Features

Capitol Hill Block Party 2014

What We Think of Every Single Band Playing Block Party This Year

Capitol Hill Block Party 2014

Mike Force

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A$AP ROCKY Sun, 8:15 pm, Main Stage
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SPOON Fri, 10:45 pm, Main Stage
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MATT AND KIM Fri, 9:15 pm, Main Stage
ALICIA AMIRI

(Fri, 8:45 pm, Barboza Stage) Alicia Amiri's low and smooth voice holds a certain sadness swagger, like Gwen Stefani at her heartbroken best. But we're not talking too many tears here—the balanced singer/songwriter style makes a solid foundation for the honeyed spoonfuls of pop on top. I also like the way she enunciates and melodizes vowels. EMILY NOKES

ANGEL OLSEN

(Sun, 2:15 pm, Main Stage) There's something about her ghost-waif voice and haunted guitar chords that make songwriter Angel Olsen's name seem like a parentally perceptive nod to their kid's future endeavor. She's bleak, idiosyncratic, enigmatic, and not at all afraid to throw a "fuck" into her lyrics, yet she remains not quite of this earth—even when dealing with those most human of follies: lost loves and loneliness. KYLE FLECK

A$AP FERG

(Fri, 6:30 pm, Main Stage) The A$AP Mob came into the public eye via its scion Rocky and his recycling of Houston and Memphis rap, with a dash of Bone Thugs—the latter clumsily, explicitly aped by Ferg on Rocky's 2011 "Kissin' Pink." Ferg's debut, Trap Lord, continued their pastiche steez, from the title on down. Its title was immediately cited as being derivative of Gucci Mane's Trap God tape series—its lead single, "Shabba," is one of the best Lil' B songs that the Based God never made. Not that Lord doesn't trap you with its own charms and promise, but it's derivative enough that you gotta say something—not to mention derived from a kinda derivative crew culture in the first place. NBD. LARRY MIZELL JR.

A$AP ROCKY

(Sun, 8:15 pm, Main Stage) There's something that happens when great rappers fall off and lose their moment of relevance. They get that good couple-year run of classic stuff, then it's face-palm city. You cringe at each new song or remix appearance and almost question how you ever thought they were tight. Rakim "A$AP Rocky" Mayers (who shares his first name with most people's choice for greatest rapper ever) was never much more than a decent rapper. Really just an ace ad-libber, aesthetician, and fashion advocate with one good tape to his name, this process has moved considerably quicker for him. Who the hell let him get on "Servin' Lean"—a perfect 2014 track from Atlanta's overtalented underdog Peewee Longway—just to talk about those fucking Jeremy Scott Adidas with the wings again? Will he do more skits with Kathy Griffin? Will we be excited about his music again? Questions. And so few answers. LM

AUDACITY

(Sat, 5:15 pm, Neumos Stage) One of the first Burger Records bands, Audacity rank as one of the best (IMO) of the boy-bands on that prolific yet increasingly annoying garage-bro label. This Fullerton, California, quartet nails the best parts of young, partied-up summer punk that just wants to have a good time, but isn't sloppy about it. Plus, they're fun as fuck to see live! Their South by Southwest set caused my friend to text me: "It's the only good garage band because they're not a garage band. They're a super tightpunk wolf in a sheep suit." Bingo. EN

AYRON JONES & THE WAY

(Fri, 12:45 am, Neumos Stage) Walking toward Dick's 60th-anniversary party last September to see Sir Mix-A-Lot, I heard the opening licks of "Voodoo Child" echoing down Broadway. Really, no one wants to hear a Hendrix cover, especially not if you really like Hendrix, but then it sounded good. Wait, REALLY good. Hold on—actually, shiveringly GREAT. It was Ayron Jones. He crowd-surfed with his guitar and then smashed it on the Dick's stage right there in the middle of Broadway, and instead of feeling imitative or corny, it made you want to grab a piece of the brokenness, like later it would be a part of history. The Way is tight, too, but you've got to go see Ayron Jones play guitar. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

BAD MOTIVATORS

(Sat, 4:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Bad Motivators make melodic and slightly goofy keyboard-bolstered rock/pop with haunted-house chord progressions and a song called "Too High" that begins with the sweetly harmonized: "I can't talk to you because I'm... way too high!" We've all been there. You might even be there at this show. EN

BEAT CONNECTION

(Sat, 7:30 pm, Main Stage) It's been two years since Seattle's Beat Connection released their last album, the lushly disco-y The Palace Garden, and judging by the band's new tropical-flavored single, "Hesitation," it sounds as if they've spent all that time crafting this one track—a dense, oddly sensual collage of soulful vocals, funky flute, jangly guitar, and percussive flourishes including handclaps and what sounds like water dripping on metal pipes. You can almost feel the humidity emanating from the speakers. KATHLEEN RICHARDS

BEN UNION

(Sat, 2 pm, Neumos Stage) Press materials for Ben Union describe the band as "diverse pop music with an unconventional edge," "a visionary wind of change" that has "never followed the script" because they're never "afraid to speak their mind or stick to their guns." It's unfair to judge a band by their promotional copy, but their catalog, a rehash of pop-rock clichés, strikes me as similarly uninspired—from their occasionally embarrassing cover of "Run This Town" to their TGIF anthem "Shake That Ass," which sounds like a kissing cousin to the 1999 Rob Thomas/Santana joint "Smooth." On the bright side, if you're still mourning the loss of Sublime, allow me to introduce you to your new favorite local band. PAUL CONSTANT

BLOOD DRUGS

(Sat, 6:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Full disclosure: I've heard only one track, but local punks Blood Drugs come across as a hollerin' good time. Their dirges are mid-tempo heavy—like raw, not like metal. I think the live setting is where they're at, especially as they're self-described as "We kill so you don't have to." Fair enough, y'all! MIKE NIPPER

BREAKS AND SWELLS

(Sat, 6:45 pm, Barboza Stage) Hey! You know what you haven't seen at Block Party yet? Nooooo, not THAT (you dirty-minded little bastard)!—you haven't seen a nine-piece soul revival group! I know that sounds like "grandpa music," but trust me, it's really not. Think brass horn blasts and percussion grooves. Think funk music that doesn't suck! You can dance and pretend you know how to do the mashed potato! No, really. Quit standing around! C'mon, if you can walk, then you can dance. Let Breaks and Swells break you into the boogie. KELLY O

THE BUDOS BAND

(Sat, 9:10 pm, Main Stage) I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict that the Budos Band will be the highlight of Block Party. (Remember I said the same thing about the Psychic Paramount in 2012? Trust me on this.) The nine-strong Budos Band blowtorch your inhibitions with tight and sprawling TV-cop-show funk and Afrobeat jams that have many moving, grooving parts, all geared to make your parts move and groove. Their horns, percussion, bass, and guitars intertwine in a soulful instrumental orgy. You know how countless babies have been conceived to James Brown and Fela Kuti's music? Well, that's the kind of seductive potency that'll be on display here. DAVE SEGAL

CABANA

(Fri, 5:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Shockingly, given their name, Cabana play warm, reverb-drenched sunshine music. The Seattle four-piece might live on a plane of existence that consists solely of a summer day at the beach in the '70s, where they spend their time jamming aimlessly and blowing smoke rings at seagulls. Go see them if you need a break from all the caffeinated neon yelling that goes on outside. KATIE ALLISON

CATALDO

(Sun, 3 pm, Vera Stage) Cataldo are an earnest group of folks retelling 1980s soft rock as filtered through contemporary rock's pretense of tattoos and beards. This is for the legions of fans that love "Boys of Summer" and rom-com breakup montages. MN

THE CHAIN GANG OF 1974

(Sat, 3 pm, Vera Stage) The Chain Gang of 1974 sounds kind of like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark in 1983, with an added dose of vocal drama and the 21st-century knowledge that making this kind of music can totally get you laid. Created and embodied by LA-based musician Kamtin Mohager, the Chain Gang of 1974 this year released major-label debut Daydream Forever on good old Warner Bros. Records—a strong choice for an artist who self-identifies as "indietronica." DAVID SCHMADER

CHILDBIRTH

(Fri, 5 pm, Vera Stage) Childbirth's super-side-group status is NW scene incesticide of the highest order, with Tacocat's Bree, Pony Time's Stacy, and Chastity Belt's Julia expounding on the joyously goofy, slack, and on-point feminist/queer commentary to be found in all three's main projects—skewering clingy one-night stands, invasive inquisitors, and buttheads of all types, while dipped in matching delivery scrubs. Their debut, It's a Girl!, is a way more fun supergroup project than Mad Season or Temple of the Dog. Yeah, but it's on the table, the fire's cooking—and they're farming babies! LM

CHROMEO

(Sat, 11 pm, Main Stage) Chromeo are a duo from the very interesting city of Montreal. The duo, which has a pretty big reputation in the music world, makes hardcore keyboard-driven funk. One half of Chromeo, the soul singer David Macklovitch, is Jewish; the other, the producer Patrick Gemayel, is an Arab. At the moment of writing this preview, the conflict between Israel and Gaza seems to only know how to get worse. Bombs are dropping and people are dying. Maybe one day all of this madness will end and that part of the world will be more like Chromeo. CHARLES MUDEDE

CONSTANT LOVERS

(Fri, 7 pm, Neumos Stage) Seattle's Constant Lovers describe their noisy-rock LP Experience Feelings as a "drunken, squealing, pounding homage to Nirvana, Swans, Pissed Jeans, and Grinderman... a soundtrack for experiencing the feeling of feelings that are sometimes weird." In this case, "weird" clearly means "awesome," particularly if you like careening guitar riffs, falling-down drums, precise stop-starts, and a "rib-cage-rattling" (in the words of Bethany Jean Clement) live set. K. RICHARDS

COUNTRY LIPS

(Sat, 6:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Honky-tonkin' country music with outlaw swagger featuring eight (!!!) members who absolutely know what they're doing. No matter how much whiskey is involved. In the words of Trent Moorman: "If you like Merle Haggard, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and some of Skynyrd's jukier numbers, you'll want to step on into this." EN

CRYPTS

(Fri, 9:30 pm, Barboza Stage) You hate Crypts, and they love you for that. The Seattle trio's antagonistic gothic-noise ordeals that they call songs strive to blacken your mind and heart while making your extremities twitch. Crypts' grinding cacophony and sneering vocals should add a much-needed splash of toxicity to the Block Party's pervasive feel-good vibes. D. SEGAL

CUSTOMS CREW

(Sat, 11 pm, Neumos Stage) Customs Crew is Dutty Wilderness (Reed Juenger of Beat Conection), DJ Hojo (Allen Huang of the excellent Japanese/Korean dance night JK POP!), DJAO (producer and Data Breaker fave Alex Osuch), D'Nelski (KEXP's Alex Ruder), and Tony Snark (Iron Man). EN

CYMBALS

(Sat, 2:15 pm, Main Stage) Contrary to what their name (and capitalization) imply, London's CYMBALS do not make loud, crashing music. Rather, they're all pulsing '80s synths and machine-made (and human-made) beats—the kind that cause you to fling yourself onto the dance floor and into a New Order–ish haze. As far as soundtracks for make-out sessions with dark-eyelinered randos go, you can't get much better. K. RICHARDS

DEADKILL

(Sat, 8:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) It's no secret that we're pretty big Deadkill fans around here. Megan Seling said they "fuckin' slay" and nominated singer Bryan Krieger for "craziest eyes" at a previous Block Party, Kelly O called them "a band you HAVE TO see live," and Brian Cook praised their "anthemic nihilism" and "no-bullshit four-chord riffs." Fuck nitpicking over hardcore/metal/punk distinctions: This is just damn good heavy music. Deal with it. KA

THE DIP

(Sat, 4 pm, Neumos Stage) This horn-ornamented low-key soul/funk band, led by Beat Connection vocalist Tom Eddy (who's basically playing every second of Block Party), should be a great fit for a summer afternoon. The Dip's soft edges and smooth horns and warm guitar will groove you through the lull of late afternoon and prepare you for whatever hard-partying evening you have in store. Get ready to dance until you're sweaty and hungry enough for an early dinner. ANNA MINARD

DUB THOMPSON

(Fri, 8:15 pm, Neumos Stage) These two guys are only 19 years old and have already had the good sense to assemble a band, an attitude, and a wardrobe of slim black togs. That's commendable. The music they make is "genre defying" (pause for high fives), so some compositions are abrasive and challenging, but most are groovy things that you could definitely slouch around to. Oh, and their recently released debut album is called 9 Songs, but get this: It has only eight songs on it. I don't even want to think about how cool these guys will be when they turn 24 or 27. KRISHANU RAY

DUDE YORK

(Sun, 2:15 pm, Neumos Stage) A power-pop group with punk leanings, if Dude York had been around in 1979, they'da been just another group of also-rans from, like, Ohio. However, it's 2014 and their "also-ran" sound is a fucking good thing. MN

DUKE EVERS

(Fri, 7:30 pm, Barboza Stage) The internet calls 'em a duo, but YouTube footage of Seattle's Duke Evers performing last year at the Crocodile shows a trio—a hairy drummer, a rocker-styled singer/guitarist, and another guy on bass. Whatever the case, Duke Evers play catchy guitar rock marked by Josh Starkel's bold vocals and penchant for melodically appropriate guitar breaks. D. SCHMADER

DUM DUM GIRLS

(Sun, 9 pm, Vera Stage) I don't think I'm cool enough to listen to the Dum Dum Girls. Dee Dee Penny and company are dark mistresses of all that's dreamy, mysterious, and a tad bit tragic: Their songs exist in that gauzy space between languid and hazily upbeat, draped in black leather jackets and swaths of reverb. Where are my sunglasses? K. RICHARDS

DUST MOTH

(Fri, 5:45 pm, Neumos Stage) I'm a sucker for a unique female lead singer, and Dust Moth's Irene—their sites don't include last names—tends to soar over the craggy, noodly metal guitar licks and frenetic drumming of the band in a very interesting way. Sometimes she sounds disaffected, a little like Siouxsie Sioux, and other times she harmonizes perfectly with the wailing guitars. Still other times—like on "Months," from their album Dragon Mouth—she lets out a weird, high-pitched yelp that sounds like a general leading her troops into bloody battle. It's an interplay that works beautifully. PC

EMA

(Sat, 9:45 pm, Vera Stage) Erika M. Anderson is by far one of the illest people to come outta South Dakota since Hutch, Mary Hart, and January Jones. On her second solo album, The Future's Void, the mad acronymical EMA kicks it on the block somewhere between St. Vincent and Yeezus, but hooks off hard with her own glass-spitting swagger. The idea of winter in Sioux Falls could be a motivator for greatness, and maybe that's why her tracks seem to live so deliberately close to the sun's surface, by turns fiery, torched-up, and scorched-out. Shine on. LM

ETERNAL BAD

(Fri, 7:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Right off the bat, I'm getting some Nirvana vibes from these guys. Sort of a heavy, electric-guitar-driven sound with a male vocalist doing a bit of wailing on top. They seem to be playing music from a different era, which is fine. Music doesn't have to be about doing what's trendy right now, it can just be about finding a sound you like and sticking with it, forever. So if you believe in the power and truth of grunge, there's no reason why you shouldn't give these guys a shot. K. RAY

EVER SO ANDROID

(Sun, 3:45 pm, Barboza Stage) The two members of Ever So Android do not appear to be actual androids, which is disappointing. These organic humans play a musical genre that their Facebook literally just describes as "musicish." I would call it something like "electro-punk," but then again, I have no idea what I'm talking about. Fuzzy guitars and bass, dub-ish low-end synths, simple drums, and Hope Simpson's tortured vocals coalesce into some nicely danceable angst. But one of their songs has a hashtag in the title... so that's not great. KA

FOX AND THE LAW

(Sat, 7:45 pm, Neumos Stage) If it's rock you're looking for, you should probably check out Fox and the Law. Everything about this band seems to be braided together from rock-and-roll history, from Guy Keltner's Mick Jagger–esque mouth to their fuzzy T. Rex guitar licks and the wailing bluesy instrumental breakdowns that hit occasional Led Zeppelin–y peaks. They're young, they're pretty, and they're going places. PC

FUTURE SHOCK

(Sat, 4:45 pm, Barboza Stage) Calling their music "Afro New Wave," Future Shock consist of two Seattle musicians who don masks because they probably don't want their dazzling looks to distract you from their music. They don't sound anything like Curtis Mayfield's song "Future Shock," although it's possible Herbie Hancock's electro cover of it may have influenced the band. Future Shock's songs feature Let's Dance–era David Bowie–esque vocals over lurid synth swirls and squiggles, and it's like all your '80s club nights converging in one group. Watch out for their faithful version of Men Without Hats' damnably catchy "Safety Dance." D. SEGAL

GAYTHEIST

(Sun, 5:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Besides winning the Best Band Name contest, Portland's Gaytheist also score points for Most Screamable Lyrics to a Significant Other (e.g., "You need to chill the fuck out!!!" "Say good-bye, 'cause I'm taking you to dinner/Wear something nice!!!"). If you like your rock bracing, brief (most songs clock in at less than two minutes), and refreshingly not-giving-a-fuck, Gaytheist's mathy pop ditties will make your head explode. K. RICHARDS

GIBRALTAR

(Sun, 4:45 pm, Barboza Stage) One good thing about the internet: It forces every band on Bandcamp, Facebook, and everything else with an "about" field to describe their band in writing. The self-summary of Gibraltar: "A band from Seattle. Taking quiet/loud and making it quieter and louder. And then, doing it again." From this tantalizing description, I proceeded to the video—a promotional clip for the song "Ideas," from Gibraltar's new record, The New Century, which confirms the band's internet description as exactly right. The song busts out of the gate with spiky melodies and the post-post-punk guitar patterns favored by bands like Franz Ferdinand, but then there comes a time to get loud, and holy crap do they get aggressively loud. It's like the Lemonheads doing a 30-second morph into My Bloody Valentine, then back again, and it's impressive. D. SCHMADER

GOODBYE HEART

(Sun, 5:45 pm, Barboza Stage) Breathy male vocals are wrapping around me like the coat I would have remembered to bring along if I knew I was going to be taking a late-night drive (no destination, just driving, baby) through this chilly sonic cityscape of discontent, yearning, and isolation. Look at people out there on the street, having fun and falling in love. I wish I could reach out and touch them, just once. Neon lights. Just now realizing this album is actually called Restless Night. Talk about program music, right? The title of the second song is "Seconal." Not sure if that qualifies as a pun, but if Seconal isn't taking care of your restless night, consult a specialist. K. RAY

GREAT GODDAMN

(Sat, 3:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) I'll just let the Great Goddamn speak for themselves: "Blake works at a pawn shop and sells guns to people who will probably end up accidentally shooting themselves. Brian makes pizza for people who are probably too drunk to legally do most anything. Both hate their jobs. This is their revenge." They have two albums, called Ragers & Cash and Bangers & Hash, which is pretty great, and their big, crunchy bass sounds will definitely get some intoxicated heads a-banging. KA

HAND OF THE HILLS

(Sat, 3 pm, Neumos Stage) With an all-star cast comprising David Totten (the Quiet Ones, Scriptures), Erin Tate (Minus the Bear), and Matt Benham (Black Swedes), Hand of the Hills make gritty rock 'n' roll that tears it up with shots of twanged-out riffs and slightly dark Southern-style vocals. Perfect for a rowdy bonfire or driving through a thunderstorm in a pickup truck with the windows down. EN

HAUNTED HORSES

(Sun, 5:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Two years ago in this very venue at this very event, Seattle's Haunted Horses put a serious hurt on the tightly thronged attendees with brilliantly tenebrous and artful rock thuggery. It was the antithesis of summer music, and that's why it worked so well in the basement inferno that the Cha Cha becomes every Block Party. Haunted Horses' 2013 album, Watcher, captures that heavy gothic-rock vibe that so many attempt but falter because they lean too heavily on the kitsch button. By contrast, HH are as serious as war, and their sonic shrapnel is merciless. D. SEGAL

HIGH ENDS

(Sat, 7:45 pm, Barboza Stage) It's probably unfair, but I'm going to have to judge this Canadian solo artist based on the two songs of his I could find online. "Downtown" is a lugubriously uplifting song with beats not unlike those in Gary Glitter Band's "Rock and Roll Part 2" and Mort Garson–like analog-synth coloration (think Black Mass). It's great. "The Weight" is a wide-screen, radiant mid-tempo pop number that draws inspiration from 10cc and the yacht they floated in on. (By the way, you can still find 10cc's increasingly influential records for less than $5 in used bins.) D. SEGAL

HOLYCHILD

(Fri, 8:15 pm, Vera Stage) Back in 2011, a couple of kids at George Washington University met in a modern-dance class—she was moving, he was playing the music—and the seeds for a mildly subversive pop experiment called Holychild were sown. They are fresh-faced and starry-eyed and sound as sweet as Froot Loops (synths, cooing vocals, effervescent beats, bouncy guitars in major keys), but their lyrics cheerfully chart the contours of shallow sexism in mainstream culture: "I pull my head back/You like it, it's just like the video!/And when it's nothing left/But just a plastic head/Will you remember this?/I'm just your playboy girl!" They're all vapidity, ponytails, and pep with a mild aftertaste of intelligent bile. A spoonful of sugar—or five—helps the medicine go down. BRENDAN KILEY

HUNDRED WATERS

(Sat, 7:15 pm, Vera Stage) Immediate critical adoration for a heretofore-unknown band can be a real b-word. In the case of Gainesville, Florida's atmospheric electronic-folk hybrid Hundred Waters, life thus far remains a continual grind, familiar to many indie bands, even in the wake of near-unanimous praise for their new album, The Moon Rang Like a Bell. As described by the New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones, most bands this size "aren't waiting for Geffen; they're touring midsized clubs, probably hoping for a sync license for an ad..." The sheer beauty of the music, however, makes you wish they were playing on every sound system, to "Get Lucky" levels of overexposure. KF

ISKA DHAAF

(Fri, 7 pm, Vera Stage) On their Bandcamp page, respected local musicians Benjamin Verdoes and Nathan Quiroga use both "punk" and "post-punk" as descriptors of their new project, Iska Dhaaf. After listening to debut Even the Sun Will Burn, however, it's difficult to detect any real confrontation or defiance in their sound. Instead, it's a set of middlebrow alt-rock, lacking enough variation between songs to justify the 12-track run time. It's catchy and danceable enough that these gents should have no trouble packing the Vera Stage; this critic just wishes there was a bit more roughness to be found, à la Quiroga's other crew Mad Rad. KF

THE JAMES APOLLO FIVE

(Fri, 4:30 pm, Barboza Stage) I would call this Americana. That term sounds more like a dusty style of restaurant décor than a music genre, but this black-and-white promo photo of cool guy James staring out over some stogie wouldn't look out of place on the wall of any Americana restaurant, next to a rifle or something. The music rollicks a bit, but slows down just as often and tends toward brooding. James leads, his voice still weary from the photo-shoot cigarillo, but leaves ample room for the band to rise to the fore with a rich variety of bluesy instrumentation and backup vocals to keep things interesting. K. RAY

KATIE KATE

(Sat, 5 pm, Vera Stage) Katie Kate is one of the three best 206 hiphop acts in this year's Block Party. (The other two are Raz Simone and Sol.) A producer, rapper, singer, trained musician, and 2013 Genius Award nominee for music, Katie Kate—who is always great onstage—is set to release her second album, Nation, in early August. If you love hiphop, do not miss this show. CM

KITHKIN

(Sun, 4 pm, Vera Stage) An anthemic indie-rock group that reaches for every scrap of hook and cleverness from their bag of music tricks, Kithkin have a slightly frantic, breathless dynamic. Somehow they make it work without being mired in cliché, which, at this point in time, is remarkable. MN

LEMOLO

(Fri, 4 pm, Vera Stage) Haunting, plangent, and cinematic, Meagan Grandall's Lemolo is a soundtrack for the kind of cult that you want to join. The band is named after Poulsbo's Lemolo Shore Drive, where Grandall grew up among the firs, near the Sound, mostly in a misty rain that you can almost hear in the background when Lemolo play. (I saw a solo benefit she did in her bedroom on Lemolo Shore Drive for her friend's dog that had cancer; more than $1,500 was raised for the vet bills.) Lemolo seem like a sideways choice for (hopefully) sun-drenched Block Party, but with drummer Kendra Cox, Grandall achieves a propulsive dreaminess that'll captivate you (and maybe cool you down a little, too). BJC

MAGIC MOUTH

(Sun, 8 pm, Neumos Stage) I'll start by saying this Portland band puts on a hell of a live show—all soulful and gay and bluesy and highly danceable. It's leather-vest, no-shirt soul with funk bass taking a walk. A sexy walk. And the mouth that those gritty vocals come out of—belonging to Stephfon Bartee, whose stage moves are something else—does indeed seem rather magic. You will sweat; you might pull a muscle. Get down. EN

MAN OR ASTRO-MAN?

(Fri, 9:30 pm, Vera Stage) Like a Southern Devo, Man or Astro-man? sought to escape their conservative, square surroundings (in the latter's case, Alabama) with music that slashed against the grain of their environment. Ergo, core members Birdstuff, Coco, and Star Crunch concocted a sound that launched supercharged surf rock into outer space, lacing the songs with sci-fi-film dialogue and interstellar sound effects. It's a formula they've stuck with up through their latest album, 2013's Defcon 5...4...3...2...1. A shockingly robust comeback record, Defcon boasts 12 songs that are as catchy but seemingly more powerful than past works. Most bands as old as they are (21 and counting) are ready for the scrap heap, but Man or Astro-Man? are built to (b)last. D. SEGAL

MANATEE COMMUNE

(Sun, 3:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Electronic band Manatee Commune aren't as chill and laid-back as, say, an actual commune of manatees, but taking in "Brush"—the title track of their debut album—felt like walking through a sunlight-drenched rainforest with elven nymphs hopping around. Which is to say, I wouldn't miss Commune's lush instrumentals and atmospheric vocals if I were you. ANSEL HERZ

MATT AND KIM

(Fri, 9:15 pm, Main Stage) You guys. It's Matt and Kim. Block Party landed Kim and also Matt to play the festival. As in, together. You probably know what they sound like, because Matt and Kim are seemingly legally required to play every music festival in the Pacific Northwest, but the important thing is, this isn't some Wu-Tang Clan–style concert rip-off where you only get one of the members you're excited to see. This will be both Matt and Kim, playing their usual good-time party synth-rock at the same time, on the same stage. It's Kim. And Matt! Together again, at Block Party. What more could you ask for? PC

MURMURS

(Sun, 7:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) What makes a young man want to play pop punk in 2014? In the case of Seattle's Murmurs, the answer seems to be love: love for the music, love for your bandmates, and love for the unique racket that's produced when you combine these loves. Blasting out with double vocals and melodic guitars and good ol' pop-punk songs, Murmurs don't do anything new except rock hard right now, which is plenty. D. SCHMADER

NATASHA KMETO

(Sat, 9 pm, Neumos Stage) Last year, I wrote, "If [Natasha Kmeto's] not a star by the end of 2013, I will shake my damn head, very slowly." It looks like the time's fast approaching when I can stop shaking my damn head. Recording for Portland underground electronic-music incubator Dropping Gems, Kmeto released the Crisis full-length last year, a classy collection of boudoir-friendly, torchy R&B and electro funk. Most electronic musicians can't sing worth a damn, but Kmeto is blessed with a radiant range and nuanced expressiveness that lend her tracks bold flavors beyond the reach of most laptop jockeys. Bask in her star power already. D. SEGAL

NAVVI

(Fri, 5:30 pm, Barboza Stage) Do you like your electronic music to lean lazily toward a more minimal and slower beat—maybe with a spooky and beautiful lady-voice guiding you through the easy-peasy waves of floating sound? Also: Are you hot, stoned, and feeling the need to retreat into the dark basement of Barboza to relax for just a few? Then check out Seattle electro-pop duo NAVVI. Don't be afraid to close your eyes, lean back against the cool basement wall, and really listen. KELLY O

NEIGHBORS

(Fri, 6:30 pm, Barboza Stage) Having a bad day? A weird summer? Feel like things are kinda terrible but kinda funny nonetheless? Then the loose-limbed power pop of Seattle's Neighbors is the perfect soundtrack to dealing/not dealing! Their new album, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, has the right amount of disheveled fun spilled over the top of big-sounding, unhurried guitar rock. The sweet/slacker-core vocals and lyrics sound like your most philosophical friend trying to figure it all out—depression, questionable friendships, creepy coworkers, sloppy hookups, sleeping in—during a bender that ends in a dance party and broken furniture that no one's mad about. EN

NGHTBLND

(Sat, 5:45 pm, Barboza Stage) Under the name NGHTBLND, Alex Rose of Minus the Bear seems to mostly make slowed-down remixes of pop songs. While none of the few I could find online grabbed my attention in a big way, they didn't offend, either—and anyone who chooses, voluntarily, to release a remix of a Britney Spears song these days gets my respect. Head to Barboza if you're looking for simple synths, relaxed rhythms, and one dude who is far too cool for vowels. KA

ODESZA

(Fri, 7:45 pm, Main Stage) There's a mild undercurrent of glitch and dreamy introspection in Odesza's EDM soundscapes, but Seattle bass-heads Catacombkid (Harrison Mills) and BeachesBeaches (Clayton Knight) fundamentally sound like summer, mild intoxication, and sunburns at a music festival. (Their 2012 introduction to the world was fittingly titled Summer's Gone.) This duo, like HOLYCHILD, is the musical extension of a college friendship—these guys met at Western Washington University—that has blossomed into clubs full of sweaty fans and tours with musicians such as British DJ Bonobo. What they do to vocals might be the most interesting component of their work, taking soothing and soulful lines, then slashing them up and inserting hiccoughing pauses to give them an unexpectedly dynamic texture. BK

OTIENO TERRY

(Sat, 2 pm, Vera Stage) What to say of our post-Macklemore local hiphop scene, when rap rags like XXL are scouting Seattle's "freshman 15" and trying to make sense of our "scene," such as it is. Unlike Atlanta or Houston's nationally recognized styles, our identity is rooted in its diversity: We have as much space for the creepy-cool kids in the Moor Gang as we do for the Afrocentricities of Shabazz Palaces. And here's Otieno Terry, crafting his own strange brew of avant-leaning electronic beats and a refreshingly unorthodox sing/rap style. Room for everyone at the table. KF

PARALYZER

(Sun, 6:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Paralyzer? This dude's frenetic dance tunes have the opposite effect: Your feet will begin to move whether you like it or not. The sound isn't particularly original or musical, but if you want to get down, thrash your head around, go nuts, and fall into a trance, all the power to ya! AH

PILLAR POINT

(Sat, 8:30 pm, Vera Stage) Seattle's Scott Reitherman shakes off the introspective, Belle and Sebastian–esque pop maneuvers of his group Throw Me the Statue for a more synth-heavy style that'll fill the Postal Service–sized hole in your miserable heart. The self-titled debut album's concise electro-pop songs find the golden mean between peppy and morose, ameliorating youthful angst with a feathery touch on the keyboards. D. SEGAL

POLLENS

(Sun, 9 pm, Neumos Stage) If you haven't seen Pollens yet, the wise heads of Seattle music forbid you to waste another opportunity. Take it away, Dave Segal: "Pollens songs are high-wire balancing acts between hypnotic repetition and surprising dynamics. Moroccan and Congolese trance music somehow smoothly integrates with song structures that combine elements of folk, prog, minimalist composition, and those world-class choral maneuvers." They're one of the city's most unique acts, a big ol' party of amazing, Cornish-trained singers creating strange and wondrous harmonies, and you must go forth and witness. AM

POOLSIDE

(Sat, 3:30 pm, Main Stage) Naming things is tough. I can forgive Poolside for their terrible album title (Pacific Standard Time is waaaaaaayy too generic) because they chose the perfect band name for themselves. This is poolside music, full of catchy-but-chilly synthesizer riffs and a day-drunk disco beat, with dumb '80s-style lyrics layered on top. (How often can you repeat the phrase "chillin' out" before it becomes totally meaningless?) It's the kind of music by which to drink turquoise alcohol, lounge in the sun, and watch your skin start to bake. Nothing hurts and everything is bright and beautiful. PC

POWER BOTTOM

(Sat, 7:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Power Bottom are a very rare thing: a transgender metal band. The word on the street is that Power Bottom rock hard. Another word on the street is that Power Bottom are from a mythical place called Turner Island. The street is a rock critic's CNN. CM

RAC

(Sun, 5 pm, Main Stage) The Remix Artist Collective, aka RAC, aka André Allen Anjos (who came to Portland by way of Portugal), filters other people's songs through its rock/electronica/dance-club kidneys, giving them new depth and expanded contours. RAC's remix of Death Cab for Cutie's "Some Boys" lends the song a bouncing, elastic bass line that makes it sound like 1970s Stevie Wonder was sitting in on the session. And RAC's collaboration with Alex Ebert on the song "Tear You Down" has a sunny, Vampire Weekend airiness to its melodies and merry rhythms. RAC has also tweaked and collaborated with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Surfer Blood, Lana Del Rey, Tokyo Police Club, Ra Ra Riot, and many more. RAC is light and fun, but, unlike some of the other bands in this year's roster, it's nuanced enough for grown-ups to enjoy. BK

RAZ SIMONE

(Sun, 5 pm, Vera Stage) In 2013, the gruff-voiced rapper Raz Simone dropped an excellent EP, Solomon Samuel Simone, that put his name on the Seattle map. The EP contains five tracks, three of which are produced by the talented Nima Skeemz—he is the head behind the beat for Sol's underground hit "Stage Dive." All the tracks on Solomon Samuel Simone are solid, but "Sometimes I Don't," which features Sam Lachow (a local rapper Raz is associated with), is the cookie. Raz Simone has also released a stream of high-quality music videos. CM

RICKY AND MARK

(Sun, 4:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Is it possible to be an ambitious slacker? The chorus of Seattle duo Ricky and Mark's "House Keys" alternates between both sentiments. Get a load of this lyrical whiplash: "I'm not stressed/I got no occupation/Got no time for rest/Because I'm movin' up now/Movin' up/If you're not comin' with/Then I wish you luck/But I don't wish you much." In "On 1," they brag about making "just enough" money "to sleep in." Somehow, their beats fit that lyrical aesthetic, too—a constantly forward-churning loop that threatens to explode into a full-on screamfest, but always pulls back just before it blows up. That pent-up energy, somehow, is what keeps them moving forward. PC

ROBERT DELONG

(Fri, 10:45 pm, Vera Stage) DeLong moved from Bothell, Washington, to Los Angeles, because you drastically increase your chances of "making it" if you're creating from inside the belly of the music-industry beast. That sort of calculation and acumen informs Robert DeLong's amiable, uplifting brand of electronic music, which he augments with his own drumming. On releases like Global Concepts and Just Movement, he sings with boyish enthusiasm over relatively restrained, song-based EDM structures that sound like agreeable entryways for middle- and high-school students looking to get into electronic music. D. SEGAL

SANDRIDER

(Fri, 9:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Too often, bands that describe themselves as "stoner rock" deal in cheesy blues riffs and wannabe Chris Cornell crooning, but Sand­rider completely obliterate such associations. With song titles such as "Ruiner," "Scalpel," and "Beast," the Seattle power trio takes a Converge-meets-Baroness approach to that dusty, weed-toking genre via shouted vocals, fiery riffs, and relentlessly pounding drums. I don't know what kind of weed they're smoking, but I want some. K. RICHARDS

SASHAY

(Sat, 5:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) I know it's not The Stranger's Regrets Issue yet, but I gotta get something off my chest. When this year's 'Mo-Wave fest came along a couple months back, I grabbed a handful of bands to highlight and, as usual, was stoned and sleep-deprived when I wrote the blurbs and turned them in 30 seconds before the paper went to press. I wrote: "Made up of members of Tit Pig, Deadkill, and Holy Ghost Revival, plus some really good hair, Sashay play '80s-style hardcore with a sense of humor... you don't want to miss their song 'America's Best Top Bottom.'" The song is called "America's NEXT Top Bottom," obviously. Fuck. Sorry, dudes—I do stand by the hair statement, though. EN

SEBASTIAN AND THE DEEP BLUE

(Sun, 6:45 pm, Barboza Stage) Upon launching an online investigation of the Seattle band Sebastian and the Deep Blue, I found three songs so ridiculously disparate they could've been done by three different and very weird bands. One song sounded like the most stripped-down Fleet Foxes. The next brought an Americana version of gypsy punk. The third was... cabaret rap? The distance between the songs seems like a key part of the act. See how it all gels live here. D. SCHMADER

SEX BLISTER

(Sat, 9:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Is this a fucking joke? I think I am being pranked right now by being made to search for this band's name on the internet with zero luck (the opposite of luck, actually). Oh, wait, they just sent me a "bio" that states: "A hotdog in a snowstorm. A kitten on the beach. A hairy spider in the shower. A prism spot on the hood of a car. An idiot's eye twinkle. Hot breath trapped in a glass. A dried up Slip N' Slide. A poodle in stripy swim trunks. A damp towel on the lawn. A lone leaf in a pool. A plum that's almost a prune..." Well, you get the idea. Sex Blister, I'm assuming, is a pseudonym for a band that can't advertise that they're playing due to some blackout date from another show or festival. I hope it's OutKast. EN

SHAPRECE

(Fri, 11:15 pm, Neumos Stage) Yeeeeeessssssssssss. It's late Friday night, and you're trying to decide: Save your energy for tomorrow or stick around until street meat shows up? Well, local wonder Shaprece is one good goddamn reason to stick around. Citing Björk and Aaliyah as influences (woo-hoo!), she takes her golden R&B/pop vocals and teases them with expert electronics to make something new and grand. This is why you listen to music in a room full of people at night: so she can entrance you from the stage and a crush of people can sway in unison, like hypnotized snakes. Feel the beat. AM

SHY GIRLS

(Fri, 4 pm, Main Stage) Chilled-out sexy sex jams sung by Portland's Dan Vidmar (probably not that shy, def not a girl), who has the voice of a Justin Timberlake angel on Valium. Here is a sampling of what SoundCloud commenters have said about his electro/R&B/sensually dedicated tracks: "Hot damn," "OHHHHHHHHHH," "damn son," "yummm," "Silllkkkyyy," "sex," and "ouch it smells sex ;D." Plus, he covers Brandy's "Sittin' Up in My Room," which is pretty boss. EN

SISTERS

(Sun, 8 pm, Barboza Stage) Sisters aren't really sisters. But I suppose being siblings isn't why this male/female Seattle duo chose to name their two-piece melodic, electronic outfit with such a word. Maybe they both equally love how they BOTH have been formally training as musicians, and they BOTH can switch-hit on the keys, synth, drums, and percussion. Fans of Lemolo, Seattle Rock Orchestra, and Allen Stone especially take note. Sisters even toured with the latter, opening for Stone on a few dates last month. KO

SLOW BIRD

(Sat, 8:45 pm, Barboza Stage) Do small, fleeting moments of seeming insignificance—such as the sight of a child splashing in a puddle, or riding your bicycle over a bridge at dusk—acquire a special, ineffable significance when listening to guitars crescendo and cymbals crash? Does your life begin to take on strange new meaning when considering the heavens and listening to a mixtape your college crush made you—the one with the super-emo female singer who likes to extend her vowels? Slow Bird are what you’re listening to in all of those scenarios. KF

SLOW MAGIC

(Sun, 7:30 pm, Vera Stage) Slow Magic—a citizen of the country, Portugal, that claims Manoel de Oliveira, the oldest filmmaker in the world (he is 105), as one of its own—makes beats that are super-dreamy, super-seductive, super-spacey, super-catchy, and, of course, super-chill. Critics invariably describe his sound as "chillwave and dream-pop." The Portuguese label LebensStrasse releases his tunes, one of which, "Corvette Cassette," is pretty fly. CM

SMALL BLACK

(Fri, 5:15 pm, Main Stage) Because they're the opposite of those Chicago noise-rock brutes Big Black—get it? I knew you would. Unsurprisingly, New York's Small Black would not impress Steve Albini with their middle-of-the-road electronic pop that seems most at home in suburban- mall retail establishments and soft-drink commercials. There are no extremes in Small Black's music, but rather a steady state of pleasant, blue-gray melodies; flat, distant white-guy vocals; and semi- danceable and sway-worthy rhythms. If you're into modern indie music from the Secretly Canadian label diaspora that fits snugly in the B-/C+ zone, you'll love Small Black. D. SEGAL

SO PITTED

(Sun, 3:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Excuse my ignorance, but what does it mean to turn the word "pit" into a verb? You can pit an avocado, sure, but what do these well-coiffed weirdos mean by "so pitted," particularly? Are we talking about a mosh pit? Armpits? Or is it hesher slang for being down-and-out, blue, "in the pits"? Because their heavy, down-tuned sludge punk would sound equally at home on a bummed-out breakup mixtape, soundtracking a sick skate video, or getting head-bashed along to in an infamously skeezy venue like the Cha. Get pitted. KF

SOL

(Sat, 6 pm, Main Stage) I hear Sol's live shows are off the hook. He may even be the next Macklemore—the next straitlaced-college-grad Seattle rapper to blow up—so here's your chance to get in on the ground stage before liftoff. Like the Mack, his lyrics range from clever to corny, and unlike the Mack, Sol mostly raps about parties, women, and weed over smooth, groovy beats—a sound he's been honing and refining toward perfection for years. AH

SPECIAL EXPLOSION

(Sat, 4 pm, Vera Stage) The core of this Seattle-based band is Andy and Lizzy, a brother and sister. And if we are to believe Hegel, there is no bond that is closer than that between a brother and sister. As for Special Explosion's music? It's often-melodic, often-driven, and often-intelligent indie rock. The band's tune "Past Nasty" is a gorgeous and very catchy work of power pop (or, forgive me for saying this, post-grunge). CM

THE SPIDER FERNS

(Sat, 3:45 pm, Barboza Stage) Local duo the Spider Ferns have opted to switch from their no-frills electric folk sound to a more lushly produced triphop vibe on their forthcoming album, Strange Weather, and the shoe seems to fit. Kelly Fleek’s wounded femme fatale vocals favorably recall mid-’90s electro-divas like the Sneaker Pimps’ Kelli Dayton, over soundscapes of concrete-jungle drum beats, processed guitars, and airy synths. It’s a marked improvement on their early work, and one wonders how they will translate the new material live. KF

SPOON

(Fri, 10:45 pm, Main Stage) The first time I heard Spoon—in 2001, on Girls Can Tell—the main thing that struck me was how clean it all sounded. Having grown up during the heyday of Amerindie and lived through the '90s with Nirvana and Pavement, I'd grown accustomed to alterna-rockers scuzzing up their beautiful melodies and classic song structures with noise and ambivalence and a general wariness of playing a beautiful song straight. So the pristine pop on Girls Can Tell at first threw me for a loop, reminding me of the mainstream British pop of the '80s that was trickily branded "new wave" for American audiences. This was all soon a nonissue, as Spoon set about fucking with their clean pop in a variety of deeply rewarding ways on every post-Girls release. (Kill the Moonlight is the best by consensus, but there's a run of songs on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga that is my personal Spoon heaven.) As for the Block Party: Audiences should expect a career-spanning set, likely laced with highlights from Spoon's immediately forthcoming new album, They Want My Soul. D. SCHMADER

STAR SLINGER

(Sat, 4:45 pm, Main Stage) There's been a lot of angst on music blogs for the last month and a half. Everyone is frantically trying to find the song of the summer, and nobody can seem to locate it. Where is it? Where's the song of the summer? I'd argue that producer/DJ Star Slinger's "Mornin'" is as good as we're gonna get, a cheerful mix of soul samples laid over sunny synths and complicated beats. Not every Star Slinger track is great—I'd argue that "Gimme" is way too repetitive—but "Mornin'" hits that feel-good sunbaked spot juuuuuust right. PC

STICKERS

(Sun, 4:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Fans of Stickers (you like things that are good, right?) will be pleased to know they're putting out a new record, Swollen, next month, and it's exactly as righteous as you'd expect. Heavy, no-wave art noise with sick (in both senses of the word) saxophone sobs, low vocals that moan with intensity, and lyrics that deliver gallows humor like a battle cry. A battle cry you can dance to. (And hey girl, they even have a seriously beautiful song about Ryan Gosling.) EN

TACOS!

(Fri, 6:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) With just two members, Seattle's Tacos! craft a surprisingly dense (and loud!) sound of doomy drop-tuned guitar riffs and thrashing, bashing drums. The fuzz is thick but not impenetrable; the grooves are head-noddingly heavy (and occasionally vicious) but never one-dimensional. If they dispensed actual tacos during their set, this would be my perfect metal band. K. RICHARDS

TANGERINE

(Sun, 2 pm, Vera Stage) A perfectly vivacious pop/rock band, Seattle's Tangerine write friction-free songs that aim to tint the airwaves neon pink and lime green while creating a little tropical utopia in your ears. Marika Justad's dulcet singing voice lilts and swirls around the vibrant, Creamsicled melodies, and everything comes out of the speakers very sparkly and cuddly. With such appealing songs, Tangerine seem destined to have a fruitful musical career. (Puns!) D. SEGAL

TANLINES

(Sun, 6:10 pm, Vera Stage) I was in a very different place than most punters during the '80s when the keyboard pop of, say, Big Country was on the radio. Tanlines are a band that plays nonconfrontational "radio" kinda '80s keyboard pop. It's tailor-made for teens who like to smile and dance with their friends at the mall. MN

TENNIS PRO

(Fri, 4:30 pm, Neumos Stage)

This Seattle three-piece serves up country-club indie rock/pop with hooks for days. The lyrics are pretty clever and funny, though a liiiittle heavy-handed at times; the music has a decent range from Weezer at their goofiest, the Pixies at their poppiest, and the Dandy Warhols circa Welcome to the Monkey House. While listening: Sometimes I'm laughing, sometimes I'm cringing, sometimes I'm bobbing my head around, but most of the time I'm trying to think of great tennis puns to put in this blurb (see fourth and fifth word of first sentence). Fact: Having a sense of humor still makes you better than most other bands. EN

THEORIES

(Fri, 8:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) You can nearly always identify a death metal/grindcore band from the logo alone: letters that are warped almost beyond legibility and/or look like they are trying to hurt you. Theories' logo is surprisingly readable for the genre, but the tiny ragged spikes jutting off the letters in every direction would make Dying Fetus proud. Striking an excellent balance between chaotically precise grindcore freak-outs and raw, bone-shaking breakdowns, Theories should go on the do-not-miss list for all fans of true brutality. KA

THE THERMALS

(Sat, 11 pm, Vera Stage) I recently drank a bottle of wine and revisited the Thermals via a two-person dance party in my living room that made me feel both nostalgic and kind of old, but also hopeful and mad respectful because the Thermals are still fucking doing it. They still pack a show out—their most recent all-ages Neumos set brought the house down—and deliver the angst and punk and melody and sweat and everything you wanted when you were young and probably still want now, you just need to remember it while screaming along to "No Culture Icons." EN

TOM EDDY

(Fri, 9:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Tom Eddy, vocalist and guitarist in various projects like sweet-grooving soul band the Dip (playing here Saturday afternoon) and buzzy electro-pop outfit Beat Connection (playing Saturday evening on the Main Stage), also plays as Tom Eddy—a musical experience full of crisp guitar and luscious, spiraling vocals. Eddy, who in press photos looks like he wants to take you for a ride on his father's sailboat and who fully embodies the verb "to croon," is not just a bowl of eyebrows and effortless folky sexiness. His rich singing voice and eclectic cross-genre songwriting ability are beloved by people across the 206, and he will surely not miss this opportunity to unfurl his full charm upon an adoring crowd. AM

VALLEY MAKER

(Sun, 6:30 pm, Neumos Stage) Do you like songs about the Old Testament? Do you prefer acoustic guitars to be picked and strummed forlornly? How about a frontman who's achingly heartfelt but also somewhat spiritually ambivalent? Valley Maker—aka Seattle-based singer-songwriter Austin Crane—delivers all of the above in a haunting folk package, giving us insights such as "You don't know what you have found until you find what you have known." K. RICHARDS

THE WAR ON DRUGS

(Sun, 6:30 pm, Main Stage) A couple months ago, my ex-boyfriend and I were driving through the desolate, blond hills of Northern California in blistering heat while listening to the War on Drugs' Lost in the Dream. The music perfectly encapsulated that sad-yet-beautiful summery moment—the nostalgic sound of 1980s FM radio, with steady downbeat drums and swirling reverbed guitars providing the backdrop for vocalist Adam Granduciel's yearning, semi-nasal lilt, which calls to mind both Bryan Adams and Bob Dylan. If you've got an ex-boyfriend you want to unhealthily reminisce with, drag him to this set. I'm gonna go cry now—K BYE. K. RICHARDS

WEED

(Sat, 6 pm, Vera Stage) Tearing out of Vancouver, Washington, with a songbook of peppy, loose-limbed pop-punk, Weed have managed to impress music critics twice their age with '90s-aping guitar leads and vocals that veer between emo mope and petulant shouts. Nothing revolutionary, but damned if it doesn't hit that dinosaur (Jr.)–brained primordial sweet spot—nostalgic memories of navel-gazing angst and hanging out in a gas station parking lot at one in the morning, pining for shit you don't even understand yet. KF

WHITNEY BALLEN

(Sun, 2:45 pm, Barboza Stage) Whitney has one of those voices that registers beyond what might be termed "childlike" and more in the realm of "Wait, is this song being sung by an actual child?" A divisive pitch. Her latest album, Falls, insists it's local, with a black-and-white postcard-perfect photo of Snoqualmie Falls on the cover and loud nods throughout to Rainier, Olympia, cold-brew coffee, and even the deservedly oft-forgotten Fall City. All become the scenes of down-tempo songs of a breaking (or is it just aching?) heart, dutifully backed by a rumbling, restrained guitar and some feedback. It makes me want to move, or at least take a vacation. K. RAY

WILD ONES

(Fri, 6 pm, Vera Stage) Watching the video for their song "From Nothing," I realized that if someone caught me listening to this at home when I thought I was alone, I would be embarrassed in the same way I'd be embarrassed if someone caught me eating an entire pizza by myself. It's catchy and pleasant. I'm not paying attention to the lyrics, but I trust them, and the lead singer has a pretty, demure voice. She's walking straight toward the camera as it tracks backward down the middle of the main street in a picturesque, small American town at sundown. I can easily picture her whipping out a Kindle Fire and this turning out to be a commercial, and so what if it did. K. RAY

WOLFGANG FUCK

(Sun, 2:45 pm, Cha Cha Stage) Back in September, Wolfgang Fuck played a show at the Kraken with a band called Meat Wave from Chicago. The Facebook event is the only online proof, other than the Block Party website, that I can find of this band existing. The description for Wolfgang Fuck on the event page simply says: "Werewolf fronted punk," which sounds like all you could want in the red light of the Cha Cha basement-womb vortex. (In other news, Meat Wave do have an online presence, and they're pretty good.) EN

XXYYXX

(Sun, 3:45 pm, Main Stage) Orlando, Florida's XXYYXX (Marcel Everett) has rocketed to nearly 275,000 Facebook likes before he's even reached legal drinking age. But how's the music? It's a chill, oddly contoured strain of neo-R&B and future funk that divides its time between rocking dance floors and making production geeks scratch their chins in wonderment. This wunderkind is still toggling between accessibility and experimentation, but let's hope the latter instinct ultimately wins out at Block Party (because fun is overrated). D. SEGAL recommended

 

Comments (7) RSS

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DOUG. 1
The War on Drugs is playing Sunday, not Saturday.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on July 22, 2014 at 10:57 PM · Report this
Samuel Danger 2
Thanks for the honesty larry. needless to say I'll skip this shit show
Posted by Samuel Danger on July 23, 2014 at 9:39 PM · Report this
3
The FABULOUS DOWNEY BROTHERS put all these bands to shame.
Posted by daKing on July 24, 2014 at 11:13 AM · Report this
sikandro 4
http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Event…

The link to the guide from the event page links to admin.stranger, and asks for a username and password.
Posted by sikandro on July 24, 2014 at 1:58 PM · Report this
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7
Pathetic criticism
Posted by Someone with a brain on July 27, 2014 at 10:56 AM · Report this

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