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Festival Blog

Live from the 2008 music and film festivals!

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July 28, 2008 1:13 PM

Last word on CHBP2008

Posted by Patrick MacDonald

It was the best Block Party ever. The lineup was a smart mix of national and local bands, the site was perfect, the sound was good, the stages were professionally run, and the crowds were great -- young, enthusiastic and in good spirits, even when the Party got a little too crowded.
The Party celebrated the strength of the Seattle club scene, so it was fitting that two of the four stages were in two of the city's biggest and best rock clubs, The King Cobra and Neumo's. The Vera Stage may have been off in a corner, but it belonged there, where under-21s could have their own spot with their own bands.
The biggest band on the Main Stage bill, Vampire Weekend, closed out the Friday night lineup with an impressive set that matched the tone of the Party. They came off like a glorified club band, with their interesting mix of world rhythms and clever songs about being college guys. "We played every single song we know," lead singer Ezra Koenig happily told the crowd, after they did everything from their only album, and some new stuff.
The most anticipated set on Saturday had to be Fleet Foxes' late afternoon Main Stage performance, because the five harmonizing musicians are, as Billboard put it last month, "hometown heroes." The band, headed by Robin Pecknold, is the latest Seattle group to make an international splash. Its album on SubPop debuted at No. 82 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, after glowing reviews in Rolling Stone, Spin and England's MoJo. The Party crowd actually quieted as the Foxes' sweet harmonies and Northwest wilderness-inspired songs wafted in the smoky, hotdogs-with-onions-scented breeze.
Shortly before hitting the stage, Pecknold was just another bearded, scruffy guy having coffee at Caffe Vita, which was within the Party grounds and doing brisk business. Vita was one of the oasises from the crowds, along with nearby Via Tribunali, where you could watch your pizza cook in a round brick oven, then sit and enjoy it at the communal table, surrounded by sacks of flour and stacks of pizza boxes.
When The Stranger put a naked rock star on the cover of its Party program, they probably weren't thinking of Tim Harrington, the balding, dumpy, red-bearded lead singer of Les Savy Fav, who stripped down to his blue underpants and jumped into the massed crowd at the Main Stage Friday evening. Ewwwwww! Gross! But the music was tight.
Catching Natalie Portman's Shaved Head right afterward at the Vera Stage was like a refreshing, cleansing experience. The young band was having loads of fun and so were their young fans, who were dancing in the street. That was what the Block Party was all about.

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July 27, 2008 12:18 AM

Andrew Matson interviews CHBP performers

Posted by blog



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July 26, 2008 10:17 PM

Trashed

Posted by Jeff Albertson

After 10-hours of hanging out at the CHBP, pushing my way through the sweat-soaked masses my body feels like this picture looks: trashed.

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I am going to drink a gallon of water and power up to catch the Saturday Knights, then call it a night.

In the streets the party is winding down, but there are still pockets of wild party animals getting rowdy.

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July 26, 2008 9:07 PM

All Is Quiet on the Western Front

Posted by Jeff Albertson

Breaking news: A minor scuffle just happened in the middle of the Pike Street and Broadway Avenue intersection when a fleeing shoplifter was tackled and pummeled by a security guard from QFC. In a matter of seconds a swarm of Seattle Police cruisers were on the scene -- lights flashing and sirens wailing. Police had the suspect cuffed and stuffed in a matter of seconds.

Officer McDonald, first initial M., from the Seattle Police department assured me the minor tussle was in no way related to the Capitol Hill Block Party. Officer McDonald would not confirm that the weekend's festivities have been quiet, nor would he even say the "q" word (his words, not mine) but he did sound relieved and agreed that so far the party has been uneventful.

Phew. So far so good.

As you were.

Oh yeah, on the main stage right now the Brooklyn-based band the Hold Steady is killing it with their riff-heavy classic-rock jams.

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July 26, 2008 8:48 PM

Video from CHBP 2008

Posted by blog


More video interviews to come....

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July 26, 2008 7:47 PM

"We Are Chromeo and We Are In Control"

Posted by Jeff Albertson

After a mostly mellow afternoon Chromeo is bringing the dance-party hard. The sun is fading and people are getting good and lubricated, making for a much more interesting scene.

Throngs of the now socially-inebriated crowd are finally starting to loosen up and get busy. No more head bobbing and standing still. It's time to shake it. The electro-funk duo is laying down some sinister dance grooves. This is a welcomed change of pace and the mood of the party just shifted dramatically.

It's official: Now is the time to get stupid.

This guy is having all of it and getting all kinds of funky in the beer garden.

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On stage the duo is bringing some chest-pounding synth-bass lines and rump-shaking beats paired with talk-box vocals that make it sound like a robot is serenading you and trying to take you home all at once.


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July 26, 2008 6:34 PM

Traffic

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

The single biggest bummer of Block Party: It's too damn crowded.

Last night it didn't get bad til 8 pm or so. Today it's already so packed at 6:00 that crowd flow is uncomfortably restricted around the Quinn's-side corner of 10th & Pike. That intersection is the biggest culprit, but the area between the main stage and the Comet is also way too dense. You're running the gauntlet just to get across the street and it sucks. I say this as a crowd-loving person used to navigating large festivals. But this isn't a crowd, it's a mob scene.

I offered a few-off the cuff solutions in a previous post. I wish I had more. Or more feasible ones.

At best, this is the kind of unmanagable throng that keeps people from moving through the festival to see the bands they wanna see. At worst, it will keep people from coming back next year.

Fleet Foxes are playing the main stage right now and sound stunning, as usual. Thanks again, bands from Seattle. Up next, Jaguar Love inside Neumo's. I'm really psyched to see these guys live for the first time.

At least the bands have all been really, really good. Makes taking a shiv to the kidney of the drunk guy stopped in front of you worth it.

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July 26, 2008 6:14 PM

Jaws Are Dropping for the Fleet Foxes

Posted by Jeff Albertson

Fleet Foxes, listen up. It's not you. It's me. I was not a fan. I'd read all the praise from critics and fans and brushed it off. Just another young band getting hyped for no good reason ...

I could not have been more wrong. I'm sorry. I get it now.

The Fleet Foxes are onstage right now and the band sounds relaxed and confident. Their sun-drenched lyrics and soaring vocal harmonies are commanding. The crowd is as large as it's been all weekend and throughout the audience jaws are dropping and chills are being induced .

Robin Pecknold is a serene neo-hippie prince who's come to wash away all negativity. This band has slowly been cultivating their sound -- a mix of folkish jamming and carefully crafted pop. These kids grew up studying The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, The Zombies, Love, Bob Dylan and Buffalo Springfield and it shows.

This music is meant for a bonfire with a bottle of wine and a group of friends singing back-up vocals. Call it campfire rock.

The crowd is now shoulder-to-shoulder thick from the front of the stage all the way to the back of the beer garden on Pike Street. All eyes on are on the main stage and you'd be hard pressed to find another young band on the West Coast with the charisma and charm to command such a massive audience. Sprinkled throughout young fans are bobbing and singing along. Couples are cuddling and a few brave souls have clamored up the trees to gain a better perspective.

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July 26, 2008 5:29 PM

Cute, Hirsute

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

Kimya Dawson just finished her set with "Tomorrow" from "Annie." She sang with a precious, conversational voice the rest of her set--songs about bears, shopping malls, fake breasts, and other poetic mundanities--but "Tomorrow" was belted out with an adolescent screech that could've broken glass. Dawson's simply-sung joke-folk ditties are hopelessly cute; whether you're a 14-year-old newbie or a cynical rock veteran, there's no way not to love her.

Portland fivepiece the Builders and the Butchers just wrapped up inside Neumo's. The band of unorthodox hair farmers has a lot of buzz in the indie press right now (enjoy the hype, PDX) and they turned in a fiery set of hard folk. Two non-kit drummers--one of whom alternated on trumpet--acoustic bass that looked like an acoustic guitar, actual acoustic guitar, and a banjo/mandolin; they had a propulsive, hand-clapping energy that belied their acoustic instrumentation. Banjo=not-rock, but that doesn't mean banjo can't rock.

Singer Ryan Sollee started their final song with an old-fashioned tin megaphone, a little thing that gave his voice a tinny, faraway quality. The rest of the band led the willing crowd in a hand-clapping rhythm as the Sollee sang about true love and rain. For the final verse, he brought out an old cheerleading-style megaphone, a clever bit of visual humor that got the crowd screaming.

You could call it "old-timey" music, but if you're playing it in 2008, how can it be old time?

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July 26, 2008 5:27 PM

Overheard in the Vita VIP

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

"Block Party is Bumbershoot minus the hippies."

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July 26, 2008 5:02 PM

Body Hair Is Not Freaky

Posted by Jeff Albertson

Kimya Dawson is on the main stage right now. She is singing songs about women having body hair and not using deodorant and basically getting the audience to eat out of the palm of her hand with her charismatic and endearing anti-folk pop songs.

She sang a song from her upcoming album, "Alphabutt," which she described as a collection of children's music. One song was dedicated to detailing the various bodily functions -- mostly pee and poop and farts. It was hilarious and exactly the kind of music a child would find funny and silly all at once.

Kimya Dawson is not freaky. She is speaking a lot of truth. People should be comfortable in their own skin, no matter how hairy or smelly they are. She said she is an animal and animals have fur. I have to agree.

So far she hasn't played the Moldy Peaches song, "Anyone Else But You," the surprising hit from the "Juno" soundtrack. I hope she does. It's magical.

Kimya Dawson

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July 26, 2008 4:40 PM

Non-Block Party Donut-Related News Update

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

Reports are in: Down in Lower Queen Anne, the second annual Top Pot Donut Eating Contest featuring the Saturday Knights is over and a winner has been crowned. "Fat man called the fridge won eating 11 in 5 min," says a source in a text message.

There are things going on in Seattle today other than Block Party (DJ Shadow/Cut Chemist at the Showbox, NIN at Key Arena), but I wouldn't be anywhere else right now.

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July 26, 2008 3:46 PM

A Love Letter to the Bands of Seattle

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

Dear Bands of Seattle,

Damn you're good. Really good. Capitol Hill Block Party is your pageant and I can tell you've been primping. I'm smitten.

Let's talk about your first three bands today. You couldn't be more different. Kay Kay & His Weather Underground, you host a lot of musical references at your indie cabaret--reggae, swing, free jazz, prog rock, ELO--but I really liked the Salsoul disco vibe I heard today. A new direction from a very unpredictable personality. Have you started soundtracking Hollywood coming of age tales set in 1940s Brooklyn and starring Toby Maguire yet?

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Little Party and the Bad Business, you freakin' spazz! I nominate you for "Most Likely to Puke on the Audience During a Live Set, in a Good Way." When I arrived at the Vera Stage your singer had cultivated a lip-to-chest strand of drool and was shout-singing face-to-face with your keyboard player over a battered pair of synths. "I feel like I need to poop or something. I don't feel good," he told the crowd. And "Oh wow, I am bleeding," looking down at his battered hand. Somehow it was all hilarious, endearing. You took a cramped basement free-for-all and brought it kicking and sweaty into broad daylight. Your sincerity and passion are powerful pheremones. *Swoon*

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And Cave Singers, you've long been the apple of my eye, and your new stuff sounded terrific today. I'm falling for you even deeper. It amazes me that you can bring your folk-blues dirges out of the cave and onto the main stage of Block Party without shaking off any of their dust and rust and cobwebbed soul. Don't ever change.

Bands of Seattle, I heart you.

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July 26, 2008 3:34 PM

Turned On, Rocked Out

Posted by Jeff Albertson

"I don't want to turn you on," yowls John Healey, lead singer and guitarist for the Hands.

Trouble is, the audience isn't buying it. They are turned on and totally rocking out while the band blitzes through a strong set of high-energy rock. Heads were banged, fists were pumped and songs were sung along too throughout the supercharged set. Up front members of Thee Emergency and the Whore Moans cheered on their contemporaries on stage.

The Hands are the kind of band you have to see in a packed and sweaty bar that is starved for rock. Their magic formula of Springsteen-esque anthems and Rolling Stones' swagger is an intoxicating mixture live. Healey, along with guitarist Eli Chuckovich, keyboardist Jordan Lock and drummer Mike Tyler were drenched in sweat and loving every minute of their time in the spotlight.
The Hands

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July 26, 2008 3:34 PM

Festival Magic

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

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The magical festival fairie came through 10th & Pike last night and swept away all of yesterday's trash.

By midnight or so, after Vampire Weekend wrapped up their set and the throngs had all cleared out, the streets were thoroughly trashed. Plastic keg cups, flatted beer cans, cigarette butts, discarded clothing, you name it. This afternoon things are relatively neat. Way to go, Block Party production staff.

Speaking of last night, it was WAY too crowded around the main stage. Block Party might be getting too big for its britches, or at least its location. Great to have the festival live up to its name, but when a couple thousand people are forced to watch a band from behind and to the sides of the state, you gotta start rethinking. How about moving up to Broadway, where the street is, ahem, broad? Or take it to an open space--Cal Anderson, perhaps? Volunteer Park? Just saying.

The best solution would be more festivals in general. Alleviate some of the stress that Block Party necessarily induces by adding a few other summer music events around the city. West Seattle Summerfest is a great start. Remember last year's first-ever Reverb Festival? Seattle loves this kinda stuff and there's not enough of it.

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July 26, 2008 3:08 PM

Who Watches the Watchmen?

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

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Camerahead does.

There are several of these guys in Cal Anderson Park right now. They're unsettling.

It's a live art installation/provocation healmed by a local artist named Paul Strong. They're raising awareness of the surveillance cameras installed in several Seattle parks, including Cal Anderson.

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"People are more freaked out by us than them," the Camerahead in the suit and tie told me, motioning towards the camera above the reservoir. They're planning on coming to Block Party around 4 pm, when they're done in the park.

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Orwell meets Adbusters.

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July 26, 2008 2:24 PM

Art + Shoes + Good Cause = Cool

Posted by Jeff Albertson

Over at the Urban Outfitters booth CHBP attendees can buy a pair of white Vans shoes for $10, have a local artist decorate them and attain instant one-of-a-kind shoes with street credibility. The proceeds will be split between Home Alive and the Vera Project.

Pretty cool shoes, for steal of a price.

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Home Alive
The Vera Project

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July 26, 2008 1:32 PM

Saturday Night's Secret Band?

Posted by Jeff Albertson

The Saturday Knights, with a full band. Not much else to say about that except how awesome it is going to be hearing their party-starting crew take this place to a higher level of absurdity and feel-good summer fun.

The Saturday Knights

They will play at 10:30 p.m. on the Neumo's stage. Expect hands to be thrown in the air and waved about as if no one cares.

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July 26, 2008 12:40 PM

Gearing Up: Check, Check, One, Two

Posted by Jeff Albertson

I'm here early, blogging from the upstairs VIP room at Cafe Vita.

Shameless conflict of interest: The Cafe Vita staff is not only friendly and accommodating, but perhaps the most stylish and good looking crew of baristas on the hill.

From my second-floor perch I can already see that the sun is breaking through the clouds revealing a littered mess of trash and debris from last night's festivities. The block party crew is on the case and the place is almost ready for day two.

Mics have been checked. Vendors are set up. The cops have already walked through. I spoke to a police woman and asked about any problems yesterday, she assured me there were none. No fights? No random nudity? No intoxicated revelers passed out in the street? What kind of party is this?

A successfull one according to promoter Dave Meinert, who seemed chipper and chatty even at the early hour of noon.

Today's weather was predicted to be cloudy and overcast, but it's already heating up. Bring sunscreen and drink plenty of water. This is party is a marathon and not a sprint. No one wants to be that person who passes out from heat stroke at 10 p.m.

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July 26, 2008 11:55 AM

Vampire Weekend vs. Jay Reatard

Posted by andrew matson

I didn't see most of Vampire Weekend's set on the main stage, and I'm a little mad I missed Governor Christine Gregoire's introduction. Wasn't she just at Neumo's the other day partying with local band Cave Singers? Pretty hip, that Governor of ours.

Instead, I watched Memphis punk genius Jay Reatard fly through a set of pure pop fury in Neumo's. His band was a three-piece (guitar, bass, drums) and anything else would've been overkill. "Wild and messy" works better with fewer instruments if you're actually trying to hear the songs, and with Mr. Reatard, you definitely want to. His are basically sturdy and lean pop ideas, fleshed out and abandoned right after they emphatically make their melodic point, which usually takes two minutes. On record, they are slower and prettier.

In Neumo's, he shaved at least 30 seconds off each one because he played so fast, and the result was not only intense, but made Reatard appear some master music factory. Boom, boom, boom. Next song. And none of them were bad. Best lyric I've heard in a long time: "Time will heal all wounds, but I. Will kill. You. Slowly." Hardly taking a breath, he shouted the next song title through a mop of curly hair that completely obscured his face, and blasted off.

That's what his CHBP set was: continuous blasting off. Zero bells and whistles, just songs and raw power. Completely inspiring.

Even as much as I like Vampire Weekend, after watching Jay Reatard, I just couldn't jump in front of the main stage right away. I wasn't ready for intricate African snowflake indie-pop.

So I talked to Pete Quirk from Cave Singers (they play the main stage today at 3:15) about deep musical matters, like how important it is for a band to always make friends with the sound operator at every venue they play. This is Pete's job when Cave Singers tour. He kills with kindness, and a collaborative process is born between the person who controls volume and reverb and the vulnerable band.

Quirk expressed great interest in watching Fleet Foxes play CHBP today at 6:00, and added that Cave Singers might tour with them in the future. I seconded his love of the Foxes, and decided I could handle some Vampire Weekend.

I watched singer Ezra Koenig introduce a new song and talk about Seattle. He said Vampire Weekend has a special affection for Seattle because KEXP was the first radio station to play all their songs. People screamed like they were all personally responsible for the band's success, and maybe they were. Everyone was singing along to their songs, so maybe everyone bought VW's eponymous debut album. The new song (didn't catch the name) went further into Paul Simon's Graceland aesthetic, a road the band already travels, but with programmed loops (synths and drums). Of course there were clean, syncopated plucked-guitar harmonies and a heavy drum beat. It was a very good song.

I mixed with the crowd (still looking like at least 1,000+) and sang along with everyone else to "Walcott," maybe my favorite song the band has. It was a very classy set, from what I saw, and everybody seemed to enjoy it.

I pronounce day one of CHBP a success.

Today, I'll be enjoying day two, but not blogging. Jeff Albertson is doing that. I can't wait to see the Hold Steady.

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July 26, 2008 10:51 AM

Earworms from Friday

Posted by Jeff Albertson

Last night's music is still ringing in my ears. Vampire Weekend, a band critics both love and loathe for their appropriation of Paul Simon's musical mash up of Afro-pop with quirky melodies, totally won me over. I woke up today with the infectious hook from "Oxford Comma" on endless repeat in my head. Who gives an "F" about an Oxford Comma? Well, the Associated Press Stylebook, that's who. Judging by the mile-wide smiles on people's faces that were dancing wildly during the band's set everyone else is just fine with them.

Today's line up is equally as impressive as yesterday's. I'm looking forward to the Fleet Foxes homecoming set on the main stage. The band just returned form a much hyped and blogged about tour where they played to sold-out crowds throughout the mid-west and east coast. It will be fun to see them back on familiar turf playing to friends and family.

*Earworms, for those not hip to the term, is what happens when a portion of a song becomes stuck in your head and repeats endlessly against your will.

Note: This often happens to me after hearing Rick Astley sing "Never Gonna Give You Up. The only known cure is listening to Slayer at high volumes.

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July 25, 2008 9:41 PM

Les Savy Fav

Posted by andrew matson

NYC band Les Savy Fav is mid-set set, performing for a truly hysterical crowd.

It pushed things over the edge when bald, bearded, tastefully-bellied frontman Tim Harrington bounded out wearing a brown faux fur cape and cutoff jeans shorts. Looking like a cave dwelling nomad from Planet Thrift, he proceeded to tear off his cape and "undershirt" (an army camo vest) and parade around nearly nude, standing on monitors and using his body like a show unto itself.

The crowd, bathed in streetlight, is at critical mass. It's sweaty, clapping in time with the bass drum, and loving every moment of Les Savy Fav's escapist rock therapy.

Playing songs from lots of their several albums, Les Savy Fav's uniformly fantastic, high-energy music makes me wonder: "Why doesn't indie-rock always rock this hard?"

I'm out to be a reveler. Vampire Weekend blog entry tomorrow morning.

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July 25, 2008 8:26 PM

Girl Talk: The People's Choice/Thee Emergency

Posted by andrew matson

CHBP is now crazy crowded. You cannot kitty-corner cross the Broadway/10th Ave. intersection (the "dance floor") without offending several people. There is no empty space. Only sweaty party people. If you are claustrophobic, you're dying right now.

Gregg Gillis is completely obscured on stage. He's one guy with some remixes on his computer and a microphone, but he invited a lot of people from the crowd to dance during his set. The entire stage is full of bouncing hipsters, just like the sea in front of it ("One guy tore off his shirt way too early," my brother humorously texted). You can hear Gillis yelling "Party!" and "I got one more! Hold on!" but you can't see him. It's a storm of music and people. And the people are loving it, making use of close proximity to crowd surf and dance all over each other.

Looking out at the crowd from Cafe Vita's upstairs (I barely made it here), the scene looks like Europe, not the USA, and certainly not Seattle. Aren't we supposed to be too reserved to freak out like this? Thousands of people are pulsing with hands in the air right now.

Gillis plays pop R&B and hardcore rap and combines it with rock songs everyone knows. Lil Wayne's "A Milli" over Weezer. That kind of thing. Luckily, he has great taste in stupid, silly music, and great taste in serious, cool-person music. He's inventing guilty pleasures, tapping into the part of people that wants to rock out to '80s rock and rap along with Outkast at the same time. Turns out everyone wants to do that. If he did the Biggie/Elton John trick I didn't hear it, but I heard enough winners to remain confident Girl Talk's style's not getting old any time soon.

The set just finished as I type this, and there is a definite breath being taken by this crowd. Someone is yelling into a microphone that everyone should respect each other.

Before Girl Talk detonated the CHBP fun bomb, Thee Emergency rocked exceptionally hard in Neumo's. Their set of Detroit-flavored garage rock was going down well when I left, with singer Dita Vox improbably overcoming her own sex appeal and instead impressing with raw soul pipes and general rock attitude.

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July 25, 2008 7:22 PM

My Plan

Posted by andrew matson

I'll definitely watch Girl Talk play the main stage. I have to rap along when the one-man mash-up artist Gregg Gillis puts Notorious B.I.G. over "Tiny Dancer." I know that sounds dumb, but it's not and won't be.

And I'm planning on seeing Les Savy Fav's nails-hard, punk-informed, and occasionally downright goofy rock right after that. Their 2007 album "Let's Stay Friends" has songs that still get stuck in my head on a weekly basis.

What to do about Vampire Weekend on the main stage and Jay Reatard in Neumo's happening at the same time later tonight?

Last time I saw Vampire Weekend, their precious Wes Anderson-esque indie-rock was perfectly performed in Neumo's. I'd love to see such a pristine show again. But Jay Reatard's new DVD has been in my player for the past month.

He starts his set 15 minutes before Vampire Weekend, so I may be okay if he starts right on time: Reatard's concerts are 20 minutes long punk blasts with no barely enough time for breathing between songs. It's messy and wild, but deep down Jay Reatard's songs are pop gems, just brutally roughed up and condensed. Catchy hooks jump off him like fleas.

I'll start with Girl Talk, and try to catch both Les Savy Fav and Jay Reatard.

All this for $18? CHBP is a steal.

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July 25, 2008 7:15 PM

Crowded

Posted by andrew matson

Guaranteed most texted message: "Where u at?"

Good luck with that.

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July 25, 2008 6:41 PM

U.S.E., Truckasauras, Past Lives, Menomena

Posted by andrew matson

Too bad my younger brother is only 19. He couldn't get into King Cobra to see Truckasauras do a set of lots of great new electro-hip-hop or watch Past Lives invent a brand new kind of rock music (Cobra and Neumo's are indoors 21 and up CHBP venues).

The Truck brought their melodic, hard-pounding, glitchy best new work. The songs not on awesome recent release "Tea Parties Guns & Valor" sounded and looked good in King Cobra: the speakers did justice to the deep bass hits and shrill, frantic, fuzzy electro hooks; there was a screen set up to show the group's trademark videos, culling material from Hulk Hogan films and b-movie classics like "Bloodsport," and the screen was clear and visible. The club was packed and feeling it. Some closed their eyes and really "felt" it. Others danced in the dark and laughed at the video projections.

Just before Truckasauras, U.S.E. (United State of Electronica) bottled CHBP fun and sold it wholesale on the main stage. Glad my brother saw that.

The group relies on vocoder for vocal hooks (sounds computer-y), but there was also a lot of feel-good guitar soloing over their dance-beat party songs. From previous performances, I don't remember the guitar being so present or sounding so good. The classy U.S.E. girls in satin dresses sang clean harmonies, rocking the mics as hard as the vocoder guy, and every one of their instant-anthem party-all-night songs sounded great through the main stage speakers. Accordingly, people were dancing in the streets.

The streets are full, BTW. There is some distinction between parts of the crowd (fences and vague lines), but mostly it's a swarm on the verge of being tough to navigate. Nothing is out of control, but this is clearly a people's party.

It's hot and misty-gray-sunny.

After Truckasauras, Past Lives wowed a half-full Neumo's. Drummer Mark Gajadhar is an absolute terror of pounding precision, and people in the club were nudging each other, nodding, "You see that? He's AMAZING." The rest of the band performed very well, unleashing noisy, arty guitar-based compositions that fulfilled twin purposes: impressed the power of feedback textures + stop-on-a-dime rock frenzy, and also made clear Past Lives is actively trying to do something new and exciting with rock music. It's screamy, loud rock, but Past Lives' fury exists outside any and all boxes. Rarely is "important" music so immediate.

Right now, Menomena is doing their dramatic piano/guitar/drums indie-rock on the main stage. The band's minimalist flair for pretty breakdowns and intermittent melody/drum explosions is perfect for outdoor speakers that can't handle intricate, fragile stuff. Menomena is all about being bombastic. They do it with vocals, too- sing pretty and then switch to urgent wailing- and people are loving it. Maybe the "wail" vocals are too up front in the mix right now, but the band still sounds good.

Most popular sunglasses: Ray-Ban Wayfarers

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July 25, 2008 5:17 PM

Underway

Posted by andrew matson

Black Eyes and Neckties played loud pop-punk in Neumo's to an excited crowd, and it was all captured on KEXP's radio transmission. The band members had black eyes (painted) and wore neckties. I don't know why I was surprised to see that. They also had fake blood smeared on their shirts, but it was all implied violence. They played an energetic set that, though loud and aggressive-looking, was easy on the ears. Very accessible rock of the "emo" variety, whatever that means anymore.

Outside on the main stage, Common Market started their set with MC Ra Scion rapping over Lil Wayne's "A Milli" beat, a predictable move because it's currently the hottest track out. Scion sounded good over it, though, rapping something dense and polysyllabic. Common Market ran through songs from "Black Patch War," much to mine and the crowd's pleasure. People know those songs already and the EP's not been out for more than a few months. They were rapping along when they could remember the words. The microphone was not loud enough to discern Scion's complicated wordplay, but people were throwing their hands in the air nonetheless. The beats sounded great, at least.

Standing right up front provided better sound, and that's where I went to catch guest-rhymers Theory Hazit (Portland) and Chev (Seattle). I like Chev. He's young (21) and raps about social and personal issues like Ra Scion, but has his own style. Most of all, he's addicted to rhyme-writing and cares to be smart. No joke: Chev has his lyric book with him in his backpack at CHBP, right next to his chess board. He wants to play later. I'll be busy.

The crowd loved the set, and a lot of that had to do with the quality of the beats, the energy of the performers (Ra Scion knows how to work a crowd, making all that "hands in the air" stuff seem necessary and fun) and the gorgeous weather.

Right now we are between bands, and the main stage is blasting dance music. It's a party out here, for sure. People are taking group pictures and squinting in the sun.

I ran into a friend who moved from Seattle to Spokane and came back for CHBP. He said attending CHBP is one of the city's best "move to Seattle" sales pitches. I would agree. I love Spokane (used to live there), but who wouldn't want to be here right now?

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July 25, 2008 3:51 PM

Music Soon

Posted by andrew matson

Next post will be about music, I promise. I'll see Common Market perform on the main stage in minutes and report as soon as the local politically minded hip-hop group wraps up. I'm hoping for lots of tracks off "Black Patch War," the group's recently released EP, easily one of this year's best local rap efforts.

The crowd is filling in. I saw Dave Meinert and he said of the ticket sales number, "We don't know yet, but we had around 4,000 pre-sale. A little bigger than last year."

Steven Severin was exaggerating when he said "8,000 people" will rock out later to Girl Talk, but it will definitely feel like that. Even whole city blocks shrink to micro-size for CHBP, black-holed by the coolness of the bands with serious fan-drawing power.

The crowd so far is young (the very young and faithful are already hanging out on the ground in the elevated main stage's shadow) and cool-looking: a lot of brightly colored clothes, sunglasses and tattoos. It's 20 and 30somethings.

There are "energy water" booths and sausage vendors, italian soda hawkers, Clear Channel radio street teams...all the booth traffic could be organic, but volunteers/employees are intecepting walkers-by for an interactive approach. This will stop later when the block clogs with revelers and "milling" gets replaced with minutes-long "excuse me, I'm right behind you" paths to booths, bars, bathrooms and concert-watching vantage points.

Weather: hot and clear and sunny
Trees: leafy and protective
Coffee: Vita
Hot dog smell: in the air

It's hot, and best place to get out of the heat is Havana nightclub, which is inside CHBP's bounds. They are open, dark, and soothingly temperature-adjusted.

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July 25, 2008 3:10 PM

Precautions

Posted by andrew matson

Looked for CHBP organizer Dave Meinert to get the low-down on how many tickets have been sold, but he's making himself scarce. I'll report that later. For now, it seems like tickets are available and will remain so for the near future.

Words to the wise for CHBP:

I say this all the time, but KIDS MUST WEAR EARPLUGS. If they don't, they will have bad hearing lives.

Sunscreen does not mean you are "weak" or "a quitter." Wear it.

Drink water like you save your work on a PC. Early and often.

--

Neumo's booker/owner/bigshot Steven Severin is excited to see Girl Talk because he wants to see "8,000 people lose their minds."

KEXP afternoon DJ Kevin Cole, speaking during a song of his live broadcast from inside Neumo's, says, "We'll have Black Eyes & Neckties and Head Like a Kite on the air [...] tomorrow we'll be broadcasting from noon until nine." He looked excited.

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July 25, 2008 2:59 PM

Party Inside the Block Party

Posted by Jeff Albertson

Several venues within the CHBP's perimeter are also hosting shows tonight.

The Comet Tavern (directly across from the main stage) is presenting its, ahem, "C-Block the Block Party" tonight with the Girls and the Valkyries. This show is free and will be a beer-soaked mess of punk-rock radness as the Girls are known for their infectious blend of glam and punk, not too mention stellar live shows. The Valkyries all-girl metal attack kicks off at 11 p.m.

The Girls
The Valkyries

Up the street at the Cha Cha Lounge Das Llamas will headline a solid and eclectic line up that also features the quirky and brilliant TV Coahran, riot-grrrl-party band Tacocat, Yes, Oh Yes and openers Fences. This show kicks off at 5:45 p.m. and is also free for CHBP attendees.

Das Llamas
TV Coahran
Yes, Oh Yes
Fences

If you haven't yet heard Das Llamas this is your last chance as the band is preparing to take an extended hiatus, while members focus on their other projects (Grand Archives and See Me River among others).

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July 25, 2008 1:58 PM

Pre-CHBP

Posted by andrew matson

The streets are closed off to cars, but not people yet. Right now you can flow freely from booth to booth and stage to stage, in and out of CHBP. The block of Pike from Broadway to 12th Ave. is foot-only, and so are its East and West street outlets. Fencing is suggesting drinking and lining-up areas, but the gates are open and nothing is enforced yet. Except the foot-only thing. For civilians. Cops on Robocop Segways are laying down the law: "Hey, who's Mercedes is this? This has got to go."

Where will I blog? Don't know. Cafe Vita on Pike, maybe. What if their internet is overused by moochers like me and gets too slow? Well, that's what my Verizon card's for. I could blog from anywhere. No part of CHBP is safe.

The Bumbershoot tent smells like onions and yesterday's party, because it's outside the Comet bar and its attendent dumpsters. Bumbershoot volunteer Peter says, "It kind of smells like garbage, too." But that won't last long. Soon it will smell like "party."

Peter is the kind of guy who volunteers at things like the Bumbershoot tent, and I recommend all young/broke people volunteer at a festival or a promotional booth at a festival: it's the cheapest ticket you can earn.

CHBP head honcho Dave Meinert can be seen walking briskly around the grounds in his sunglasses. He is watching this thing come together like no one else, probably thinking to himself, "This is pretty cool. A party in the middle of the city. I hope we pull it off safely."

The more I look at the lineup, the more I realize how much I love Jay Reatard, Girl Talk, Les Savy Fav and Vampire Weekend. Seriously, are there four more entertaining acts right now? Well, yes. But not many. They are definitely near the top of the list. My list, at least.

Also big-time looking foward to Seattle via the 'burbs (Kirkland, stand up!) band Past Lives. Their high-concept art-rock is easy to understand but hard to fathom: it's screamingly powerful and impossibly pretty. Guitar rock so loud and weird has no business being so graceful. Last time I saw them a month ago (at the Comet, actually) I swore up and down they are the best band in Seattle.

CHBP! Let's do this!

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July 25, 2008 12:21 PM

Block Party Bands and Times

Posted by andrew matson

I'm on my way to the festival that will henceforth be known as CHBP. It is time to party on the block, or at least blog all over it. Before I leave, I'm checking the schedule. So should you.

Friday:

Neumos Stage

4:00-4:30 Black Eyes And Neck Ties
5:00-5:45 Head Like a Kite
6:15-7:00 Past Lives
7:45-8:30 Thee Emergency
9:00-10:00 The Dodo's
10:30-11:30 Jay Reatard
11:30-3:00 a.m. Sing Sing after party feat. Pase Rock, Paul Devro, & Pretty Titty

Vera Stage

4:00-4:45 Talbot Tagora
5:15-6:00 Abe Vigoda
6:30-7:15 Mika Miko
7:45-8:30 PWRFL POWER
9:00-9:45 Say Hi
10:15-11:15 Natalie Portman's Shaved Head

Main Stage

4:30-5:15 Common Market
5:30-6:15 U.S.E
6:30-7:15 Menomena
7:45-8:45 Girl Talk
9:15-10:15 Les Savy Fav
10:45-Midnight Vampire Weekend

King Cobra Stage

4:00-4:30 Black Whales
5:00-5:30 The Pharmacy
6:00-6:45 Truckasaurus
7:15-8:00 Airborn Toxic Event
8:30-9:15 Champagne Champagne
9:45-10:30 Pleasure Boaters
11:00-11:45 The Heavy Hearts
12:15-1:00 Lesbian

Saturday:

Neumos Stage

2:00-2:30 Kristen Ward
3:00-3:30 The Hands
4:00-4:45 Darker My Love
5:15-6:00 The Builders and The Butchers
6:30-7:15 Jaguar Love
7:45-8:30 Throw Me the Statue
9:00-10:00 Steed Lord
10:30-11:30 Super Secret Special Guests!
11:30-3:00 a.m. Sing Sing After Parties feat. Chromeo DJ Set, Fourcolorzack, & Pretty Titty

Vera Stage

2:00-2:30 Little Party and the Bad Business
3:00-3:45 The Physics
4:15-4:45 Scribes
5:15-6:00 Man Plus
6:30-7:15 Black Elk
7:45-8:30 Akimbo
9:00-9:45 Grand Ole Party
10:15-11:15 Schoolyard Heroes

Main Stage

2:00-2:45 Kay Kay And His Weathered Underground
3:15-4:00 Cave Singers
4:30-5:30 Kimya Dawson
6:00-7:00 Fleet Foxes
7:30-8:30 Chromeo
9:00-10:00 The Hold Steady
10:30-Midnight Devotchka

King Cobra Stage

2:00-2:30 Angelo Spencer
3:00-3:30 New Faces
4:00-4:30 The Whore Moans
5:00-5:30 The Loved Ones
6:00-6:45 Sleepy Eyes Of Death
7:15-8:00 Voyager One
8:30-9:15 Velella Velella
9:45-10:30 Feral Children
11:00-11:45 Book Of Black Earth
12:15-1:00 a.m. Zeke

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July 21, 2008 12:04 AM

Weezy F. Baby

Posted by andrew matson

Lil Wayne showed up late, blamed his flight, and then rapped for over an hour, way longer than anyone else at Summer Jam. The New Orleans rapper's set was loose and wild. He writhed all over the floor, stumbled through some misguided, remedial guitar playing, freestyled some obscene sex rhymes (which were actually pretty clever) and generally was extremely indulgent with his vocal and physical deliveries. He mumble-whispered at will and pelvic thrusted at anything that moved.

But mostly he snarled, yelled and shrieked. Mostly he rapped well, and chose a good setlist for himself: songs from his whole career, first album to "Tha Carter III," including a lot of mixtape tracks from these past few years.

The crowd was waiting a while for Wayne to arrive. All the artists had performed, and KUBE 93, in an effort to take up time, hosted an inane "Ms. Summer Jam contest." A handful of girls dressed like strippers showed off their bodies to the crowd, which was supposed to cheer or boo as the girls danced one by one, but instead seemed profoundly bored. It was the big guns, T&A, but nothing would have interested the crowd besides Wayne.

After it was clear he'd arrived, people were in such a frenzy that Wayne could've done pretty much anything and gotten away with it, and he tested the limits. He was uninhibited enough on stage so that it seemed anything could happen. He'd trail off sentences, skip whole song verses just to dance and come harder on the second verse, etc., but by and large seemed to be a rapper very much on his game. It didn't look like he was a drug addict struggling to function. He was given a huge amphitheatre full of people, and played the genius jester, the mad clown of hip-hop, and completely pulled off the role.

Funny how last Summer Jam, Nas played behind his album "Hip-Hop Is Dead," and the concert felt completely uninspired. It was just an event. This year, the headliner was excited about hip-hop and Summer Jam felt like an actual concert.

The Game helped with his aggro rap jams, but Lil Wayne pushed Summer Jam into the "concert" realm with pure personality and talent. Thousands of people hung on his every word, catching one-liner punchline rhymes he was sometimes making up as he went along.

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July 20, 2008 9:33 PM

The Game

Posted by andrew matson

Whooboy, Compton, CA rapper The Game just stomped through a set that was exactly the opposite of T-Pain's.

T-Pain is all about celebrating his alley-oop hits, all about glorious party-hit collaborating, and it was a nice change to see an angry MC take the stage and pointedly do everything himself. No hypeman, no dancers, no guests for hooks, and certainly no G-Unit for hand-outs. 50 Cent's G-Unit used to be The Game's team, but not now. He hates 50 & co. and the crowd sounded like they did, too. Too bad a lot of his best songs have choruses sung by 50; he was present even as he was dissed.

New tracks from The Game's August-planned "L.A.X." album sounded triumphant.

At one point, he drank an entire fifth of Grey Goose vodka in one pull. It had to be fake, or else The Game is a hardened alcoholic. He also had his "weed guy" come out and hand him a joint, which he smoked on stage. Later, he sarcastically saluted the cops standing nearby. He came off like his West Coast rap heroes: stupidly reckless, but the voice of the people nonetheless. He captivated the entire Summer Jam audience with raw, aggressive rap lyrics, and did it with an "F the world" style that people responded to. It was an almost old-school, skills-centric microphone feat.

Role model? No. Hardcore? Yes.

And yes, the audience was throwing up dubs for the whole set.

When will Lil Wayne go on? Who knows. I heard he flew here from Jamaica earlier today. The crowd started chanting "Weezy!" right after The Game left, but it was premature.

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July 20, 2008 8:00 PM

T-Pain

Posted by andrew matson

Where to start with the ridiculousness that just was T-Pain's stage show.

How about with his microphone, which he wears on his hand like a bionic glove, looking like a Battlefield Earth sci-fi chrome four-fingered ring gaunlet? That's pretty ridiculous, but it made sense: since Pain is known for singing through a computer to make his human voice a robotically smooth wave, the huge metal mic was a symbol.

T-Pain sings hooks on 80% of what's popular on KUBE 93. Since he played Summer Jam last year, he extended his impossible charts reign (he guests on hit singles) and dubbed himself "The Ringleader," since the industry is his circus. This very notion is ridiculous, made even moreso by its baffling accuracy. Robot-voiced dreadlocked party guy T-Pain doesn't actually have staying power does he?

Just saying, this show was more dominant than last year's.

He brought Bow Wow and Ray J out to party on stage while he knocked out "I'm So Hood" and "The Good Life," songs by other people- DJ Khaled and Kanye West- that he sings choruses for and are better than any of his own songs. Pain's solo stuff was fluff, a fact made abundantly clear when he hosted a moment of silence for various world tragedies then uncomfortably segued into yet another song about buying dranks for girls. I mean drinks.

Girls in the crowd were definitely doing insane-girl style hotstepping: "AAAAH!! I love you T-Pain!!!!!"

At time of blogging, it was unconfirmed whether T-Pain has considered buying any of them a drink.

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July 20, 2008 6:09 PM

Bow Wow

Posted by andrew matson

Bow Wow (no Lil anymore, he's in his 20s now) just pulled off an exceptional move.

He called for a "big woman" to come out of the crowd and dance on stage, and the big woman selected was larger than probably everyone in at Summer Jam was expecting.

She looked incredibly nervous, but Bow Wow proceeded to make her feel like the most special person in the packed amphitheatre. His weapon? Raw, shirt-off sex and no-joke sincerity.

He sat her down on an aluminum chair and rode her thigh, strip-dancing and posing like a hired gigolo. She was beside herself, but when she regained composure, appeared a billion times more confident than when she shuffled on stage. After a while, she bounded up and started shaking everything she had, a monumental effort not only appreciated, but eaten up by Bow Wow. He fell on his knees, danced very close, and allowed himself to be backed into and ground against, clearly giving this girl the sexy time of her life.

When she had walked on stage, the crowd sensed this was more woman than Bow Wow was bargaining for, and also sensed her complete fear and awe of Bow Wow. He dealt with it candidly and with a strangely perfect appropriateness.

I hate his music and think his raps are beyond simplistic, but at 26, I'm too old to listen to Bow Wow anyways. He worked the stage as hard as he could, running its length, jumping all over the place and making eye contact. Often, he sat on the stage's edge and close-up fandom errupted. He's a real entertainer, and went the extra mile to connect with this Summer Jam audience.

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July 20, 2008 4:56 PM

Ray J

Posted by andrew matson

'90s R&B singer Brandy's younger brother Ray J has just finished his Summer Jam set. Known for his sex videotape with celebrity sexy-girl Kim Kardashian, his image is like a cut-rate Usher, a rapping R&B singer concerned with being charming, having sex, and getting high.

He talked about marijuana a few times during his 25 minute set, a reference sure to be seconded by every other artist tonight. "Put your hands in the air if you smoke...," that kind of thing. But Ray J isn't all about weed. He's all about sex. For his current hit "Gifts," a song about girls' body parts, he brought audience women and young girls on stage to dance. The two largest ones, larger than the other six or so by a longshot, shook their stuff hardest, improbably doing the splits and dropping down hard on the stage. "This song is like a strip club anthem," Ray J said.

Then he sang the sad, romantic "One Wish," rolling chords with his right hand on a synthesizer with Bruce Horsnby schmaltz, weirdly dedicating it to his recently passed Aunt. The song isn't lyrically equipped to handle that message, but it was all about the "yearning R&B" vibe, I guess. Ray J sang his heart out, being very tender and taking his time with several vocal asides.

Then he switched to rapping about girls and finished up with his other song besides "Gifts" currently on the radio, "Sexy Can I," about making sex videos.

Nothing about the sexual vibe was weird. Every Clear Channel hip-pop artist has a very sexual image, kind of like how athletes take steroids. With his "sensitive guy" meets weed & sex style, Ray J is basically just keeping up with the mainstream. It's not how we remember him from youthful cameos on "Moesha," his sister's sitcom, but in 2008, it is what it is.

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July 20, 2008 3:39 PM

Overheard at Summer Jam:

Posted by andrew matson

"That lady just pulled a pack of cigarettes out of her bra."

"Ell. Oh. Ell. Yeah, menthols."

---

Last weekend I smelled Banana Boat at outdoor concerts. Today, it's Hawaiian Tropic.

I hear screaming. Is it Ray J? Bow Wow? No, false alarm. There is a rumor that everything is running an hour late.

Until the music starts, I'm chatting up vendors, mostly guys who started their own t-shirt business. Most popular t-shirt design: something gaudy involving pictures of scantily clad women.

There are posters everywhere for a website that apparently offers social networking like MySpace, except with a regular and "naughty" page. Very classy, Summer Jam.

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July 20, 2008 3:10 PM

Can We Start?

Posted by andrew matson

Now the grassy area is full, the seats are sat in, and the "mosh" area is teeming. Let's do this, right? C'mon Ray J. People are ready for the Summer Jam stage to start popping.

Hanging around the Dyme Def tent (I'm stealing their electricity, powering up my Dell, watching them give away 1,000 copies of the group's "3 Bad Brothaaas" mixtape in an hour), I ran into Capitol Hill rapper Macklemore. He bought tickets today. He's lucky: from what I know, Summer Jam sold out.

I caught up with Diana and Allison, the sister ticket-winners I met earlier in the day. They thought they were getting backstage passes from KUBE, but no. They are sitting on the grass in the sun, no blanket, no sunscreen, no hats, and, like everyone else here, preparing for the long haul.

More observations:

Everybody wearing a baseball hat has left the shiny stickers on the brim.

Everybody wearing a white t-shirt is wearing a brand new one, bright white with creases.

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July 20, 2008 2:29 PM

Two Observations

Posted by andrew matson

1: Lupe Fiasco's "Superstar" remix (feat. Young Jeezy and T.I.) is an incredible song, and I forgot that until it came out of the ear-killing Summer Jam stage speakers.

I'm blogging in the open-walled under-cover seating area by the stage, avoiding sunstroke.

2: The Seattle Times' Dell PC is small and cool-looking and my Verizon wireless card is handy, but I am definitely getting "geek" looks from the hip kids.

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July 20, 2008 1:32 PM

Summer Jam Begins

Posted by andrew matson

I'm at Summer Jam! And it's hot.

Backstage, I spoke with Diana (24) and her sister Allison (14). Diana won tickets to KUBE 93's "Backstage BBQ" from a call-in radio contest, and brought her sister, a 9th grader at Kent-Meridian and huge Lil Wayne fan. Diana said she brought her sister because "Nobody else likes Wayne like I do except her." Allison said Wayne is her favorite artist performing today, but she's also excited to see Bow Wow.

People are on blankets on the grass at the back of White River Amphitheatre. Lots are standing on the smooth concrete right in front of the stage, waiting for pop star Ray J to come out and sing songs about videotaping sexcapades.

Me? I'm excited for The Game, one of the only rappers out actively trying to put the whole West Coast on his back and ressurect that classic gangsta vibe from the early '90s. Of course I'm excited for Lil Wayne, arguably the best rapper alive (I say no, but admit he's in the running). Both artists have obnoxious face tattoos and strict agendas: The Game will have the audience throwing up "dubs," "W" hand signs for the West Coast, and Wayne will convince everyone he is a crazy-smart Martian.

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July 13, 2008 9:24 PM

Wolf Parade killed it, SP20 over

Posted by andrew matson

Rather than count all the songs I'm sad Wolf Parade didn't play, I'll just say the Montreal five-piece did renditions of two of their new album's best songs: "An Animal In Your Care" and "Kissing the Beehive," and both were epic. On the former, Spencer Krug sustained the keyboard chords instead of playing eighth notes like on "At Mount Zoomer," slowing down the verses for drama then raging through the catchy coda and sharing "feeling it" vocals with Dan Boeckner on the final refrain. The crowd went crazy, as they say. For the 11-minute marathon "KtB," Krug and Boeckner traded vocals from opposite sides of the stage, Krug pounding at the keys and Boeckner sawing at his electric guitar.

The crowd demanded an encore, Wolf Parade murdered their hit song "I'll Believe In Anything," reaching massive rock catharsis, and SP20 ended on a triumphant note.

Wolf Parade also plays a "secret" concert tomorrow at Neumo's in Capitol Hill.

Oh, and Guy's food blog is www.foodchains.blogspot.com

Andrew Matson, over and out.

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July 13, 2008 9:09 PM

Green River rides again

Posted by Patrick MacDonald

The reunion of Green River promised to be one of the highlights of SP20, and they did not disappoint. Mark Arm was on fire, with his eyes blazing and his body contorting every which way as he screamed out the scorching lyrics to songs like "33 Revolutions," "Together We'll Never," "Swallow My Pride," "New God" and "Baby Help Me Forget." After the latter he remarked, "That song breaks my heart every time."
He gleefully accused the Melvins of stealing the lyrics to a song he wrote in 1984, "Leeech," one of Green River's most harrowing, with graphic references to "coughing up blood." Arm compared the Melvin's theft with the exploitation of blues artists by bands like Led Zeppelin, "making us the Willie Dixon of grunge."
The tight, lively six-piece included guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament, now of Pearl Jam, who seemed to be having as much fun as Arm.
The powerful set felt like 1988 all over again, and served to remind how revolutionary Green River was all those years ago. With his other SubPop band Mudhoney still going strong, Arm is the living embodiment of SubPop and grunge. We'll probably see him again at SP25.

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July 13, 2008 8:45 PM

Beachwood Sparks bring alt/country to the party

Posted by Patrick MacDonald

Putting the lie to the notion that SubPop is all about grunge, Beachwood Sparks closed out the satellite stage lineup with some alternative country that you could've square-danced to. The six-piece, including two electric guitarists, a pedal-steel guitarist, and a keyboardist, swung right into action with tight harmonies and smokin' guitar interplay.
"We haven't played in a long time," the lead singer said after the first song, "so that was a nice, chill-out moment for us." He sighed and smiled, showing obvious relief.
The crowd seemed to chill, too, with lots of folks sprawling in the grass, listening to the set's mix of twangy ballads and uptempo country-dance tunes.
There was plenty of room to sprawl, because the place wasn't too crowded. No lines at the beer garden or the port-a-potties. Yippee! It felt like a big family picnic, a gathering of friends.

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July 13, 2008 6:50 PM

Comets on Fire/Dan Boeckner is just a regular guy

Posted by andrew matson

First things first, Comets on Fire was the loudest band at SP20. The Santa Cruz band's set was slithering, sprawling, face-melting psychedelic guitar rock, breathlessly solo-ed and shreiked by frontman guitarist/singer Ethan Miller. Up front listening to their songs, each sounded like stepping in front of a different jet engine. It was blues-based and jazz-informed (a little, just on some drum beats), but clearly Comets on Fire is doing its own thing. Through sheer force and frenzy, these guys have put themselves way out on a limb.

After their set, I met Guy Maddison, bassist from Mudhoney in my nerd-infested press corrall. Guy was very polite, and we chatted for a while about his food blog where he fields recipes from around the world, cooks them in his house, and photgraphs the results. (I can't remember the name! Guy, if you read this, post your blog's name in the comments. It won't be spam- I want to check it out!)

He ended up giving me a bracelet that granted entrance backstage, land of free food and drinks. Later, trying to carry two plates of chicken, I was forced to surrender my drink (red wine and Coke, aka the 'hood sangria) to the nearest person who'd accept it: Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade.

The only other time I've been star-struck at SP20 was when David Cross asked me if the Marymoor Park windmill was okay to climb in/on (I said yes, not knowing the real answer). I am a gigantic Wolf Parade fan, if you couldn't tell by this article. They play later tonight. I stuttered to Dan that I'd listened to his new album At Mount Zoomer roughly a hundred times and, currently, his band is my life. Embarrassing, but awesome. He asked, "Did you see Comets on Fire?" and gave me a look like, "Pretty heavy, huh?"

Heavy, indeed.

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July 13, 2008 6:24 PM

Patrick MacDonald here, stealing Andrew Matson's computer

Posted by andrew matson

"This is the first time we've ever rehearsed," the lead singer/guitarist of Red Red Meat confessed at the start of the band's set this afternoon. "But only for 15 minutes. And just the first two songs."
But they sounded tighter than ever, and delivered body-slamming beats, thanks to two heavy-pounding drummers. The sound was scratchy but the band just went with it - and it seemed to be in the SubPop spirit to sound a little imperfect and unpolished.
There was a bent, spiritual undertone to the set - it is the Sabbath, after all -- with two songs making reference to Jesus, in a challenging, questioning way.
SubPop co-founder Jonathan Poneman looked on approvingly as the band he signed to the label moved an appreciative crowd. He went unrecognized, which just underscored the easygoing, no-stars-here ethos of SubPop, a label that'sall about music, not egos.

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July 13, 2008 5:22 PM

No Age is a very good band

Posted by andrew matson

It's just a two-piece- drums and guitar- but No Age does a lot with a little.

The set these L.A. young guns just finished was awash in various custom-made feedback sounds, different styles of tuneful and textural white noise triggered by drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt turning knobs on a box and guitarist Randy Randall toying with pedals and amplifier settings. These noises were to sound what watercolor is to paint, and the band used them to fill out what otherwise might be called skeletal punk rock. Throughout the set, Randall often strummed murmering build-ups/fade-aways, and Spunt mirrored the rhythmic idea on his cymbals. It wasn't something you could dance to, but a special kind of close-friend ESP on display.

No Age did not just build cool texture walls for nothing- they used them as backdrops for heavily-distorted nimble punk songs that lasted an average of two minutes. Sometimes the songs were catchy ("Eraser"), and sometimes they were just interesting ideas that wrapped up before wearing out their welcome.

And did I mention before? SP20 pictures are here.

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July 13, 2008 4:08 PM

Foals/Les Thugs

Posted by andrew matson

A faraway spice floated to Redmond all the way from Oxford, England, and it tastes like dance-punk.

Foals just finished their set of arty, speedy, disco-drummed rock. I ventured out of my shady area (for bloggers, photographers and other nerds) and stood smack-dab in the middle of the giant plastic "dance floor" sport court to watch the set in billion degree heat. Seriously, the heat cannot be overstated. Every breeze is gold.

Foals singer Yannis Philippakis said he was impressed to see so many good-looking teeth. He confirmed British people have very bad teeth, and bleeding gums, too, he said, bleeding so much that Brits try and talk to each other but just spray blood everywhere.

Much noise has been made of the fact Foals sound like Bloc Party, and they do, but mostly because of Philippakis' voice: he communicates in aggressive, semi-fey yelps just like Bloc Partier Kele Okereke, each line a kiss-off voiced to carry a soccer field. I mean a football field. The rest of Foals' sound is nervous fast guitar- a lot of one-string/few notes back-and-forth picking- and breakneck dancey hi-hat-centric beats. It's not the most original sound in the world, and "dance-punk" is a lot more popular in England than it is here (NW dance-punk heroes the Gossip are huge stars there, minor figures here), but Foals pulled it off very well, selling it like it was completely crucial. Sounded cool, anyways.

Now French punk group Les Thugs are playing at the small stage. It's basic-sounding punk with pop nods here and there, but the more I listen the more I like it. These songs are good. It's fast 'n loud guitar rock, you know, punk, but Les Thugs are good at communicating a barely-reigned-in energy that's really appealing. These Frenchmen are in total control of their galloping punk storm. They have been on Sub Pop longer than any other band still on the label. They rock.

No Age is starting now and I can't wait to see them.

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July 13, 2008 2:33 PM

Blitzen Trapper is AmeriCanadiana, is playing slightly too long, is followed by Kinski

Posted by andrew matson

Portland guitar-rock sextet Blitzen Trapper's set was supposed to be over three minutes ago, but whatever. They sounded great today playing their special North American blend: Wilco, Sonic Youth and Neil Young loom large in their music.

Blitzen Trapper also has songs where they totally do their own thing (offbeat folk interrupted with crazy noise asides? I don't think any other band is doing that) but their Wilco soundalikes are best, and resonated most with a now much fuller-looking crowd than greeted the Ruby Suns at the beginning of the feel-good part of today's SP20.

Local psych/drone mostly-instrumental rockers Kinski just started on the small stage, the first set played there today. The band has a knack for hammering tough-sounding guitar riffs into oblivion, twisting and tweaking, but mostly just harping until some desired song froth is reached. Aggressive stuff, for sure, and more interesting when it doesn't hammer so one-track: flute was just played through something that made it sound like a wailing distorted guitar. Cool.

Side note: Seen currently in the sequestered press corrall is a baby w/out earplugs. This is not ok.

Side side note: Baby is now wearing earplugs.

Oh, and check out SP20 picutres here.

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July 13, 2008 12:31 PM

Day two, The Ruby Suns/Grand Archives

Posted by andrew matson

Here we go: day two of SP20.

The weather is exactly the same as it was yesterday, clear and hot, and from where I sit by the smaller of the festival's two stages in some pine tree shade, I can smell Banana Boat. The green, scorching hot grassy hills and shady stage-front areas look a little more sparsely populated then yesterday- today did not sell out, yesterday did.

Last night ended with big time famous New Zealand duo Flight of the Conchords, and today began with relatively unknown New Zealand indie-pop group The Ruby Suns. They just finished.

A small crowd in front of the big stage bopped along to the guy/girl duo's cute, electronic pop, which came from a few machines and digitally pulsed along to Ryan McPhun and Amee Robinson's sweet chanting, bouncy standing-up drum playing and intermittent elecric guitar picking. It was sorta tribal, if "cool Portland house party" is a tribe. Except The Ruby Suns are Kiwis.

Anyhow, the set was cheery and interesting to listen to. Better, it was easy to listen to, and worked well for facing the beginning of a sun-saturated 10-hour day at certainly the best music festival happening anywhere in the world right now.

Even easier listening? Grand Archives, which just started with Mat Brooke's friendly acoustic strumming and whistling. Off we are on the good vibes right away, versus yesterday's hard-rockin' kick-off.

Besides Fleet Foxes yesterday, Grand Archives' music mirrors the Marymoor setting better than any other SP20 band. This is truly music to lay out in the sun to. Percussion: woodblocks and tambourine hits. Guitar sound: something between a mandolin and a dulcimer.

SP20 is serene, but that should change when jam-ier, noisier indie-Americana act Blitzen Trapper follows Grand Archives. Until then, I'm going to enjoy this set and wait for "George Kaminski," my favorite song off the band's eponymous album.

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July 13, 2008 7:29 AM

SP20: Day 1 in pictures

Posted by Raina Wagner

Awake yet? Ready for Day 2?

While you have your morning coffee, here are some Day 1 photos from yesterday's big Sub Pop party, to get you back in the SP20 mood. On This Stage and That Stage today: Grand Archives, Foals, Kinski, Comets on Fire, Green River and Wolf Parade.

The Obits

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The Obits, SP20 - July 12, 2008, Shawn Brackbill

The New York four piece opened the festival Saturday. Read Jeff Albertson's post below.

The Constantines

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Constantines, SP20 - July 12, 2008, Shawn Brackbill

Andrew Matson's take: this was one sweaty set.


Eric's Trip

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Eric's Trip, SP20 - July 12, 2008, Shawn Brackbill

Jeff Albertson described this band as "pop music for long-haired stoners."

Pissed Jeans

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Pissed Jeans, SP20 - July 12, 2008, Shawn Brackbill

Andrew Matson's only word: loud.

Low

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Low, SP20 - July 12, 2008, Shawn Brackbill

Read Jeff Alberton's take on Low at sunset below.

Mudhoney

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Mudhoney, SP20 - July 12, 2008, Shawn Brackbill

Two decades in, Mark Arm is still punker than you, writes Jeff below.

Vaselines

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It was one of the first times this Scottish band played in the U.S. Read more from Jeff below.

Vaselines, SP20 - July 12, 2008, Shawn Brackbill

Iron & Wine

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Iron & Wine, SP20 - July 12, 2008, Shawn Brackbill

Sam Beam calmed the crowd. Read more from Andrew below.

Flight of the Conchords

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Flight of the Conchords, SP20 - July 12, 2008, Shawn Brackbill


The funny Kiwi duo closed out Day 1.

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July 12, 2008 9:47 PM

Flight of the Conchords

Posted by andrew matson

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Lots of couples are here at SP20, and now that it's dusk, many are sitting on blankets closer than they were when the sun was out, swaying to Flight of the Conchords' ridiculous comedy songs. The Kiwi duo- Jemaine Clement and Britt, I'm sorry, Bret McKenzie- sing about girls a lot. People shared deep laughs over love/lust one-liners like, "You're so hot, you're making me sexist." The anti-sexy sex song "Business Time" was even funnier than I remembered: Jemaine to "lucky lady," in throaty voice: "Ok, now wipe off that pimple cream. Aw yeah."

My mom phoned me earlier with special news that she'd just seen Jemaine at Sea-Tac Int'l Airport, and that's a partial explanation of how broad the Conchords' appeal is.

Though their SP20 set was songs- no comedy routine besides that, just songs- their special brand of deadpan interrupting each other with observations ("Hey, there's a lot of guys here without shirts on. What's that all about?") and ideas (Jemaine: "Hey Bret, let's have everyone throw their underpants on stage and have them just barely miss us, yeah?" Bret, with sideways glance: "Yeah.") was hilarious.

FotC brought Sub Pop comedian Todd Barry on stage for "Business Time" and played no encore. SP20 day one: great.

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July 12, 2008 9:22 PM

Iron and Wine soothes

Posted by Jeff Albertson

The following was written by Andrew Matson and posted by Jeff Albertson:

Iron and Wine is Sam Beam, and he played his SP20 set solo with an acoustic guitar. His voice was breathy, but not too much, and his guitar finger-picking was precise.

During the period of day/night I believe is called the gloaming, his slow, easy-listening songs went down smooth, perfect salves for ears ravaged all day by grunge and noise bands. People were completely respectful the whole time, staying silent. It was audacious, this long bearded man with sunglasses hooked on his shirt serenading thousands of people, but he pulled it off (while looking like Beach Boy Carl Wilson). The comforting energy was exactly what everyone needed.

Yes, he played his famous cover of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights." Yes, couples kissed during it.

Flight of the Conchords is on stage right now. They have very obvious accents.

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July 12, 2008 8:42 PM

"You Think You're A Man, You Are Only A Boy"

Posted by Jeff Albertson

The Vaselines have a rich and interesting history. The band, originally made up of only Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, formed in 1986 and broke up a short three years later after releasing two EPs and one full-length album.

Then Kurt Cobain came along and declared them his "most favorite songwriters in the whole world." Cobain returned the favor to the relatively unknown Glasgow band by covering three of their best songs: "Molly's Lips," "Son of A Gun" and the traditional "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam." The latter was included on Nirvana's "MTV Unplugged Album" and exposed the band to a world-wide audience.

They just finished with one of their first ever performances in the United States and a supportive and enthusiastic crowd ate it up. McKee and Kelly's specialty of sugar-coated pop songs and tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendo made for a memorable show.

The highlight of the set was "You Think You're a Man," a cheeky tune that had the crowd dancing and singing along: "You think you're a man, you are only a boy. You think you're a man you are only a toy. You think you're a man, but you just couldn't see. You aren't man enough to satisfy me."

Edit: The band's July 9th show at Maxwell's Hoboken, NJ was their first U.S. performance.

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July 12, 2008 8:15 PM

Mark Arm is punker than you

Posted by Jeff Albertson

Twenty years after releasing what is widely considered as the seminal grunge EP, "Superfuzz Bigmuff," Mark Arm still has more charisma, stage presence and raw power than most front men half his age.

The eternally youthful Arm and band mates, Steve Turner (guitar), Guy Madison (bass) and Dan Peters (drums) tore through a set of classic hits including the punk-rock anthem "Touch Me I'm Sick," "You Got it" and a slew of newer tunes from their equally impressive "The Lucky Ones" released in 2008.

Arm stumbled a bit on the lyrics to "In and Out of Grace," the chill-inducing hardcore epic from their debut EP, but was able to laugh it off and rip off a blood curling response singing: "Christ - body and blood I crave, sliding in and out of grace, yeah!" that drew a hearty cheer from the crowd.

It's inspiring to see a band out live so many others, especially when they enjoy it as much as Mudhoney does. Forget about all the faces in the crowd smiling, singing and pumping their fists along with the music, Mudhoney look and sound like they are having as much fun now as they did when they first started tearing the roofs off of Seattle clubs two-decades prior.

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July 12, 2008 6:16 PM

Mellow Gold

Posted by Jeff Albertson

Low, the Duluth, Minnesota slow-core band, is playing a set as glorious as the fading sunset behind the pines.

Sun-drenched bodies are strewn across the lawn while the absurdly minimal three-piece plays stripped down and syrup-paced rock. In their song "Sandinista" the band incorporated the riff from Neil Young's "Tin Soldiers" making for an eclectic and inspiring mash of old and new.

The music is both haunting and beautiful while guitatrist and vocalist Alan Sparhawk sings:

"Where would you go if the gun fell in your hands?
Home to the kids or to sympathetic friends?
Oh sandinista, oh sandinista
Oh sandinista, take my side

Deep through the clouds hear them marching up slowly
Fresh with the blood of your father so holy
Oh sandinista, oh sandinista
Oh sandinista, take my side"

The subdued vibe is sure to liven up when Mudhoney takes the stage shortly after.

For more on Low, visit: http://www.chairkickers.com


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July 12, 2008 4:57 PM

Fleet Foxes' Perfect Harmony

Posted by Marian Liu

fleet.jpgFleet Foxes are playing right now. If you didn't get a chance to catch my Q&A with their frontman, Robin Pecknold, here's the link.


Right now, they are singing "Sun Giant," A cappella - wow, what harmony! They should record the live performance. They definitely are a band you have to close your eyes and be thankful for.

Pecknold told me for "White Winter Hymnal," the band just sat down and recorded it cold, before rehearsing iit ever - and after their perfect harmony right now, I have to believe him.

They kicked off "White Winter Hymnal" A cappella too. So far, they've received the biggest crowd.
(Photo by David Belisle)

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July 12, 2008 4:36 PM

OMG Pissed Jeans is loud

Posted by andrew matson

While Pissed Jeans played incredibly loud songs full of electric guitar feedback, moaning and screaming, I tried to shout to my friend that I'd see her later, during the Fleet Foxes' set.

"What? You're going to get me three vodkas?" she yelled back.

"No, Fleet Foxes. Forget it."

And now Fleet Foxes are harmonizing "Sun Giant" a capella, which sounds indescribably lovely.

Seriously, could there be two more different bands than Pissed Jeans and Fleet Foxes? Another reason Sub Pop is great: variety.

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July 12, 2008 4:26 PM

Girl Trouble OK to play outside

Posted by Marian Liu

A cop came up right before their last song, and said they were not allowed to play -- they had to play 4 more hours! The band was punk'd! Turned out Girl Trouble would not get into their own trouble - the park concert coordinator was an old friend.

And Sub Pop Records had this to say too: "We at Sub Pop are honored to share the park with Girl Trouble and look forward to their first-ever acoustic performance. It's just this sort of IY ("Invite Yourself") attitude that we hope will make SP20 a memorable event. Plus, Girl Trouble has promised a complementary bag of chips to the first 40 attendees. Just try to get there before we do," said Chris Jacobs, Sub Pop General Manager.

Here's an interview with the Tacoma band and how their guerilla actions had little repercussions:

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July 12, 2008 3:34 PM

Picturesque Marymoor

Posted by Marian Liu

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Sitting at the picture tables, underneath the trees and listening to music, I don't think there's any other way I would want to spend a summer day.

Portland indie rock band Helio Sequence is playing, providing a sweet summer soundtrack. Right now, they're playing "The Captive Mind" again, at the request of an audience member.

(Photo by Pavlina Honcova-Summers)

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July 12, 2008 3:16 PM

Genre busting with Eric's Trip

Posted by Jeff Albertson

Eric's Trip frontman Rick White has the longest hair of anyone performing today, prompting me to wonder: How do you describe this band's sound to friends based on his looks?

The short answer: Pop music for long-haired stoners.

They have elements of the distortion-saturated guitars of Sonic Youth (taking the song "Eric's Trip" as their moniker), but the band also manages to play as quiet as they do loud. Their 1993 debut, "Love Tara" inspired a legion of DIY kids like Phil Elverum (Mount Eerie/Microphones) to record lo-fi masterpieces in their bedrooms on crude four-track tape recorders.

The band broke up in 1996, then reunited for a handful of shows in 2007. Despite intermittent status of the band they played a solid set while the temparture hit the 80-degree mark.

To hear a sample check out: http://www.myspace.com/ericstrip

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July 12, 2008 3:05 PM

Spotted in the Crowd: Scott Plouff (Built To Spill)

Posted by Jeff Albertson

Among the many band members milling about this weekend was Scott Plouf, drummer for Built To Spill. Idaho's best export and biggest indie band on major label is in the middle of recording a new album in Los Angeles.

When asked who he was most excited to see this weeknd Plouff answered "Everyone."

It's hard to argue with the man.

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July 12, 2008 3:00 PM

Girl Trouble on the outskirts of Sub Pop

Posted by Marian Liu

Just outside the entrance of the Sub Pop Festival at Marymoor Park, Tacoma garage band Girl Trouble played.

With so many bands in the lineup, they were not invited to play inside, but as the first full-length record SubPop ever released with the record matrix number ironically K/SP-20, they kicked off their own show outside.

Here's a clip of the performance. They created quite a stir.

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July 12, 2008 2:39 PM

The Constantines are as awesome as SP20 is hot

Posted by andrew matson

Sky: cloudless
Weather: hot
Trees: mostly coniferous
Knolls: grassy

SP20 is situated in a part of Marymoor Park that has trees and grass hills. It is beautiful. Lots of people have no shirts on. Plenty are sleeveless and the rest have their sleeves pushed up.

Good thing it's a sweaty occasion for the Constantines; their music glorifies toil, work, sweat and simple pleasures. Starting their set with the refrain "night time, anytime, it's alright" from their song "Working Fulltime" off Sub Pop album "Shine a Light," they must have been referring to something fun: singer Steve Lambke was smiling through their entire set of let's-toast-to-the-hardscrabble rock. Proof the Constantines, even though they are far artier than most hard-edged indie pop, are completely about the Pabst-drinking people? They finished with a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man."

All this happened at the big stage, the "This stage," which is right next to the small stage, the "That" stage, which are fronted by a huge sport court plastic mat, which the knolls surround.

Eric's Trip just finished. They were great, and Jeff will tell you about that. Seaweed is playing now. They are funny, shouting out "Girl Trouble," who Marian will blog about.

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July 12, 2008 2:13 PM

Getting started with The Obits

Posted by Jeff Albertson

The Obits, a four-piece band from New York, opened today's festival with a hard-driving set of minimalist rock while sun-drenched crowds angled for spots in the shade close to the stage.

The Obits, who played a blistering show at the Funhouse last night, showed no signs of slowing down and played a spirited blend of psychedelic and garage rock that was drenched in reverb-heavy guitar and propelled by rhythmic and thundering drums. Led by Rick Froberg (Drive Like Jehu/Hot Snakes) the band is currently in talks with Sub Pop to release a new album. Early festival attendees hunkered down in the front of the stage where the most shade was to be had and in turn were treated to a solid show.

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July 12, 2008 10:00 AM

Saturday and Sunday in's and out's

Posted by Marian Liu

There are in and out privileges until 5 p.m.

Tickets are exchanged for a wristband upon exit. And after 5 p.m., the venue will allow folks out on a case by case basis, depending on reasonable, legitimate health and security reasons.

So that's the heads-up!

And here's the full line-up.

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July 12, 2008 12:46 AM

Comedy Show Wrap-up

Posted by Marian Liu

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It was a night of awkward, offbeat humor where the comedians had a fun time celebrating Sub Pop. Here's a lowdown:

KRISTEN SCHAAL
Known as the stalker fan Mel from the "Flight of the Conchords" HBO show, Schaal was a charming choice for host. And, just like Mel, she was wonderfully random - playing the elementary school game of MASH on stage and folding origami to electronic music, all the while telling jokes in her high pitched naive-like voice. Here's her site to check her out - myspace.com/kristenschaal.

TODD BARRY
Another "Flight of the Conchords" actor - Barry was in the last episode as "The Third Conchord," playing a bongo playing egomaniac who came up with the horrid song, "Doggie Bounce." An audience member asked him to play, but sadly, he did not. He had some goofball jokes, like the best part of eating alone is the eavesdropping.

EUGENE MIRMAN
A third comedian from the "Flight of the Conchords" HBO show cast - Miriman plays the landlord in the series. He had two funny bits - one that playing dead is a rumor that bears must of spread somehow without any access to propaganda. And the other was a video of Mirman donning a Hannah Montana wig, recounting the good old days of grunge.

PATTON OSWALT
Oswalt was the funniest comedian of the night actually. He drew a lot of his jokes from real experience. An air marshal recognized him on the plane, and admitted to him freely that officials keep their guns in their briefs to avoid exposure. Patton also relayed his belief that religion was a way for the weaker of the population to control the stronger from stomping on them, promising them cake and pie in the sky.

DAVID CROSS
Caught off guard by a baby's cry in the audience, Cross got off beat with this comedic rhythm. Then, he realized that he dropped his notes somewhere backstage, so Oswalt and Schaal went snooping around. But when he finally found the notes, he got back on track - ribbing on the shopping magazine SkyMall's useless gadgets like the time mug, supposedly necessary during meetings when you can't scan your watch.

(Photo by Ryan Russell)

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July 11, 2008 3:31 PM

Looking Forward to the Comedy Show

Posted by Marian Liu

I'm looking forward to the comedy show tonight.

I think its brilliant that Sub Pop has comedians in its lineup and they have their own show for the anniversary festival.

There are two that I want to hear tonight:

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David Cross

"Arrested Development" was one of my favorite sitcoms and it was Cross that made me return time and time again. Now I have the DVD's. If you ever watch it, definitely look up the episode where Cross' hair plugs suck out his livelihood, but he is so determined to keep them, he ends up confined to a wheel chair. He also voiced a good villain as the tentacled alien Yivo in the Futurama DVD, "The Beast with a Billion Backs." (here's the link to the trailer."

(Photo courtesy of Sub Pop Records)

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Patton Oswalt

I wasn't sure about Patton on "The King of Queens," because he always played such a wimpy character (though he looks tough here), but he was sure sweet in the animated film "Ratatouille." I've since seen a few of his stand-up acts on television, so I'm excited to see what he will say tonight.

(Photo by Ryan Russell)

Stay tuned on my thoughts of the show later.

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July 11, 2008 12:59 PM

Getting to SP20

Posted by Raina Wagner

Doh! Turns out the 520 bridge -- likely the preferred route of many Seattleites heading to SP20 tomorrow or Sunday -- is closed all weekend for its annual check up. Nothing like a routine doctor's visit to mess up your plans.

The 520 bridge closes at 11 tonight and stays that way till 5 a.m. Monday, extending from Montlake Boulevard East in Seattle to 92nd Avenue Northeast on the Eastside (read the full Seattle Times story here. But don't fret, Seattle! Sub Pop is on top of things, and posted non-520 bridge directions on their site earlier this week. Find them here.

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July 11, 2008 12:34 PM

Sub Pop Festival kicking off to a magnificent start

Posted by Marian Liu

IMG_4227.JPGNot only is Sub Pop Records flying their flag atop of the Space Needle right now, the label kicked off their 20th anniversary with a private party on the Needle's observation deck last night.


It was an ironic scene - indie rockers and their hipster friends waiting in line for sushi and appetizers, plus hankering for the open bar. The last party I've gone to at Universal Records wasn't even that nice - they only had some scant refreshments that were gone by the time I got there - while Sub Pop's party had three long tables worth of food, not to mention the flowing libation.

More than 500 folks were there last night, partying past 12:30 a.m.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for IMG_4220.JPGIt must be gratifying that the label has not only survived well past grunge, but has thrived. The party was a proud moment for the Seattle icon to relish in its accomplishments.


This weekend, they are expecting around 10,000 fans to flow into Marymoor Park. Tonight's Sub Pop Comedy show, as well as the first day at Marymoor Park are sold out, but there are still tickets available for The Gutter Twins show at The Showbox and the Sunday show at the Marymoor.

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July 11, 2008 12:33 PM

The band I'm most excited about seeing at SP20?

Posted by andrew matson

Wolf Parade!

They close out Sup Pop's 20-year anniversary festival at Marymoor Park Sunday at 8:20 p.m.

I interviewed the band's drummer, Arlen Thompson, for a preview in today's Ticket section. As far as I know, tickets for SP20's Sunday show are still available (Saturday is sold out), so read the article and get motivated to spend what's left of your stimulus check!

Check out the video for what is, as I say in my article, surely one of the finest songs of this decade:
"I'll Believe In Anything"

Comments | Category: Sub Pop 20th Anniversary |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

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