The best moment of the insane Block Party weekend wasn't even part of the fenced-off festival, but it was one of the most exciting musical experiences in recent memory.
Sub Pop buzz band and Los Angeles heroes No Age weren't playing another big stage at Block Party—as they had recently for both SP20 and last week's KEXP benefit. Instead, they played a secret basement show right under the Block Party's nose. The anticipation for the show was extreme: One of the country's most popular new bands would be playing one of Seattle's most beloved underground spots. But there was plenty of worry, too: Could the little venue handle a potentially gigantic crowd? Would it all get shut down?
"Looks like you all found out about the secret show," said openers Talbot Tagora. Before they had even started, there was already a massive crowd gathered for what would become the sweatiest show I have ever seen.
By the time No Age took to playing their set, the walls and floors were dripping wet thanks to fellow Angelenos Abe Vigoda and Mika Miko's raucous and sweaty sets. The crowd had topped off at maybe 300 or so, with several more people trying, unsuccessfully, to bribe the volunteer doorman to let them in.
From start to finish, No Age's crowd was so intense and energetic, they should have been music video extras. When drummer Dean Spunt sang, "It's our duty to feel overwhelmed," in their song, "Cappo," they looked dutiful enough, swarmed by crazy kids flying around and knocking into everything, rather than playing isolated onstage, surrounded by monitors. At one point, when the crowd surged forward onto guitarist Randy Randall's pedals, cutting off his sound, it seemed like the show might have to stop, like maybe it all really was too much for the place to contain. But Spunt pounded away to keep the momentum while Randall tried to repair the problem, and as the crowd clapped along, Randall's guitar squeaked, chirped, and eventually came back to life with a triumphant roar. The band, and the crowd, would not give up that easily.
No group of music fans can be more skeptical about a band selling out than the "punk" community, and No Age must realize that. Still, stunts like this show aren't just a calculated effort to keep their cred. Talking to Randall a few days afterward, he explained simply that, even though the band is now also their job, "some shows are for the bills and some are for fun." Paying the bills is nice, of course, but after Friday's show, I wish they all could be just for fun.