Due to the sudden and tragic death of someone very close to me last week [www.inlovingmemory ofjasmine.net], I wasn't even remotely in a Block Partyin' mood last weekend. However, thanks to the intrepid reporting of The Stranger music writers, I have plenty of testimonials about the beloved, beer-soaked blowout that is well on its way to becoming one of the Northwest's most popular summer festivals.
From Dave Segal: "The highlight for me Friday at the Capitol Hill Block Party was the impromptu appearance of the Infernal Noise Brigade, who barged around the grounds [prior to the Pretty Girls Make Graves set] like a rogue marching band—replete with a heavy artillery of bass drums, cowbells, and brass. Before that, on the Vera Stage, Macklemore boasted a commanding presence, formidable vocab, and a robust, backpacker-centric flow. His sense of humor also shone, especially on "Penis Song," in which he bemoaned and made light of his phallic dimensions (a brave tack for a rapper), and "Bush Song," for which he donned a W mask and sarcastically skewered the president's abject corruption. Kudos also to Macklemore's two beatboxers; I wish they'd had more stage time.
"On Saturday on the Main Stage, the Black Angels surged and throbbed with a snake-hipped sexiness and provided the ideal soundtrack for the overcast skies beneath which they played. For much of their set, the Angels sounded like late-'80s/early-'90s British band Loop playing warped versions of the Velvet Underground's 'All Tomorrow's Parties,' which is a very fine thing to sound like."
Stranger contributor and critical Band of Horses fan Keenan Bowen had this to say about Sub Pop's golden kids: "Despite what seemed to be the longest and most frustrating mic check ever (no sound on the main vocal mic? awesome), and amid scenester grumblings about Mat Brooke's departure from the group, Band of Horses delivered a surprisingly inspired set on Friday night. Ben Bridwell's boyish enthusiasm came across as genuine, rather than a calculated performance, and I felt like I was witnessing a modern reincarnation of the Peter Pan scene where he insists, 'If you believe in fairies, clap your hands!' The Block Party audience's obvious avidity seemed to buoy BOH along to an exceptional finale."
The Miller High Life VIP Lounge was quite the hot spot, attracting local luminaries with both free beer and uncommonly good barbecue fare from Pig Iron. Miller baroness Kerri Harrop played hostess to an array of old-schoolers, including Presidents Jason Finn and Andrew McKeag, U-Man John Bigley, and Hovercraft's Rick Peterson. Rock photographer Lance Mercer and Grammy Foundation director Ben London represented, as did band members from Botch, Built to Spill, and according to Harrop (who had so much fun she lost her voice on Saturday), "just about every local yokel from the rock scene that wasn't actually playing the Block Party." (For even more vivid coverage of the Block Party, check out the video report filed by special Stranger reporters Dan Brockman and Susan Flowers at www.thestranger.com/blockparty.)
Unsurprisingly, the most talked-about moment was the most eagerly anticipated one: the return of the Murder City Devils. Also unsurprising were the complaints that the crowds on Saturday felt overwhelming to some, particularly during the start of the MCD's set, which closed out the party on Saturday. That being said, the consensus seemed to be that it felt like an historic moment—and I believe it, especially given what I witnessed on Sunday when I ventured out so see the band play a second, semi-secret gig at the Showbox (along with the Blood Brothers, who came off like a well-oiled machine capable of taking over the planet—that next record is going to make them huge). To be frank, when the Devils were at the peak of their success, I felt like this very paper was shoving them down my throat far too often. Even though I had seen them play several times, I was turned off before I could even give them much of a real chance. Sunday night's set helped me see what I had missed—but more importantly, what the band themselves had evidently missed doing. Everyone was in peak form, but it was the presence of guitarist Dann Gallucci that really threw me. He looked like the happiest human being on earth and reflected the overall spirit of a band performing so well, it almost seems like it would be an injustice if they didn't reunite permanently.