Sunday, July 27, 2008

Capitol Hill Block Party 2008

So I headed up to Olympia this past weekend to hang out with my favorite Portland expatriate, Jenni, and drag her along to this year's Capitol Hill Block Party, arguably Seattle's best music festival (that's Jenni's wrist in the photo, by the way). Mind you, I had to give up PDX Pop Now!, one of Portland's better music festivals, to attend, so you know there must have been some good acts on the bill...

Friday's lineup was great, and included my own city's Menomena, but I had to limit myself to Saturday. So the plan was this: The Builders and the Butchers (another Portland band; what is it with these music curators in Seattle poaching our talent, anyway?), The Fleet Foxes, Throw Me the Statue, The Hold Steady and DeVotchKa, in that order.

The festival started off on a good note for me as Jenni and I were walking in the entrance, when the girl taking the tickets said to me, "Your chops are fresh!" (my chops, while not quite Lemmy grade, are indeed fresh, if I do say so myself). We were meeting up with my cousin Brad and his people at the Comet, and being as the line outside Neumo's was insurmountably long, we decided to skip the Builders/Butchers and have a pint with Brad and his friends. After about an hour, we all headed out to the main stage, in the intersection of Pike and 10th, right between the Comet and Neumo's, to catch the Fleet Foxes:

This is the band I was most looking forward to seeing (Appearing on Letterman! Touring with Wilco!), and I'm glad to say they did not disappoint. While they describe their sound as "sleepy" on their Myspace page, I think they might be selling themselves a bit short. While that word does go some way towards describing them, it fails to take into account the impeccable guitar work, the very solid rhythm section and harmonies which at times evoke, as most good harmonies will, Crosby Stills and Nash. Not that they're a bunch of sixties folk revivalists or anything... they're indie folk revivalists! (but then, who isn't these days?) There's some rock in there as well, of course. A touch of Pet Sounds era Beach Boys, along with a little Band of Horses... I could go on. Good mix of stuff, check 'em out.

After the Foxes' set the six of us headed over to a gallery/bar (a great idea, by the way. Is anybody in Portland doing this yet?) called Grey. Alice Tippit and Chris McCullen were the featured artists on the walls, and a Sapphire G&T was the featured drink in my hand. We killed time in this stark yet beautifully appointed room (which used to be the OK Hotel, as seen in the movie "Singles"), until it was time to catch Throw Me the Statue's set back at Neumo's. Unfortunately, TMTS was a bit of a bust, and we skipped out early and headed back into the Comet to wait for The Hold Steady. Here's a shot of them taken with a camera, well... not held very steady:

I wanted to like these guys a lot more than I did. I hadn't heard much of them before the show, but they've garnered quite a bit of press in the recent past, and I figured I'd enjoy their set, which I did, just... not very much. They'd have been fun enough as a bar band, or at least marginally impressive in a Husker-Du influenced sort of way. But all they amounted to was a bar band version of Husker-Du, and that just kinda fell a bit flat. Luckily, we didn't have to wait long for DeVotchKa to go on:

You could lump these guys from Denver in with the recent rash of bands that mine Eastern European traditions for both inspiration and instrumentation, mixing said traditions with more modern sesibilities... say, Gogol Bordello, Beirut, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, etc. DeVotchKa play it a bit closer to their American roots, however. I might put them a little closer to The Arcade Fire than the rest of those gypsy rockers. A great set from one of the few bands out there these days with a tuba player.

Of course, we did eat some over the weekend, and as I haven't posted anything about food on this blog for a good long while, it would seem an appropriate time to fill you all in on a good breakfast place in Olympia, should you head up (or down) there anytime soon:

This place used to be called Rose's, but is now Sage's Brunch House. It's on the west side, just down the block from the Olympia Food Co-op, and I'm gathering it was at one point some sort of general store. Nowadays, they serve up some of the best breakfast grub I've had in quite a while. I had the biscuits and gravy with a potato pancake, while Jenni had the smoked salmon scramble, also with a potato pancake:

Well, there you have it. My weekend in Olympia/Seattle. I wish I could say Olympia offered up a little more excitement than it did, but college towns tend to be pretty dead in the summers, of course. Good thing it's smack dab between Portland and Seattle.

No comments: