Holy Fuck ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
“Who the hell is Willie Nelson?” – Anonymous Block Party Music Aficionado
Literally, those were the first discernible words I heard as I entered the gates to Capitol Hill Block Party 2010. I was scared for my life. Think of all the people that were attending Block Party and the unlimited matrix of possible verbalized thoughts, intentions and actions that could’ve been expressed at that exact moment. Was it any wonder that fear was a sudden friend of mine? Would everyone attending Block Party exhibit the same amount of brain cells as the amount of tic-tacs that come in one of those small, plastic containers? Is it criminal for the Red-Headed Stranger to live up to his nickname in the hearts and minds of the “OMGeneration”? (Yes, I’m coining that phrase. I’m a colloquial gangster.) These somewhat cynical questions would be answered over the course of the next 72 hours. For the time being, I came to get down and get down I did.
Shabazz Palaces performed on the Main Stage and was the first act I saw on Friday because I arrived later than planned. I listened to the entirety of Nirvana’s “Bleach” while I was stuck in gridlock on Montlake. It took me a few songs to rid myself of the leg rust that is associated with being stuck in traffic jams and get myself into the groove of Shabazz Palaces. Once I found that place where the human body seems to move on its own, all was right in my world. “Gunbeat Falls” and “Capital 5…” brought even greater joy to my body and the two songs elicited cheers from those in the audience who are familiar with the work of Shabazz Palaces. One of the more peculiar highlights of the Shabazz Palaces set was the fashion on display. I don’t know who it was, but on-stage was someone with a crazy purple (jump?) suit on that I couldn’t take my eyes off of. I eventually came up with the affectionate nickname of “The Codeine Suit.” It was like if you took “Dat Drank” and poured into a suit-shaped plaster. Wait for the mixture to harden and voila, you have the best-dressed gentleman at Block Party! I’m a t-shirt and jeans guy myself but even I can appreciate exquisite taste.
I could’ve gone to see some other acts immediately after Shabazz Palaces but I chose to get a tattoo instead. No, I didn’t get one to commemorate my 2010 Block Party experience; it was planned a good 24 hours in advance. The only reason I even mention this is because of the insane amount of beautiful creatures, with amazing tattoos that would not leave my line of sight all weekend. It was a blessed problem to have. I’m sure many of you would agree. “The Great Ink Pageant on Partry Mountain” will be the official name of Block Party next year. I returned to the otherworldly sounds of Yeasayer on the Main Stage. Though I’ve never been too huge on them, probably because it reminds me of mopping floors at my old job, they sounded great. They have a very eclectic approach to songwriting, which is something I appreciate immensely. I hate when musical acts essentially end up playing the same song, over and over again. Yawn. Yeasayer had one song that reminded me of Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes.” You might laugh but that 1983 Billboard #12 single is extremely catchy and doesn’t have longevity issues.
I walked back and forth between Cal Anderson Park and various watering holes waiting for Holy Fuck to take the Main Stage. My memory is somewhat hazy but while waiting for “The Greatest Band To Ever Play Outdoor Musical Festivals Since Ancient Greek Times” (Yeah, I’m calling Holy Fuck that) I caught Hairvest at Cha Cha. Their name not withstanding, they gave me what was one of many unforgettable gems of Block Party 2010. Gentle reader, can you throw your lighter up for a Hairvest cover of Kelis’ “Milkshake”? If anyone has video footage of this, please let me know. It was amazing and totally unexpected. Holy Fuck then lived up to their name once again. You’ll be able to read more about that shortly. If it weren’t for every Canadian playing in the NHL and my everlasting desire to marry Nelly Furtado, these guys would be the most important Canadians in my life, by far.
You know what else was spectacular? Helms Alee at the Cha Cha. Make no mistake about it, I am a complete “fan boy” of this band. I listen to them all the time. Every time I see one of the band members randomly around the town, my heart skips a beat. “Grandfather Claws” was vicious as always and a “newish” song that sounded really good. Gentle reader, if you know the name of this song, please let me know. After the rock-fest that was Helms Alee, I walked around Block Party for a bit, seeing a bunch of stuff that I failed to take notes on. I walked through the circus that was MGMT and watched a few songs while loitering. I still haven’t heard this supposedly wretched sophomore album yet. What I saw from the band wasn’t particularly impressive but it’s hard to be good on the Main Stage as the final act of the evening. So many factors are working for/against the artists at that point, it can often go either way. I’d much rather see MGMT at Neumos or Chop Suey.
I left the Main Stage to see the Fruit Bats at the Vera Stage and didn’t regret my decision in the least. I saw people feeding one another ice cream, fist pumping with the use of a crutch, warm smiles, loving embrace and plenty of what I would call “down on the farm” dancing. In other words, the kind of dancing where you just kind of let your body do it’s own thing; think the Shenandoah Mountain version of getting “hyphy.” In eliciting such great joy, the Fruit Bats made for the ideal way to close day one of Block Party.
Shabazz Palaces ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
Mainstage Crowd ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
MGMT ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth