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Capitol Hill Block Party is a little different this year. Besides the addition of a third day (reportedly added just to fit The Dead Weather’s touring schedule), there aren’t many food vendors as guests are encouraged to support local restaurants and bars on Pike Street where the outdoor main stage is. There are a lot of booths typical to the Capitol Hill scene–political activism and local alternative magazines and radio stations like The Stranger and KEXP.  As a result, guests are freed from overpriced fair-type food. In addition to cementing its position as one of the most affordable festivals in the country, the festival has the nicest crowd I’ve ever been in. Since when do people in the middle of a mosh pit help you get in and out and help you find your friends? Even the security guards share the same attitude: they told someone sitting on the ground rolling a joint to move to the middle.

Day two had two disappointments, however. One, alternative/indie rock/dream pop band Blonde Redhead cancelled due to illness (Luckily, !!! completely made up for it). Also, the street was so packed for Atmosphere that I couldn’t work my way up to the photo pit. Thus far, the block party’s final band of each night has really mellowed the crowd out, which has seemed to be very welcome, especially to the many near the front moshing. The show becomes not about the music, but a game of logic to keep standing; a good number of people don’t seem to know what they’re getting themselves into.

BLITZEN TRAPPER

Previously, I had only heard Blitzen Trapper’s piano-heavy single “Heaven and Earth” and was pleasantly surprised by the driving country/blues start to their songs. Maybe this is a band that is better live than on albums, but I liked the diversity in their band. With six members, they all look like they could belong in different bands from punk to country or a classical or jazz group.

(Click the photos for a better view)

!!!

!!! was a riot. The singer Nic Offer was bouncing around and shaking his booty in tiny cotton shorts and was moving like a flamboyantly gay guy (sexual status unknown). Every minute or so I’d see him unzip and zip his fly. He briefly crowd surfed, danced with photographers in the photo pit, and was the audience’s dream. The jumping and the moshing began and !!! played a number of songs off their new album Strange Weather, Isn’t it? due out this August. At one point, Offer said he was at the Shell gas station by Pike Street and overheard a couple of girls say they hoped !!! would be lively enough tonight. The dance-punk band succeeded because when Offer asked the crowd if this was lively enough for them, everyone cheered on.

Day two was just as memorable as day one. Sunday’s show brings The Dead Weather, The Blue Scholars, Mad Rad, and a ton of local bands.

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