This year’s Block Party was a genuinely cool fest, and a buzzing success—to a ratable, visible extent. As can be anticipated in any large music festival, some acts fell short (A$AP Rocky), while others exceed expectations and fucking kill (Angel Olsen). The sun was out, water guns streaming from balconies over the streets, all degrees and ages of stoners present, and tons of great food and handy booze within eyesight—the party was well prepared.
The crowd was a mix of UW student—lots of mom shorts and cute little girls, fun parents with ear-budded babies; probably 45% hipster (that’s a rough estimate). Apparently the festival was never sold out over the three-day weekend; however, each day North Pike St. filled around the main stage for the day’s biggest name; while off-center acts’ crowds remained manageable and pretty dope.
Café Vita Coffee Roasters put on a badass showcase – Café Vita’s Endsessions – with acts like Spoon, Duke Evers, and Iska Dhaaf, and War On Drugs each day, usually featuring two or three shows, often fit in before the group’s show at a festival stage. So, good work, Café Vita –way to be cool.
Matt and Kim. Coming from a non-fan of the pair, Matt and Kim had a pretty rad party. Both members of the act make a point to interact, and to a pretty cheesy extent, entertain the audience, rather than engross them in music. Matt jokes and Kim danced and shakes her ass for the crowd—not to be misogynistic, this actually happens. Lots of tiny girls ran through the crowds naturally, forced like veins moving oxygen toward the front of the stage, to feed the band’s energy. And acts like Matt and Kim do well to get people moving and give off a “fuck-it” fun vibe—girls move, guys move; it’s a party.
A$AP Rocky was the festival finale, and unfortunately so. He spent the majority of the show jumping up and down to other artists’ songs, rarely spitting out any verses; instead, yelling out the hooks of songs. The streets filled and walking became the sort of annoying game it becomes when more people dancing than standing still or walking. Some people still looked excited when the show was over, while most rubbed their ears and probably shrugged, “A damn shame – maybe A$AP’s just better at home.”
Angel Olsen rocked out, hitting strings slightly harder than much of the material from her album. The band seemed to have a good time playing, although it could be said that Angel wasn’t as engrossed a host as she could have been, limiting the small talk and joking with the crowd. Can’t complain though, Angel Olsen rules and she backed up her music by not skipping a beat live.
War on Drugs put on a big-feeling show. Lit up from an overhead sun, the hot street filled with hands-in-pocket hipsters and some late-arrival attendees who most likely meandered to the first, biggest sound on the street. Like a Tom Petty or Neil Young show, War on Drugs played and dressed the part—hitting long, country-tinged notes and rolling drum beats like any good driving song has. The band played late afternoon and as the sun set, continued until dark, playing for nearly two and a half hours. Sadly, the sun and the Saturday drunk-kid crowd dampened the attitude in the audience—as I had to do the “proud shoulders” move to keep a few kids from falling over, through me. Finally a few fading teenagers left, to be replaced by a couple of guys who clearly didn’t listen to War on Drugs, and clearly didn’t come to the show to begin. They just started talking and dancing to some far away DJ set in the middle of the street. Fuckers.
Spoon was the biggest name at the festival, no doubt. Their show was a nice mix of old hits (“The Way We Get By”) with some newer stuff from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga like “Underdog” and ish, then some new sounds from their alum—which was released today, August 4th. The new album seems to be mostly praised for it’s Spoon-ish style, sort of bumpy-pop with some wrenching singing.
Lots of local bands and other national indie groups played pretty awesome shows, many in smaller venues with great areas and bars. Gaythiest was a metal triplet from Portland, nearly all of their songs coming in under two minutes, fast and screaming. They played a quick fun set at Nuemos on Saturday. As The Stranger put it, the band won the Best Band Name award. Duke Evers, another triplet—though from Seattle—played for Café Vita’s Endsessions Saturday. Duke Evers seems somehow like a West Coast version of Smith Westerns, maybe loosened up a little.
See also: Dum Dum Girls, Iska Dhaaf, Katie Kate, Country Lips.
– Drew Tully and Cole Fite | Contributing Bloggers