stoned (we have Referendum 75, among other liberties, over Dubai), and get on down. EG


(Sun, 2:45 pm, Main Stage) Sometimes, a local act will play Seattle so frequently that they kind of become like wallpaper in your mind: You never appreciate them because they never go away. This is a real shame, and acts like the Tallboys and especially the Maldives suffer for it, never quite getting the respect they deserve because they're always working. When you take a step back and look at their catalog—alt-country barn burners like "Time Is Right Now" and heart-wrenchingly sad numbers like "Blood Relations"—it's obvious how good the Maldives really are. If they belonged to some other city and only toured through Seattle, you'd be falling over yourself trying to see them before they sold out. But because they're responsible members of the community—playing Hugo House, the Sunset, the Tractor, and festivals all around town—they sometimes get ignored for the more transient pleasures. Fuck that: Go to their show and pretend they're an out-of-town act. You'll be blown away all over again. PC


(Sat, 7:45 pm, Neumos Stage) It's one thing to simply make likable music in a well-trod style, but local indie poppers Math and Physics Club do a lot more than that. Their winsome, winning new album, I Shouldn't Look as Good as I Do (Matinée), retrofits mid-'80s Brit twee jangle with superb songs and a healthy dose of humor—there isn't likely to be a better rock-life song from anyone this year than the amazingly quotable "We're So DIY!": "Got some songs/Gonna start an indie band/Talking trash/Hanging out with Tullycraft." MM


(Fri, 10:45 pm, Main Stage) Jesus Christ, what the hell happened to MGMT? Remember when they used to be in the same smart/druggy/fun pop family as the Flaming Lips and Of Montreal? And their simple but insanely potent hooks that lit up the music parts of your brain like defibrillators, shocking them into new, lifesaving rhythms? Now, their new record, Congratulations, mutes that big, beautiful sound—all confetti and infectious bounciness—with Devendra Banhart's leftover hippie blanket, all Indian patterns and scabies. It's like they're using the same instruments and some classic MGMT sounds, but then come the '60s flutes lifted from Canned Heat and a few drops of Zombies-style harmony—all fine when you're Canned Heat or the Zombies, but it doesn't become MGMT. They don't further the psychedelic experiments as old as the founding fathers. (You do know that George Washington grew hemp, right? And that he and Thomas "TJ" Jefferson would get lost in 20-minute harpsichord breakdowns that bored everybody at the Second Continental Congress?) And they don't fold them into the happy, driving sound that made MGMT circa 2008 such a joy. Good bands change—they shouldn't be frozen in amber. But the new regime at MGMT is a disappointment. BK


(Sun, 3:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) MK Speeddial only have two songs (and no information, though they definitely feature Scotty from the Lashes) posted on their MySpace page. One of those songs is called "Hey Keri," and it sounds like if the Archies swallowed 107.7 The End circa 1997 (and they totally could—Jughead can take down like infinity cheeseburgers, you guys!). The other song is louder and less poppy, and it is called "Dark Dream." It goes, "[something soooooomething, something sooooooooomething, something sooooooooomething, something soooooomething] IS THIS REAL LIFE?" Dudes, read your own song title. The answer is no. It's a dream. It's a dark dream. On MK Speeddial's blog, there is a video of a spider that Scotty from the Lashes took. If you like the Lashes, dark dreaming, Jughead's thuggish digestive system, a spider, and a lack of information, you will probably like MK Speeddial. LW


(Fri, 6:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Modern Athletics are an up-and-coming Seattle band (guitars, bass, drums; all four members sing) that describes itself thusly: "We're four guys from Seattle, WA... We all wear glasses and make music we like to listen to." Judging by the recorded evidence, the music they like to listen to includes but is not limited to Neutral Milk Hotel, the Strokes, early New Order, and all eras of Britpop (from the Kinks to the La's). The resulting mishmash is executed with such goofy joyfulness you'll find yourself rooting for these geeks. D. SCHMADER


(Sat, 3:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Guitarist/vocalist Joel Schneider (also of Absolute Monarchs) has a muscular, dexterous guitar style that melds nicely with drummer Ethan Jacobsen's brawny but controlled timekeeping. The result sounds something like the Black Keys or the White Stripes with a little more punk rock in the mix. The duo has yet to lay down a proper recording (unless you count last month's in-studio session at KEXP), but the word on the street is that a recent performance earned them what finance types call an angel investor, who's offered to pay for the entire record no strings attached. Obviously, these dudes are a blast to watch live, and here's betting that record's gonna be a barn burner. GB


(Fri, 4 pm, Vera Stage) Seattle band Naomi Punk's self-titled debut is a marvel. The riffs are atomic, it's permeated by brittle ambient interludes and winking slice-of-life spoken-word samples, and it's stuffed with enough massive hooks, rib-shattering distortion, and verbed-out, wordless falsettos to shame Wavves into dropping that superfluous "v." It's not difficult to grasp why the blogworld has being going pretty bananas over the band. They're fast securing a rep as a local DIY-scene treasure, and their music's as brainy as it is obviously bad- ass (trust me, I've seen the frontman's 40-page thesis on "alternative theoretical conceptions of Iranian nuclear weapons ambitions"). JB


(Sun, 6:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Seattle's Nazca Lines fire off songs that are just as pulsating and fervent as those of the sadly defunct These Arms Are Snakes. The lyrics are mostly spoken (when not yelled), which somehow adds to the music's urgency, and the bass thunders as low as can go, simultaneously shaking the room and your hips. Aveo close the night out after this set, which is a good thing—you'll need a chance to bring your heart rate back down to a healthier place before heading home. MS


(Sat, 10:15 pm, Neumos Stage) John Reis deserves some kind of lifetime achievement award. He played a hand in delivering the joyfully fractured hardcore of Pitchfork, the timeless discord of Drive Like Jehu, the big guitar bombast of Rocket from the Crypt, and the angular punk energy of Hot Snakes. The man spent the last 20-some-odd years rocking the socks off music fans from all walks of life, and now he's back on the scene with the back-to-basics garage-rock celebration of the Night Marchers. I swear, the man is unstoppable. BC


(Sat, 3:30 pm, Main Stage) Obits frontman Rick Froberg lends a skillful, sinewy authority to every band he's been a part of (Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes), and his latest endeavor, Obits, is no exception. On their first full-length, I Blame You, out last year on Sub Pop, the band establishes an assured post-punk sound that could only come from such venerable lineage. Check the lockstep bass of "Two-Headed Coin" or the sweeping chord progressions and mad howling of "Lilies in the Street." This is the work of a truly talented musician, and his ardent followers are legion. If you've not seen the man perform live, you owe it to yourself to do that today. GB


(Sat, 9 pm, Neumos Stage) Past Lives play a little something for everyone. "K Hole" and "Chrome Life" have a punky vibe with screamed vocals and droning guitars that battle a jarring thrash of drums. "Beyond Gone" is calmer and smoother, with steel drum and bass grooves. "We Meet in Sleep" is dominated by a (dare I say) whimsical synth, which throws you in a waking dream sequence and makes you want to sway and pitch. Still other songs have more of a bluesy vibe. What connects the music is a certain energy and danceability, which Past Lives offer in plenty. C. MADRID


(Sun, 3:15 pm, Vera Stage) With their carefully hemmed cacophony, old-timey barroom piano, underwater vocals, painted faces, and name that sounds like your roasty Victorian supper came alive and did a tres-macabre little pirouette in the middle of the table before relishing its own consumption, Pepper Rabbit seem to be going for a sort of dank-foggy-Dickensian-wild-west-traveling-carnival vibe. So... mission accomplished? It sounds like the more boring parts of Of Montreal, minus the glee. (I like the glee, though.) LW


(Fri, 4 pm, Neumos Stage) Every once in a while, the advisable thing to do is put on your cheap-ass sunglasses, flip off everything in sight, and rock the fuck out. Just the names of some Police Teeth songs should tell you that they're the brain-dead fun you're looking for: "Who Wants to Fuck a Millionaire," "Taking a Shit on Company Time," "Psychedelic Vasectomy." Police Teeth are much cleaner than defunct slimy punk outfit the Trashies, but they're just as delightfully dumb and almost as catchy. And with all the hand claps and shout-along lyrics, they could potentially be even more fun to watch live. PC


(Sun, 4:15 pm, Vera Stage) Every summer music festival needs at least one band like Ravenna Woods: A profoundly poppy folk-music outfit (check) that sounds like the best campfire sing-along ever (double check). Ideally, said band should have a tambourine (triple check!). If they have a capable, energetic drummer who makes every song launch like a rocket, you can consider yourself extra-lucky (check-fecta!). Do yourself a favor and listen to "In the World" before you come out to the Block Party. Actually, memorize it. When you're drunkenly singing along to it, waving your arms in the air while you're wailing and really, really feeling those lyrics, you'll thank me. And you'll thank me again when it's one of your favorite memories of summer 2010. PC


(Sun, 5 pm, Main Stage) From Ridgewood, New Jersey, this band's alternately moony and sunny songs evoke a day at the beach in iffy weather. Their self-titled album, from November, is one of the more notable lo-fi-ish releases in what seems like an avalanche over the past couple of years. Songs like "Fake Blues" combine rumbling production with spit-shined guitar hooks and blurry vocals, and much of the time they dispense with vocals altogether, as on the slowpoke "Atlantic City" and the hilariously titled "Let's Rock the Beach." In the midafternoon sun, it should sound especially cool. MM


(Sat, 2:15 pm, Main Stage) The Redwood Plan have upbeat riffs and energetic drums, but their real hook is vocalist Lesli Wood. If ever you could fall in love with a voice, it's hers. It purrs in your ears, commanding you to dance and urging you to shout along to songs like "Push" and "How the Game Is Played." Despite the occasionally clunky synth solo, the Redwood Plan play songs that will invade your head and rattle around for days. C. MADRID


(Sun, 5:15 pm, Vera Stage) S is the sometimes solo, sometimes duo project of Jenn Ghetto, founding cosinger/songwriter of Seattle slowcore darlings Carissa's Wierd, which recently reconvened for a one-off reunion show. As in that band, Ghetto's songs with S are bruised, brittle ballads for voice and reverb-treated guitar. Her guitar playing is nimble but not showy (she used to also have a metal band as an outlet for her heavier shredding tendencies), her singing is quiet but commanding, and her songs are starkly affecting. Live, Ghetto is joined by Telepathic Liberation Army guitarist Alice Wilder, whose presence provides the songs a little added amplification and rhythmic charge. EG


(Fri, 6 pm, Main Stage) What the fuck to say about Shabazz Palaces, the most exciting Seattle hiphop export since... ever? Shabazz's peculiar magic lies in being both sensitive and hard—rapper/beat-maker Ish (of the unforgettable Digable Planets and the eminently forgettable Cherrywine) rhymes about everything under the sun: philosophical novels, wooing chicks, thugs, Panthers, the Seattle streets where he grew up. His intelligent raps, set to spare beats riding on grimy waves of minor organ chords and gunshot drum fills, sound simultaneously apocalyptic, optimistic, and world-weary wise. In this unusual combination, Shabazz Palaces share a sympathetic resonance with art-hardcore band Fucked Up, which shoves smart lyrics into a splinter box of heavy metal, hardcore punk, and abrasive noise. Shabazz Palaces and Fucked Up prove that intelligence and hardness aren't mutually exclusive. Shabazz's performances reflect the kind of Afrocentric-yet-heterogeneous aesthetic you'd expect from a former Digable Planets frontman leading a group named after a Nation of Islam origin myth: Shona percussion, African thumb pianos, beats both preprogrammed and mixed live, women performing African dance, and the MC and DJ in sunglasses and bedouin-looking headgear, performing songs with titles like "kill white t, parable of the nigga who barrels stay hot" and "my mac yawns i go on to make this darksparkles move call it: as the americans say, middle section." Shabazz has the sui generis sparkle of straight-up genius. BK


(Fri and Sat, 11:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Perennial CHBP afterparty-starters Sing Sing (aka DJs Fourcolorzack and Pretty Titty) are back again this year to keep the bacchanalia bumping into the wee hours of Friday and Saturday nights at Neumos. Since splitting Seattle for NYC, Pretty Titty (aka Clayton Vomero) has overseen a fine series of DJ mixes (from Sinden to Salem) for "creative think tank"/ad firm We Make It Good, and his own DJ sets reflect a refined curatorial taste that's always firmly aimed at keeping the dance floor hot and sweaty. Fourcolorzack remains one of Seattle's most effortlessly agile and fun DJs. The combination is a guaranteed good time. EG


(Sat, 8:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) SK is a local rapper who is represented by Sportn' Life Records, the label that represents D.Black, Fatal Lucciauno, and Spaceman. With Mass Line pretty much dismantled or dormant, Sportn' Life is the last significant underground hiphop label in Seattle that's developing and promoting new talent. SK, who is somewhere between Fatal Lucciauno's hardcore and Spaceman's play, has a collection of singles in the works. C. MUDEDE


(Sat, 4:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) The six dudes of Spurm sound like aliens from the far end of the galaxy who sat around an extraterrestrial radio, catching unrepresentative scraps of American music floating through space—'70s funk, Devo robo-freak-outs, the plaintive yowl of Black Francis, some basement party-rock broadcast live from a college radio station, Kinks comedy songs ("Phenomenal Cat," "People Take Pictures of Each Other"), and scraps of Nintendo-game scores. Then they invented some instruments, formed a band, wrote some silly songs, and have come to Earth to make us dance. Even though singer Jordan T. Adams whines out his lyrics, he sounds like he's having a good time. Trent "T.V." Coahran (of Holy Ghost Revival, vaudeville-punk solo projects, and the GGNZLA record label) brings his trademark fanciful, carnivalesque song structures. And, as you might have gathered from their name, they've got a boyish dirty streak. Welcome, aliens! Would you like a bong hit? BK


(Sun, 2:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Does the world need more Dead Milkmen? Not necessarily, but Seattle's devotedly ridiculous punk-metal collective Steel Tigers of Death are happy to take a spin around the DMs' old comedy-punk delivery route. Drummer Remington Steele is Steel Tigers' engine and star, powering the band through slamming war dances and vertiginous shifts in time signatures, with plenty of cowbell. And it's not all wocka-wocka: "At the end of every day, there will be an indigo shift," hollers the band, over and over, in the track "Indigo Shift," chanting with such conviction that you're convinced it's deep poetry. That's a good joke. D. SCHMADER


(Sat, 6:30 pm, Neumos Stage) THEESatisfaction are, of course, THEE Stasia and Cat Satisfaction. These two talented local rappers have achieved a kind of productive momentum that seems unstoppable. THEESatisfaction Loves Stevie Wonder, the second EP in their Why We Celebrate Colonialism series, has no real surprises (that is, for anyone familiar with their growing body of work) but still manages to arrest the listener with the kind of strange, haunting, uncanny beauty that's also found on the Microphones' The Glow Pt 2. The rappers negotiate with such ease that their thin, lo-fi line never loses sight of (and never fails to suggest) the epic. C. MUDEDE


(Sun, 9:15 pm, Neumos Stage) It's like if a Nintendo had sex with a drum. It's like if paranoia had sex with summertime. It's like if a mustache had sex with a colony of ants. It's like if the holodeck had sex with a musical saw. It's like if a pack of oboes had sex with the very last mustard fart in the bottle. It's like if dancing had sex with alarm. It's like if a dinosaur had sex with a truck. It's like if your mom had sex with your dad and you came out and your ears had sex with fun. LW


(Fri, 6:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Led by bellowing drummer Dean Whitmore, Seattle's Unnatural Helpers play spiky, hooky garage punk that gets to the point—and then gets the hell out of Dodge, leaving you gasping for more. How refreshing. Their salty, highly torqued songs work a similar magic to that which you've heard on other master- pieces of brevity—for example, Wire's Pink Flag and Guided by Voices' Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes. With their latest album on Hardly Art records, Cracked Love & Other Drugs, Unnatural Helpers approach that sort of classic status. With songs that average under two minutes each, the album radiates a paradoxical tight sloppiness, a sort of overeagerness and enthusiastic vigor that efficiently spill over to audiences. UH's punchy, immediate-gratification rock leaves bruises, but their charm lets the band get away with it, minute by minute. D. SEGAL


(Fri, 5 pm, Vera Stage) Seattle duo U.S.F. rose to prominence last year via the blogosphere's (and the print media's, to a lesser extent) obsession with chillwave. But these guys—Kyle Hargus and Stranger contributor Jason Baxter—have too much talent and knowledge of other music genres to stagnate in a style that already has become a groan-inducing punch line in a lot of pundits' shticks. Forget irksome buzzwords for a minute and focus on U.S.F.'s music; it's a subliminally buoyant, melodically diaphanous thing of beauty. Recent live shows have found them growing more robust rhythmically, with thick, thunderous drums undergirding whiteout, tidal guitar minimalism, Robin Guthrie–esque fibrillations, and aqueous dub sway. U.S.F.'s forthcoming The Spray, a concept album inspired by Jonathan Lethem's short-story collection Men and Cartoons, boasts more varied beats, expressive melodies, and higher-definition production, showing that these ambitious youngsters are finding new ways to tickle neck hairs. D. SEGAL


(Sun, 10:30 pm, Neumos Stage) If there's one thing I love, it's a rapper with a good, flamboyant alternate persona. And if there's one other thing I love, it's comic books. So when RA Scion came out with his superhero hiphop concept album, Victor Shade, I was in heaven. Turns out, the superhero trappings perfectly coincide with Shade's message, a call to kids buying guns and people killing cops: "Knock it off, now." With the economy in the toilet and everyone feeling hopeless about Seattle's future, it makes perfect sense. It would take a superhero to turn everything around—and Victor Shade, with his bombastic sound and blaxploitation beats, is just that superhero. I believe he can save us all. PC


(Sun, 4:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Straight outta Dublin, Villagers is, for the purposes of the Block Party, the solo project of singer-songwriter Conor J. O'Brien, who's leaving behind the full-band multitracking that fleshes out his intricate but engaging melodies on record to hit the stage alone with his guitar (and maybe a piano). Forgive the crude birth math, but if Aztec Camera and Bright Eyes had a baby, it would be Villagers. I mean that as a compliment. Anyway, go see this dude. He's super talented and is coming from very far away. D. SCHMADER


(Sat, 7:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) The band Virgin sound exactly like what was playing on the stereo when hot Craig from biology class devirginized you on the floor of his parents' den in 1974. Twangy rock riffs, shimmery cymbals, factory-direct melodies, and—don't jizz your jeans here, dudes—big Robert Plant–ian wails. You can smell the weed smoke. You can feel the rug burn. There's something stuck to your back. Oh. It's a potato chip. Jeez, Craig, you couldn't even put a blanket down first? LW


(Sun, 2:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) There's really no money nor even much fame or notoriety in excavating the excoriating sound of no wave that flourished in New York City in the late '70s. So when a young group in the 21st century does so, it's automatically a defiant gesture to the music industry, a strident announcement that said band is hardfuckingcore about their art. Seattle trio Wet Paint DMM certainly are, applying a bent-thespian slant to no wave's stark, abrasive angularity. Frontwoman Jamey exudes a rampant id-centricity and a dadaist tendency for piquant non sequiturs while the band's fellas seem to be channeling both Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and primitive '60s freak rockers the Godz. Odds are, Wet Paint DMM will be the oddest act at this Block Party. D. SEGAL


(Fri, 7:15 pm, Main Stage) This Brooklyn band's excellent second album, Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian), pays mid-'80s synth-pop the highest form of flattery throughout, with tracks that update Adam Ant (the jittery, rockabilly-ish "Rome") and Scritti Politti ("O.N.E.," whose bounding, African-accented beat is offset by a lyric that goes, "I thought you should know/You don't move me anymore/And I'm glad that you don't"), while managing not to sound slavish. But the high point is "I Remember," a shameless power ballad of the OMD stripe, one of those prom-night tunes that make you wish John Hughes were still around to put it on a soundtrack. MM


(Fri, 5:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) You might know Troy Nelson, the he half of the Young Evils' he/she singer-songwriter team, as a DJ on KEXP, or you might know him as one half of video-making sketch-comedy troupe Black Daisy. If that leads you to guess that the Young Evils are a band with solid and tasteful music chops that nevertheless don't take themselves too seriously, you would be right. The Vaselines are a handy referent (although the Young Evils may lack the frank, snarky sexual tension of songs like "Monsterpussy"). Flanked by covocalist Mackenzie Mercer and backed by Cody Hurd, Mark Pickerel, and Barrett Jones, the Young Evils write songs that range from jangly and twangy folk, à la the Dutchess and the Duke, to fuzzed-up pop rock (more of the latter, please). EG


(Sat, 10:45 pm, Vera Stage) Zola Jesus has one of those authoritative, stentorian voices that rivet you, in the grand tradition of morose divas like Siouxsie Sioux, Karin Dreijer Andersson, Grace Slick, and Judy Henske. Ms. Jesus (aka Nika Roza Danilova) supports her tenebrous, firmament-filling vocals with an electro-goth foundation that bears the skeletal majesty of those early Sisters of Mercy singles. Her cover of "Lady in the Radiator" from David Lynch's Eraserhead reveals Zola Jesus's good taste in films and her sheer mastery of crooning. Zola's music—much of which has come out on the excellent Sacred Bones label—sounds like one of the few fresh wrinkles on the gothic tip in the last decade or so. If you feel a chill Saturday night, it's likely coming from this serious siren. D. SEGAL recommended