Not only did last weekend's Capitol Hill Block Party give the heartiest partiers a chance to show off their endurance skills during two full days of bands and booze, it also made some of us realize that no matter how much we love the sun, two goddamn days of it can almost kill us.

All I could think as I woke up on Saturday morning to Teen Cthulhu--the first band to take the big stage at the two-day music marathon--was hallelujah! What better way to start your day than with a little hardcore and coffee? Clearly, this Today Show bullshit I've been watching is counterproductive to the ol' up-and-at-'em, and it must stop. When I later walked around the corner to the free Vera Project stage and heard Instant Winner, I was disheartened to learn that white-kid ska is still an option when choosing a genre in which to fritter away one's 20s. However, at least those years toiling in the high-school marching band will not go to waste.

And speaking of 20s, I just about split in half when a 25-year-old commented that surely the beer garden was not serving anything but juice and coffee at the chaste hour of 1 pm. Good God these kids! To hell with their after-hour house parties that run out of beer 45 minutes after the bars close. Obviously they are amateurs who do not know that 'round these parts, any hour after 7 am is cocktail hour. Those were my people in the beer garden, for Christ's sake, lazing in the sun with cold booze in their hands like some kind of grand beach party while the Long Winters played harmony-laden, glorious pop.

The sun was fully raging when the Gossip took the stage. Singer Beth Ditto's famous curves were jiggling to the beat of her band's Southern-flavored, bluesy rock. She's got one hell of a voice, and is hilarious too. Commenting on the heat, she inquired whether anyone had experienced the awful curse of Seattle's summer that is walking up the hills and getting a "mad chafe" from your skirt rubbing on your sweaty thighs. On behalf of all females, I would like to say gross, and amen, sister.

Next up was Pretty Girls Make Graves, who once again managed to play their best show yet. Every time I see them I'm astounded at how tight and professional they've become. And can I just say one more time, ladies and gentlemen: Andrea Zollo! The gal is this city's most charming frontwoman, bar none.

Sometime around 5 p.m. I walked home to feed the dog, but an hour or so later I was shocked to realize that I had fallen asleep. As I trudged sheepishly back up the hill, I though to myself, Jesus God, I've passed some sort of embarrassing milestone if I had to go home to take a nap during an all-day music fest- ival. I arrived back among my peers only to realize that most of them had also just returned from taking some sort of respite. Sadly, that respite ended in out-and-out crabbiness when Hell's Belles cranked out the AC/DC covers for an hour and 10 fucking minutes. A quick poll around my table revealed that no one has played any of his or her beloved AC/DC albums since Hell's Belles came to be, and that what once was a joy has been ruined for all because the tribute band became a bona fide touring act rather than a three-show hoot. To their credit, the girls--and now one guy--pay one hell of a compliment to the great Aussie band, but jeez, put a cork in it already. We were all sitting at the table giving ourselves whiplash from throwing our heads back as the Belles tore into yet another song. And I know Angus strips down to his undies, but he's got the body of a 14-year-old boy, if you get what I'm saying....

Finally it was time for the day's headliner, Mudhoney, who splashed all kinds of cool on the sun-baked audience. The set was flawless, and the wildly enthusiastic audience feted the new songs off the forthcoming album. Sure, the crowd included scads of stumbling, sunburned drunks who wavered like sea buoys and had no idea what the fuck was goin' on until the band trotted out the unmistakable grunge hit "Touch Me I'm Sick." I tell you, I still get a mean kick from seeing that song set the drunkards into an ass-over-tea-kettle frenzy.

By now the Bad JuJu Lounge was packed South by Southwest-style as we all jammed in to see Federation X, but they unfortunately canceled with little or no excuse. So Verona and the Epoxies were left to finish out the first night of the block party, while I headed over to the Sea Wolf where a group of my peeps were winding down pro-style.

Day two began a little late, as I overslept and missed not only the ill-attended Bloody Mary breakfast, but Gas Huffer, too. But I was once again up and at 'em with the Briefs, although I did watch the new-wavish punk show from a saggy chair in the beer garden. What can I say? Some habits die hard, and even if I'm guzzling water, I'm still going to hang out in the professionals' section.

Talk around the table soon turned to the stunning realization that one full day of sun had induced heat stroke in many of the revelers and performers. To protect the famous and frail, I won't name names, but I will thank my mother for the gene that keeps me relatively protected from rare, radiating elements. Over on the Vera stage, Hint Hint gathered many new fans with their over-the-top, frenetic set of dual-keyboard rock. Back on the main stage was the oddity that is Dead Moon in the daylight as the band filled in for Dead Low Tide, who canceled due to illness. By Sunday, word had gotten out that the stage is fully visible to those too cheap or poor to shell out 10 bucks, and 764-HERO fans gawked in droves from beyond the fence. One guy even showed up on painting stilts. Later, our own Dan Savage introduced the Catheters by "revealing" that singer Brian Standeford was his boyfriend. Standeford played along with the joke by embracing Savage and dedicating most of the songs in the set to their unconventional relationship.

Over at the Bad JuJu, New Luck Toy wowed all with their ever-better early-'80s-style punk rock, which was hard to pull away from to check out Sleater-Kinney, who were playing concurrently on the main stage. Luckily it was easy to pop in and out of the venue before I cut out all together to hit the after-party at Sit & Spin, where Pretty Girls Make Graves and Mudhoney were playing on the sly. One lucky bride-to-be was having her bachelorette party in the front row, and Mark Arm addressed her throughout the set. (I hope she remembered it in the morning.) Finally, as the band wound down with a drawn-out dose of hypnotic feedback, I looked around the room and realized I was at least 10 or 15 kinds of tired and bid the weekend adieu. Until next year....

kathleen@thestranger.com

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