What are some things we’ve learned from another weekend of ear-splitting tunes and sweaty crowds?
Well, here goes:
For starters, beers in the Cha Cha are cheaper and better than beers in the Bud Light Beer Garden Tent. Second, some of the best bands you’ll see are the bands you’ve never heard of. If you want a good vantage point for a headline act, get there early, or else all you’ll see is the back of someone else’ head. Local bands play the best shows. Smoke, fire and lights don’t make a bad band good, but they do make a great band even that much more entertaining.
And what was the most important thing we learned from another Block Party come and gone?
Buy tickets for next year. Why? Because when Seattle’s big dance comes, you don’t want to be on the outside looking in.
Saturday and Sunday notable acts
Big Freedia — Out of tens of bands that played over the weekend, Big Freedia fostered the biggest post-show buzz. All around the Hill, I kept hearing, “did you hear Big Freedia? Did you see Big Freedia?” The New Orleans rapper who coined the term Sissy Bounce and is known for her booty shaking Twerk dancing was a dark-horse surprise. While beat-heavy songs like “Y’all Get Back Now” and “Gin in My System” may not be for everyone, there wasn’t one self-righteous hipster who could deny the talent of the booty shaking going onstage during her set. Not familiar with Big Freedia? Google it — but it might be best if you don’t do it while you’re at work.
Pickwick — Local Seattle band Pickwick takes the cake for most polarizing band. Their folky, slow, thoughtful lyrics brought a good portion of the crowd to near tears and were a great closer to a Saturday that featured some amazing acts. A nice wind down; a great desert wine. But, unlike me, some thought the act was too slow for a Saturday closer, and I couldn’t help notice more than a few leaving the main stage area in search of beer or base-heavy EDM. Pickwick is a musical force though, and their talent could not be denied whether you were a fan of folk and blues or EDM.
Jarv Dee — I’ve attended enough Snoop Dog and Juicy J live shows to know that hip-hop often sounds much better on a studio album than it does live. That’s why the biggest surprise of the weekend was Jarv Dee. I don’t know whether or not it was the lonely Vera stage, the pot-smoking crowd or the clever lyrics, but Dee was a force to be reckoned with. In between rapping about Facebook, Dane Cook and plenty of weed smoke, I was pleasantly surprised Dee could keep a calm, collected cadence as he danced around stage.
Tacos — The Cha Cha takes the cake as my favorite stage for the weekend. Wait, there was no stage at the Cha Cha, you say — and that’s exactly what made it good. There’s nothing better than seeing a band at eye level. Tacos, a fast-moving two-piece with technical skill is everything little punkers wanted their early high school band to be, but never quite accomplished. “Cobra” was an especially mind-melting song.
The Grizzled Mighty — If the Cha-Cha gets dubbed my favorite venue, local band The Grizzled Mighty takes the prize for my favorite band. Now, to be fair, I’ve heard them before when they played with other Seattle band Mystery Ship at the Blue Moon Tavern. And though I liked them then, their off-the-charts performance at the Block Party blew minds. Heavy, hard rock from a man with a beard and a lady on a drum set. The crunch didn’t let up for an hour. By the time they finished, I was mad I had to go outside and watch headliner the Flaming Lips.
The Flaming Lips — Frankly, I’m a bit torn on this year’s headliner. While the band’s light show and masterful lyrics rocked the house, I couldn’t fully appreciate the show because I was so far back in the crowd. “Block Party should really be on a graded street so everyone can see,” one short girl next to me quipped. Agreed, little lady. But graded or not, the band sounded great and — as big and popular as they are — were a great way to close out a weekend of debauchery, sweaty pits and hurting yet happy eardrums.