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Block Party kicks off with suntans and wristbands

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blovk partySEATTLE — Hope you weren’t trying to sleep near Pike Street and Broadway Friday night. Or anywhere within a 3-mile radius of the Block Party’s Main Stage for that matter.

Capitol Hill Block Party kicked off Friday, bringing hipsters, music aficionados and those looking to be seen in the epicenter of one of Seattle’s most notorious neighborhoods to listen to some of the best — and loudest — music around.

With opening night came the accouterments Seattle residents and wide-eyed out-of-towners have grown to know and love from this crowded music festival:

Plenty of fashionable, attractive 20-somethings wearing everything from fuzzy panda hats to tie-dye one-pieces to, well, nearly nothing at all. Mayor Mike McGinn was there, too — shaking hands, nodding his head to music and only talking politics when prodded. Bands of all caliber, from big names playing in front of 3,000 people to the obscure rocking out without a stage in front of 100 people in the Cha-Cha. The dark side of the Block Party? Expensive drinks in the beer garden, lines, cigarette smoke and packs and packs of people.

But most importantly, Block Party kicked off with smiling faces on a sunny, 70-degree evening.

Yep, Block Party is here. And though it’s not necessarily advisable to hit three consecutive nights of the party to end all parties, it might just be worth any pain and headaches you’ll have to endure Monday at work.

Notable Friday Acts

Grave Babies — I couldn’t shake the Grave Babies’ great post-post-breakup music. You know, that point in a break-up when you’re officially over your ex-lover, but enjoying that bit of self-loathing you still foster for being alone? I’ll always be alone, but at peace, you tell yourself. This Seattle three-piece played one of the more off-beat, interesting shows of the evening. Bold, melodic and slow, the band stood in front of a Neumos crowd that seemed entranced with their dark and spooky tunes. All the songs flowed into one another, hardly differing yet hardly the same. Definitely not the upbeat tempo for those looking to dance, but a great find for the first evening.

The Thrashies — Sweat and head-bobbing are why one comes to Block Party. The Thrashies played their fast-paced, late ’80s brand of punk in front of an enthusiastic and packed crowd at the Cha-Cha. As melancholy and alone as I felt (in a good way) after seeing Grave Babies, the Thrashies were the opposite with their raw, seductive lyrics and crunchy guitar riffs. The tunes have an almost California beach sound. I left the set with a furthered enthusiasm for the night, bobbing my head and ready for a beer.

STRFKR — This is the band of summertime. Melodic, highly composed, calculated dance beats. The main stage bumped beneath the rhythmic sounds of songs like “Atlantis” and “Bury Us Alive.” The younger crowd takes a liking to STRFKR as there is also something depressive, and nostalgic in their happy-go-lucky EDM beats. The feeling that “these times are fleeting, so enjoy tonight” is pervasive. And as the crowd ramps up with drinks and enjoys the long set, I hear more than once shoutouts of “I love STRKFR” from hipsters moving and bobbing, but nervously awaiting what’s next.

Girl Talk — Friday night’s headliner Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, could not disappoint. The crowd was too prepared. At least 5,000 people packed toward the main stage to hear mixes mathematically calculated over the past 10 years of non-stop touring, festivals and recordings. While I’ve never been a fan of Girl Talk records, to see him live is another story. His stage was packed with fans. Girls were on top of guys’ shoulders. His Notorious B.I.G. remix fell from heaven, and not even the constant jostling of the crowd and the fact that I’d lost everyone in my group could ruin the mood. End the night? No, Girl Talk reminded us that the night — and the weekend — were just beginning.

Stay tuned for a slideshow of pictures from Friday night and continuing coverage of Block Party.

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