Block Party

Craig Finn of the Hold Steady

Capitol Hill Block Party 2013

It's a Fucked Up World

Who's Playing

Party Animal

Interstellar Overdrivers

Nonstop Competition

Capitol Hill Block Party 2012

Talk to Me, Jay Reatard

The Schedule

Hey, Ladies!

Laughing at Life's Dark Shit

New Faces

Azz'most Famous!

Sublime Cacophony

Sound Check

Adding Visuals to the Audio

The Hottest Show I Ever Played

Never Heard of 'Em

Vox Mod Gets Up Close and Astral on the Great Wheel

Schedule and Ticket Info

Hot Licks on the Hill

The Map

The Schedule

The Map

Shut Up!

Leave the Block Party!

ABSOLUTE MONARCHS

(Fri, 9:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) If you're not familiar with this band, let's play a little game. Read the names of the members out loud and see if you can guess what kind of music Absolute Monarchs play: Shawn Kock, Miki Sodos, Joel Schneider, and Mike Stubz. Those guttural and percussive names produce guttural and percussive music—scalding rock 'n' roll choruses, machine-gun drumming, adventures up and down the fret board (in fast, blues-based scales), and an ability to distill the majesty of a seven-minute anthem into a three-minute deluge. BRENDAN KILEY

AKIMBO

(Sat, 9:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Whoever is responsible for putting Akimbo in the Cha Cha this year must've forgotten about the hardcore band's Block Party performance last year at Neumos. The club was nearly at capacity by the time they took the stage, and the boiling pit of sweaty bodies reached maximum froth when the local veterans closed their set with a killer Black Flag cover. And tonight they're supposed to play in the much smaller basement bar without causing any permanent damage to the building or the people stuffed inside? Good fucking luck. MEGAN SELING

AUSTRA

(Sat, 7:45 pm, Neumos Stage) There's a big, great voice at the front—Katie Stelmanis (of Toronto's queer/DIY music underground)—and beats that've been described as heavy/light and industrial/astral at the back. The band is pretty new, and already people love this shit. NME, after a January show in London, said "only a fool would ignore them," what with their "folk incantations, pagan rhythms, and icy synthgaze." All I know is they make my head go up and down. JEN GRAVES

BATHS

(Sat, 10:45 pm, Vera Stage) Baths—22-year-old Southern Californian Will Wiesenfeld—proves that the Low End Theory spectrum of instrumental hiphop and bass-heavy electronica can stand judicious dosages of emotional vulnerability and cuteness (dude has a track titled "<3" that won't make you vomit; in fact, Daedelus did a remix of it). Baths' great feat is infusing post-Dilla funkiness with a delicate melodic beauty while keeping your blood sugar at a reasonable level. His debut album for anticon, Cerulean, is a joyous convergence of underground-hiphop beatsmithery and Morr Music's charmingly childlike IDM. DAVE SEGAL

BATTLES

(Sun, 4:50 pm, Main Stage) Battles proved themselves to be one of the world's most thrilling live acts after they issued their 2007 breakthrough album, Mirrored. Following the departure of guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Tyondai Braxton, Battles had to rethink their approach. Where Mirrored was a mind-bogglingly complex amalgam of hyperkinetic post-rock and left-field electronic music, the new Gloss Drop is slightly more streamlined and accessible, and it features an odd assemblage of guest singers, including Gary Numan and Boredoms' Yamantaka Eye. Make no mistake, though: Battles still present a challenging barrage of highly technical yet aerodynamically dazzling sounds. Yes, Mensa members do know how to get down. D. SEGAL

BEAT CONNECTION

(Sat, 9:30 pm, Vera Stage) In the course of a year, undergrad duo Jordan Koplowitz and Reed Juenger have gone from frat-row DJs to globetrotting electronic artists. Even though their debut EP, Surf Noir, remains unavailable stateside, some of Seattle's young and fancy-free have had it in heavy rotation on their iPods since it first appeared as a Bandcamp freebie last summer. The fact that Balearic breakthrough jam "In the Water" still manages to electrify crowds is proof of its durability and evidence of the considerable strength of this beat-jockey pair. JASON BAXTER

BEST COAST

(Sat, 7:30 pm, Main Stage) For many artists, a "lo-fi" approach showcases an appropriately lo-fi talent (none of the Vivian Girls is ever going to win a singing contest). But for Best Coast, lo-fi trappings tantalizingly obfuscate the world-class talent of Bethany Cosentino, a singer whose voice routinely wins converts and could feasibly win American Idol. Lucky for us, she devotes her big, rich voice to her own surf-pop ditties about love and cats and lost jobs, and there's nothing lo-fi about Best Coast live. DAVID SCHMADER

BOAT

(Fri, 5 pm, Vera Stage) At first glance, it might look like BOAT have nothing to offer but a catalog of goofy songs about random things like King Kong, nachos, and spilled paint, but if you listen closely, the band's lyrics can actually be quite thoughtful. What may sound like a seemingly empty pop song to one can be a cute way of expressing complicated and real feelings to another—being funny without being shallow is a fine balance that few bands can master without going too far. Of course, if you want to bob your head and sing along without thinking too much about it, that's fine, too. BOAT deserve your attention either way. MS

BROTHERS FROM ANOTHER & KUNG FOO GRIP

(Fri, 10:20 pm, Vera Stage) Seattle's best under-20 crews BFA and Kung Foo Grip have both perfected a fresh-faced and contemporary hiphop with an earnest, almost throwback style. The Brothers' take is a breezy, down-for-the-party hiphop that's inspired by A Tribe Called Quest's most carefree moments, with a young-man red-cup swag. The Grip bring a pugilistic, Hiero-flavored cipher-rat vibe to the post–Lil Wayne era, with beats that sometimes combine jazzy, soulful interludes with Dirty South "Triggerman" drums. With as much fun as they have onstage, and as much fun as local fans have watching them, it's kind of criminal that they're splitting a paltry 20-minute set. LARRY MIZELL JR.

BUSTER BLUE

(Sun, 3:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Off-kilter Reno folk rockers Buster Blue infuse neotraditional songwriting with rickety, rootsy color. Vocalists Bryan Jones and Andrew Martin croon and yelp, while banjo, accordion, horns, and the well-placed clash of chains in a bucket add depth to the band's folk ethos. Their 2010 release, When the Silver's Gone, was recorded in an 1885 opera house in the former silver-rush town of Virginia City, Nevada, and feels infested by raucous ghosts. They promise a theatrical live show. SARA DeBELL

CAMPFIRE OK

(Sun, 4:15 pm, Neumos Stage) This one time, Campfire OK wrote a really great song called "Strange Like We Are" (you'll find it on their most recent album of the same name). I wrote about how much I liked the song, and I interpreted the lyrics to be kind of trend bashing, a little slam on all the folks in the music scene who wore deep V-neck T-shirts and fluorescent shit. Turns out, the song is likely about a much more serious topic—visiting a hospital or being hospitalized. I felt like an idiot. But the band was really nice about my temporary idiocy! So thanks, Campfire OK. I like you. MS

THE CAVE SINGERS

(Sun, 6:10 pm, Main Stage) The Cave Singers are prominent members of Seattle's pastoralia-rock movement, along with the otherworldly Pica Beats and the now-internationally-famous Fleet Foxes. The Singers' latest record, No Witch, sounds clean, precise, and layered in a Fleetwood Mac kind of way—but also like an afternoon drive up a two-lane country road through the Adirondacks in early fall: dappled sunlight on the pavement, crisp air, the leaves turning, and a promise of apple cider and beer. BK

CHAMPAGNE CHAMPAGNE

(Sat, 2:15 pm, Main Stage) Seattle hiphoppers make some of the most interesting sounds in pop music today (organs, spacey-stoner noise, loping lyrics, constant invention and reinvention with all kinds of gadgets), and Champagne Champagne are at the forefront of the avant-sonics. Their backing tracks are what your ears would hear if you were on mushrooms in Yellowstone National Park, listening to a burbling (and highly melodic) mud pit. They rhyme about Molly Ringwald, Black Star, and "Black Baby Jesus/Came from the heavens/Raised like an alien/Age of Aquarius." The city where Carl Sagan died is the land where Champagne Champagne were born. BK

COLD CAVE

(Sat, 9 pm, Neumos Stage) This is the kind of music that people who are way cooler and more depressed than me are into. It's creepy in that rainy throwback Joy Division way, where the speakers sound like they're clogged with melting eyeliner and the singer ran off to the big city because he is sensitive and wanted to make art and not take a job at the quarry like his da. By that I mean that they seem British but they're not. I'm depressed now, but it's a cool kind of depressed. LINDY WEST

COLD SHOWERS

(Sun, 5 pm, Vera Stage) According to the internet, a cold shower can help make your skin look better, relieve depression, eliminate toxins, reduce blood pressure, and even strengthen your immunity. As for the band Cold Showers? It's possible they'll have similar effects on your system, chilling you out (not literally) with hazy guitars, thick bass lines, and slow, echoed vocals that pair perfectly with fellow Mexican Summer labelmates like Best Coast, Beaches, and Dunes. MS

COMEBACK

(Sat, 11:30 pm, Neumos Stage) True fact: All European men look gay, so you don't know which ones to hit on. Hipsters? Same problem (but not European). He could be a total dick-licker or have 16 girlfriends. So when you, a homosexual, are among the sweaty, barely clad throngs of the CHBP, how do you know which humans to hit on? Pulling out Grindr—with everyone watching, canyamagine?—is unnecessary. Walk your drunk gay butt to the Neumos Stage for the house-y, techno-y, mashup-y goodness of gay-lovin', pole-smokin', Block-Partyin' faggotry, where you can drunkenly hit on all same-sexed humans with impunity. If they have three girlfriends, try anyway. They read this blurb and went, after all. The bill features Colby B, DJ Porq, and Ononos. DOMINIC HOLDEN

CONSTANT LOVERS

(Fri, 8:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) The forthcoming, tentatively self-titled LP from Seattle's Constant Lovers is just what you'd expect if you've heard the band live and/or heard the propulsive and belligerent self-titled EP, only here everything sounds bigger. Joel Cuplin's harried yowl has seen another year or two of whiskey and cigarettes, and it and the throaty bass and shotgun-blast drums figure most prominently throughout, while guitarist Eric Fisher's and Cuplin's guitar-feedback squalls wind in and out. Several high points from the EP—"Eye for an Eye," "This Pain," and "My Love"—are revisited here and given girth by Chris Common's capable engineering. Cuplin says the record still needs some final touches and it should be released next spring. Expect big and loud things. GRANT BRISSEY

CRAFT SPELLS

(Fri, 7 pm, Vera Stage) Craft Spells is the project of California transplant Justin Vallesteros, a talented young songwriter with a flair for marrying introspective lyrics with infectious melodies and "crafty" arrangements. The songs on his phenomenal Idle Labor LP shimmer beneath a patina of 1980s electro fetishism in a way that, remarkably, feels fresh instead of redundant. His is some of the most romantic, hip-swaying, head-bobbing music you'll hear all weekend. Like Hausu, Craft Spells contain former members of Herr Jazz. JB

CULTS

(Fri, 7:45 pm, Neumos Stage) The Manhattan duo of Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin sound a lot like what you'd expect an artist on Lily Allen's boutique In the Name Of label (for Columbia Records) to sound like: baby's first chillwave band ("chillwave" in the loosest possible sense), replete with jailbait-y, sugar-glazed female vocals; twinkling, wonderstruck keyboards; and beats to which your typical suburban teen can dance. Cults is a glossy, superficially "hip" collection that seemingly was created by crowd-sourcing consumers at Hot Topic and Urban Outfitters. D. SEGAL

DON'T TALK TO THE COPS

(Sat, 6:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) After They Live! there's Don't Talk to the Cops, a beat/culture machine that processes and reprocesses (cutting, pasting, referencing, reflecting, echoing) the 1980s. They Live! (Bruce Illest, djblesOne, Gatsby) were superb processors; Don't Talk to the Cops are not as superb, but their mode of processing certainly grows on you the more you listen to it. Indeed, I'm beginning to think that Don't Talk to the Cops are more difficult, more convoluted, even more original than the previous processing machines. CHARLES MUDEDE

DUNES

(Sun, 4 pm, Vera Stage) Los Angeles's Dunes make more of that beachy, Best Coast–y pop that bubbles into a sweet froth in your ears. Catchy melodies diffuse into hazy outlines, which are captured in shimmering low fidelity and "augmented" by tentative, malnourished rhythms. Semi-lackadaisical female vocals add a layer of nonchalant sensuality to the overall sound. You may find yourself shrugging sexily to Dunes. D. SEGAL

ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER

(Sat, 4 pm, Neumos Stage) As half of the creative core of the Fiery Furnaces, singer/guitarist Eleanor Friedberger has helped to forge some of the best American rock of the last decade. The Fiery Furnaces' first two albums—Gallowsbird's Bark and Blueberry Boat—stand as towering achievements of inventive songcraft and brilliantly idiosyncratic lyricism. As a vocalist, Friedberger radiates prickly wittiness with her clearly enunciated, prim Patti Smith–esque delivery. After nine albums with the Furnaces, Friedberger recently dropped her solo debut album for Merge, Last Summer. It's a more straightforward pop record than FF fans may be used to, but it retains Friedberger's gripping storytelling abilities and possesses enough baroque flourishes to keep things interesting. D. SEGAL

ELEPHANT RIDER

(Fri, 7:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) This past Fourth of July, I stood in a line with three other drunks holding Daisy Red Ryder BB guns, shooting the shit out of cans hanging from a tree branch by a string. The goal was to cut each can in half with pellets. We should've been listening to Elephant Rider, whose medium-strength rock 'n' roll would've suited the occasion nicely. BK

EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY

(Sun, 7:45 pm, Main Stage) Of course Explosions in the Sky are closing out Block Party right before the sun starts to set—simply no other point in the weekend would be suitable for their blaze of lovely, sweeping, guitar-driven instrumentals. With songs from their latest, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, the band will gently bring you down from whatever you're on. They'll soothe whatever heatstroke you've begun to suffer. They'll lull you into a state of relaxation so pure, the only thing you'll want to do after their set is fall into a deep and perfect sleep so your body can begin to recuperate from three days of damage. MS

FEDERATION X

(Sun, 7:45 pm, Neumos Stage) Federation X's backwoods dual-guitar howl has been sorely missed since the members went different directions a few years back—frontman Bill Badgley and guitarist Ben Wildenhaus fleeing the comfortable settings of Bellingham and leaving drummer Beau Boyd (aka Zorbatron) to his own devices. They seldom regroup—but when they do, it's like they never skipped a practice. Two guitars—strung with only the four heaviest strings and necessary treatments of duct tape—send down battleship-sized riffs drunk with distortion and swagger, and Boyd's drumming follows the carnage, chopping it up with firewood-sized percussion. What's more, Wildenhaus and Badgley are threatening to move back to the Seattle area. Catch them today to see why you want that to happen. GB

FENCES

(Sat, 3:30 pm, Main Stage) It's been a hell of a year for Fences. Since the local indie-pop outfit played Block Party last year, they've released their debut full-length (recorded with Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara), spent months on the road with Against Me!, and received praise from Spin and NPR. But the true measure of "fame" these days? Well, that's based on the number of fans who've covered your song in their bedroom and then unabashedly posted the (usually horrible) results on YouTube. In the case of Fences, there are HUNDREDS, proving just how contagious the stuff really is. MS

THE FIRST TIMES

(Sun, 6:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Members of some quality Seattle rock bands (the Spits, the Knast, Hallways, others) got together to make some sweet, sweet pop-rock. Their songs are pleasant—not revelatory, but pleasant—in a Thin Lizzy "The Boys Are Back in Town" kinda way. BK

THE FRESH & ONLYS

(Fri, 5:15 pm, Neumos Stage) With damn near every song in their discography, the Fresh & Onlys transport you through ages by way of brisk percussion, eternal-caliber vocals and lyrics, and reverb-barbed hooks that catch and refuse to let go. The music is timeless and wistful—and live, the San Francisco quartet tends to execute flawlessly. Prepare to get forlorn in a way that could warm your bones in a walk-in freezer. GB

FRESH ESPRESSO

(Fri, 4 pm, Main Stage) Producer P Smoov and rapper Rik Rude are Fresh Espresso. The duo's career began with a marvelous mixtape called Cigar Rock Star. In 2009, a very prosperous year for local hiphop, they dropped Glamour, a record that sounds like "a million bucks in the '80s." Those who saw Fresh Espresso at last year's Block Party know the exact reason why they were invited to perform again this year. As with Mad Rad, Fresh Espresso can "wreck your body and say turn the party out." C. MUDEDE

FUCKED UP

(Fri, 9 pm, Neumos Stage) Fucked Up are hardcore for people who find most hardcore repetitive and boring. This Toronto band has an imagination and a sense of humor as well as the obligatory political outrage. Exhibit A: Their cover of Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" starring Andrew W.K., Bob Mould, David Cross, GZA, Tegan and Sara, members of Yo La Tengo, and several others. (How many hardcore bands do you know with that Rolodex?) Fucked Up's 2006 debut album, Hidden World, features the bright cover art of a goddess rising from a pastel, tentacular river (it does not look like a hardcore record); a nine-minute tribute to Henry Darger's Vivian Girls; readings of Bible verses; and guitars that go from sparkling and light to overdriven and rabid. The singer, a giant, hirsute dude named Pink Eyes, is an animal on the stage. Even if you don't think you like hardcore, take a chance on Fucked Up. BK

GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY

(Fri, 10:45 pm, Main Stage) Wow. Apparently, ghosts have terrible taste in music. I don't know if it's something about the acoustics in the afterlife that makes ghosts tap their wispy toes to this boring, grumbly, obvious-as-fuck whiner-electro-bip-bip-rock-n-roll-screamy-TWAAAAAAANG shit, but if Ghostland Observatory are what's playing in Ghostland, then I'd rather be an unbaptized baby just floating around purgatorio, you know? At least it's quiet there. I mean, aside from the groans of the unabsolved sinners. But whatever. LW

GRAND HALLWAY

(Sun, 7:30 pm, Vera Stage) Don't be fooled by the title of Grand Hallway's new record—Winter Creatures is a collection of gorgeously lush songs to be enjoyed any time of year. Sure, some of the softer ballads (such as "Little Sister" and "Oh Yes [Stay Alive, My Dear]") would sound ah-maz-ing when the snow falls, but that's absolutely no reason not to enjoy them tonight, in the midst of a Northwest summer, right before sunset. If there's any blood in your body at all, you'll get goose bumps, despite the heat. MS

GRAVE BABIES

(Fri, 4 pm, Vera Stage) I've never been a goth. My Midwestern hometown was filled to the black brim with bat cavers in high school, but all I ever wanted to do was throw raw potatoes at 'em and turn their upside-down crosses right side up. "Goth" is a funny word. It's a difficult four-letter word—one I have a hard time taking seriously. People have described Seattle death-poppers Grave Babies with the "G" word. I'm here to disagree. We need a new term. Sure, their music is black and sad, romantic and angsty. But it's different. And new. And better. As much as I don't identify with goths, I can still appreciate a pretty song about suicide, eating babies, or drug abuse. KELLY O

GRYNCH

(Sun, 10:15 pm, Neumos) Grynch is John Overlie, a talented rapper from Ballard. He has been in the business since 2005 and is most known for his track "My Volvo." The word that best describes the content of Grynch's raps is "honesty." He is honest about who he is, what he wants to achieve, and his love for the art. Grynch does not "rap about things that [he] ain't got." He raps about reality as it is from his corner of the world. C. MUDEDE

HANDSOME FURS

(Sat, 6 pm, Main Stage) Over the course of three albums, the husband-and-wife duo of Handsome Furs have evolved from an experiment in electronic rock-and-roll minimalism into a full-blown pop syndicate. Almost entirely gone is Dan Boeckner's (you might know him from Wolf Parade) ragged, thrashing electric guitar. Gone are the aching jangly acoustic numbers (see "The Radio's Hot Sun" on Plague Park). What's remained completely intact is the underlying spirit of the songs. Boeckner and Alexei Perry are still writing pulsing, contemplative songs that deliberate on the perils of modern life and illuminate its innate simple pleasures. DAN OBERBRUNER

HAUSU

(Sat, 2 pm, Vera Stage) Hausu are named for crazed auteur Nobuhiko Obayashi's trippy soft-focus Japanese horror film, but they are sonically miles away from the flabbergasting vibes of their namesake. The band's jangly, sentimental post-punk bats its eyelashes in the direction of forebears like Orange Juice and—believe it or not—Bruce Springsteen, and their intricate, rousing songs have a real anthemic, fist-in-the-air, Olympia-down-your-throat rock-along vibe. JB

HE WHOSE OX IS GORED

(Sat, 2 pm, Neumos Stage) Seattle definitely has its share of killer heavy rock bands, and He Whose Ox Is Gored are one of the more complex outfits in the bunch. They're part doom, part synth-driven shoegaze, and part post–just about everything. You will be consistently thrown for a loop as they blast through songs that can reach upwards of eight minutes long. Do you mosh to it? Do you bang your head to the slow and heavy beats? Do you close your eyes and let the droning synthesizer paralyze your entire body? There is only one way to find out. MS

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

(Fri, 9:15 pm, Main Stage) Despite the fact that their self-titled debut received an infamous 3.8 score from Pitchfork, Seattle-based folk rockers the Head and the Heart have still found success. They sold out both the Moore and the Showbox earlier this year, they appeared as musical guests on Conan and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and closer to home they scored a Northwest music festival hat trick, playing Sasquatch! in May, Block Party in July, and the beloved (and already sold out) Doe Bay Festival this August. I guess Pitchfork doesn't make it or break it after all, eh? MS

HOLLYHOOD

(Fri, 11:30 pm, Neumos Stage) During the last three or four years, DJ TigerBeat has maintained a reliable track record of keeping young bodies moving on Seattle dance floors with his Hollyhood and Moe Bar Mondays events. The young selector rapidly shuffles through quality mainstream hiphop and R&B hits and near-hits, rocking parties and lubricating libidos with great efficiency and irrepressible momentum. D. SEGAL

KURT VILE AND THE VIOLATORS

(Fri, 5 pm, Main Stage) Kurt Vile proved himself an immensely skilled songwriter some albums ago, but this year's Smoke Ring for My Halo truly sets him apart from his peers. He adds off-kilter, drawling vocal cadence and abstract lyrical imagery to his already arresting structures, and the resultant 11 songs of happily and hazily meandering folk have garnered (warranted) critical acclaim from both sides of the Atlantic (Vile is from Philly). Also enjoying heavy praise are his live shows, where along with his adept backing band, the Violators, he spins the enchanting catalog into enthralling performance. GB

LAKE

(Sun, 6:15 pm, Vera Stage) I had never heard of LAKE before this assignment, but here is what I have learned: They come from Olympia. They are, being from Olympia, lo-fi and shimmery and medium adorable. They are possibly a little too medium adorable. I detect a sense of humor. Their website says that they like snacks. If LAKE were a snack, they would be s'mores. But, like, vintage s'mores. LW

LAND OF PINES

(Sun, 2 pm, Vera Stage) This local band, which originated at the University of Washington, strikes the right balance between folk and rock (meaning their melancholy twang won't put you to sleep). Songs like "Not Your Fault" and "The Song of Hopeless Aengus," which feature harmonizing male and female vocals, are especially captivating. CIENNA MADRID

LES SAVY FAV

(Sat, 9 pm, Main Stage) Everyone who's seen them live has a really good Les Savy Fav story. (Mine features New Year's Eve, too much champagne, and a greasy-looking pair of long johns.) Sure, they consistently produce solid, shimmering rock ("Sleepless in Silverlake" is a current favorite), but their live shows are pageants of exuberant chaos. You'd be a jackass if you missed an opportunity to take part. PAUL CONSTANT

LISA DANK

(Sun, 2:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Lisa Dank does like this: "I... sing, jump, dance, thrash, headbang, floor roll, dry hump, costume change, blah blah blah." There are backup dancers. She has a "hype man." She calls her record a "pop album for girls who used to listen to NSYNC and now smoke weed." Love it or hate it, you want to witness the woman hell-bent on underground-pop-world domination. JG

LOCH LOMOND

(Sun, 6:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Portland's Loch Lomond are a chamber-pop-folk outfit that some might dismiss as a Decemberists knockoff. But that's just plain lazy; Loch Lomond deliver some interesting twists. Think of the weird, disaffected cultish vocals to "Blue Lead Fences," when a chorus of voices sings, "It feels good to be young." The jittery strings in the background, a seeming artifact from a sarcastic bygone age, would suggest yes. But the song also pulses with the vibrancy of a rock song, and rock prays at the temple of youth. The range and creepy vibe add malevolent layers to the sound, putting you on blissfully shaky ground. PC

LOVERS

(Sat, 5 pm, Vera Stage) The subdued sound of Portland's Lovers doesn't creep into your head immediately, but as the spare synthwork and soft-footed percussion slowly cast their clever spell, and singer Carolyn Berk sweetly sings lines like "Let's do what turns you on" and "Make love in the backyard," you realize you already fell in love a few songs back. GB

LOVESICK EMPIRE

(Sat, 3 pm, Neumos Stage) Lovesick Empire's Alicia Amiri sports a deep, throaty voice reminiscent of early PJ Harvey. The eight songs on the band's EP The Grind (with drums by Block Party organizer Jason Lajeunesse!) suggest their murky, dynamic sound will take them places. GB

LUMERIANS

(Sun, 3:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Prediction: Lumerians will put on the most engrossing set of this Block Party. With their science-fiction fixation and aptitude for interstellar-overdriven psych-rock jammage, Lumerians promise to be the most far-out spectacle you'll ogle all weekend (unless you have access to the VIP area's make-out tent). On their most recent album, Transmalinnia, these Oakland-based heads combine a keen appreciation of Nuggets-like garage-rock catchiness with hallucinogenic textural warpage. Your highness is guaranteed. D. SEGAL

THE LUMINEERS

(Sat, 5:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Denver-based folk band named after antique orthodontia. BYO rocking chair, beard, and daughter-wife. Whistle jug optional. C. MADRID

MAD RAD

(Sun, 11:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Mad Rad are Buffalo Madonna, P Smoov, Terry Radjaw, and DJ Darwin. In 2008, the crew launched a new movement in local hiphop with the now-classic White Gold. The record took Seattle by surprise because it was, unlike much of the hiphop made here, not so damn serious or gloomy. It was a lighthearted record, a record about the joys of sex, booze, drugs, and dancing. Their next record, The Youth Die Young, was a little more serious and a little darker—as one critic put it: Young was the hangover after the party. (That critic might have been me, but I'm not sure.) Mad Rad not only know how to rock a show, they are fine human beings. C. MUDEDE

MASH HALL

(Sun, 11:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Seattle's Mash Hall prove that effective party rap doesn't have to stoop to stupidity. Composed of El Mizell (the witty dude who writes the My Philosophy column for this paper), djblesOne (aka Bruce Illest), Emecks, and Jane Jones, Mash Hall freak the beat with hypervivid productions that siphon some of that retro-futurist electro juice from the '80s while also drawing from the sort of '70s funk that assures libido elevation. The raps are alternately suave and boisterous, waxing poetic about grass, ass, and pancake sandwiches. D. SEGAL

METAL CHOCOLATES

(Sun, 11:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Rapper Rik Rude and producer OC Notes are Metal Chocolates. Rik Rude is mostly recognized as the rapper for Fresh Espresso; OC Notes is a rising star whose studio, which is located in Pioneer Square, pumps out a constant and dazzling stream of experimental beats. Nothing, it seems, is alien to OC Notes' musical imagination, and Rik Rude is always "down for whatever." Theirs is a match made in heaven. C. MUDEDE

MY GOODNESS

(Sun, 2:30 pm, Main Stage) If you haven't heard My Goodness, you need to jump off your horse and smack your jockey upside the helmet. Drummer Ethan Jacobsen and singer/guitarist Joel Schneider started My Goodness as a one-off idea for an employee band night at Neumos and ended up as the punk-flavored finger in the giant White Stripes dike hole. Don't worry, these dudes are as down to earth as Jack White is pretentious. Let's revisit that sentence when they're 10 times as big a year from now. GB

NAZCA LINES

(Sat, 8:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Their name might make you think of ancient geoglyphs in southern Peru, but Seattle quartet Nazca Lines aren't really the mystical types. Rather, they slug it out in the trenches dug by alpha-male rockers like Fugazi and Drive Like Jehu. Nazca Lines create a beefy, rousing sound that's also nimble enough to navigate some hairpin turns and tight corners. D. SEGAL

PAINTED PALMS

(Sat, 7 pm, Vera Stage) Psych-pop duo Painted Palms keep it in the family. Cousins Reese Donohue and Christopher Prudhomme grew up on the same block in Louisiana, but started PP only after Donohue relocated to California. The music on their Canopy EP doesn't betray their cut-and-paste coast-to-coast method of collaboration, sounding instead like the rich, full product of intense side-by-side studio workmanship. Donohue's voice is heavenly, and the band specializes in sounds that are simultaneously organic and hypnagogic. Live, a backing band lends proper life to their deeply layered grooves. JB

PAPERCUTS

(Sun, 5:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Jason Quever has released four sparkly, drowsy albums as Papercuts over the last seven years. Each has explored its own realm of cinematic slow-motion pop music by dreamily reimagining decades' worth of influences. Can't Go Back's crispness calls to mind the less manic passages on Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, while You Can Have What You Want's haze and organs are more akin to early Broadcast. Papercuts' latest, Fading Parade, is a soaring, swirling ride into the sunset that perfectly blends nostalgia and wide-eyed wonder—a soundtrack for leaving somewhere familiar and arriving somewhere entirely new in the same instant. DO

THE PHARMACY

(Sun, 7:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) The Pharmacy have been bringing sweaty bliss to dirty dance floors with psychedelic, bloozy-woozy garage rock for nine whole years—but the band sounds (and looks) as young as ever. They formed on Vashon Island in high school and did some time in New Orleans, where they recorded their LP Weekend in the house where they were living. They've played as a backup band for Kimya Dawson, sometimes get arrested, and employ all kinds of instruments (keys, cello, horns). Piano man Stefan Rubicz once got tired of an arm cast he was wearing and cut it off with a kitchen knife during a raucous house party. (Also, as a preternaturally gifted child, he used to play ragtime piano for tips in the lobby of ACT Theatre. It was the most adorable thing I've ever seen.) Are the Pharmacy always wise? No. Are they always fun? Yes. BK

PINK MOUNTAINTOPS

(Sun, 9 pm, Neumos Stage) Over the course of three full-lengths (and two 7-inches), Vancouver, BC's Stephen McBean has established his catchier, more pop-affectionate Pink Mountaintops as a project just as praiseworthy as his better-known creation, Black Mountain. The band's most recent is as essential as its auspicious and raunchy debut, and there was no sophomore slump. Google the shit and hear what I'm typing about—as the saying goes, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." Seriously, if "Holiday" doesn't make you feel good, get some antidepressants. They take three to four weeks to start working. GB

THE POSIES

(Sun, 3:30 pm, Main Stage) Last year, the Posies finally broke a five-year hiatus from making records, issuing their seventh full-length release, Blood/Candy. It was worth the wait. The Posies have always been great at writing delectable pop songs with melodies that stick to your brain for days. Blood/Candy delivered that and more—the album, especially on "She's Coming Down Again!" and "Licenses to Hide," shows a more playful side to the band, rendering them even more lovable than before. MS

RA RA RIOT

(Fri, 7:45 pm, Main Stage) Lead singer Wes Miles has the breathy vocals of a love-struck castrato. His sweet man-boy voice is accompanied by amazing cello, violin, and guitar riffs to create songs that will inspire you to both dance and weep with remembered (or actual) teenage ennui. Fun, right? C. MADRID

RAVENNA WOODS

(Sat, 6:30 pm, Neumos Stage) On the title track of their record Demons & Lakes, acoustic folk trio Ravenna Woods gently harmonize the line "Don't take this the wrong way/But I want you to have a terrible life." Musically, it sounds so sweet! There's even a cute little xylophone solo. Despite how it sounds, lyrically they HATE YOU SO MUCH. They're the bad boys in the squeaky- clean folk scene; they will definitely appeal to fans of the Head and the Heart and Campfire OK—just know they have a dark side. MS

REPORTER

(Sat, 5:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) The excellently named Alberta Poon delivers breathy, distressed spacewoman vocals over lightly ominous, party-tempo bleeps and bloops and drum tracks and synthy stuff in the Portland trio Reporter. They're calling it experimental dance pop. A number of songs on their album Time Incredible top out at longer than six minutes, so if it sounds good to you, you can enjoy some extended dissociation of the body and mind. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

"THE ROLLING STONES"

(Fri, 11:30 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Most times when you see a cover band pay tribute to a group like the Stones (or the Eagles, or the Who, or Led Zeppelin, or the Doors), it's somewhere like Las Vegas. Or a high-school gymnasium. Or at the VFW Hall with your mom and a lady from your mom's bowling team who knows all the words and wants you to dance with her. The funny thing about Seattle's "The Rolling Stones" is they play rowdy bars and there are no moms in sight. Totally young, cute, sensible folks go fucking nuts when these "Stones" play—featuring members and ex-members of Blood Brothers, Whalebones, Shoplifting, Chromatics, and Truckasauras. The fact that's it's okay (and fun!) to like a cover band seems like post-ironic-post-irony. Or something like that. KO

SEAPONY

(Sat, 6 pm, Vera Stage) Seattle trio Seapony play that trademark happy- go-lucky (though not too happy) pop recently repopularized by Slumberland Records. Basically an extension of the Sarah Records aesthetic that a handful of British groups introvertedly peddled about a quarter century ago, the songs on Seapony's Go with Me saunter down a memory lane thick with fuzzy guitars, yearning melodies, rudimentary girl-group beats, and dreamy vocals courtesy of Jen Weidl. Any innocence-loving Anglophiles worth their C86 cassettes will have a Field (Mice) day with Seapony. D. SEGAL

SHAD

(Fri, 9:30 pm, Vera Stage) Born in Kenya and raised in Canada, Shadrach Kabango creates hiphop that will make you swoon, packed with classic soul samples, chopped-up horn charts, sweeping strings, and melodies galore. Over this brazen beauty, Shad spits his smart, wry, witty rhymes—he's anti-war, pro-woman, in love with life. Comparisons with 21st-century Common are frequent, but lazy—Shad's wide-angle worldview leaves Common's careerism in the dust. D. SCHMADER

SKARP

(Fri, 6 pm, Vera Stage) Do you sometimes dip your toe in the river of crust? Do you ever shamelessly go to planet grindcore? Do you like a blast beat, wear T-shirts with evil-looking band logos that nobody can actually read, and, well, d'ya love all things metal, punk, and everything in between? If any of these ring true, then you CANNOT MISS SKARP. Seriously, do not miss! These guys (and a girl!) do it hard and do it right. KO

SLOW DANCE

(Sat, 4:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Did you know there are two musical acts named Slow Dance? There's Slowdance (who I originally wrote up, and who sound appropriate for the Pretty In Pink soundtrack) and then there's Slow Dance, who are the correct Slow Dance playing this weekend. Larry Mizell, Jr. says "Grimy, sleazy, slizzard fun is assured." The more you know. MS

SOL

(Fri, 8:15 pm, Vera Stage) Just a couple weeks ago, Sol posted a new song on his website, "This Shit," and it's a contender for this year's summer anthem. The song has fuzzy and warm beats, and lyrics about all the shit Sol loves—rapping (it's better than "getting the best pussy you've ever had in your life"). Sure, the lyrics are a little crude, but the vibe is so feel-good you can't help but smile and stop giving a fuck, if even for just three minutes. MS

SPACENEEDLES

(Sun, 2:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Spaceneedles are a new outfit including Thomas Wright (Grand Archives, Weirdlords, a million other bands), Scott Blue (drums) and Jim Cotton of Feral Children (bass and backup vocals). After insisting on doing an interview solely via text message, Wright described the band's sound: "I dunno man. Pop music that grew up on Nirvana and Fugazi? On a good day?" As of this writing, the band has played one show. Considering Wright's past work and hilarious personality, I am all over this set. GB

SPORTS

(Sat, 3:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Every time I see this band's name on a bill, I recall that sketch from season one of Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! where Tim and Eric and a crew of untrained musicians pantomime playing a menagerie of Reagan-era instruments while a deliciously cheesy backing track blares, punctuated by intermittent shouts of "Sports!" This local troupe works in similarly decadent-sounding retro-electro currents, but are less blatantly comedic and more alluringly genuine. JB

SPURM

(Sun, 5:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Spurm are an alien-garage/talking-blues rock band with overdriven amplifiers and backup singers squawking in falsetto. I once described it as "delightfully spastic anxiety-rock." The band describe themselves on Facebook like so: "If you had a friend that was perpetually being fired from Chuck E. Cheese's for dropping acid on the job, and always took it really well, you'd have some insight into what SPURM is like." In other words, Spurm are a fun, tense mess that makes everything seem a little electric and hallucinatory. Sample lyrics: "Clean clothes, clean sheets, clean butt, now what? Sweet leftovers. Enchilotta, lotta leftovers." And: "I wanna get a bong and hit it like a gong." No doy. BK

TACOCAT

(Sun, 4:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) On the surface, Tacocat seem to be all about tacos, cats, fluorescent highlighters, reverb, great hair, gum, tambourines, and pop-punk noise. But that's just to throw you. That's all frosting. Their catchy and fast songs are shot through with a wry confessional streak. These are four brainy people who just don't feel like bragging about how brainy they are. And their recent US tour was beset by car troubles in Southwest deserts, so expect vivid tales from the road. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

TEEN DAZE

(Sat, 8:15 pm, Vera Stage) Vancouver solo artist Teen Daze is something of a musical chameleon. For a while, he was releasing new EPs with startling regularity, each of them exploring different, if similarly summery, sounds. Recent single "Surface" bodes well for his upcoming album, A Silent Planet, on Waaga Records. The single's artwork recalls Roger Dean, and the song itself is appropriately blazed—a bleary blend of smooth guitars, submerged vocals, and gently pulsing rhythmic bedrock. JB

TELEKINESIS

(Sat, 4:45 pm, Main Stage) When he plays as Telekinesis, Michael Benjamin Lerner is one of those rare one-man bands that's not ridiculously intense or rife with Kubrick-y control freakishness. He creates laid-back pop rock, perfect for summers and porches and beers with friends. This isn't a psycho Trent Reznor complex borne out of a hatred and distrust for other human beings; this is just a guy who loves music so much he wants to do it all. PC

THEESATISFACTION

(Fri, 10:45 pm, Vera Stage) The ladies of THEESatisfaction have been tight with the gentlemen of Shabazz Palaces for the past year or so, supporting each other onstage and on record. Both groups have a psychedelic, fractured sound, but THEESatisfaction bring a jazzier, more playful flavor than Shabazz's heavy contemplation—but that doesn't mean they aren't serious. On THEESatisfaction Loves Stevie Wonder: Why We Celebrate Colonialism, they rap: "Revolutionary Afro-punk/Yes I'm so black/White people steal our music/Then we just steal it back... turn off the radio/Turn off the bullshit/But you already know we preach to the pulpit." THEESatisfaction are one of the leading lights of Seattle hiphop in the 21st century. BK

THURSTON MOORE

(Fri, 6:15 pm, Main Stage) When not Sonic Youth–ing over the past three decades, Thurston Moore has kept busy with countless collabs and solo releases. In that huge experimental/noise rock canon, nothing Moore's done has been as accessible as his new solo full-length, Demolished Thoughts. We're far from the riotous tonal extremities of "Death Valley '69," y'all. Demolished Thoughts resembles J. Mascis's latest solo joint, Several Shades of Why, in that it features a revered guitar hero going mellow and songwriterly—and with strings. It's the most radical move Moore could make at this late date. Whisper it, but you probably won't need earplugs for Thurston's mellifluous, wistful batch of new tunes. D. SEGAL

TV ON THE RADIO

(Sat, 10:30 pm, Main Stage) After falling hard for virtually every second of 2006's Return to Cookie Mountain and (especially) 2008's Dear Science, I'm still warming up to Nine Types of Light, the 2011 release that finds TV on the Radio making the most conventional music of their career. Thankfully, the most conventional music of TVOTR is still miles ahead of countless other artists' biggest risks, and the shimmering, slightly monochromatic beauty of Light should come to life most ravishingly onstage, where TVOTR cultivate a power beyond any of their records. D. SCHMADER

UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA

(Fri, 4:15 pm, Neumos Stage) UMO's deceptively simple arrangements are the brainchild of New Zealander-turned-Portlander Ruben Nielson (formerly of Mint Chicks). The nine songs on the band's self-titled release are tightly packed nuggets of pop as addicting as OxyContin. At times, Unknown Mortal Orchestra recalls Deerhoof's pop opus The Runners Four (especially "Midnight Bicycle Mystery"), only with touches of glam and funk so subtle and effortless you won't even know they're there. GB

VIRGIN

(Sat, 7:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Virgin, containing guitarist John Wokas (ex-Sunday Night Blackout) and Justin Cronk (Vendetta Red, With Friends Like These), mine that '70s rock sound that makes you want to buy a Camaro and peel out on all your wussier records. GB

VIRGIN ISLANDS

(Sun, 3 pm, Vera Stage) What the fuck? It's a pop-punk band with surf inflections singing about self-medicating and wanting to find something in this cynical world that they can believe in? Is this 1992? Okay, the drums are really good—complex and not showy, but skilled—and the clashing guitar makes for some fine pop music. And, all right, is that the guy from the Cops on vocals? Man, he's always had a great voice for this kind of thing. Okay, fine. I'm sold. PC

WHEELIES

(Fri, 5:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Enthusiastic Tacoma foursome Wheelies—Patrick Doherty on guitar and vocals, Joseph Yohann on bass, Rusty Trusky on drums, and Thomas Crow on guitar—play upbeat, rocking songs about partying and relationships. In "Bottom of My Glass" they sing: "Once at the bottom of my glass/I saw your glance as you walked past/Well, I didn't know quite what to think/So it's back to the bar for another drink." Missed connections, body language confusion, shyness, adult beverages—a fine examination of the complexities of modern dating. GILLIAN ANDERSON

WITCH GARDENS

(Sat, 4 pm, Vera Stage) This beguiling foursome's been called everything from "rumple pop" to "carnie rock" to simply "lo-fi guitar pop." However you choose to define their sound, it's hard to deny that their peppy guitar/drum/autoharp/bass compositions are gee-whiz adorable and, it's worth noting, deceptively complicated (hardly a single song of theirs doesn't contain a sudden tempo shift). JB

WOODS

(Fri, 6:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Over a half-dozen albums, the Brooklyn-based Woods have deftly straddled the line between trad indie-rock songcraft and perambulating freak-folk exploration. Just when you get pleasantly lulled with a sunshiny, dulcet toe-tapper, Woods will spring a deep motorik jam on your unsuspecting ears—e.g., "Out of the Eye" from this year's Sun and Shade is one of the most sublime Neu!/Velvet Underground homages of recent years. Another instant classic, "Sol y Sombra," summons the spiritual psychedelia of Popol Vuh, Werner Herzog's favorite soundtrackers. Here's hoping Woods branch off into their more cosmic tendencies at Block Party. D. SEGAL

YARN OWL

(Fri, 6:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Pullman foursome Yarn Owl (not to be confused with the superior Thrill Jockey recording artists Barn Owl) make the sort of inviting, woodsy folk rock that's been sweeping the Northwest with a vengeance for the past few years. The songs on their newest album, the fleetingly foxy, moondogging Montaña y Caballo, conjure an organic ebullience thanks to glistening, ascendant guitars and earnest, boyish vocals put in the service of melodies crafted to lift your spirits. Northwestern citizen: You are probably going to like Yarn Owl. D. SEGAL

THE YOUNG EVILS

(Sat, 10:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Based on their name alone, you'd expect this Seattle duo to be a pair of ambitious young Republicans belting out '50s-style doo-wop with charmingly subversive messages about the evils of socialized medicine and butt sex. Instead, Troy Nelson and Mackenzie Mercer (political affiliation unknown) sing catchy, clever songs about broken hearts and such. Fun, but not nearly evil enough. C. MADRID

YUCK

(Fri, 10:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Do you want to take a time machine—fueled by fuzzy guitars, Stephen Malkmus–slack vocals, and floating, carefree chord progressions and riffs—back to the 1990s (about five minutes before the term indie rock stopped kind-sorta meaning something)? Yuck have your ticket. Do not fret, however. Nothing here comes off as overly derivative or copped. Just pretty tunes that are unconcerned with trying to impress you, because they already know they're gonna. GB

YUNI IN TAXCO

(Sat, 3 pm, Vera Stage) All buzz, fuzz, and pop nonchalance, hometown psychedelia outfit Yuni in Taxco mate raw, rangy guitars (a little chime here, a little organ there) with casually lithe, reverb-rich vocal melodies, to cosmic effect. Their 2011 release, Sanpaku, has a dreamy first-take immediacy, and feels like the idealized memories of your favorite stoner house party. Syd Barrett approves. SD recommended

This article has been updated since its original publication.